Bob McGorty knows he has big shoes to fill in taking over as the director of Lake George Regional Park from Jeff McCabe.

That doesn’t faze McGorty and Park Resource Manager Derek Ellis — they have big plans for the park, which straddles the Skowhegan and Canaan boundary.

It helps that the two have worked together for years.

“We’ve had all these wonderful ideas of ways to expand the park and better serve the community,” Ellis said amid a chilly wind off the lake last week. “Those ideas until recently were shelved because I didn’t have enough time to put into it. With Bob coming along and a slight increase in interns, I’ll have more time.

“Our role in the community is just going to expand — more services, more programming, more things to do.”

McGorty, 65, is a retired career center consultant with the Department of Labor. He also worked for 30 years as a human resource manager in the high-tech field. He’ll work part time in the nonprofit’s office beginning May 2.

Ellis will oversee operations at the park, which are set to expand this summer to include new programs, including a mountain bike club, a paddling club, nature walks and hiking. Ellis, 44, was hired as park ranger and manager in 2013.

The two have worked together on Department of Labor youth programs at the park, so it was a good fit as the park restructures.

McGorty, who lives in Skowhegan, will be responsible for the administrative duties at the park office, including assisting in annual fundraising, data entry, financial work, seasonal and daily passes, insurance, donations and working with the board of directors on managing overall operations.

“The primary focus of my job will be to have a designated administrative area that is staffed on a regular basis,” McGorty said.

FILLS A GAP

Ellis said he rewrote his own job description for the board to include “everything that takes place outside of the office”.

“The positions were designed on the park’s needs 20-something years ago, so it didn’t really make sense the way it was set up anymore,” Ellis said. “In Jeff’s absence I had assumed a lot of what he did anyway, but I got spread too thin to do the office stuff as well, and that’s why we wanted a person on either end.”

McCabe, left the job this year to become a community outreach coordinator in Maine for the nonprofit Northern Forest Canoe Trail of Waitsfield, Vermont. He took over as park director in December 2006 when Nancy Warren retired. The state representative for District 107, and the House majority leader, he’s also running for the Senate seat held by Rod Whittemore, R-Skowhegan.

McCabe said McGorty fills a gap that will be a big part of the park’s future.

“Bob brings very important organizational skills, knowledge and years of experience,” McCabe said. “His selection is important for the park’s next phase of growth. I see service learning continuing to expand at the park.”

Skowhegan builder Steve Dionne, president of the Lake George Corp. board, said McGorty was the natural choice to take over for McCabe.

“Bob already had a good relationship with (Ellis),” Dionne said. “He worked for the career center and was supplying us summer help through the Department of Labor, so Bob was very familiar with our operation and our mission. He also is a frequent park visitor and lives just a few miles away. That was a big part of it. Bob was already familiar with our operation.”

Also helping out this summer will be five interns from Unity College — McCabe’s alma mater — who will assist with activities at the park. Each student gets college credits, a $200 weekly stipend and a house to live in for the summer.

Summer interns will work directly under Ellis, staffing the gates, doing grounds work and conducting interpretive services that provide information about the park for visitors.

The park serves as many as 1,500 people on a nice summer day.

Work this summer is set to improve accessibility to the waterfront, with a ramp and erosion prevention measures, along with planted buffers, riprap and granite retaining walls.

The park also is working with the Marti Stevens Learning Center’s outdoor classrooms and community service programs. For instance, Skowhegan Area Middle School also has adopted a buffer planting project to study erosion.

The state of Department of Conservation bought the land. It is leased to both towns and run by a nonprofit group, Lake George Corp. It survives on donations, fundraisers, direct mailing and gate fees. It also is helped by extensive volunteer and internship programs.

“To put it in perspective, we see 25,000 people a year,” Ellis said. “The people that get counted are the people that come through the gates that pay. We’re open year-round and there’s all kinds of stuff to do outside the gates on the hiking trails, so the numbers are exponentially larger.”

It operates on an annual “bare bones” budget of about $130,000.

Including land bought in 2002 with money from the Land for Maine’s Future program and foundation grants, the park is now a 320-acre destination with swimming beaches, boat launches, hiking trails and miles of cross-country ski trails.

On tap this summer will be the monthlong Camp Podooc — a two-week day camp for about 100 Canaan children and two weeks for about the same number of Skowhegan children, for which each town pays $5,000 to $7,000. Children from Athens also attend the camp.

Activities include games and play on the waterfront, swimming lessons, arts and crafts, a theater program, outdoor skills training in archery and fire building, first aid, a low-to-the-ground ropes course and team building activities.

Ellis said the park will continue with its Department of Labor work experience program, on which he and McGorty have worked since Ellis was hired at the park. The state provides the wage and the park provides the supervision, he said.

McGorty looks forward to his new position.

“I have big shoes to fill, with Nancy Warren and Jeff McCabe. They did a great job and there’s certainly a reason why it’s lasted 23 years,” he said. “I’d come here anyway. I love this place. I’ve put people in here to work.

“It’s kind of like thinking about what you would have liked to have done 45 years ago, but didn’t, and then all of a sudden you get a chance to do it. I feel very, very fortunate.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow