JUSTIN CHAFFEE is the new Ossipee Recreation Director after five years as the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Assistant Director. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
December 02, 2020OSSIPEE — When longtime Ossipee Recreation Director Peter Waugh stepped down from his job just about five years ago, Justin Chaffee had just started his time as the Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Director.
Chaffee, who grew up in Ossipee and was part of the department as both a participant and as a counselor, considered applying for the job, but thought maybe the timing wasn't right for the change.
Flash forward five years, and again, the job in Ossipee became open and this time, the timing was right and Chaffee was ready.
"Looking back, I wasn't ready for it then, but now I am," Chaffee said. "That's because Christine (Collins, Wolfeboro's Parks and Recreation Director) and them have helped me grow, especially in areas like budget and dealing with selectmen, planning boards, etc.
"Looking at where I was then and where I am now, it's night and day," he said. "It's exciting and scary, but I am ready for it."
Chaffee has started part time in Ossipee, with the idea that the job will become full-time in May. Until then, he is working Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Ossipee office and then working part-time for Wolfeboro on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Wolfeboro had a part-time administrative assistant position open and with Beau Betz on board to replace Chaffee as the assistant director, it made perfect sense for Chaffee to continue working in Wolfeboro and help Betz make the transition.
"It's worked out pretty well," Chaffee said. "Wolfeboro has been amazing to me, it's nice to be staying on there."
The plan right now is that Chaffee will likely be staying on in Wolfeboro through March, getting the department through the busy winter season that includes running the Pop Whalen Arena and the Abenaki Ski Area.
"I was open with Christine through the whole process," Chaffee stated. "I can help them and they're helping me."
Chaffee grew up in Ossipee and never really had an interest in parks and recreation during his high school years. However, he became a camp counselor for the Ossipee Recreation Department, doing that for six years and after going through the sports management program at Plymouth State, it was Waugh's connections that helped him get a job working for the Lincoln-Woodstock Recreation Department.
"I owe a lot to him, it's neat to come full circle," Chaffee said. "Peter did such an amazing job and I want to keep the momentum going."
However, things in 2020 are much different than anyone could imagine and the COVID-19 pandemic has made for some adjustments for everyone.
Chaffee started in Ossipee in the second week of September and his first task was getting field hockey and soccer off the ground for the youngsters of the community. He noted that Ossipee Central School teacher Ali Cushing, the former field hockey coach at Kingswood, took the field hockey program and ran with it and he focused on the soccer program, which came to an end the week before Thanksgiving. The idea was to just keep the programs going and get the kids outside and doing the physical activity. COVID-19 actually made things a bit easier in one regard, since there were no games to schedule with teams from surrounding communities, instead the kids just focused on playing each other.
Chaffee noted they had a good turnout for the programs and it was a nice way to break in with the Ossipee program and get his feet wet in the community again.
While in Wolfeboro, Chaffee saw improvements to many of the town's facilities and he's hoping that as things move along in Ossipee, he can help bring upgrades to the community resources.
"I want to provide the recreation opportunities, improve the facilities and grow what's already here and make it better," Chaffee said, noting that his nephew lives in Effingham and will likely be taking part in the programs that Ossipee offers. "My family is all here."
The Ossipee department was shut down over the summer due to the pandemic and Chaffee noted that the job kind of came out of nowhere. He figured he'd apply and then make the decision as to whether or not he wanted to make the jump. The offer came in and he took the weekend to make the decision, but it seemed like the right job at the right time.
"Being the boss is nice, it has its benefits and drawbacks," Chaffee said. "The buck stops with me.
"It's kind of the perfect situation," he continued. "I always wanted to get back here.
"I'm happy to be here, I'm excited," Chaffee added.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or email@example.com.