Don Lagrange at the 2018 Town Meeting. He resigned as code enforcement officer last week after more than a decade serving the town, including seven years as town manager. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Lagrange resigns



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Code Enforcement Officer Don Lagrange resigned last week, according to Town Manager Justin VanDongen.

After serving the town for a dozen years in multiple roles, including seven years as town manager, Lagrange handed in his letter of resignation on Wednesday, June 19, VanDongen said.

Details of the resignation letter have not been made public.

Chad Terry, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and VanDongen officially accepted Lagrange’s resignation June 20 following a Planning Board meeting that Lagrange attended in his official capacity.

On Tuesday, June 25, selectmen unanimously approved accelerating the 60-day notice in Lagrange’s contract, per suggestion of the town’s attorney, during the Tuesday night meeting.

Selectman Kristin Hutchins thanked Lagrange for his service to the town.

“We’re sitting in a room he built,” said Selectman Ryan Donahue about the meeting room at the Town Office.

The Board of Selectmen was expected to appoint an interim code enforcement officer at their Tuesday meeting, but VanDongen but had not found a replacement by the time the meeting took place.

“Basically the response I’ve gotten is, ‘I’m too busy, but I’m willing to help out for a couple of weeks,’” VanDongen told the board about CEOs from neighboring towns.

Tremont was the first town he approached. Town Manager Chris Saunders told VanDongen that he had also been looking for someone to pick up CEO hours for the town.

Tremont Code Enforcement Officer John Larson serves more than one town in that role and has needed to take time off for personal reasons. When VanDongen approached Lamoine officials, he was told their CEO also serves seven towns in that role.

VanDongen said finding a licensed plumbing inspector (LPI) is more difficult than someone to do code enforcement. An LPI requires more stringent certification that needs to be in place upon hiring, he said.

“We need somebody this week to act on permits,” VanDongen told the board. He has scheduled a meeting with Lamoine’s CEO/LPI.

Selectman Lydia Goetze mentioned VanDongen’s qualifications as CEO and asked if he could fill in for the town.

“I could cover as code enforcement,” VanDongen responded. “I just don’t think it would be that effective.”

Lagrange was originally appointed by selectmen in 2007 as the town’s CEO and LPI. In July 2011, he stepped into the role of town manager on an interim basis when former town manager Robin Bennett resigned.

In December of that year, Lagrange was chosen out of approximately 20 applicants to be town manager with a five-year contract.

In March 2017, Lagrange submitted a letter of resignation from the town manager position, effective June 2018. When the town hired VanDongen to replace him in May 2018, Lagrange continued on as code enforcement officer and licensed plumbing inspector.

Selectmen unanimously approved VanDongen appointing someone into the position immediately once he has found a suitable, temporary replacement.

“We’ve got to cover stuff immediately because there’s stuff going on,” said Hutchins just before the vote.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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