A dozen residents attend public hearing on two ballot questions

by Mary Grow

About a dozen China residents attended the selectmen’s May 13 public hearing on two June 11 ballot questions, focusing most of their attention on the first and more expensive one.

The first question asks if voters want to authorize selectmen to spend up to $150,000 for the Hall property across Lakeview Drive from the town office and abutting the Four Seasons Club. The approximately four acres for sale include lake frontage that would provide a beach and boat landing. Funds would come from China’s lake access fund ($125,000) and TIF (Tax Increment Finance) fund ($25,000). The budget committee recommended approval on a 4-2 vote on April 9.

The second question asks if voters want to authorize selectmen to spend up to $25,000 from the town’s Undesignated Fund Balance (surplus) “to contract for the engineering and costing of a consolidated emergency services building and a community building,” based on designs for which voters appropriated up to $5,000 in November 2018. The emergency services building would house the China Village Volunteer Fire Department, China Rescue, a police office and perhaps a Delta ambulance; combining China’s three volunteer fire departments is not part of the plan. Plans for both buildings are on the town website under “News.” The budget committee unanimously recommended voters not approve the appropriation.

With Town Manager Dennis Heath absent, there was a lack of answers to many of the questions raised at the hearing. Selectboard Chairman Robert MacFarland said town officials are waiting for voter approval before making detailed plans, and if voters do approve they won’t necessarily buy the property; they just want to be able to.

Two members of the former Lake Access Committee, which proposed buying the former Candlewood property and was turned down by voters, said China still needs a place for residents who don’t own waterfront property to access the lake.

If voters approve, the current undetailed plan is to develop a beach and a boat landing, with at least one parking area partway up the hill toward Lakeview Drive.

Audience and selectboard members talked about safe separation between swimmers and boaters, or maybe having a carry-in launch area only, or having a landing that would accommodate the overflow from the state landing at the head of the lake outside China Village. The last proposal sparked another inconclusive discussion about the future of the present landing.

People asked how the town benefited from bass tournaments and about the risk of importing the invasive plant milfoil when a lot of out-of-town boats use China Lake.

Location and size of the access road were unknown; MacFarland said it would “probably” be two lanes. The number of parking spaces was not determined.

Two men said the proposed $150,000 would be “a drop in the bucket” compared to the cost of developing the area for public use. Even if state funding were obtained, Wayne Chadwick pointed out that state dollars are still tax money.

At the selectmen’s meeting that followed the hearing, China Planning Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo said the Land for Maine’s Future program where he is a Ssenior planner would be likely to approve a China application for up to half the appraised value of the property. Also, he said, the Bureau of Public Lands has a program that might contribute development funds for a boat landing.

If the waterfront were developed, people asked whether it could or would be limited to China residents; whether it would be considered public or private; whether there would be lifeguards, people to check residency or other supervisors and whether they would have to be paid. There were no answers.

Selectman Jeffrey LaVerdiere cited public beaches in nearby towns that have been closed due to unwelcome clientele, vandalism and other problems.

Whether the state Department of Environmental Protection would approve the development is unknown – Selectman Irene Belanger said they are “involved.”

“You’re asking the people to make a decision without information,” Bill Van Wickler summarized as the discussion drew to a close.

The much shorter discussion of the second question ignored the community center and focused on the proposed emergency services building. Months ago, the concept was that the China Village Volunteer Fire Department would move into a new building on the town-owned property on the east side of Lakeview Drive opposite the former Candlewood Camps. Its present building would be demolished and China Baptist Church would create a new parking lot on the site, freeing the present church parking lot for boaters’ use.

Now it appears that state officials will not continue to support the boat landing, because of lack of adjacent parking and its location, exposed to debris blown from the entire east basin. Therefore, all three China fire chiefs said at the hearing, no more parking is needed, so the China Village station doesn’t need to move, so there is no reason to waste more money planning for a new building.

China voters will decide both questions by written ballot on June 11. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the former portable classroom behind the town office.

Pfeiffer: School budget no impact on local taxes

by Mary Grow

The good news about Vassalboro’s 2019-2020 school budget, which totals more than $7.7 million, is that it is more than $26,000 lower than the current year’s budget. It will have no impact on the local tax rate, and no adverse effect on local education.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said the major reason for the lower budget is the tuition account, which is lower because more Vassalboro students are graduating from high school than are entering.

