CEO eyes Feb. retirement

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

SET TO TURN A DIFFERENT PAGE — Casco Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Elwin Thorpe holds up the town’s 200-plus page Code Enforcement book, which was last revised in 2009. Thorpe, who has been Casco’s CEO for almost 30 years, announced plans to retire in February 2012. (De Busk photo)

CASCO — Some employees only dream that when they are out sick — or finally retire — their phone will ring off the hook with questions from co-workers.

Elwin Thorpe said he should get a little peace and quiet when he retires this February, but he predicts there will be occasions when a code enforcement question comes up and someone calls him at home for the answer.

After all, Thorpe has been Casco’s Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) for almost 30 years. He also serves as back-up CEO for the towns of Raymond, Naples and Poland.

It is experience, not ego, which forms his response.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “I might get some phone calls.”

He said he remembers picking the brains of the people who had more experience than him when he first started as a code enforcement officer in April 1981. His previous experience was in the construction industry.

Over the years, quite a bit of sharing of information has occurred between code enforcement officers from different towns. It is a field that requires constant updating on new legislation and policies that effect towns’ ordinances.

“Yeah, I go to a lot of conferences and workshops,” he said.

Most recent changes have been upgrading fire suppression requirements to put sprinklers in private homes — it’s always been required in public places, he said.

His workbook is a 200-plus page book of ordinances that Casco last updated in 2009.

“You spend a lot of time answering questions,” he said.

Most of his time is taken up answering questions and dealing with zoning changes — usually on privately owned land.

“When people ask me about an ordinance, I know what the rule is. I can understand why people are asking questions because of how it is worded,” he said.

As well as fielding questions, he spends time “out in the field” doing site walks with property owners. Typically, land-use ordinances are violated because people didn’t know the rule even existed, Thorpe said. Often, people who move to Casco from more urban areas will make assumptions: there are more rules in the city, and fewer in the country, he said.

“Rural communities have just as many ordinances as cities like Portland,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe said he has nothing more than retiring planned for February. He decided to retire at this time because his wife retired from the Oxford Hills School District in June.

Has she been busy writing honey-do lists?

“I am married. There is always a honey-do list,” he said. “But, there isn’t any specific project, or a vacation planned.”

The couple maintains a large garden, he said. Already, the autumn days have found them outdoors readying the garden space for winter weather.

“My wife loves flowers. She likes to grow flowers,” he said.

Her hobby has become one the Thorpes share in both labor and appreciation.

“I support her and help her with the flowerbeds,” he said.

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