PARIS ā€” A former Bethel town manager will become the new administrator for Oxford County, after a unanimous vote by a selection committee.

Scott Cole, 48, of Bethel was chosen to succeed Carole Fulton, who has held the position for more than 25 years and will retire at the end of the year.

David Duguay, chairman of the Oxford County commissioners, said Cole will begin orientation for the position immediately. Duguay said the intent of the commissioners was to have someone chosen in time to take part in the county budget process.

“We wanted somebody, in October, and we really had to start everything early,” he said. “Everything just fell into place.”

Duguay said commissioners received about a dozen applications for the position, and narrowed their focus primarily to people who had previously worked as town managers. A panel consisting of Fulton, the three commissioners, and Sheriff Wayne Gallant interviewed nine applicants.

Cole served as Bethel town manager from 1999 until earlier this year, when the town’s selectmen declined to renew his $77,000-a-year contract.

Duguay said the county administrator manages the day-to-day operations of the county, and that the role is similar to that of a town manager. He said the duties include managing the heads of different county departments; ensuring that unorganized territories are provided with emergency services, road maintenance, and other services; serving as a liaison between commissioners and elected county officials; overseeing the maintenance of county buildings; and managing the Oxford County Regional Airport in Oxford.

“He brings to the new position a lot of things that we think will be helpful, including but not limited to experience managing an airport,” Duguay said.

Cole was also the manager of the Bethel Regional Airport in his role as town manager there. Cole said he has also developed and implemented budgets, overseen infrastructure projects, and set up several regional efforts related to solid waste disposal.

Cole said he saw the position as a unique opportunity to return to work that is similar to his former position. He said it was also appealing that he would not have to relocate to take the position.

I’m excited,” Cole said. “It’s going to be interesting work, and I’m looking forward to learning new things.”

Cole graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and the University of Maine with a master’s degree in public administration. He also served as a transportation officer in the U.S. Army beginning in 1984, and resigned his commission as a captain in 1990.

Cole served as the town manager of Belgrade from 1990 until 1992, when he became the town manager of Standish. According to the Portland Press Herald archives, the town council there approved an $86,000 buyout of the remainder of Cole’s contract in a controversial 4-3 decision in 1999.

Duguay said Cole will begin serving as administrator at the beginning of 2010 with an annual salary of $59,000.

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