Within the budget is a request for state approval for two new school buses, instead of the usual one a year, justified by the age and condition of Vassalboro’s fleet. Pfeiffer said bus repair costs are rising steadily.

Many other budget lines are flat or nearly so, Pfeiffer said. The only planned staff increase is a change from a half-time contracted social worker to a full-time employee.

The 2019-2020 school budget is in Articles 49 through 63 of the warrant for the June 3 town meeting. On June 11, voters will accept or reject the June 3 decision. The June 3 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Vassalboro Community School (VCS); June 11 written-ballot voting will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the town office.

The good news about Vassalboro students is that they are welcome in the high schools they choose to attend after finishing eighth grade at VCS.

At the request of The Town Line, Pfeiffer queried officials at Winslow and Waterville high schools and Erskine Academy, in South China, about former VCS students. He got positive information from all three schools. Among Winslow High School’s graduating seniors from Vassalboro, several will be going on to college and will receive scholarships, to be announced on Class Night, according to Guidance Counselor Tom McNeil. Another senior earned her Emergency Medical Technician license through Mid-Maine Technical Center and the state; and another has a long-term internship at Vassalboro’s Duratherm Window Corporation.

“We truly value our relationship with VCS and relish the involvement of all 40 plus Vassalboro residents who attend WHS,” McNeil added.

From Waterville Senior High School, Principal Brian Laramee reported that two of the top ten students in the graduating class, including the valedictorian, attended VCS. They and five other Vassalboro students are heading for college in the fall.

Erskine Academy Headmaster Mike McQuarrie reported that four of the 32 Erskine students in a graduating class of 144 are in the top ten academically. Vassalboro students have a 100 percent graduation rate, with 30 of the 32 going on to some type of higher education and the other two enlisted in the military.

“A great contingent of young people from Vassalboro!” McQuarrie commented.

The school has received other commendations from outside its walls. In April, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce honored Jobs for Maine Graduates head Victor Esposito as Outstanding Professional at its annual awards ceremony recognizing businesses and individuals for community service.

The good news about the Vassalboro School Board is that members are not resting on these successes, but continue looking for ways to help students even more. At their May 21 board meeting, they discussed tentative plans for a strategic planning workshop to look at goals for the next five years.

Possible topics include programs, textbooks, keeping up with technology and physical plant needs – Pfeiffer often praises building maintenance, but points out that VCS is now 27 years old.

Poverty and trauma make demands on every school, Pfeiffer observed, and “Money will always be a problem.”

MaineGeneral receives “A” safety grade

MaineGeneral Medical Center has received the top grade of “A” in the recently released Spring 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades. MaineGeneral also earned a 2019 Women’s Choice Award as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience, according to MaineGeneral Health President and CEO Chuck Hays.

The “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group is the hospital’s third top grade in the past five Leapfrog grading reports. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses national performance measures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and other supplemental data sources to establish a single letter grade representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.

“All MaineGeneral employees strive to give patients the best experience,” Hays said. “We’ve made great strides and will continue to seek to provide the highest level of care, safety and experience.”

MaineGeneral was the only hospital in Maine to receive the 2019 Women’s Choice Award® as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience. The Women’s Choice Award reviews the performance of more than 5,000 hospitals based on what matters most to women when selecting a hospital for herself and her family. Hospitals are rated the best in the nation for patient experience, meaning they excel in the patient’s willingness to recommend, doctor communications, staff help, cleanliness, providing recovery information, explanation of medications, communication by nurses and peacefulness of room at night. The Women’s Choice Award reporting is completely objective and uniform.

The hospital also earned a 2019 Women’s Choice Award® for America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer Care and for America’s Best Hospitals for Orthopedics.

Hays also announced that MaineGeneral is a recipient of the Healthgrades 2019 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, which is given to the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation for patient satisfaction. MaineGeneral was also named with five-star ratings by Healthgrades for outcomes “Better than Expected” in Treatment of Heart Attack, Treatment of Pneumonia, Treatment of Pancreatitis, Treatment of Sepsis and Treatment of Pulmonary Embolism.

“We know when you need quality health care, you want to receive it right here in the Kennebec Valley,” Hays said. “Most of the health care services you and your family will need in a lifetime are found here in our region of the state. Our MaineGeneral team is part of the community and we take great pride in providing high-quality health services to our community members.”

Full results for each award program can be found at:

Healthgrades: http://www.healthgrades.com
Leapfrog: http://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org
Women’s Choice: https://www.womenschoiceaward.com/best-hospitals/.

Vassalboro speed limits, transfer station redesign topics of selectmen’s meeting

by Mary Grow

At their May 16 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen talked again about the speed limit on South Stanley Hill Road and about redesigning the transfer station, coming to no conclusion on either issue.

State, not municipal, officials set local speed limits. Town Manager Mary Sabins said she had an email from David Allen of the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) presenting two options for the South Stanley Hill Road:

  • Leave the speed limit as it is, 30 miles an hour driving east and north from the curve close to Route 32 (Main Street) and 45 miles an hour from the field beyond the Blumberg property; or
  • Lower the speed limit to 25 miles per hour from the Route 32 intersection to the Friends Church and raise it to 35 miles an hour from there to the 45-mile zone.

Sabins said Allen, who was at a conflicting meeting that evening, recommends leaving the limits as they are. Residents who signed a petition bringing the request to selectmen and those who spoke May 16 want a longer 25-mile-an-hour zone, citing housing density and the number of blind driveways. Several also mentioned that the signs separating the 30 and 45 zones are not opposite each other, leaving a stretch with two different limits depending on which way a vehicle is traveling.

Selectmen postponed further discussion until Allen can join them.

Board member John Melrose presented a sketch of a possible new traffic pattern at the transfer station that would maximize one-way traffic and minimize the need to back up to drop off recyclables and trash.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus proposed a revision that Melrose thought sounded good. “I think anything is better than the way it is,” Titus commented.

Plans include a second entrance east of the present one. Melrose said Allen approved it as meeting state requirements for sight distance. His idea is that big trucks hauling trash would use one entrance, private cars and small trucks the other.

Public Works Director Eugene Field said adding an entrance might require relocating a drain pipe.

Selectmen postponed a decision until they have more information, including the location of the drain pipe and how often trash-hauling trucks come in during regular hours when they would overlap with residents’ vehicles.

Melrose also continued discussion of his proposal to revive Vassalboro’s Trails Committee. He presented a list of five conservation and sanctuary properties in town.

In other business, selectmen decided to meet only once a month in July and August, as in past years. They chose July 18 and August 15 as meeting dates.

Their next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, May 30. Vassalboro’s annual town meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 3, at Vassalboro Community School, and continues with written-ballot voting Tuesday, June 11.

China residents gather to discuss comprehensive plan

China residents discuss the town’s comprehensive plan on Saturday at Erskine Academy. (photo by Eric Austin)

by Eric W. Austin

Approximately 25 residents of China gathered in the cafeteria at Erskine Academy on Saturday, May 18, to discuss the town’s comprehensive plan, which is formulated every ten years to help guide the direction of town policy. Town Manager Dennis Heath and Selectman Irene Belanger were also in attendance. The planning session was moderated by Joel Greenwood, from the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments.

The agenda for the public planning session included three topics of discussion: Water quality for China Lake and Three Mile Pond; Housing availability; and Growth, Land Use and Zoning.

Discussion began with an affirmation of the importance of China Lake to the economic health of the town. “I don’t have lake property,” said Mark Davis, a resident from the north end of town, “but I understand the value of the lake to the town, and the more we can do for water quality, the better it’s going to be [for the town].” Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association, agreed with this sentiment. “The lake is connected to all of us, in one way or another,” he said.

Joel Greenwood, from the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, moderated the discussion. (photo by Eric Austin)

It was also mentioned that if water quality degrades, property values of lakefront homes will decrease, shifting more of the tax burden onto homeowners living away from the lake.

Bob O’Connor suggested that the town ban the use of gas boats on China Lake, and only allow boats with electric motors.

There was also discussion of the importance of finding a balance between creating policy to insure continued lake quality and placing burdensome and expensive requirements on home owners and new construction projects. Ron Morrell, pastor of China Baptist at the north end of the lake, pointed out that controlling phosphorous runoff into the lake increases the cost of construction and may prohibit some people from moving into the community.

It was reported that China Lake is currently experiencing the best water quality it has seen in 30 years, but this is mostly due to the dry weather and lack of severe storms in the past year.

There was some discussion of the proposed purchase of lakefront property next to the Four Seasons Club for public access to the lake, with some residents questioning whether it was a good investment, and whether a public beach would have a detrimental effect on water quality. Town Manager Heath said, “This is a target of opportunity to acquire the land. We know a plan [still] needs to be developed.” He went on to say, “I anticipate that it will be two or three years before we can actually do anything on that property. We need to take the time to develop a plan and get it before the people – because I am a believer in the public approving of what you do. So, we need to put something together, put it in front of people, and get them to agree to it.”

Tom Rumpf, president of the China Four Seasons Club, reminded everyone, “You are welcome, any time you want, to come down and check out our beach, and with a $25 membership, you can jump in the lake anytime you want.” He also reported that China is becoming known across the state for its excellently maintained trails, which have become popular for both snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts from all over central Maine.

The discussion then moved to housing availability in China. Town Manager Heath spoke about the need for senior housing in the town. “China needs affordable senior housing,” he said. “It’s part of the China for a Lifetime Committee’s goals, and so we’re marching down that road. I anticipate that we will have some movement [on that soon].” Greenwood then asked whether those in attendance were in favor of the town pursuing an initiative to bring affordable senior housing to China. A majority of those present raised their hands in favor of the proposal.

Several residents expressed resistance to adding more Section 8 (subsidized) housing for low income people in China.

Selectman Irene Belanger spoke about the possibility of instituting a public water and septic system in China, and suggested that new developers may steer clear of development projects in towns which require the installation of a private well and septic for every property. Dennis Heath warned that such a public system would likely cost in excess of $35 million.

Following a short break, discussion shifted to the final topic of the planning session: Growth, Land Use and Zoning.

Some residents expressed the need for careful planning of new development and the desire to avoid “suburban sprawl.” A resident also brought up the online rental service, Airbnb, and the impact that it has had in other communities like Portland. Tod Detre, a member of the Broadband Committee, mentioned the situation in Toronto, Canada, where companies have bought up residential properties for the purpose of renting them through Airbnb, which has driven up property values to astronomical levels.

Several residents mentioned the importance of protecting the town’s farmers, at a time when many farms in Maine are closing down.

A number of residents expressed a desire to make new building requirements simple and straightforward. The group agreed that building codes should aim to be “quantifiable and measurable, with specific and easy to understand criteria.”

There was some discussion about where new development should take place, and it was agreed that careful planning should be done to decide the best placement of future residential and commercial construction projects.

Finally, the group considered the 2008 China Vision Statement, and it was generally agreed that it was still a good representation of town values, although a suggestion was made to add language to “encourage and facilitate volunteerism and community involvement.”

The Comprehensive Planning Committee will take the feedback gained from this public workshop to develop China’s Comprehensive Plan to present to voters next year at the town business meeting. The committee will meet monthly throughout the summer and fall. Anyone interested in participating on the planning committee should contact the town office at 445-2014.

Contact the author at ericwaustin@gmail.com.

Construction begins for alewives restoration at Ladd Dam in North Vassalboro

The Ladd Dam in North Vassalboro. (Photo by Roland D. Hallee)

by Landis Hudson

The Ladd Dam, in North Vassalboro, will soon have a technical fishway installed to allow alewives to move past it to their spawning ground. It’s not the final step in the overall project, but a critical one, and scheduled to start this summer following plans developed by the Department of Marine Resources, and US Fish and Wildlife Service, working with local engineers and dam owner Ray Breton. Maintaining the Ladd Dam impoundment will keep the swimming area, a favorite spot on hot summer days.

The work is an important step in the Alewife Restoration Initiative which will re-establish passage from the ocean to China Lake. The goal of the project is to restore an annual migratory run of 800,000 – 950,000 adult alewives (river herring). Two dams have been removed to date, the Masse and Lombard Dams. The Ladd, Box Mill and Outlet Dams will be fitted with technical fishways. The Ladd Dam is located just upstream from the Box Mill Dam. The work is part of a greater Kennebec restoration effort that dates back to the 1980s. It builds on the success at Benton where alewife numbers were estimated at just 400,000 in 2008, but jumped to a record 5.7 million last year.

In March, Town of China voters approved $25,000 to support fish passage work at the Outlet Dam which controls the China Lake water level but does not allow alewives to make their way into or safely out of the lake. Fish have been stocked in China Lake by the Department of Marine Resources and can be seen schooling in the lake in large numbers through the late summer and into the autumn. Some fish are able to make their way out of the lake but the remaining dams lack fish passage to ensure their survival as they make their way downstream to the ocean.

