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How a Maine Town Got Shut Down Completely

AP Photo/Marina Villeneuve

It's Maine. It's a small town—emphasis on small. That's Passadumkeag, which is home to a whopping 356 people. Now, one ex-municipal worker has decided to grind all administrative operations to a halt. This wasn't some Antifa protest. There were no 'die-in' antics. She simply resigned. She left. Why? Well, Christen Bouchard, the town clerk, wanted to take some vacation time. Who doesn't? She made this request to the town supervisor board about a month and a half ago, according to reports. It was rejected for a simple reason. She's the only town clerk in the area. They couldn't find a replacement to fill her spot. It would have been a two-week vacation for Bouchard. It doesn't seem to be a decision made with malicious intent. Literally, the woman is indispensable, and in the way north of America, finding someone who could do her job for a couple of weeks seems to have been a herculean task for the town council. Again, it's a town with a population of 356. It's nice to be needed until it's not, I guess. A two-week stoppage is better than a total lockdown, however. 

As the town grips with her departure, everything from updating car records to communications with the state's fish and wildlife commission has been halted. Yet, the town clerk isn't the only key officer that's missing in this little town. (via Breezy Scroll):

The position of town clerk isn’t the only important opening in Passadumkeag. The town of 356 people also lacks a code enforcement officer, an assessor, an animal control officer, and a school administration official, according to The Bangor Daily News.

The town office shut down to in-person visitors until further notice, according to a statement sent out on April 19.

[…]

It’s unclear when the town will be able to fill the vacant positions and reopen for business. In March, town residents rejected a budget article meant to fund town operations after town officials failed to adequately explain the reasoning for a proposed salary increase. The budget article also did not include funding for a code enforcement officer, a necessity under Maine law.

Town officials said that they are finding it difficult to fill the open posts due to financial uncertainties. It is also due to the town’s small population, and the municipal roles being only part-time. Ms Bouchard was only contracted to work 16 hours each week — though she said she often worked more — and was paid just $13,500 per year.

“We have been left with a mess from years of neglect and are doing as much as we can to get our town back in order,” first selectman Brad McKechnie said.

“I do believe in time with the team we have, we will get Passadumkeag back in order and looking good, but it will take a bit and is going to be a challenge for sure.”

Bouchard left on April 7. Was she selfish? Was she out of order? I don't know. Everyone deserves time off. She's been the town clerk since 2020. She probably did accrue hours, right? And she made the request six-to-seven weeks in advance. I think this is just a tale of a small town struggling to fill key spots, and as you can see—it's missing quite a few. I guess she's taking more than two weeks off now. 

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