SKOWHEGAN — The Board of Selectmen made it official Wednesday night, appointing patrol Sgt. Brian Gardiner as the new deputy police chief, and the current deputy police chief, Joel Cummings, the new patrol sergeant.

“We basically switched roles,” Gardiner said before the Wednesday night’s selectmen’s meeting. “His passion is patrol. Administration was not for him.”

Police Chief David Bucknam agreed, telling selectmen that Cummings was better at “interacting with the community,” than with “pushing paperwork.”

Cummings, 55, was sworn in as the new deputy chief just over a year ago. Cummings had been interim police chief, having been appointed to the position in March 2017 by the Board of Selectmen to fill the role vacated by Chief Donald Bolduc, who resigned to move home to Millinocket.

He took over the day-to-day operations of the patrol division under Bucknam, who had taken over as chief in July of last year.

“After much thought and consideration, Deputy Chief Cummings has requested to step down and assume his position as a patrol sergeant within the department,” Bucknam said in a recent email to the Morning Sentinel. “Over the past year, Joel has found the administrative side of policing is not where his passion is.”

Cummings has been a member of the Skowhegan Police Department for 30 years and has dedicated himself to the Community of Skowhegan, Bucknam said.

“Effective Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, Sgt Cummings will be back on the streets where he has spent his career patrolling and making this community safe,” he said. “To fill his position, Sgt. Brian Gardiner has stepped up to the position of deputy chief.”

Bucknam said Gardiner started his law enforcement career in Skowhegan in 1999 and was trained by Cummings who highly recommended him for the position.

“In the spirit of training our officers to succeed our positions, this is a classic,” Bucknam said, adding that it is a “student surpasses the teacher, type event. I know Deputy Chief Gardiner will grow in this position as he brings new and innovative ideas to work with the community and to assist with mentoring our officers.”

Gardiner, 41, graduated from Madison Area High School in 1996 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. reserves. He completed the basic law enforcement training course at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in 2000.

He was hired by the Waterville Police Department in 2005 and returned to Skowhegan in 2017.

“There’s more opportunities here — it’s not all about the pay,” he said. “I like the hometown feel of it here. It’s all about the community. That’s our mission, commitment to community.”

Gardiner said he welcomes the challenge of working in police administration.

“It’s something I’ve never done and I want to take the next step in my career,” he said.

In other business Wednesday night, selectmen agreed to re-designate $35,000 from a Highway Department reserve account as the town’s share in the Second Bridge feasibility study. Board Chairman Paul York was the lone dissenter in a 4-1 vote, noting that taxpayers had paid for a previous study, which never produced a second bridge. York also said he had concerns with taking money from the towns roads account to pay for the study.

Town officials met in November with state Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt and director Martin Rooney of the Program Management Division, who will head up the project, to discuss plans, starting with money for a work plan and feasibility study. The transportation department wants to get the project moving into its January planning session for funding for the work plan. The plan would cost $300,000 to $350,000 and the town would contribute between 10 and 20 percent of the cost.

The bridge itself would be financed through state and mostly federal highway funding, with no local money involved, except for project add-ons or upgrades, such as decorative lighting. The new bridge would span the Kennebec River and connect U.S. Route 201 and U.S. Route 2.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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