Voters from the Town of Vassalboro will be asked to support the project as well by approving the transfer of revenue received by the town from the current alewife harvest at Webber Pond to support the work at Outlet Stream.

Restoring alewife runs contributes to the health of the entire Gulf of Maine because alewives are forage fish for the larger species including cod, haddock, tuna, striped bass — and food for eagles, ospreys, otters, and raccoons.

The nonprofit organization Maine Rivers has been coordinating the project. Chuck Verrill, president of Maine Rivers, sees long-term value in river and stream restoration. “It’s our hope that this work will provide benefits to future generations who will grow up seeing the stream come alive with an annual migration of fish.” Locally, community members are hopeful that the restoration work will help improve the water quality of China Lake that has suffered from algae blooms. The historical presence of alewives was reconfirmed with the discovery of letters and documents in the Massachusetts Archives.

The restoration of alewives to China Lake has been a priority for the Maine Department of Marine Resources for many years, based on agency goals to restore historic runs of this native species. This past spring, the Department stocked 25,000 native alewives directly into China Lake to jump-start restoration efforts. “We know this kind of work takes long-term vision and great attention to detail over several seasons. We are pleased to see this progress,” said Patrick Keliher, Com­mis­sioner, Maine Depart­ment of Marine Re­sources.

The project relies on partnerships and is supported by the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, the China Region Lakes Alliance, the China Lake Association, Maine Rivers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Towns of China and Vassalboro.

Funding has come from sources including: Patagonia, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, The Nature Conservancy in Maine, MNRCP, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Davis Conservation Foundation, and the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.

VASSALBORO: Planners approve three applications

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members unanimously approved all three applications on their May 7 agenda, attaching a condition to one.

Permits were approved for:

  • Cornerstone Christian Fellowship on Riverside Drive to expand parking space, with work to be done in two phases.
  • Thaddeus Clark to put a mobile home on an existing slab, drill a well and later build a house on a Matthews Avenue lot that is in the shoreland zone along a small stream. None of the construction will be within 100 feet of the water.
  • Timothy Dowd to begin an indoor marijuana-growing facility in one of the old mill buildings in North Vassalboro, with the condition that Dowd will install an air filtration system that will prevent any odor from escaping the growing room.

Codes Enforcement Officer Richard Dolby said Dowd’s will be the fourth licensed marijuana-growing business in Vassalboro.

Selectmen, fire chiefs engage in heated debate over town funding

China Village Volunteer Fire Department. (Internet photo)

by Mary Grow

China selectmen and fire chiefs went another round in their months-long disagreement at the May 13 selectmen’s meeting, with considerable shouting, many contradictions, some assigning of blame and eventually a partial clarification of positions, but no resolution.

Town meeting voters annually approve money for the fire departments for operations and, in recent years, stipends for volunteer firefighters. Payment of stipends to volunteers in nonprofit organizations is regulated by state and federal laws and rules. Firefighters and selectmen have argued since last fall over their respective roles in overseeing town funds, especially stipends, though at times the argument has seemed to cover all monies the departments have from any source for any purpose.

According to the discussions, stipend money has not been disbursed according to law in the past. Dennis Heath, China’s town manager for almost a year, wants it done legally.

Palermo attorney Matt Evans came to the May 13 meeting as the firefighters’ spokesman – not their lawyer, he emphasized, or he would have worn a suit and tie. He began by asking why the firefighters were not listed as a business item rather than under reports.

Town Clerk Becky Hapgood, filling in for Heath, said she had been told to list the firefighters under reports.

Evans said he was not going to report. Instead, he asked whether the board of selectmen intended to give the three fire departments the money town meeting voters approved for them on April 6.

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland answered yes, both operational funds and money for stipends, subject to state and federal regulations – and the fight was on, because the fire chiefs believe they can obey state and federal regulations without help from selectmen.

Evans’ next question, never specifically answered, was what documentation the fire departments need to provide along with their annual requests for town funds. He asked further, what are the state and federal guidelines and who interprets them?

“You’re making up nonsensical stuff and then you’re going to enforce it on them,” Evans charged.

Evans’ presence did not prevent chiefs Bill Van Wickler (Weeks Mills), Tim Theriault (China Village) and Dick Morse (South China) from speaking for themselves.

