81st Annual Maine Municipal Association's Convention Gets Underway in Augusta

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) The Maine Municipal Association's annual convention got underway at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday.

Now in its 81st year, the two-day event remains an opportunity for municipal leaders to focus on education, training, local issues and current events.

More than 1,000 Maine municipal officials, exhibitors, and speakers are expected to attend this year's MMA convention.

From educational sessions on understanding younger workers to workshops on how to retain and select productive employees, Maine's aging workforce is on the minds of municipal leaders.

"We're trying to take some of the subjectivity out of the hiring process. We're trying to make it as objective and rational as possible," said Ray Inglesi, President of Drake Inglesi Milardo, Inc.

According to the Maine Municipal Association's president, the organization has always been about managing change, offering expert advice, explaining why municipal government matters, and helping municipal officials at all levels.

Each year the convention features topical workshops. A Maine-based law firm will be educating folks on the current state of legalized marijuana in the state and how it will affect municipalities.

"There are many issues on a municipal level that we'll need to deal with, and some of the workshops are about that. The opioid crisis continues to strike the nation as well as us here in Maine, and we have some sessions on that one as well," said MMA President Laurie Smith.

More than 100 exhibitors filled the auditorium of the Civic Center to get the chance to network with attendees.

"Municipalities are often the lead employers in their communities and the lead spenders, so there's a lot of vendors here that offer specific needs that we have in the municipalities," said Smith.

Other issues covered here include climate change and Maine's coast, natural disasters, and state infrastructure.

"How do you here deal with a gravel road that people now want paved? How do you handle that in your town?" asked Pete Coughlan, Maine DOT Local Roads Center.

Those in attendance say the event, which wraps up Thursday, is ultimately a chance to learn how to work more efficiently, effectively, and enjoyably.