Lorna Nichols resigns as Buckfield town manager

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Jul. 23—BUCKFIELD — The revolving door to the town manager's office took another turn Thursday when Lorna Nichols announced her resignation as the town's leader.

Nichols has served as town manager since Oct. 4, 2021, and helped stabilize a town office in turmoil.

The Select Board named Cameron Hinkley as the interim town manager. Hinkley resigned his seat on the Select Board, where he served as vice chairman, to accept the interim role.

"I'm very happy to see Cam in this position," Nichols said during Friday's emergency meeting. "I think he's the right fit for this and he's the one who will continue the good work."

Hinkley is the sixth person to serve as Buckfield's town manager in less than two years.

Nichols, who is also the chairman of the Select Board in her hometown of New Sharon, has accepted an unspecified job closer to home. She said Saturday that she was waiting for her new employer to release a statement before speaking specifics on her new job.

She has a one-hour commute each way from her home to the Buckfield Town Office.

Nichols did not indicate if there were any other factors in her decision to leave Buckfield.

The town has had a long string of town managers since Joe Roach resigned in August 2020 to go to Rangeley. The list includes interim Town Managers Mitch Berkowitz and Bradley Plante as well as John Andrews, who left after six months for what he cited as a "toxic environment."

Andrews wasn't helped when the entire town office staff quit after he was hired. The Town Office remained closed for several months until Plante reopened it after training a new staff.

While Plante helped steer the town away from the abyss, Nichols ably provided the town with needed stability, leadership and direction, starting with trying to fill in the many holes in financial records. While enough was accomplished to complete an audit earlier this year, Nichols admitted in her report earlier in the week that "the books for 2020-2022 are not completed, we will need to work on a plan to get these finished up and ready for audit."

Toward that end, a new computer software system was installed, which is making record keeping and keeping track of financials easier. The town is developing a five-year capital plan for vehicles and other equipment and the first steps in a full town revaluation is underway.

Hinckley has served as a selectman since 2021. The board did not reveal the terms of his hiring.

"I am most appreciative that you have been willing to step to the plate to provide us with continuity," Select Board Chairman Cheryl Coffman said.

Nichols will stay on for the next 30 days to assist in the transition and help guide the town through next month's Town Meeting.