“We’ll make a decision shortly, Shawn,” China Selectboard Chairman Robert MacFarland promised Public Works Manager Shawn Reed as selectmen for the fourth time postponed action on his recommendation that they buy an excavator for the town.
Reed first made the suggestion at the June 10 selectmen’s meeting. There were follow-up discussions at the June 24 meeting and July 8 meetings; by then Reed had a specific proposal with a price, and the town had a contract to rent an excavator for 2019-2020. Selectmen asked Reed to find out how long the dealer would hold the price.
At the July 22 meeting, Reed and Town Manager Dennis Heath reported Chadwick-BaRoss will hold the price on the Volvo machine Reed favors until Dec.1, but will not promise to hold the machine if someone else wants it. Two of the three selectmen present were initially willing to approve the purchase, but eventually all three voted to postpone a decision until a full board is present.
They were more decisive on another public works issue, approving Heath’s recommendation to spend almost $10,000 of the 2019-2020 maintenance budget for tools so that new employee Josh Crommett can take over much of the work that’s been done by private garages.
Heath also recommends buying a software program to track maintenance records. He is looking for the program most suited to China’s needs.
He said Crommett has already done five jobs on town vehicles and estimated a $1,500 savings, counting Crommett’s pay as part of the cost.
Reed reported he rented a second excavator for one day’s ditching work, a large machine with a two-ton hammer for breaking up ledge. China’s crew used to blast ledge, which he said was much more expensive.
The public works department continues to deal with beavers, Reed said. The current major problem is that they have blocked the new six-foot culvert on Bog Brook Road.
Replying to a question from MacFarland, Reed said China is buying road salt but no sand for next winter, expecting the current sandpile to last another two or three years. The state Department of Transportation (MDOT) offers annual training on salting roads with minimum risk of contaminating groundwater or surface water. Selectman Irene Belanger asked if China has salt contamination insurance; Heath will investigate.
In another related matter, Heath reported on negotiations with the MDOT about turning over the Weeks Mills Road to the town. The current proposal is that the state will pay for this year’s resurfacing before the transfer.
In other business July 22, board members unanimously chose Belanger as one of China’s representatives to the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. Belanger invites anyone interested in serving as the second representative to get in touch with her to discuss the position.
Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood commended staff member Kelly Grotton for her work organizing the annual China Community Days celebration, scheduled for Aug. 2, 3 and 4. The Community Days schedule is on the town website and on paper at the town office and other public places.
Hapgood praised summer intern Hannah Kutschinski for her skills and attitude.
Heath said the revolving loan fund to provide bridge loans for China business owners from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund is in operation. The TIF Committee will meet Monday evening, July 29. Its duties include reviewing loan applications.
TIF Committee member Tom Michaud complained that the guardrails along the head of China Lake east of the new causeway bridge were not removed as he recommended so that participants in the Community Days fishing derby could reach the water. The guardrails are part of the first phase of a TIF project to build the new bridge and improve access to the lake for recreation.
Heath said the project engineer recommended against removal because of potential liability; instead, openings were made. Michaud fears the openings might present new hazards.
The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Aug. 5.
Family-owned camp since 1937
Glen H Easton purchased this property on Killdeer Point in 1937. He was the supervising naval officer assigned at Bath Iron works in those days. The camp was well built boasting a lovely cathedral ceiling. Bonnie Easton McGann, oldest of the 9 grandchildren, continues to shares family ownership of the camp.
Of particular lake friendly buffers on the Easton Camp property are the deep natural canopy of tall trees at the lake front and the 40-foot deep stand of hemlock trees that are kept trimmed to ensure that the Easton family can enjoy a nice view of the lake.
Effective water front buffers protect our lake from harmful runoff and can allow a nice view of the lake!
LakeSmart Volunteers are available to provide suggestions to lake front property owner to help protect the lake. If you are interested in having a LakeSmart Volunteer visit your property or would like more information about a visit, please contact Marie Michaud at ChinaLakeSmart@gmail.com.
Members hear about lake restoration from director of Maine Lakes Society
“We’re part of the problem,” Matthew Scott, the keynote speaker at this year’s China Lake Association annual meeting, told an audience of about 40 people on Saturday, July 20. “We’re also part of the solution.”
