Easton town manager will retire in April after 25 years in municipal government

3 months ago

EASTON, Maine — Jim Gardner will work his final day as Easton’s town manager on April 30, ending 13 years of service. Gardner, 68, is no stranger to the position. His career as a town manager spans 25 years for three different municipalities in Aroostook County.

Gardner managed Washburn and Ashland before taking the Easton job. He also served as President of the Maine Municipal Association from 2016 to 2023 where he met with town managers across Maine.

“We have a ten-year plan on [Easton’s] roads, we have a vision with our [select] board as to where we want to go forward and what our next moves are going to be,” Gardner said.

Cheryl Clark—currently working as Easton’s Town Clerk—will serve as the next town manager after Gardner’s departure. Clark will be Easton’s second female town manager following in the tradition of Jackalene Bradley, who held the post in the 1990s.

Clark plans on continuing the work Gardner has done for Easton, like finishing the Prestile Park project. Prestile Park is the town’s recreation area that includes green space, a pavilion and playground.

“[Gardner] has been so good at involving me in everything that I feel prepared for this,” Clark said.

Gardner moved to Easton, the hometown of his mother and grandparents, in 2010 to become its town manager.

One issue that was facing Easton at the time was it hadn’t done a revaluation since the 1990s. Gardner worked on reevaluating Easton’s residential properties with Maine Assessment Services in 2015.

Easton installed more accessible broadband internet to the town as part of Gardner’s grant writing efforts last year. 

In the fall of 2022, the town office was moved out of the Easton Fire Station to a vacant building in the same lot as the County Farms Market.

“It took away the congestion in front of the Fire Department, so now you don’t have all that hodge podge going on in front of the Fire Department and it just made things so much simpler,” Gardner said.

Gardner began his work in municipal government when he started as a Code Enforcement Officer in Presque Isle in1994 after his work as a civil servant at Loring Air Force Base.

During his time as a code enforcement officer, Gardner gained an interest in the role of a town manager after seeing the day-to-day activities of the Presque Isle City Manager, he said.

In 1998, Gardner applied for town manager positions at Ashland and Washburn. After receiving both job offers, he decided to take the town manager position in Washburn. 

Gardner spent five years in Washburn, and moved to Ashland to work as its town manager from 2005 to 2010.

Gardner plans to spend more time with family in retirement but will continue to offer his services as a grant writer to other municipalities in Aroostook County.