SKOWHEGAN — Skowhegan Town Manager John Doucette Jr., who was set to retire Feb. 28, abruptly left his job Thursday.
He said Sunday he will not be coming back.
“Due to personal reasons, I won’t be returning to work,” Doucette said Saturday afternoon. “It’s personal in my life, nothing to do with the job.”
The Board of Selectmen accepted Doucette’s resignation in December, months before the end of his contract with the town. His contract is through next December.
Betty Austin, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said she, Doucette and other selectmen met briefly Thursday and gave him the option of stepping down early. She said his retirement date is still Feb. 28, but he will not return to work.
“He has a lot of personal things right now, so we gave him that option,” Austin said.
She would not discuss Doucette’s reason for leaving the job early.
Austin said when Doucette was away from his desk or on vacation in the past, Code Enforcement Officer Randall Gray took his place. She said selectmen are ready to advertise for candidates for the town manager’s job and will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the situation further.
Doucette, 62, said his decision to retire has nothing to do with his termination Dec. 30 of longtime Fire Chief Tom Keene.
Keene, 58, who had been chief for 21 years, said he is considering hiring an attorney to fight the dismissal.
Keene had been a firefighter for more than 40 years. In the last two years, both his legs were amputated because of complications from diabetes. He went on medical leave Sept. 19 after his most recent surgery.
He said he’s ready to return to his administrative duties as chief, and he told town officials in a Dec. 12 letter that he was cleared by his doctor to return to work, with some limitations, including needing a driver for the three months until he’s fitted with prosthetic legs.
Doucette is also a former Norridgewock town manager, a position from which he resigned in May 2008.
He was a selectman in Norridgewock in the 1990s. Doucette served 21 years in the Air Force, including 14 years as a recruiter throughout New England, five-and-a-half of which were spent in Waterville.
Before taking the job in Norridgewock, Doucette was manager of VIP Auto Center in Skowhegan.
“I really enjoyed being a town manager in Skowhegan. I love the people and really think we’ve accomplished a lot over the five years I’ve been here,” he said.