WATERVILLE — The city is getting administrative changes this year as it welcomes new Finance Director Heather Rowden, bids farewell Thursday to Information Technology Director John Grant and expects to hire a new IT director this week to fill his empty spot.

Rowden, 30, of Fairfield, fills a vacant position left when Finance Director Chuck Calkins resigned late last year to pursue other employment. Grant plans to work for Regional School Unit 19 based in Newport, and Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said officials have interviewed five people for his position.

“He’s done a terrific job — no other way to say it,” Roy said of Grant, who worked in the IT department 15 years, starting as a technician and working his way up to director, earning $77,000 annually.

In addition, Roy said the city went from “zero income coming in from outside to a $60,000 income stream, largely because of Josh,” because the city started contracting out IT services to surrounding towns and organizations as well. “Some of it started before he became IT director. He certainly has continued that trend and instilled a lot of confidence in people we provide services to.”

Rowden was chosen for the finance director’s position from several candidates interviewed, according to Roy.

“In the short time she’s been here, she seems to have really picked up on the important pieces of the city’s work, and I think she’s going to have a fine career here,” Roy said.

Rowden, whose salary is $70,000, not including benefits, most recently was tax section manager for Maine Revenue Services, where she had worked several years. Roy said it was a responsible position in state government and required good analytical skills.

As the city’s finance director, she is responsible for day-to-day financial activities and supervises four people, including the tax collector, an accountant and financial clerks.

“The job is going really well,” Rowden said Tuesday, adding that the staff has been very helpful in the transition period.

The position was vacant until she was hired about a month ago.

“We had a difficult time filling the position, and one of the problems was the salary range that we had, in the $65,000 to $75,000 range,” Roy said. Calkins had earned $77,000 in that position, according to Roy.

A 2004 graduate of Waterville Senior High School, Rowden earned an accounting degree in 2009 from Ashford University, in Iowa, with which she took online classes. She obtained a master’s degree in business administration in 2013 from Thomas College.

Also the owner of Blue Wave Dance Studio on Main Street in downtown Waterville, Rowden is married to Aaron Rowden, a Waterville lawyer and Fairfield town councilor. She initially had enrolled in dance school, but she switched careers because of a back injury, she said.

“I think she’s doing great so far,” Roy said, adding that she arrived during a difficult time of year — budget season — but has embraced the work. “She seems to be well-balanced and anxious to be a part of the team,” he said.

He said Calkins also had done a good job for the city.

“He did very well and everyone here liked Chuck and was sorry to see him go,” Roy said.

Meanwhile, as IT director, Grant has overseen all of the city’s computer installations for police, fire, public works and other departments, Roy said. Just as important, he provided IT services for agencies in the towns Waterville serves, including Oakland police and fire, all Winslow and Fairfield departments and Clinton’s Police Department, according to Roy. The city also provides IT services to Waterville Creates!, Waterville Public Library, Kennebec Valley Council or Governments and other entities.

“I always said that he’d be the most difficult employee to replace, and one of my biggest hopes in my career is that I’d retire before he left,” Roy said of Grant.

If a police laptop in a cruiser breaks down at 2 a.m., police call Grant’s department for help; if a library needs help over the weekend, it’s the same process, Roy said. The IT department includes Grant and only one other employee, Joel Waye, a technician, he said.

“The good news part of this story is we’re very excited by the candidates we got,” Roy said. “It’ll be difficult to replace Josh Grant, but we’re encouraged by the people we’ve interviewed.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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