The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it will keep the Wilton Call Center open. The call center lease will be extended for another year, contingent on the improvement of service issues by landlord Randal Cousineau. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

WILTON — Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it is reversing its decision to close the Wilton Call Center.

In a statement to the Sun Journal, Maine DHHS Director of Communications Jackie Farwell wrote that the decision was made “in response to worker concerns about commuting to Lewiston and the landlord’s recent commitment to improved service.”

“The Department will continue to track service response for the facility to ensure worker health and safety,” she wrote.

DHHS had previously told call center employees it was closing the Wilton Call Center and transferring employees to the DHHS building in Lewiston.

DHHS explained it was terminating the lease due to lack of space in the facility and issues with the building landlord, Randal Cousineau.

Employees raised concerns that they would not be able to make the timely, costly commute and would subsequently be out of work. Before the reversal, 45 employees stood to be out of a job.


The Franklin County legislative delegation — state Sen. Russell Black, R-Franklin, Rep. Randall Hall, R-Wilton, and Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington — were unhappy with the decision and the way it was handled.

They felt that the closure went against Gov. Janet Mills’s goal to bolster rural economies through various policies and funding plans.

The delegation also felt DHHS did not do its “due diligence” to find an alternative space in the Franklin County region.

The delegation eventually met with DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Mills administration Legislative Director Tom Abello to find a solution.

DHHS subsequently extended the building lease with Cousineau for another year.

The yearlong lease extension is “contingent on (Cousineau’s) recent commitment to service improvements,” according to a statement from the Maine Senate Republicans.


Black is hopeful that the DHHS will renew the lease beyond next year, as well.

Farwell wrote that “this decision reflects the (Mills) administration’s goal of continuing to support the economy in rural Maine as well as its commitment to providing safe, sufficient workspace for its workers.”

“We value the employees who perform this important work and will continue to do all we can to support them,” she wrote.

“It feels good to be able to help some state employees keep their jobs,” Black said. “That’s part of why we go to Augusta, to be able to help our constituents.”

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