Oxford County Administrator Donald Durrah, second from left, stands Tuesday with Oxford County Commissioners, from left, Steven Merrill of Norway, Chairman Timothy Turner of Buckfield and David Duguay of Byron. Oxford County photo

PARIS — The Oxford County Commission did not need the full six months to evaluate the performance of interim County Administrator Donald Durrah.

Commissioners on Tuesday removed the interim tag on Durrah’s title, naming him the administrator.

The former head of the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in Paris has demonstrated in his five months as acting head of the county the ability to build relationships, set priorities, foster a teamwork approach and solve problems. During his tenure he helped ease the county out of pandemic restrictions and directed the effort to deorganize Magalloway to become an unorganized territory.

He thanked the department heads and staff for their assistance for the past few months and praised them for their teamwork in coming up with solutions to problems.

Durrah joined the county in 2019 to oversee its communication center. He formerly worked as the 911 supervisor for Cumberland County for nearly 20 years. He succeeds Tom Winsor of Norway, who resigned last year.

Durrah, who maintained his leadership role for Oxford County Regional Communication Center during his six-month trial, will relinquish those duties. Deputy Director Geff Inman will serve as interim director for the foreseeable future.

Earlier in the meeting, Durrah told commissioners about a potential plan to partner with Community Concepts to facilitate spending American Rescue Plan funds. The county is scheduled to receive $11.2 million from the federal government.

Commissioners agreed with Durrah that the money should be used for projects that encompass the entire county. Among the ideas he offered were broadband improvements and upgrading the radio system to eliminate dead spots.

In other business, commissioners agreed to spend more than $1 million to replace Meadowbrook Bridge in Mason Township. The two-lane structure would replace the one-lane bridge. County road agent Todd Sawyer estimated the bridge could be in place by March 2022, with paving completed by next summer.

The board also agreed to appoint a sexton at each of the four cemeteries in the unorganized territories. The sexton could oversee the maintenance at the cemeteries and the placement of plots, but would not be authorized to spend money.

John Kimball serves as the sexton at Hunts Corner Cemetery in Albany Township, but the other three cemeteries — York, also in Albany Township, Magalloway and Mason — do not have sextons.

“I think it’s in our best interest to have sextons there,” Durrah said. “This way all of them would be set up the same way.” He added that cemeteries are “an emotional topic for many communities.”

Durrah said he believes Kimball would agree to serve as sextons of Mason and York cemeteries. He added that he has a lead on someone to serve as sexton for Magalloway.

Commissioners approved spending up to $8,000 from the Byrne-Jag Grant for safety equipment for the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office employees and cruisers.

Michael Fitzmorris and Joshua Aylward were promoted from deputy to corporal in the Sheriff’s Office and Matthew McDonnell was promoted from deputy to sergeant. Nickolas Von Husem was hired as a new deputy for the department.

In corrections, Daniel Landry was promoted from corporal to nighttime sergeant, while Austin Talgo voluntarily agreed to drop in rank from corporal to a corrections officer to return to the day shift.

Sheriff Christopher Wainwright noted that calls for service are up 10% from last year’s record levels. Deeds and probate are seeing large increases in document filings.

“It’s crazy. We’re so busy,” Register of Probate Jennifer Dilworth said.

She noted that passports, which were taking four to six weeks to process before the pandemic, are now taking the federal government 18 weeks to process.


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