Their position is that they are entitled to oversee their own expenditures, and the selectmen do not need to review every transaction. Van Wickler said he had found and shared as an example the guidelines formula selectmen and firefighters agreed to some months ago, and “it’s our responsibility to use the formula.

“We have all the tools we need to do this right. Trust us,” he said.

Morse agreed: the departments, not the selectmen, are responsible for obeying the law. The selectmen’s responsibility is to hand over the money town voters approved.

Selectmen’s position is that because the money in question is the taxpayers’, their responsibility is to make sure it is spent appropriately.

Board member Ronald Breton summarized toward the end of the discussion: distribution of town funds “belongs to the board” and the town manager tells the selectmen what’s legal.

Theriault, who is a state representative as well as a local fire chief, said part of the problem is that the legislature “does a bad job of making laws.” Concerning volunteers’ stipends, legislators made a law that state officials refuse to enforce.

In a two-hour conversation with the head of the Department of Labor, he learned that administration of volunteer firefighters’ stipends is ignored, because state regulators value volunteers and won’t do something that might deter them from volunteering. Breton reminded Theriault that Town Manager and Town Treasurer Heath “sees it differently, as the guy who signs the checks.”

“So maybe we need somebody with a little more common sense,” Theriault replied, touching off a short discussion of the influence of the military where Heath worked and Oklahoma where he got his governmental experience.

Van Wickler raised a side issue: selectmen have faulted firefighters for not reporting at selectmen’s meetings, but, Van Wickler asked, why should non-employees join town employees in reporting every other week?

Board Chairman Robert MacFarland retorted, “Then why do you take town money?”

Theriault reminded him that the town is responsible for providing fire protection. Town officials’ options are to create a municipal fire department, contract with another town or contract with some other party, like local volunteer firefighters’ organizations.

After three-quarters of an hour’s discussion, selectmen turned to other business, including hearing employees’ reports:

  • The town assessor is inspecting properties; he drives a white vehicle with an identifying sign.
  • Town police have been dealing with speeding complaints and will continue to do so.
  • Eleven beavers have been trapped and relocated so far and the culverts they had blocked have been or are being cleared.
  • The codes enforcement officer is available Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment Wednesdays and Fridays. Asked about the recently hired assistant codes officer, MacFarland replied he “didn’t work out.”

By unanimous votes, the board:

  • Approved a liquor license renewal for the China Dine-ah;
  • Accepted a petition to lower the speed limit on Village Street in South China to 35 miles an hour, a request that will be forwarded to the state transportation department; and
  • Approved police Sergeant Tracey Frost’s plan to buy three new portable radios to match those used by Kennebec County.

Since the next regular selectmen’s meeting would fall on the Memorial Day holiday, Hapgood said it is rescheduled, probably to Tuesday evening, May 28.

See also:

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: An open letter to China residents from the town’s fire chiefs

China selectmen respond to fire chiefs’ letter

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: China selectmen explain their position on the fire department stipend controversy

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: “The way I see it” from a 60-year firefighter and former chief

2019 China town meeting: Selectmen, firemen get approval on stipend increases

CHINA: Comprehensive plan meeting at Erskine

(photo credit: Erskine Academy)

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, in conjunction with the town of China, will be conducting a Comprehensive Plan public input session on Saturday, May 18, at Erskine Academy cafeteria, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The workshop, titled China’s 2040 Vision, will cover major topics to include water quality of China Lake and Three Mile Pond, housing, land use development and developing a 10-year vision.

Comprehensive Planning Committee spokesman Irene Belanger stated: “The purpose of the workshop is to get a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints about what is special about China and needs to be preserved, and what needs to change and improve in the years ahead. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. The more citizens participation, the better the vision will be.”

Following some good work from the China for a Lifetime Committee, this is a key step in the updating of the comprehensive plan for the town of China. Belanger continued, “Come talk with your neighbors and help us shape the future for China.”

All China resident are invited and encouraged to attend.

Selectmen sign proclamation for Municipal Clerks Week

Vassalboro selectmen have signed a proclamation marking the week of May 5 through May 11 as Municipal Clerks Week, recognizing the work of town clerks and their deputies.

2019 is the 50th anniversary of the annual observance, according to the proclamation. The proclamation describes the office of clerk as “the oldest among public servants,” existing world-wide as a “vital part of local government.” Clerks are recognized as a neutral professional link between citizens and their government, local, state and national, and as “the information center on functions of local government and community.”