About 16 years ago, Crowe Rope Industries in Winslow filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the company had co-signed on a $6 million, 20-year bond with the town.

Gerald Saint Amand was concerned enough by the controversial arrangement that he felt compelled to run for Town Council.

“I was very concerned with the town owing that kind of money,” said Saint Amand, now chairman of the Town Council. “So I ran for the council, instead of just complained.”

Saint Amand, 74, who did not seek re-election this year, first ran for council in November 1999 and started his first term in January 2000. He’s been council chairman for eight of the last 10 years.

Saint Amand has seen a number of changes come through the town, from the removal of a local dam to the consolidation of the schools. But his commitment to the town never changed.

“I absolutely love Winslow,” he said in an interview Monday.

Saint Amand was born in Winslow and went to Thomas College in Waterville after high school. He said he traveled for a few years to different cities after that, but he missed his hometown.

“I liked being in a place where I knew a lot of people,” he said. “Money was not the biggest factor in life for me.”

Saint Amand has worked at Ware-Butler in Waterville, a lumber yard and hardware store, since 1975, he said. He’s also president of the board of trustees of Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville Area, vice president of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Waterville, manager of a Universalist Unitarian coffee shop and host of a radio show on WMHB, the Colby College radio station.

“He really cares deeply about Winslow and the people who live in Winslow,” Town Manager Michael Heavener said. “I enjoyed working with Jerry. He’s a very thoughtful person.”

Through the Town Council, Saint Amand learned about town operations and finances, and how to deal with changing populations through the years. He also learned some of the downsides of working in municipal government.

“Winslow has a tradition of procrastinating a little bit,” he said. “One by one, we’ve gone through just about everything in Winslow and have upgraded, modernized. We’re looking ahead to the future.”

Saint Amand said he’s proudest of the work the town has done on buildings such as the Winslow Public Library and the outdoor track, as well as the expansions of the schools. He’s also proud of how the council handled the school consolidation. Education always has been a strong part of the Winslow community, he said.

“Now and then you make mistakes, and you have to learn from them,” Saint Amand said. “If we can kind of keep growing but hold our expenses close to the money we take in, I think we’re going to be OK financially for years and years to come.”

Now, after more than a decade serving his town, Saint Amand said it’s time to hang up his hat and take back some hours to spend with his family.

The $6 million bond debt involving Crowe Rope Industries that first drew him to the council will be paid off this year. The town will just have to decide whether to sell the building — which houses Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Orion Ropeworks Inc. — or keep leasing it out.

His term will be finished this December.

“I’ve enjoyed every day being on the council, and I’m sure I’ll miss it at times,” Saint Amand said, adding that it’s time for someone new to join the council.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour