NEWS
(from the
November 2005 Maine Townsman)

Boothbay: A Barters Island parcel will be preserved as a working waterfront, thanks to a generous donation by a Boothbay Harbor couple. The donation allowed the Boothbay Region Land Trust to acquire the 1.9-acre parcel. This acquisition will enable lobstermen to store materials on the site, and will also benefit hikers and kayakers.

Northport: A state hearing examiner reviewed selectmen’s March denial of a liquor license application and subsequent appeal hearing in June, and recently ruled in favor of the town. Application had been made by a Route 1 motel’s representative and was denied by town officials for four reasons which were upheld by the examiner.

Fryeburg: Voters unanimously enacted a six-month moratorium on the issuance of permits for large-scale extraction of water for commercial purposes. A primary purpose of the moratorium is to prevent an “overburdening of public facilities.” Town officials are planning to review and update local land use regulations during the six months that the moratorium is in effect.

East Machias: Officials are considering changing the town’s fiscal year to July-June. Among the reasons cited for the change were a new school department and paying for one audit rather than two. A hearing and special town meeting will be held to decide the issue.

New Gloucester: Selectmen have signed an agreement to purchase 25 acres for a fire station. The land will be purchased for $168,000, pending approval by voters.

Wells: The Fire Department was recognized for its clean safety record, and received an award from the Residential Fire Safety Institute for recording zero fire-related deaths in the town in 2004.

Jonesport: Municipal officials met with the sheriff of Washington County on October 19, and contracted with the county to assign a deputy (a new position) to the town, to be paid for by the town. The county has been in a similar contract with Lubec for 12 years. The deputy will use the town’s cruiser and the county will pay the insurance and purchase gas for it. The cruiser has sat unused since its purchase in 2003 when the town was considering establishing its own police department.

Farmington: Eight employees (highway workers) of the public works department’s bargaining unit will receive a 5.2 percent cost-of-living raise in 2006. The 5.2 figure is based on the September federal consumer price index (CPI). A new three-year contract, approved by the board of selectmen, removes the town’s long-standing 3 percent cap on raises. Also, employees and the town will now share any increase in insurance costs equally.

Washington: At a special town meeting, residents voted to allow the board of selectmen to renegotiate the town’s snowplowing and sanding contracts. The existing contracts had been written three years ago, when fuel costs were lower.

Enfield: Town officials here hope to negotiate a tax break with owners of a new spruce mill expected to open in 2006. The board of selectmen was scheduled to meet on November 14 to discuss tax increment financing options for the new $17 million Pleasant River Lumber Co. mill. The mill is expected to employ 70 full-time people.

Houlton: Councilors voted to accept $25,000 from the Sockanossett Hose Co., a volunteer unit of the fire department, to be applied toward the purchase of a new rescue truck. The firefighters’ presentation of funds during a town council meeting served to emphasize the significance of the need. The truck’s estimated cost is $200,000. No request for bids has been sent out as yet.

Perry: An Oklahoma developer who had originally planned to put a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in this coastal town, but failed to win voter approval in March, is now interested in placing only storage tanks in the town. The developer is evaluating a potential site for purchase.

Blue Hill: Selectmen recently opened bids on a wharf-rebuilding project, and found bids coming in much higher than anticipated. Consultants report that fuel cost uncertainty is driving the bid prices up. One of the lowest bids was a base bid of $210,000. Voters had approved spending $85,000 [in town funds] on the project. With a DOT matching of funds, plus two grants, the town will still be lacking $45,000. Selectmen will set a date for a special town meeting, allowing voters to decide how to proceed.

Oakland: Three businesses – a gift shop, a coffee shop, and an independent pharmacy – opened recently filling once empty buildings downtown. The pharmacy fills a space that has been vacant for two years.