Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman, shown at the Oakland Town Office, is being recognized as Municipal Employee of the Year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Ella Bowman has helped orchestrate many projects during her nine years as Oakland town manager, not the least of which were the development of new police and fire stations.

A new gazebo at the waterfront park, all from donations, a new summer music series and the annual Oakfest festival also were created during her tenure, as were a solar array on the closed landfill that saves taxpayers about $15,000 annually in electricity, the town’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, development of Overlook Park and a current planning effort to build a new town office.

Add to that the development of a downtown tax increment financing district, garnering of public support to change the fire-rescue department from part- to full-time, institution of a Memorial Hall redevelopment committee, public approval to buy 27 acres on Fairfield Street to become the town’s fourth public park, upgrading of 247 street lights to LED, and, with the assistance of the Central Maine Growth Council, the creation of a downtown redevelopment plan.

Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman, shown at the Oakland Fire Department with fire Chief Dave Coughlin, is being recognized as Municipal Employee of the Year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. She’s served as the town’s top administrator for nine years. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

But Bowman, 63, declines to take full credit for all the accomplishments, instead handing accolades to her staff, town councilors and residents.

“All the great work we’ve done over nine years rests on the shoulders of our staff,” Bowman said. “We could not have done all the great things that we’ve done without support of our council members. They have supported, without much discussion, all of the mentioned projects.”

In light of all that’s been happening in Oakland in recent years, Bowman was recently named 2022 Municipal Employee of the Year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. The chamber will honor her and eight other award winners April 27 at its 60th annual awards ceremony to be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at Enchanted Gables in Oakland.


Bowman has worked for Oakland for 24 years, the first 15 as a police officer.

“I was shell-shocked,” Bowman said of being chosen for her award. “To be quite frank, it’s the first time I’ve been recognized for anything, as far as personally. It is an honor to be recognized. It’s a good feeling to be recognized. It’s good for ego, it’s motivating, it really just makes you want to work harder and do better.”

The award is given to someone who displays leadership in supporting the positive direction of a municipality, goes above and beyond in assignment or in project fulfillment, and demonstrates positive support of business initiatives.

The chamber’s president and CEO, Kimberly N. Lindlof, who also is executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council, praised Bowman for her work.

“Ella Bowman has managed to do something that no other town manager in Oakland has ever accomplished,” Lindlof said. “Working with the Central Maine Growth Council and a team of volunteers and elected officials, she shepherded through Oakland’s first comprehensive plan. Her ability to stand back, see what needs improvement and then move the process along to get it accomplished is what distinguishes Ella for this award — all while keeping taxes low. It is no wonder that Oakland is growing.”

Bowman graduated from Madison High School in 1978 before studying forestry at the University of Maine in Orono and then working for a Vermont lumber company for 10 years. After that, she owned a small grocery store in Fairfield Center for 10 years and then started working as an Oakland police officer in 1999.


Bowman, who supervises more than 100 employees, said she believes the biggest issue facing Maine municipalities is the cost of operations, with costs rising in every area.

Oakland is growing, with 49 new homes having been built since 2021 for families with children who attend school, according to Bowman. With that growth comes the need for more police, fire and other services such as snowplowing, and registering about 100 vehicles, she said.

Oakland Town Manager Ella Bowman, shown at the Oakland Police Office, is being recognized as Municipal Employee of the Year by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. She was with Oakland’s Police Department for 15 years before becoming town manager nine years ago. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The town is able to provide services without increasing the tax rate of $17.02 per $1,000 worth of valuation in a town with about 6,345 residents, which doubles in the summer when people come to the four lakes and ponds in town, according to Bowman.

“We’ve attracted enough new growth to offset the cost of operations,” she said.

Bowman works 45 hours on what she calls a short week and 55 to 60 on a long one. She believes area municipalities need to start regionalizing services including police, fire and public works, to keep costs down. Such departments now are competing for employees and taxpayers are paying the price, she said.

Bowman cited a panel on which she serves and of which she is particularly proud, the Kennebec Region Diversity Initiative which seeks to ensure the central Maine area is open-minded and accepting of all people who come to live and work there. Lindlof was one of the founding members of the initiative through the Growth Council. It has since morphed into the Kennebec Valley Diversity Coalition.


“As a town manager, public servant, and a community leader, I’m in the people business,” Bowman said. “I personally understand that people come in different shapes and sizes, people come in different colors, with different political and religious beliefs. They come in different ages, sexual orientation and gender identities. My job is to serve everyone within my town and region the same, with compassion and thoughtful understanding.”

Bowman serves on the Municipal Review Committee which represents the solid waste interests of 115 Maine municipalities; the Central Maine Growth Council board of directors; the general assembly for the Kennebec Regional Development Authority; and a committee of the Maine Municipal Association.

Other awards that will be given by the chamber on April 27, and their recipients, include:

• Distinguished Community Service: Kenneth Quirion

• Small Business of the Year: The Robin’s Nest

• Large Business of the Year: Ware-Butler Building Supply


• Exceptional Volunteer of the Year: Lynne Dailey

• Outstanding Professional: Courtney Yeager, United Way of Kennebec Valley

• Rising Star: Jamie Plourde, Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate

• Customer Service Stardom: Dana Carey, Central Maine Motors Auto Group

• Elias A. Joseph Award: Joy McKenna, MaineGeneral Medical Center

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