PARIS – Oxford County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint state Rep. Tom Winsor of Norway as acting county administrator.
He takes over for Scott Cole of Bethel, who was placed on paid administrative leave Friday after nine years on the job.
The commissioners, David Duguay, Steve Merrill and Tim Turner, and their attorney, Bryan Dench of Skelton Taintor & Abbott in Auburn, remained tight-lipped on what prompted them to place Cole on leave.
“As with any governing body, the question is whether there is confidence in the leadership moving forward,” Dench said.
Lawyer James Pross, also of Skelton Taintor & Abbott, said Cole’s comments, reported in the Sun Journal on Tuesday, that he is on administrative leave pending a termination hearing “aren’t entirely true.”
Pross said he and Dench were “not going to get into too many details” about the situation.
“From the commissioners’ perspective, having worked with Scott, they’ve found that he’s a very capable professional and that he’ll have a fine road ahead of him,” Pross said.
“Right now, the commissioners are focused on working diligently on behalf of the county to determine what is in the best interest of the county, in terms of Scott’s position, and what’s best for Scott.”
Added Pross, “Things will be happening over the next week or so,” and more information will be released as “the parties involved contemplate the road ahead of them.”
Duguay urged county department heads to keep conversations about Cole “positive.”
“We hope for this to be a positive thing for Scott, and for the county,” Duguay added.
Duguay said Winsor agreed to serve temporarily and would “likely be in the office on a daily basis.”
Winsor, a Republican, said he will continue as a state representative until December, when he leaves office because Maine law does not allow representatives to serve more than four consecutive two-year terms.