SKOWHEGAN — A string of firecrackers goes off on the far shore of Lake George Regional Park on a recent sunny afternoon, and new park ranger Derek Ellis is on his feet and ready to respond.

“There we go,” Ellis said. “It’s just another part of the job.”

Kids, parents, boaters, swimmers, hikers and, yes, disorderly conduct are all part of the job for Ellis, who took over the position this month.

Ellis, 41, of Skowhegan, is only the second park ranger to manage the 320-acre park on U.S. Route 2 in Skowhegan and Canaan since the park opened in 1992. He replaces Bob Hubbard, the original park ranger who was hired when Camp Modin moved to Belgrade Lakes and the state acquired the park, said Jeff McCabe, park director.

“He was the original park ranger; the job was invented for him,” McCabe said of Hubbard. “He got done at the end of May. It was time for him to hang up the ranger uniform and do something different.”

Ellis will now oversee day-to-day operations for the four-season park. He will run the internship program, mow the lawns, whack the weeds, keep the buildings and change rooms in order and help plan the upcoming swim-bike-run triathalon and the annual ice fishing derby this coming winter.

The pay is about $25,000 a year. Ellis’ job is a salaried position full time, year round with more hours in summer than in winter, McCabe said.

“This time of year, you’re working all the time,” McCabe, who is also a state representative, said. “Some days we have over 700 people, plus our day camp, Camp Podooc.”

The camp, a day program, serves children from Canaan one week and Skowhegan another week, McCabe said. The camp also takes about 30 children from Athens for a summer recreation program on a tuition basis.

Ellis said he was a building contractor before taking over the ranger’s post.

“I had the right education, first of all, but I did some volunteer carpentry work here and I was kind of looking to change gears professionally,” Ellis said recently from a park bench near the lake shore. “I was in the right place at the right time. The best part of the job is it changes from minute to minute.”

Ellis has a degree in environmental science from the University of Maine at Farmington. He also is a registered Maine Guide. His wife, Amy Ashbrook-Ellis, is a registered nurse at Redington-Fairview General Hospital.

Ellis said he manages four interns from Unity College along with several volunteers from the Aspire Program and the Skowhegan career center who are doing community service.

The park is leased jointly from the state by the towns of Canaan and Skowhegan. The non-profit Lake George Corp. manages the park on an annual budget of about $120,000.

Ellis said he enjoys the interaction with children and families. Being park manager, he said, gives him a chance to do some conservation education and put his college degree to good use.

“If you could build a job around the person that you are, this is what I would do — it was just too perfect a fit,” he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

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