Incoming Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station Manager Barry Howell (left) and outgoing manager John Nichols. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
By Dominik Lobkowicz
Though the official transition will not take place until Thursday, Jan. 2, the new manager of the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station started work Dec. 21 and has been training under his predecessor.
Barry Howell, of Nobleboro, will be taking the reins from John Nichols, who has served as the transfer station manager for the last three years.
Howell was a teacher for the last 17 years at Whitefield Elementary School, and ran a horse farm for 14 years before that.
Howell said he was eying the job opening for manager three years ago, before Nichols started, but was not ready to make the change at the time.
“I was ready for retirement, but in my head I was going to get a couple more years of teaching,” Howell said.
Because he has only been on the job a few days, Howell said he still has a lot to learn.
“They are similar jobs; you are working with the public … it’s just in a different way,” he said.
So far, Howell is hoping to focus on educating the public on what the transfer station is and does, and how to recycle.
“We do a good job here recycling, but I think there’s always room for improvement,” Howell said.
“Always,” Nichols echoed.
“I think the public is well aware of how important recycling is, but the next step is now we’ve got to do it,” Howell said.
Howell aims to encourage users at the station to recycle, and plans to do outreach in the schools as well.
“I think we’ve all been guilty of taking the easy road at times,” he said.
Nichols, who served 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and started Nichols Motors in Wiscasset, said his next move is to look for a new job.
“We’ve done a lot in the last three years,” he said of his time at the transfer station.
Nichols said his main goal when he took over was to increase safety, which was accomplished by creating a one-way traffic flow.
Other improvements during his tenure were doubling the size of the recycling deck, rewiring and repairing the scale, and the construction of the new transfer station building, he said.
The new building may allow the transfer station to do its own billing instead of having Nobleboro Town Office staff handle it, but “it’s still in the discussion stages,” Nichols said.
The transfer station is also handling the issuance of burn permits and dump stickers now, Nichols said. “We’re trying to make it easier to visit the place,” he said.
Nichols said he is confident in Howell’s ability to manage the station.
“Even when I came in, I had to learn. I don’t think anybody truly knows this job until they do it,” he said.