Community service

County Characters: Longtime Damariscotta City Official, Businessman Urges Community Service

Mark Hagar stands outside the Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta on Monday, June 27. In addition to founding Hagar Enterprises Inc., Hagar served on the Great Salt Bay Health District Board of Directors for six years, the Damariscotta Select Board of Directors for 12 years, and currently works as a facilities manager for GSB. (Photo by Evan Houk)

After a lifetime of service to Damariscotta and surrounding communities, Mark Hagar recently retired from the Damariscotta Select Board of Directors and indicated that he would like to see more people involved in community service and municipal government.

“It is a privilege to serve. I think it’s important that we open this up and show our younger kids here with the student council what it’s like,” Hagar said during an interview outside Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta on Monday, June 27. .

Hagar, who was born in Damariscotta and raised in Nobleboro, got his start in community service with the student council at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, where he graduated in 1979.

“You have to get involved if you want to be part of the process,” Hagar said.

Hagar was a Fishery Officer for Newcastle and Nobleboro, six years on the Great Salt Bay Health District Board, a total of 12 years on the Damariscotta Select Board, served on the city’s Comprehensive Plan Committee in 1992 and to the Charter Commission in 1994, and to the Great Salt Bay Consolidated School District Building Committee.

In addition to his extensive volunteer work, Hagar founded Damariscotta’s Hagar Enterprises Inc. in 1987 as a landscaping and trash removal business which his sons expanded into a multi-million dollar construction and paving business. dollars.

Hagar instilled lessons in caring for each other, mutual respect for neighbors and involvement in local affairs in her three children – Seth, Justin and Katie.

“It’s like I’ve always told my kids, ‘You just treat other people the way you want to be treated and you’ll be fine,'” Hagar said.

Mutual respect and openness are key to getting things done in local government, Hagar said.

“There will be times when we will disagree, but you have to overcome that,” he said.

Hagar said growing up in Nobleboro he always admired the Damariscotta Select Board because they were “more active” and had a business district in town.

After a stint in Key Largo at the exclusive Ocean Reef Club, Hagar returned home and built a house in Damariscotta with his ex-wife, Cindy.

“Having a business and working 100 hours a week is pretty tough,” Hagar said.

He noted he was a “workaholic” like his sons Seth and Justin, who bought the family business in 2004.

Hagar also served on the Damariscotta Fire Department, was a member of the Damariscotta-Newcastle Lion’s Club for four years, served on the Damariscotta Board of Appeals, as well as the city police department committee.

Hagar currently works at Great Salt Bay Community School as a facilities manager, where he started 15 years ago. The work allowed him to see his grandchildren go to school.

“As long as it doesn’t feel like a job, I’ll keep doing it,” Hagar said. “I will always do something.”

Hagar’s push into Damariscotta’s government came at a time when he said he was young and “a bit arrogant”, he said. He saw something that didn’t seem right and helped start a petition to change the city’s board of directors from three to five in the early 1990s.

“What I saw happening in this town was you had a three-member council and you could see that two of those people would be at the local restaurant making decisions,” Hagar said. “It was disheartening because they had already made up their minds and the third board member was left out.”

The original 1987 charter was amended in 1994 to establish a select five-member council after being voted on by the townspeople. Hagar then served on the city’s charter commission, which crafted amendments to the original 1987 charter, including a change from city administrator to administrative assistant. Damariscotta now has a city manager.

He said he was very grateful to have served on boards with people like RH Reny and Frank Avantaggio, who taught him so much about how municipal government works.

Hagar served on the Great Salt Bay Health District Board of Trustees from 1990 to 1996, seeing the water district through an expansion to Biscay Road and the Great Salt Bay Community School.

He personally paid for a pumping station and to extend the health district lines from the Biscay Road intersection to where Damariscotta Dialysis currently stands. He said it was simply part of his core ethic to engage in public service and help others.

Hagar was first elected to the Damariscotta Select Board in 1996, serving until 2000. He was re-elected in 2016 and completed his second consecutive three-year term this year.

In his 12 years on the board, Hagar has always focused on long-term planning and believes in “letting the city manager do his job” by handling day-to-day administrative tasks.

Hagar would like to see a long-term road program put in place, to rebuild and maintain the city’s roads on a rotating basis. The city used this method to rebuild Back Meadow Road in phases during Hagar’s time on the board, he said.

“It’s been years because it was done right,” Hagar said of the road quality. “In the long run, it’s actually cheaper.”

Hagar also served on the city’s solid waste committee, helping craft a solid waste ordinance that allowed the city to pay the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station per capita for city residents to use the facility.

“Being a service center is always something that comes back, and still comes back today. The city of Damariscotta ends up paying a lot of services for the whole county that we use,” Hagar said.

Hagar noted that serving on the board is a serious commitment that those interested in volunteering their time should consider.

“It’s not just about showing up on Wednesday night. You should do some research,” Hagar said.

Always on the move, in her recent retirement from government business, Hagar looks to the future with another community-focused goal in mind – to start delivering food with Meals on Wheels.

“Some of these older people, they’re at home and they don’t see anyone for periods of time,” Hagar said. “They’re always eagerly waiting for someone to come bring them lunch and have a few words with them.”

“I think the biggest thing is community service,” Hagar said.

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