NEWS
(from the February 2009 Maine Townsman)

Auburn: The police department recently joined the popular social website Facebook as a way to interact with residents, get information to the public, and get people more involved in community police efforts. The Auburn department is believed to be the first in New England to use the online community to help promote its mission and help residents.

Bangor: Citing a poor economy and other economic unknowns, councilors voted 5-3 early this month to delay action on a new auditorium study for at least six months. The cost of the study was pegged at $75,000.

Bridgton: Town officials have concluded, along with their counterparts from neighboring Harrison, that trying to merge the two police efforts would exhaust resources and put public safety at risk.

Bucksport: Nearly 95 percent of the 699 residents who filled out surveys at the polls in November said they are satisfied with the performance of their town police department. The outstanding results are the best since the department started the survey a dozen years ago.

China: Selectmen agreed with the town manager last month and removed a town meeting request for $15,000 for a new lighted town office sign. The officials decided the economy was too bad to ask for the non-essential item.

Dixmont: Special town meeting voters on February 4 passed a six-month moratorium on construction of industrial wind farms in the Penobscot County town of about 1,100 residents. The vote was 111-20, with the debate consuming most of the two-hour meeting. Voters also approved a new comprehensive plan by a vote of 96-5.

Falmouth: As many as eight town staff members will get their work weeks shortened by three hours and town hall will be open only four days a week in an effort to cut costs, in response to high energy costs and dwindling town revenues due to the recession. The new town office schedule was set to take effect February 23. The office will be closed on Fridays, under the plan.

Kingfield: The Poland Spring water bottling company was warmly welcomed to the rural Franklin County town during the recent grand opening of its new bottling plant. Many federal, state and local officials attended the ceremony, marking in part the creation of 40 full-time jobs with more to come. Poland Spring has spent about $60 million so far in building and equipping the Kingfield plant.

Lewiston: City Manager Jim Bennett said no city department is safe from layoffs as the city faces a potential $1.6 million revenue shortfall in the next budget. Councilors recently gave Bennett the go-ahead to craft an early-retirement proposal that could mitigate the number of people who could lose their jobs. Budget talks are just beginning in Maine’s second-largest city.

Lisbon: Town councilors authorized a bond question for voters seeking $500,000 to assess whether the high school is structurally sound enough for renovation. The council also will ask voters for a $2 million bond for road work. Public hearings are next.

Mechanic Falls: In an effort to fill a $50,000 hole in the current town budget, selectmen agreed recently to close the town office every Wednesday through the end of June.

Naples: Following a public hearing, selectmen agreed to ask the Maine Department of Transportation to help improve the ability of boats to flow through the town causeway. They intend to keep the same bridge opening schedule, but concurred the boats should clear the area in a few minutes, rather than the present 20-25 minutes.

New Gloucester: Selectmen rejected a request recently to allow local candidates to use the public access TV network to campaign for office. The town’s cable committee had argued it would give voters a better idea of the candidates and their positions than can be found in area newspapers during election seasons.

Newport: Town meeting voters next month will consider a number of issues beyond the annual municipal and school budgets, including a moratorium on methodone clinics, restrictions on livestock within town limits and a ban on outdoor wood boilers except for the coldest months each year.

Old Orchard Beach: The town council voted 3-2 in January to reverse its earlier decision to buy a used loader/excavator, despite the purchase being in the budget and the cost coming in $25,000 less than projected. The major reason cited for the decision was the economy.

Oxford: Police have installed an anonymous tip line to allow residents to help solve crime without putting themselves at risk.

Rockland: Firefighters from four area municipalities have asked to create a firefighter training course through the Mid-Coast School of Technology. The school’s governing board asked officials from Camden, Friendship, Hope and Rockland to continue work on the proposal and return later this month to continue talking about the idea.

Sanford: Town Manager Mark Green has told selectmen he cannot flat-fund the upcoming new annual budget and still ensure the town’s safety and keep up road work, but he plans to submit a proposal that would increase spending just two percent for fiscal 2010.

St. Agatha: Town officials are working with neighboring Frenchville to possibly combine their wastewater treatment operations, particularly by using an existing effluent pipe already installed by St. Agatha. If feasible, selectmen from both towns hope to apply for federal grants to help with the cost.

South Berwick: Voters rejected a $2 million road repair bond last month by a vote of 142-35, saying the annual $260,000 debt payment was more than residents could afford. Voters were told delaying the five-year road program would cost an additional $400,000 in future cost increases.

Whitefield: Selectmen have approved a new $10-per-call stipend to help retain and recruit members for the town’s volunteer fire department. The proposal, which will become part of the proposed budget, also includes a $5-per-session stipend for training for the communities’ average of seven volunteers.