SKOWHEGAN — A man who already wears several hats in the Skowhegan community has donned another — interim executive director of the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jason Gayne, 29, is a part-time police officer in Skowhegan and the executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Somerset County. He has been a substitute school teacher, worked in alternative and special education, has worked as a security guard and, on Friday, organized the local leg of the Torch Run for Special Olympics.

He also is the father of a baby boy born May 2.

Don Plante, president of the chamber’s five-member board of directors, said Gayne was a perfect fit. Gayne started work May 31.

“We were looking for somebody that had executive director experience and somebody local,” Plante said. “He fit the bill in both areas. It was a good fit.”

Gayne said he is happy to take over as interim director while the Chamber board looks for a permanent replacement for Cory King later this summer. King, who took over the Skowhegan job almost 10 years ago, stepped down in May to become the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce in Brunswick.

Gayne said he is interested in taking over the top spot if it is offered.

“It feels good,” Gayne said. “I have a passion for this community. I grew up here. I see what it is now and how it can grow into the future. I’m heavily involved in a lot of the boards and committees in the town.”

The executive director in Skowhegan handles the day-to-day operations of the Chamber with its membership of about 225 businesses in the greater Skowhegan/Madison area. The chamber represents its membership at all regional meetings of such groups as the Tourism Council, Main Street Skowhegan, Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, Somerset Public health and other organizations.

Plante said Gayne will take over this summer, getting the chamber through summer tourist traffic, the Skowhegan State Fair and the town’s annual River Fest. Gayne is a member of the River Fest committee.

Gayne said the Chamber is interested in bringing back some of the volunteer committees it once had and wants to expand the hours that the Chamber office is open downtown.

“We definitely like getting the community more involved with the Chamber and getting the tourists into our area to visit all of our local businesses and all of the events,” Gayne said. “Our goal is to be present at a majority of those events this summer. River Fest the first week of August is the biggest one. It’s going to be a very busy summer.”

Plante said expanding the office hours is important because “people walk through the door constantly” asking questions, which Gayne as a local person will be able to answer. The plan is to add more volunteers to have the office open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week during the summer.

Gayne grew up in Skowhegan, graduating from Skowhegan Area High School in 2004. He attended the University of Maine at Fort Kent where he earned an associate degree in criminal justice and later a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He began work with the Skowhegan Police Department in 2008 and worked as a substitute teacher in Bingham. He has been head of Hospice since 2014, a position he said he intends to keep.

The Skowhegan Chamber operates on an annual budget of about $75,000, which is paid for with member dues, fundraisers and with money raised by voters at the Skowhegan annual Town Meeting. Fundraising events include Moonlight Madness at Riverfest, the annual FAB Fair and haunted hay rides in the fall.

The position of full time executive director will be posted sometime around Labor Day, Plante said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow


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