OAKLAND — Town Manager Peter Nielsen thanked town councilors Wednesday night for the opportunity to serve as town manager for more than five years.

Meanwhile, some residents questioned the town’s decision to hire Gary Bowman, a police officer, to replace Nielsen.

Nielsen, attending his final council meeting before leaving the post Oct. 3, said he enjoyed working with the council.

“I will always have good things to say about the town of Oakland to whoever I meet,” he said.

Councilor Mark Fisher and others wished Nielsen well and praised his work.

“I think you did an awesome job here,” Fisher said.

Resident Ed Roderick asked aloud whether there was a conflict of interest in hiring a police officer who will now be in charge of the police department and the officers with whom he worked.

Council Chairman Mike Perkins said Bowman came with high recommendation from a lot of people.

“We took that into consideration,” Perkins said of the conflict of interest possibility. “I had heard nothing but praise from everybody — ‘thank you so much for hiring an awesome man.’ So we as representatives of the town, as elected officials, have done the best that we could to hire the best man for the job.”

Councilor Dana Wrigley concurred, saying Bowman was the best candidate of the final six, which included three men and three women, some of whom had been town managers.

Roderick continued to press the issue, asking what Bowman’s qualifications were.

Perkins said Bowman had run businesses in the past and had worked in supervisory positions.

“He knows all the players in the town,” Perkins said. “He knows everybody in town.”

Jon Cox said he also had concerns about conflict of interest.

“It’s a situation where the manager could have difficulty down the road,” Cox said.

But Perkins said it was a good decision. “This man’s integrity is far beyond belief,” he said.

After the meeting adjourned, Nielsen, 61, said he will have plenty to do after leaving his job, including working on his farm and driving a Winthrop school bus.

“I’m going to put some wear on a different side,” he said.

Nielsen, who turns 62 Oct. 6, says he’s looking forward to doing a little more work on the farm where he and his wife, Mary Richards, sell gladiolas.

“One of my favorite activities is hauling wood out with my cow, Fern, and I have four and a half cords of wood cut for 2015 that she and I are bringing out to the house,” he said.

He said four years ago he brought Fern home from Irasburg, Vt., in a dog crate in the back of his Ford Focus.

“She was about 100 pounds,” he said. He said now she weighs 1,100 pounds “and she can pull quite a lot.”

Nielsen drove a bus in Winthrop, where he lives, in 1982 and was a custodian at Winthrop High School. A Winthrop town councilor from 1985 to 1990, Nielsen said he still is grateful that the town of Clinton hired him as town manager in 1990. He served there until 1994. He also drove a tractor-trailer truck for A.W. Chaffee for a year.

“This job doesn’t get any easier, but it remains enormously satisfying, and I’m pleased to have a chance to share some of my experiences with Gary (Bowman) in my last days so he doesn’t have to start from scratch,” Nielsen said. “I’m enjoying my time with Gary.”

Oakland and Clinton are not the only towns in which he was town manager. He was town manager in Wayne five years and in Wilton for seven years.

“All of those towns treated me well, but I would, from time to time, do what I wanted to improve my situation,” he said “I had five-and-a-half years in Oakland, but I need to do something different.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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Twitter: @AmyCalder17