Gene Wayne Francis
Superintendent Passamaquoddy Waste Water Facility at Pleasant Point
Member Profile: Maine WasteWater Control Association
Gene, a Passamaquoddy Tribal member and very proud of his heritage, grew up mostly at Pleasant Point. Attended high school down the Portland area, Yarmouth Academy 1972 and 1973 went on to attend woodland High his junior year and his graduation year attended Shead Memorial High. In 1979 and 1981 attended schooling at Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute for one year taking up Wastewater Chemistry Technology, now known as Southern Maine Community College and after completing the full one year he went on a year later and attended Easter Maine Vocational Technical Institute taking up Advance Wastewater Treatment for one year.
The beginning of Gene’s career in the wastewater profession which started back in 1977 to present 2004, twenty-seven years ago. Gene states that he has seen a lot of changes some bad but most of them positive and he stated he likes to focus on the positive not so much the negative stuff. He goes on stating things what has changed since the mid 70’s to present, the profession in whole has really gotten complex and things need to be done exactly how they are written and policies followed along with procedures, everything has to be in order. Reporting, more record keeping, computers are another issue. Back in the day we did not think they would be a big part of our work. But I guess I have to think again. Gene writes all his grants, ordinances, proposals, and contract agreements. Gene has also been writing his policies and procedures and assisting other. Gene has been a utility consultant in the past for several years but it was taking too much of his time from his other duties but is available to assist anybody who needs assistance. Gene goes on stating that we all need to stay together and focus together in order to survive this profession with all the changes coming down the pipe, God only knows what the regulatory agencies have in store for us.
One of Gene’s biggest controversies he faced was the issue that pertained to the Tribe and the Department of Environmental Protection Agency which was awarded full delegation pertaining to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in the state of Maine with the exception of Tribal territory. The DEP contested the matter and we all went to court but before that all transpired we had to attend several debates and public hearings before it actually went to court but at the end it again was awarded to the Tribes but DEP is not satisfied so they are contesting and once again the issue is in the hands of the Attorney General. Gene stated I guess the state of Maine does not want to recognize us as a sovereign tribe and goes on stating that the state of Maine always wants to use the 1980 Settlement Act against us. The thing that I don’t understand, any time when monies is discussed the state always brings the fact that we have a relationship with the Federal Government not the state of Maine so they us the document if they think it best serves them. I just hope we all can still work together and live in harmony.
Gene has received numerous awards throughout his career and credits his achievements to his employees and family. It takes a good competent staff for one to achieve their goals. I look at operating and managing a plant is like being the captain of a ship, you have to take charge at times, take full control and responsibilities of ones action. I have two other staff members at the plant. Sabattus “Sappy” Lewey, who has been at the plant for several years and is in charge of the maintenance, and also is the aide to me while I’m gone and is competent in what he does and that is a big relief off my shoulders. The other staff person Darren Paul is the Water Technician and over sees the water treatment side of things, he has just started a couple of years ago and also assists when needed for other duties. Please keep in mind this is a very small staff that over sees the operation of the wastewater treatment but also the water side of things along with that is the collection system and thirteen lift stations. I have been a member of the Maine Wastewater Control Association since I started my career along with that organization is the Maine Rural Water Association, member of the American Water Works Association, Water Environmental Federation NEWEA, WEF and the Native American Water Association.
Gene is license in the wastewater profession with a Grade III and Grade II in the Collection System Operation, Class II in Water Treatment & Water Distribution System and Lab Management Certification.
When asked about challenges that he has faced, Gene stated every day is a challenge you face obstacles everyday when it comes to this profession, its what you do with it. Some days are just a little more difficult than others. But stated, he was most proud of the fact that he has continuously been able to look ahead and set goals and see them through and actually become reality, “I then sit back and smile”. When asked what was his biggest accomplishments he stated one of the biggest ones was the new treatment plant which cost 4.5/M and all the funding was solicited by him. And another one was replacing the water system which was consisted of AC pipe, black iron, PVC and galvanized pipe along with that was the stand pipe which was made up of wood and boy, you could taste the wood, we was always on a boil water order, I just got tied of it. He was told it could never happen, replacing the whole system within ten years, my goal was to replace the pipe with all Ductile Iron pipe Class 52 within ten years and I did it within a shorter period! Along with that was a new Aquastore Tank. When I see things like that go I have a good sense that I have done something worthy for the people of Sipayik, Pleasant Point. As you can see Gene loves challenges. Gene also stated that he served on the Tribal council for four years and stated that was a challenge but very interesting. I enjoyed being on council and the fact knowing I was trying to accomplish what I set out to do, providing a service for the people of Sipayik, Pleasant Point. He has been active on several committees and back in 1996 Gene attended the University of Maine at Machias for one year, he majored in Business Management. He stated to better himself and understand the role of what he was getting into while he was serving on council. In 2002 Gene signed up for couple more classes pertaining to Business Management. Gene’s goal is to achieve his degree in Business Management or Administration and to achieve his Grade V license in the wastewater profession.
In his spare time, Gene loves the out doors. He owns a camp at Springfield Maine, he states it’s a long ride but I got to enjoy looking at the scenery. He enjoys hunting and fishing, spending time with his dog chip (his best friend), collecting guns- hand and rifles also collects old coins. Gene is a active member of the National rifle Association and Northern Hunting Club. Working with wood, building different things. He also enjoys riding his 1985 Grand National T-Type sports car. Gene stated he also enjoys riding his four-wheeler with his wife, Bernadette for the past 30 years. Gene also has three sons and one daughter, three grandsons and one granddaughter. They all usually get together on July 4th and August during Indian day festival.