(from the
December 2005 Maine Townsman)

Wales: Voters here approved changes to the town charter on November 8 making four jobs appointed rather than elected. Now, the positions of road commissioner, tax collector, treasurer and town clerk are to be appointed by the board of selectmen.

Old Orchard Beach: The town is entering into an agreement with Sanford to share a tax assessor’s services. Under this interlocal agreement, the shared assessor will spend 58 percent of his time assessing Sanford properties, and 42 percent on OOB properties. The two-year contract can be terminated with 60 days notice by any of the three parties.

SAD 40: Residents of the five towns of this school district on November 8 voted to allow municipal officials to petition the Legislature to reinstate the local cost-sharing formula for the district. Local cost sharing arrangements were preempted by LD 1 and Essential Programs & Services (EPS) legislation enacted during the 2005 legislative session. With all five towns expressing a desire to return to the local cost sharing arrangement, the chances of the Legislature granting an exemption are improved.

SAD 18: Residents of Verona Island and Prospect, members of SAD 18, agreed on November 8 to enter into a new contract with Bucksport that will enable them to continuing sending K-12 students to Bucksport schools. The new tuition contract will run through 2011.

Rockport: By nearly a 10 to 1 margin, voters agreed on November 8 to adopt a municipal charter. A charter commission worked for about a year to develop the proposed charter. Charter contents related to elections will take effect immediately, while other changes will take effect on July 1, 2006. One significant change made by the charter is the creation of a single assessor position.

Limestone: Construction of an electricity generating plant is expected to begin early next year at the former Loring Air Force Base. The $60 million project has obtained necessary permits and the plant is scheduled to go on line by early 2007. The project is expected to bring several hundred construction jobs to the area, and nearly 80 full-time, permanent jobs to Aroostook County

Gardiner: City officials hope that the sale of new backyard compost machines to residents will help reduce the volume of compostable materials typically found in the trash and hauled to the landfill. The machines convert food waste into fertilizer. Residents can purchase a bin for about $30.

Fort Kent: In cooperation with local officials from Allagash and St. Francis, town officials here hope to see a three-community regional housing assessment completed by year-end. The three communities have hired Pelco Grant Services of St. Agatha to conduct the needs assessment.

Long Island: This island town in Casco Bay has received its first new fire truck, valued at $250,000. A federal grant administered by the Department of Homeland Security paid the majority of the cost of the truck. The town paid only $22,500.

Somerset County: A recount of the November 8 ballots confirms the approval of construction of a new jail in Somerset County. The new jail will house 173 inmates, a substantial jump from the current jail’s 35-inmate capacity.

Portland: The city will be restoring its deteriorating 65-foot-tall clock tower in a few months, at a cost of $2 million. The majority of the restoration expense will be borrowed, as part of the city council’s borrowing plan for capital improvements in 2006. The clock tower’s problems include cracked granite, crumbling mortar, and a leaking copper roof.

Albion: The owners of Johnny’s Selected Seeds have decided to put 119 acres here under a conservation easement that will protect it from future non-farm development. Maine Farmland Trust now holds the conservation easement that protects the farm.

Sanford: A new, state-of-the-art $18 million sewage treatment plant is now in operation. This facility replaces lagoons with an oxidation ditch to provide “biological nutrient removal”, according to District Superintendent Michael Hanson.

Augusta: A proposed bus terminal has received $700,000 in federal funding after Congress passed the federal transportation bill in November. The nearly $1 million project was approved by the planning board in April. Concord Trailways Company has expressed an interest in using the site. The terminal is expected to provide bus service to Portland and Boston’s Logan Airport.

Fort Kent: An energy company (Linekin Bay Energy Company, LLC) obtained a permit from the planning board to install a tower in a local potato field, as was done in various other sites in the St. John Valley, in an attempt to determine if the region has enough wind to sustain a system of windmills for use in generating power. If data from the towers show that wind levels are high enough, the energy company could be constructing windmills in mid-2007.

Van Buren: The federal budget bill contained $5.6 million in funding for Maine development projects. Of that amount, Van Buren will receive $350,000 to fund the development of a regional business and industrial park that will benefit three other Northern Aroostook communities – Cyr Plantation, Grand Isle and Hamlin.

Whitefield: Resourceful volunteer firefighters at the North Whitefield Fire Department have secured two used, serviceable trucks to replace two of the department’s trucks that were not salvageable. The town of Newcastle agreed to sell them a 1974 tanker truck for $1, and a Florida fire company agreed to sell them a pumper truck for about $20,000 (valued at $49,000).

Brunswick: In an effort to extend the life of the landfill (currently at about 70 percent capacity), the recycling committee is recommending that the town adopt a pay-per-bag trash collection system which would provide financial incentives for residents to recycle.. The committee also suggested that the town accept more types of recyclable items. Councilors are taking no action at this time, but plan to address the issue more formally in January.