Wiscasset’s Robert MacDonald has had a big month, a huge month, he said, turning 60 March 18 and retiring March 6 after 31 years working for the town, most of them as Wiscasset Community Center’s facilities manager. Monday night, March 21 at Samoset Resort, thinking he was there to see WCC get an award from Maine Recreation and Parks Association, he instead got a surprise. The association gave him its outstanding parks professional honor, Town Manager Dennis Simmons said.
And Tuesday night, March 22, selectmen voted to name WCC’s gym the Robert MacDonald Community Gymnasium. In a phone interview immediately afterward, MacDonald said Parks and Recreation Director Duane Goud had, at a retirement luncheon, mentioned selectmen would be considering it. MacDonald was not at the selectmen’s meeting. Hearing they had approved the naming and that Simmons and they had strongly praised him and his service, MacDonald said, “Oh, no kidding.”
MacDonald recalled being school board chair “when we got to bestow that honor” on Eugene Stover by dedicating Wiscasset High School’s gym as Stover Auditorium. “And now where they want to honor me with that at the community center, I just, oh, I truly appreciate that and, gosh ... That’s something that ends up standing ... for perpetuity.” He expressed thanks for the support residents and his supervisors have shown him over the years. “They inspired me to do what I was able to do ... And at the end of the day, I’ve always been very proud to work there. I love the town.”
As for the award in Rockport the night before, MacDonald called it a “huge honor.” He said he always saw his work for the town as being a part of “such a cohesive team. We all have to pull the rope together. And so to get an individual award is pretty amazing, and I really appreciate the sentiment from the Maine Recreation and Parks Association. It was very overwhelming,” he added. He will leave the plaque at WCC a while.
MacDonald reflected on his career with the town as always gratifying and “certainly something that was a great thing for me. I truly appreciate the support that I received from the town for 31 years.”
Simmons told the board MacDonald worked at WCC 25 years and, before that, at the transfer station. He said MacDonald was “pretty much a fixture” at WCC. “He kept that placing humming and did a great job for the town.” Simmons said Goud asked for the gym to be named for MacDonald. “I can’t think of a more fitting ... person,” Simmons said.
“That’s wonderful,” Selectman Terry Heller said.
MacDonald is “very excellent at handling people,” Selectman William “Bill” Maloney said.
“He’s going to be very badly missed, very much so,” Simmons added.
Selectmen’s Chair Sarah Whitfield read aloud the resolve Goud proposed selectmen pass; they did, 5-0. The resolve, which Simmons said will hang at the center, noted MacDonald’s many years maintaining WCC, “including countless hours of cleaning, prepping and refinishing the gym floor ... The Wiscasset Select Board, on behalf of the grateful patrons of the Community Center and the residents of Wiscasset, wish Bob all the best in the next chapter of his life.”
MacDonald told Wiscasset Newspaper he chose to retire at 60 because, he always said, time cannot be bought. What is next? He and wife Valerie are building a house about 100 miles away, in Guilford. Will he still come to Wiscasset? “Oh, gosh, yeah. You don’t just leave Wiscasset.”
Also March 21, selectmen approved lone bidder RHR Smith for auditing services – $26,300 for year one, $27,300 for year two and $28,800 for year three; reappointed Peter Wells to the cemetery committee; nodded business licenses for Midcoast Beauty & Wellness Suites, 681 Bath Road, and High Tide Printing Company, 6 Railroad Ave.; and agreed to accept from Gary Joselyn, and seek bids on, 24-foot sailboat “Time Being.” Simmons said Joselyn owed the town $1,674 in user fees and $1,190 for the boat’s removal.
Noting his visit earlier that day to the former primary school he said is now planned to open as senior housing in May 2024, Simmons said he was pleased with progress, is excited about the project, thinks the center will be a good thing for the town and said calls of interest continue to come in from potential residents of it. The building is gutted down to the studs; next comes rebuilding it, he said.
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