John Brenenstuhl has stepped down as director of the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency four months after being put on paid administrative leave. Ashley Allen/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA —  John Brenenstuhl, who was hired in June to head up Kennebec County’s Emergency Management Agency, has agreed to step down after just six months on the job.

A recent separation agreement, signed by Brenenstuhl, states there is no admission of liability, wrongdoing or unlawful conduct on either Brenenstuhl’s part or that of the county. His last day was Dec. 4.

The move comes several months after he was put on administrative leave with little explanation in August. When asked at that time, County Administrator Scott Ferguson cited personnel reasons.

Weeks later, Ferguson confirmed Brenenstuhl remained on paid leave while completing some work for the county.

While Brenenstuhl has been on leave, Sean Goodwin, the county’s longtime EMA director who retired in June 2022, has been serving as acting director.

Brenenstuhl has not commented on the situation. He confirmed Thursday that he signed the document.


The terms of the 12-page agreement reached between him and the Kennebec County commissioners include a confidentiality clause that bars him from speaking about the agreement, negotiations to reach the agreement or the money paid to him under the agreement.

The agreement states that he will be paid $12,057.68, less applicable withholding taxes and deductions.

In signing the document, Brenenstuhl agrees not say anything disparaging about the county, and the county agrees to confirm his dates of employment for employment verification.

The vacancy Brenenstuhl filled was created when Art True resigned in April after 10 months on the job. True was appointed agency director in June 2022 to succeed Goodwin. True had served previously as deputy director and worked for more than a decade in various capacities in county emergency management.

The Emergency Management Agency is responsible for putting together the county’s all-hazard emergency response plan and keeping it up to date. It helps cities and towns with local disaster planning and, if needed, damage recovery efforts. It also has a role in homeland security preparedness, which includes securing grant funding to pay for training and to acquire equipment for local emergency response agencies.

Before coming to Kennebec County, Brenenstuhl had been a planner in the Piscataquis County EMA office.

Brenenstuhl has spent his entire career either in fire or emergency medical services, starting as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Poestenkill, New York, before moving on to fire departments in Albany, New York, and High Point, North Carolina.

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