Media Archive

Two vie for county post

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 43, October 27, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Two candidates are hoping to fill the vacancy on the Piscataquis County Commissioners left with the retirement of Eben DeWitt of Milo.

DeWitt served 20 years as a county commissioner, most recently as chairman of that board.

The Third District seat serves the communities of Milo, Brownville, Atkinson, Lakeview Plantation, Bowerbank, Lakeview, Medford, Milo, Sebec, Willimantic, and the Unorganized Territories of Barnard, Orneville, Northeast Piscataquis, excluding Elliotsville, Northwest Piscataquis and Southeast Piscataquis.

Dennis Green of Brownville and Fred Trask of Lakeview Plantation are vying for that open seat.

Green, running as the Democratic candidate, is currently chairman of the Brownville Board of Selectmen and Trask, a Republican, is First Assessor of the Lakeview Board of Assessors. Both men have served their communities in various capacities for the past two decades.

Dennis Green

Green grew up in Dexter and moved to Millinocket upon graduating high school.

He is a retired motor sergeant with the Army National Guard, and currently works at Katahdin Paper Co. (formerly Great Northern Paper Co.) in Millinocket. He has worked in the paper mill for the past 25 years, most recently in the prevention-maintenance program.

In 1976, he moved to Brownville with his family wife Marie Claudette Green and four children, Tammy Jo, Beatrice, Claude and Roscoe.

There, he explained, he is responsible for keeping on top of equipment maintenance in order to avoid expensive break-downs, which can cost money as well as time. "We try to fix things before they break in order to save the company money,'' he said. "The more 'up' time, the less expense in the long-run."

Green wants to take that same theory and use it in government. He has spent, in his estimation, about two decades as town selectman in Brownville. As a town official, he has become familiar with the issues that face his town from the more prominent issues of rising property taxes, economic development and jobs, to more localized issues such as the town's police department, a comprehensive plan and the maintenance of roads and sidewalks.

He hopes to use that knowledge and address many of the same issues that occur on a county-wide basis.

"County government isn't much different than town government ... just bigger, with the same concerns," he said.

As a five-year member of the county's budget committee. Green said, "I know there's a lot of concern about taxes going up" on the county level. "Rightfully so," he continued. "But those buildings have to be taken care of, the sheriff's department has to be maintained ... We try to keep taxes as low as we can, but wages
will go up."

Green said he supports the county's bonding to support economic development. By focusing on bringing jobs and business to the region, he said, the county's tax base could expand therefore spreading the impact on individual taxpayers.

He praised the county commissioners for "getting the ball rolling" on economic development, by ensuring the county's ability to bond for such purpose.

"Individual towns really can't afford to take these things on on their own," Green said. "This needs to be more of a county effort."

He said his philosophy as a municipal official would remain the same if elected to the county post "I try to do the best I can for the people.

Besides representing the town as a selectman.

Green also has volunteered for the fire department. He is also a member of the Masonic Lodges in Brownville and Millinocket and the American Legion in Brownville. He has 10 grandchildren, and his interests include wood
working and tractors.

Fred Trask

Trask was bom in Milo and graduated from Milo High School along with Husson College in Bangor.

He held his first job in the personnel department at Gui1ford Industries for five years, later working at Milo Community Hospital as a business manager.

In 1975, he joined his father Claude Trask at Trask Insurance Agency in Milo as an insurance agent.

He moved to Lakeview Plantation in 1982 and after a year, decided to run for election to the Lakeview Plantation Board of Assessors. He joined that board in 1983, and has held his position for every year but one to this date.

In a plantation, the board of assessors oversees the handling and billing of property taxes. Residents appropriate expenditures from the floor at the annual town meeting.

He said that while Lakeview has few year round residents, the plantation pays the sixth highest county tax, due to high waterfront property values and the lack of any industry.

Trask sees the importance of growing the county economy from the bottom up. He said that regional cooperatives among towns make sense, but he added that the county "should not get involved in town issues.

He said he supports the county bond for economic development, but admitted to having some concerns although he doesn't "see an alternative at this time," "We want jobs in this area, and we're willing to work with other towns" to attract jobs, he said.

He said some people from smaller towns in the county may not see the direct benefit of supporting the bond, which helps fund projects in Milo, Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville. However, there are benefits, he said.

When those projects bring development into the county, there is a ripple effect that translates into the availability of more jobs and more services, such as expanded shopping opportunities.

In addition, the projects in those towns bump up the value of those towns, which means those towns pay a larger chunk of the county and school assessments.

Trask said the region's businesses should focus on creating and marketing value-added products that take advantage of the natural resources found here.

He served on the board of BARCO Federal Credit Union in the late 1980s. He served eight years in the late 1970s to 1980s on the Milo Fire Department.

He is a former member of Three Rivers Fish and Game Club.

He started the Schoodic Lake Association in 1984 to preserve and protect Schoodic Lake. For more than a decade, Trask has served on the Southern Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce and the board of Three Rivers Ambulance in Milo. He is a past, present and continuing member of Three Rivers Kiwanis in Milo and Brownville. He also sits on the Penquis Solid Waste Corp. board of directors.

Trask said he is running for county commissioner because he sees it as the next logical step in his public service. He said he is not running to "change" anything immediately, as he understands there will be a period of adjustment and learning the ins and outs of county government.

He lives in Lakeview with his wife, Lois Trask. The couple has one son, Brian, who lives in Massachusetts.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.