MECHANIC FALLS — Former Town Clerk Miranda Hinkley said this week that she was hired to help run the town “with no experience.” She’s not the only one.

A Sun Journal analysis of resumes obtained through the Maine Freedom of Access Act shows that neither of Mechanic Falls’ past two town managers hired by the Town Council, nor the current interim town manager, has had experience leading a municipality.

According to a spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, the state has no educational or other requirements for someone to become a town manager.

Koriene Low, who served as town manager from 2015 to 2018, arrived in Mechanic Falls with a 29-year career at Community Concepts, a nonproft that helps people and businesses in need. Her last position there, held since 1998, was as director of transportation and corporate technology, according to her resume.

“I am looking for a career change which will be exciting and challenging,” she wrote in her application letter for town manager.

Low said she received a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership from Kennedy Western University. According to an alumni association website for the school, California-based Kennedy Western was an unaccredited, distance-learning university that changed names in 2007 and closed in 2009. The school was part of a 2004 federal investigation and has been called a diploma mill, a charge that school officials denied.

Among her “relevant professional keypoints,” Low listed team-building, communication and customer service, management and a financial background honed both at Community Concepts and as a business manager for a McDonald’s franchise in the 1970s and 1980s. At Community Concepts, she said, she was responsible for a $17 million-plus budget and supervised a department of more than 60 employees and 400 volunteers.

“I am seeking an opportunity to share my nonprofit/for profit management expertise,” she wrote in her application letter.

Zakk Maher followed Low, hired by the Town Council in 2018 to lead Mechanic Falls, a town of about 3,000 residents with a municipal valuation of $148 million and an annual budget just under $3 million.

Maher worked at Community Concepts for three years before applying to become town manager. His last job was as vice president of lending at Community Concepts. Before that, he was a loan officer and was founder/chief financial officer of a family grocery store that was managed by his wife and closed in 2015 after six years in business.

Maher had stints of municipal experience as a volunteer, including serving on Poland’s Community and Economic Development Committee for four years, its Budget Committee for three years and as a member of its Town Manager Hiring Committee from 2013 to 2014. He had been an Androscoggin County commissioner for two years when he submitted his resume for town manager.

He listed his major at Green Mountain College in Vermont as “self-designed” and said that he received his bachelor of arts degree in “pragmatic self-sufficiency.”

Fred Collins Jr. was named interim town manager this summer after the council voted to dismiss Maher.

Collins has been the town’s code enforcement officer since 2016. His work history includes two and a half years as code enforcement officer in Paris and experience as a home inspector, cook, firefighter, fire inspector, EMT, emergency medical dispatcher and the owner of a building and remodeling business.

When Low left the town in 2018, Collins applied to become the new town manager at that time.

“I feel qualified and prepared if given the opportunity to serve this community,” he wrote in his cover letter.

This story was edited at 3 p.m. on Aug. 5 to remove Zakk Maher’s answer to a question posed during his application process. Maher’s lawyer said the written answer was not Maher’s but was a note taken by a councilor during the interview. 


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.