As we exit 2023 and head into a new year, I could tout my hopes for 2024. But I thought it would be infinitely more interesting to hear from Waterville area leaders about theirs.

In that vein, I asked about a dozen city and town managers, as well as police and fire chiefs, for their input, in a sentence or two.

Winslow Town Manager Ella Bowman says central Maine communities need to consider more regionalization of key services.  Contributed photo

Some officials provided more than that, delving into challenges facing their communities and proposing ways to help solve them. For instance, in Winslow, new Town Manager Ella Bowman said she has a lot of hopes for the new year, but unfortunately municipalities will continue to struggle with shortages of emergency services personnel including police officers and fire-rescue workers.

“This has turned into a supply and demand situation where the town who offers the most money wins,” she said. “Emergency personnel have become nomadic, migrating to the highest-paying towns with the best benefits and schedules. When you combine this problem with the rising cost of operations, taxpayers are paying a tremendous price for municipal services.”

Bowman believes the next logical step is regionalization.

“This uncomfortable conversation needs to take place between neighboring regional communities. Hometown rule is strong in Maine, but we are at a breaking point. With communities like Winslow, Fairfield and Waterville all bordering each other, it only makes sense to share manpower, equipment and, sometimes, leadership. I can envision a Police Commission that operates in a central location. This would allow for assigning police officers to precincts within each town. How many ladder trucks do we truly need in our little region? If you count Oakland, we have four. I feel that one would serve all communities without issue. The bottom line is, we as community and municipal leaders need to start thinking outside the box. By doing this, taxpayers win, services improve, and staffing shortages evaporate.”


Leonard Macdaid, Winslow’s public safety director, echoed Bowman’s sentiments, saying he did not introduce the idea of having a public safety department in Winslow, but he is glad to be part of it — and it is working. The town is saving money by not having both a fire and police chief, and police and fire officials are training together, he said, adding that the goal is to have police and firefighters cross train.

Leonard Macdaid is seen in his office at the Police Department at the Winslow Town Office in Winslow in November 2020. Macdaid was recently selected as the town’s director of public safety, overseeing both the police and fire-rescue operations. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

“None of the services have dropped; in fact I think they’ve been improved,” Macdaid said.

The town, he said, is down four police officers and four firefighters.

“We’re at crunch time so that’s why things like public safety departments have to be looked at.”

Macdaid convened a committee of fire and police chiefs, directors of private and public ambulance services and others to try to come up with the best solution for the issues facing public safety.

In Oakland, fire Chief David Coughlin said the new year is an excellent time to think about community preparedness and he wanted to remind people to check their smoke detectors to make sure they are working correctly.


“If you need a smoke detector, contact us,” he said.

Oakland fire Chief David Coughlin encourages people to develop family disaster plans.  Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Coughlin said he hopes families take time to develop a family disaster plan, particularly in the wake of a pandemic and major winter storms.

“Creating an emergency preparedness kit with supplies that will last several days after a disaster, including food and water, is one way to ensure your family is ready in the event of a power outage or evacuation situation,” he said. “Another component of a family disaster plan is to know your evacuation routes and have your emergency preparedness kit ready to go in case you do need to leave your home quickly. We hope for a new year of continued success and safety of our community.”

Waterville City Manager Bryan Kaenrath offered an upbeat message for 2024, saying he hopes to see continued revitalization of downtown as well as further economic development efforts and job opportunities for all city residents.

“I also hope to continue positive collaboration with the Waterville school department to support and further improve our public schools,” he said.

Waterville police Chief William Bonney said he has high hopes for the new year. The city, he said, is heading in a great direction with excellent leadership and engaged community partners.


Waterville police Chief William Bonney says he has high hopes for 2024.  Photo by Patrisha McLean

“I look forward to implementing a community resource officer position at the beginning of this year,” Bonney said. “This is a position which will help the police department meet the needs of the community by addressing quality of life issues and continuing to focus on positive solutions to challenging problems. I am happy to say that we still have officers enrolled in the community policing program at the University of Maine, Augusta, and we look forward to each patrol officer becoming certified in community policing. While there are many things to look forward to in 2024, one of the most exciting prospects is becoming fully staffed for the first time in a long time. This will help us continue to provide excellent police services to the community while focusing on problem solving and helping Waterville remain a great place to live and work.”

I saved Fairfield police Chief Tom Gould’s hopes for last, as I think they aptly echo what many of us feel, not only locally, but around the world:

“Unity, compassion and understanding should be a goal for everyone during 2024,” he said. “We, as adults, need to display these attributes to our children. They are our future and all my hopes rest on their success.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She is the author of the book, “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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