District Attorney Matt Foster speaks at the launch of Project HOPE in Ellsworth in late September. Although the man who launched the program, former Police Chief Pete Bickmore, is gone officials said this week the program will continue to operate. PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Project HOPE to carry on in wake of Bickmore’s departure



ELLSWORTH — The initiative launched by former Ellsworth Police Chief Pete Bickmore to help those struggling with opioid addiction will continue even though he has left his job.

That is according to police and city officials, who voiced strong support for Project HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention Effort) on Tuesday.

“At this point it’s all still full-steam ahead,” said Capt. Glenn Moshier, who is serving as acting chief following Bickmore’s sudden resignation last week.

The initiative was Bickmore’s brainchild, modeled after similar programs in Gloucester, Mass., and Scarborough, and he recruited other entities and individuals to sign on and support the program. Those included Healthy Acadia, the office of District Attorney Matt Foster and State Sen. Brian Langley (R-Hancock County), in addition to other law enforcement agencies.

The idea behind Project HOPE is that those who are struggling with opioid use need help more than they need a stay behind bars.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this public health epidemic,” said John Rosenthal, a founder of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, speaking at the Project HOPE launch in Ellsworth at the end of September.

State Sen. Brian Langley (R-Hancock County) speaks at the launch of Project HOPE in Ellsworth in late September. Although the man who launched the program, former Police Chief Pete Bickmore, is gone officials said this week the program will continue to operate.
PHOTO BY STEVE FULLER

Detective Dotty Small has served as the point person within the Ellsworth department overseeing Project HOPE operations. She said she thinks the initiative is “going really well,” and reported that it has helped nine individuals since it began in October.

While nine may not seem like many, Small said organizers “expected to start slow.” The goal, she said, is to connect people struggling with opioid use and addiction with treatment options. Sometimes those are in state, and sometimes those are out of state.

Small said some Project HOPE participants have done “great, and some didn’t succeed.” As an example of one who has succeeded, she told of a Project HOPE client who returned to visit the Police Department around Christmas and the dispatcher on duty “didn’t recognize her” because she looked so different — so much better — than she did when she first came in to take part in the program.

Moshier said Bickmore should be “commended for his efforts in starting the program,” and said Small has excelled at leading the initiative.

“Detective Small has done an outstanding job,” he said. “And she’s going to continue to do that.”

The program is still funded by donations, and Moshier said organizers hope to secure more funding so that the program can continue to serve those in need.

City Manager David Cole also spoke positively about the program Tuesday.

“From my observation, there’s a lot of support for Project HOPE,” he said. “I don’t see any changes going forward.”

Anyone looking to be helped by Project HOPE can stop in at the Ellsworth Police Department (located inside City Hall) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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