Joanne Charpentier took a chance, bested dozens of other applicants for the job of her dreams, and then stayed there.

The Lewiston native has worked for four different sheriffs as an administrative assistant at the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office. That dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed: The Maine Sheriff’s Association recognized her last spring with an honorable mention for Employee of the Year for all her years of service.

Name: Joanne Charpentier

Age: 61

Lives: Poland

What first drew you to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office? Early on in high school, I discovered that my interest in the business world was where I wanted to be. In order to gain some experience, I volunteered to work after school at several state and federally funded offices, two of which were the Department of Human Services located on Lisbon Street and also the 4C Office.

At the time, Lewiston Community Development Director Carol Tracy knew that I was volunteering and suggested to me that I should put in an application for the city of Lewiston. I remember the day when she came to the state agency and personally escorted me to Lewiston City Hall. Upon graduation in 1973 from Lewiston High School, Lucien B. Gosselin hired me as a temporary summer employee to work in the Controller’s Office. A full-time opening became available in the Treasurer’s Office and after working there for a few years, I transferred to the Lewiston Water Department.

In 1981, there was a job opening for an executive secretary to the sheriff of Androscoggin County. I applied because this would have meant a giant leap forward in salary and benefits, as well as filling a long-time goal of mine to be a private secretary and have my own office. I discovered that I was competing with 58 other applicants for the job. I very nearly didn’t bother, but later decided to toss my hat into the ring.

I was interviewed by the then-newly elected Sheriff Joseph P. Laliberte and his chief deputy, Ronald B. Gagnon. I was interviewed a second time and then, again, a third time before I was told that I got the job. In just a few months, I will have a total of 43 years of service working for government.

How has your role changed over the years? The job has changed dramatically. For example, in 1981, there were 28 employees versus 86 presently. Also, the budget was $550,000 versus nearly $7.8 million today. All of my typing was done on an IBM Selectric typewriter. My contacts were in my Rolodex and telephones were not automated. Computers were just being introduced; carbon paper and Wite-Out were no longer necessary.

What can be the highlight of an average day? There aren’t many “average” days, but after a sometimes stressful and very busy day, the ride home, of course!

How many sheriffs have you worked for and what’s something that has stood out about each one? I have worked for four sheriffs: Joseph P. Laliberte, Ronald B. Gagnon, Guy P. Desjardins and presently Eric G. Sampson. Each one differed in their priorities and management style. It’s just a matter of adjusting to their differences. I am happy to say that I am still in contact in one way or another with all the former sheriffs.

Word has it, you always have a smile on. How do you keep that up? It is really an honor and a privilege for me to be the sheriff’s administrative assistant. I truly love my job and am very happy to have the opportunity to assist the sheriff in any way I can.

Over the years, I have been able to work with all the staff at one time or another and have an enormous amount of respect for them and the positions they hold. Their jobs are very difficult and dangerous at times. When they come to me with a question, or a problem, nothing pleases me more than to be able to assist them. It’s always a wonderful feeling to come to work where you are respected and appreciated.

How did it feel to be recognized by the Maine Sheriff’s Association? I was completely overwhelmed when Sheriff Samson and Chief Deputy Gagne told me that I had been chosen for an award. Sheriff Samson nominated me for the Employee of the Year Award and I was recognized by the Maine Sheriffs Association at their annual meeting and convention in Portland. It was very intimidating for me to go up on stage to accept this award, but in hindsight, I had a great time.

You’re an avid reader: The last book you recommended to a friend? No recommendations, however, I do love light reading! No “War and Peace” for me!

Last TV show or movie recommended to a friend? TV show: “Everybody Loves Raymond” for lots of laughs. Movie: Lee Daniels and “The Butler.” An extraordinary story line.

Best way to spend a weekend if you could be anywhere, doing anything: Someplace warm, relaxing at the ocean with sand between my toes and a drink in my hand.

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