Steve French, superintendent of the Mechanic Falls Water Department, sits on the bucket of the backhoe loader June 21 outside the department. He retired from the job Thursday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

MECHANIC FALLS — Steve French, superintendent of the Mechanic Falls Water Department for 15 years, retired Thursday, marking the end of a varied and influential leadership career in Androscoggin County.

French, 70, oversaw the general operations of the Water Department since he was appointed superintendent in 2007, while also serving as chief of the Minot Fire Department for 26 years until 2011. French also ended his tenure on the Minot Board of Selectmen this year, giving up his seat in the last election in March.

“To work for somebody that long and still have a professional and personal friendship is self evident, and I wish him the best in his retirement and I hope that we continue to see him at meetings and trainings and being a member of the department for a long time,” said Minot Fire Chief James Allen, who worked alongside French for 37 years. “I learned an awful lot from him and I probably would not have been a chief if it wasn’t for him.”

French started his water department career in Auburn where he grew up, working for the Auburn Water District immediately after high school for 14 years and subsequently working as a contractor for a year before joining the Mechanic Falls Water Department.

“When I first started as fire chief it was the West Minot Fire Company, and during my tenure, we approached the town, and we were made a department of the town. It was about that same time that Minot first responders were incorporated into the department also. I oversaw the building of the new station and bought four trucks,” French said.

“When the opening came to (Mechanic Falls), I decided I really enjoyed working for waterworks,” he said.


French is also a member of the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, representing Minot, Buckfield and Hebron for nearly 15 years.

“I worked with Steve on the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission for years, and he was a great advocate for maintaining water quality in the lake and watershed protection efforts in the surrounding towns and areas. We were very happy to have him as the long-standing board member and wish him the best in retirement,” Erica Kidd, watershed manager working jointly for the Auburn Water District and the City of Lewiston Water Division, said.

“Steve’s got a great wit to him, always has a smile, and understood what it meant to be a commissioner and took great pride in what he did,” Michael Broadbent, secretary for the Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, said. “I hope he can take some time to enjoy himself.”

“I was brought up on the shores of Lake Auburn and after working for the Auburn Water District became interested in the lake, and being in the water business was a natural transition into the fire department,” French said.

French turns 71 a week after his retirement and plans to take contracting jobs when possible, with time for fishing in between, staying close to his wife who is a resident at Montello Manor in Lewiston.

“I have a camp in Jackman and I’m going to spend some time there and take a couple of odd jobs offered to me sparingly so I’ll keep busy,” French said, who professes a keen interest in construction, building his own camp and two houses with his son.

Steve French, superintendent of the Mechanic Falls Water Department, leans against his truck  June 21 outside the department garage. He retired from the job Thursday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

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