For Sedgwick Selectman Ben Astbury, family roots run deep in this town bordering Eggemoggin Reach.
He was 3 years old when his parents moved from Sedgwick to Blue Hill, and Ben lived there for 18 years. While attending George Stevens Academy, “I played baseball all four years, second baseman. Dan Kane was my coach,” Ben said. He played basketball his first two years at GSA, when he did not make the cut for varsity basketball his junior year, “I was looking around for something to do,” Ben recalled.
His cousin, David Carter (a Sedgwick Volunteer Fire Department lieutenant), said, “We take on junior firefighters.”
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a shot,’” Ben recalled. He has served on the SVFD ever since (24 years and counting) and Carter is now the department’s chief.
“We have 40-plus active roster members, and we probably have another 10 who are inactive,” Ben said. “We have a good, solid slate of leaders in the Fire Department” under Chief Carter. The SVFD operates stations on the Caterpillar Hill Road (Route 15) and the Ridge Road.
After studying residential and commercial electricity at Washington County Community College in Calais, Ben obtained his journeyman’s license. Drawn by “family,” especially his “paternal grandparents who always lived in the town, and I spent a lot of time with them,” Ben moved to Sedgwick in 2000.
“Sedgwick always felt like home to me,” he said. “I enjoy the close-knit feeling of community. Neighbor helping neighbor still exists here. My heritage is here in town.”
From 2003 to 2017, Ben worked as an Ellsworth police officer and a Hancock County Sheriff’s Department deputy. “The law enforcement experience helped a lot with my work here in the town,” he said.
Ben explained that a selectman needs “compassion, to be approachable,” and to be “fair, like a police officer should be.” As long as they “think you are listening to them and being fair,” people “will talk to you about other issues. You keep that communications open.”
According to Ben, the Sedgwick selectmen “want to encourage all people in town to get involved in the community,” either by serving on committees or attending selectmen’s meetings. The town faces several challenges, and selectmen are working hard to meet them.
“When we make decisions, we’re forward-looking, 10 years-plus with every decision we make here,” Ben said.
He developed a strong desire to serve the public through his service with the SVFD and his police career, and that desire is why he ran for selectman.
“I think that desire runs in the family,” Ben said. His father was Blue Hill’s road commissioner for six years, and his grandfather held the same position in Sedgwick for a year and plowed the town’s roads for 16 years.
Ben is currently in his fifth year as selectman. “For the previous two years, I’ve been the board chair,” he said, but the selectmen changed recently changed policy so that the selectman in the last year of a three-year term chairs the board. Elected in March to fill a one-year vacancy, Michael Sheehan is the 2019-2020 chairman.
Ben and his wife, Amanda, live in the house that he built in 2000. His sons Dawsen and Matthew attend GSA. A dedicated musician, Dawsen plays the drums and the trumpet and “is in the jazz band, the big band, and the [jazz] combo,” Ben said.
“I follow the boys in their ventures, spend time with the family,” he noted. Ben is self-employed in “logging and trucking and some property management, primarily on the [Blue Hill] Peninsula.”