Fitting in is something Jim Hazell, the enthusiastic, affable Bristol Parks and Recreation employee and maple syrup maker, has done so well in the area that people assume he’s always been in Lincoln County. In a spiritual sense, Hazell may have, but physically, the former Marblehead, Mass. police officer and award-winning Realtor has only been in Bristol since 2015.
Accruing minor celebrity working for the Bristol Parks and Recreation because of his up-for-anything personality and involvement, Hazell seems to be a part of all aspects of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park, which features the landmark depicted on the Maine state quarter.
“We’ve got a beautiful area, we really are blessed,” Hazell said
Hazell does everything from selling admission tickets at the entrance booth to volunteering at the Fisherman’s Museum on site, trash removal, and mowing the grass, among other things, but Hazell said he got his start with the department because Pemaquid Beach Park needed seaweed raked in the mornings.
“They reached out because they needed someone to help with raking,” Hazell said. “I wanted to be involved and didn’t mind the early start time.”
With his foot in the door, it wasn’t long before a position opened up at Lighthouse Park, somewhere Hazell said he’d always wanted to work at.
“I had wanted to work down the point at the lighthouse for some time, so when the opportunity arose I took it,” Hazell said. “This really has been a kick working in the park.”
Hazell grew up in Marblehead, Mass., another coastal New England community on a peninsula south of Salem, Mass. At the age of 17 he enlisted in the Navy from 1970 to 1974. Then he returned to his community where he served as a police officer for 30 years, from 1976 to 2006.
“It was wonderful, being a police officer, I can’t even begin to tell you all the stories,” Hazell said.
During his time with the Marblehead Police Department, Hazell was one of two officers who chose to ride a bicycle to patrol. That was a decision he made for 20 years that he felt helped him feel more involved with the community.
“I was a mountain bicycle guy,” Hazell said. “That was my cruiser, and there were a couple of us mad men that wanted to ride a bike every day instead of being cooped up in a cruiser.”
In 1998, Hazell placed first in the U.S. National Law Enforcement Mountain Bike Championships.
“That was my claim to fame,” Hazell said, smiling.
Hazell attributes his current level of fitness and energy to all those years riding his bike on the force.
“I’m 71 and I can still climb up to the top of the lighthouse,” Hazell said.
When he retired from the police force, Hazell took an eight-year crack at being a real estate agent in Marblehead, Mass. and found some success: in 2008, Hazell won Rookie Realtor of the Year in Massachusetts. However, despite finding success, Hazell said real estate wasn’t his cup of tea.
“I tried it and was very successful,” Hazell said. “But it just wasn’t me.”
After getting out of the real estate business in 2014, Hazell and his wife, Deborah, decided to pack their belongings to get a change of scenery and to move up to Maine, a place Hazell had visited and his wife was from.
“My wife being from Augusta, and myself, being from Marblehead, we needed to live on the coast,” Hazell said. “We lucked out and found the magical village of Round Pond.”
Hazell’s home and sugar house business, affectionately named I’d Tap That, abuts Maple Grove Cemetery on Route 32 where he’s produced and sold maple syrup since 2017.
During the short sap season from February to March, Hazell said he’s open about for about a week and is licensed to sell up to 15 gallons of syrup, but that it’s hobby he picked up to be closer to the community.
“I love giving lessons on boiling,” Hazell said.
Hazell said helps his neighbors, as well as others new to maple syrup production, with the syrup making process, which can take almost 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
“When they see the open flag, we’re there,” Hazell said. “It’s a lot of fun and it involves food.”
Hazell believes part of the reason he’s been able to fit in is because he isn’t trying to change anything about the area, just celebrate it, getting involved when and where he can, and letting people know who visit just how special the area is, which makes him an excited gatekeeper to one of Lincoln County’s, and Maine’s, most iconic places.
“Some people think I’ve been here forever, I’ve been able to fit right into the mold,” Hazell said. “I’m not trying to change anything at all, I love the way it is up here. There’s just so much that Maine, that Damariscotta, Newcastle, Bristol, this Midcoast area has to offer. I just can’t say enough about it.”
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