AUGUSTA — Police Chief Robert Gregoire and City Engineer Lionel Cayer, who between them have worked for the city for 64 years, both plan to retire.

The two long-serving officials recently submitted their resignations to the city, effective around the end of May.

City Manager William Bridgeo said he plans to appoint Deputy Chief Jared Mills as the new police chief when Gregoire leaves.

Cayer, who plans to open a civil engineering consulting firm after he leaves the city, will be retained to complete any remaining work on projects he has been working on as the city determines how best to fill the void left by his retirement.

Gregoire, 52, of Augusta, and Cayer, 61, of Whitefield, both said they’ve enjoyed their time working for Augusta but felt it was time for them to move on.

“I started here when I was 22. I’ve been (working for the Augusta Police Department) longer than I have not. It’s time to try something different,” Gregoire said.

He said he’s not yet sure what, specifically, that something different will be, but that he plans to remain active and hopes to find something he’ll enjoy that will be a challenge, and something to which he can bring some value.

Gregoire, in his retirement letter, vouches for Mills, who started in the department in 1998, and recommends he take Gregoire’s spot as chief.

“One of my goals would be to have him as my replacement,” Gregoire said Tuesday of Mills. “He’s always very energetic, personable, a very smart guy, and he definitely wants to see the department succeed and the city succeed and to serve our community.”

Bridgeo said Mills is his choice for the next police chief, too, though that appointment is subject to a vote of confirmation by city councilors.

Bridgeo said Gregoire came to the city as a young rookie patrol officer and successfully rose through the ranks to become a respected leader in the community and his profession.

Gregoire was appointed police chief in 2011.

In 2014 he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident that, initially, left him unable to move his arms and legs. Though he still uses a wheelchair, Gregoire has worked to rehabilitate himself and recover, in 2016 getting up out of his wheelchair to walk up to the lectern to speak at a City Council meeting.

Gregoire said his injuries from that crash were not a factor in his decision to retire, and that he previously had planned to retire after reaching around 30 years with the city anyway.

Gregoire said he thinks the Police Department is in a good place, with an excellent staff, a good working environment where people want to come to work, and an atmosphere in which all members of the force have opportunities for input and ideas.

He said it has been an honor and a privilege to work with the department’s men and women in serving their mission of serving and protecting the citizens of Augusta.

Cayer first joined the city in 1984, as a civil engineering technician. He served as interim city engineer a couple of times before taking on that role permanently in 1998. He was originally part of a city department with five employees, which was later reduced to two. Currently he is the department’s only employee.

He decided to retire, he said, because the time seemed right.

“I had been thinking about doing engineering consulting for some time, and the time just seemed right,” he said. “I kept hoping things would calm down and I’d have fewer projects on my plate, but that hasn’t happened. I decided now was the time to jump.”

He said he enjoyed, and still enjoys, working for the city, where Bridgeo said Cayer has been involved in an unimaginable number of positive changes to the city’s infrastructure, including road projects, building construction and renovation, and design and oversight of the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

“I especially like the fact I’ve been able to be involved in a project right from the planning stages, through design and into construction management, and then ribbon-cutting,” he said. “The problem-solving aspect of this job gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Cayer was heavily involved in the development of the 6.5-mile rail trail, a well-used recreational trail that follows the Kennebec River from Augusta to Gardiner. He remains on the trail’s board of supervisors.

“Like Bob Gregoire, Lionel Cayer is one of the most decent people you will ever meet,” Bridgeo said of the retiring pair of veteran employees. “Their high professional standards are a reflection of their personal values and ethics.”

Also retiring from city employment is Associate Economic Development Director Dan Nichols, who joined the city eight years ago after a long career in the banking industry. Bridgeo said Nichols, who retires this week, has been a great fit for the city.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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