His talk was entitled, “All Maine Lakes Are Vulnerable, Some More than Others.” Matthew Scott is the founder and past president of the North American Lake Management Society, and former chairman of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection. Currently, he serves as a Director for the Maine Lakes Society. He has been studying the health of Maine’s lakes since 1959.
Prior to 1970, China Lake was a clear, blue-water lake teeming with salmon and trout. Over the next decade, however, the China area experienced a population explosion and, along with it, a period of high — and mostly unregulated — rural development. Pollution from new construction, poor septic standards and runoff from agricultural production resulted in a change in the chemical make-up of China Lake. Phosphorous levels rose and dissolved oxygen levels fell.
As a result, in 1982 China Lake experienced its first algae bloom. An algae bloom is a rapid explosion in the growth of algae as a result of high levels of nutrients in the water.
Other lakes around the state would later experience similar changes for similar reasons, but China Lake was the first, and it gave its name to the new phenomenon, which came to be called “the China Lake Syndrome.”
Beyond the unsightly appearance, high levels of algae in the lake have other consequences. As the algae dies, it sinks to the bottom and starts to decay. The bacteria that aid in the process of decomposition suck oxygen out of the water. This impacts the populations of fish living in the lake, especially those species which prefer the high oxygen content of the dark, cool depths in the deepest parts of the lake, like trout and salmon. These species, once so common, began to disappear from the lake.
Dying algae can cause another problem as well – poisonous water. “What happens is that the algae die,” says Scott, “and when they die they release an endotoxin [called microcystin].” While toxin levels in China Lake have not risen above acceptable amounts laid out by the DEP, Scott thinks we can expect to see a greater need for microcystin testing in the future.
Part of these problems are also the result of Climate Change, says Scott. “We’ve recorded temperature changes since 1895,” he says, “and [average temperatures in Maine have] increased about three degrees Fahrenheit. That’s raw data. That’s real data. It’s a scientific fact.” Scott insists, whether or not you agree that Climate Change is the result of human activity, the world is growing warmer and we need to adapt.
“Maine is getting warmer and wetter,” Scott says. His data suggests we will see an increase in future snowfall in Maine by 40 percent along the coast, 20-40 percent in central Maine, and up to 20 percent for inland Maine.
Warmer weather results in warmer water, which is ideal for algae growth, and greater snowfall means more runoff into the lake when the snow melts, which puts greater importance on constructing vegetative buffers along the lake to help filter the runoff.
Scott sees the primary drivers of lake water quality as: Landscape fragmentation from development; seepage from faulty septic tanks; agricultural runoff from the use of fertilizers and certain pesticides; pollution and runoff from roads, driveways and nonpoint sources; and, finally, Climate Change.
Although Climate Change is certainly a factor, Scott says, it is these other sources with which we should be most concerned. “We all talk about Climate Change,” he says, “and people try to hang their hat on Climate Change and what it’s doing, but we are the problem, okay? We are the ones causing the problem.”
He’s talking about population growth, but concedes that growth is inevitable. “We’re not going to see that change,” he says. “[But] we’re going to have to control people’s activities through regulations, ordinances, laws and rules.”
Scott doesn’t think there are any silver bullets when dealing with lake water quality, but there are some promising options. One popular choice is “alum treatment,” which is the process of introducing a mix of aluminum sulfate and sodium aluminate into the lake. The aluminum sulfate chemically binds with the phosphates in the water, which then settle to the bottom and are no longer available to provide nutrients for algae growth. The sodium aluminate is used to control pH levels during the treatment. This sort of treatment has shown success in other lakes, but it is expensive, and Scott emphasizes that it should not be considered until the phosphate sources feeding into the lake have first been identified and eliminated.
Another option that generated discussion is the reintroduction of alewives into the lake. Alewives are a migratory fish which feed on the phosphate-rich plankton in the lake. The fish spend most of their lives in the ocean, but return to fresh water to spawn. After spawning, when they return to the ocean, they take the phosphates they’ve consumed with them. The problem is that there are so many dams constructed along the rivers between the lake and the ocean that these migratory fish have had trouble returning to the sea after spawning. If they are unable to return to the ocean, they become trapped, eventually dying and returning those phosphates back to the lake instead.
Landis Hudson, executive director of the nonprofit Maine Rivers, spoke about the work they are doing to clear a path along Maine’s rivers for migratory fish like alewives. “Lakes are connected to rivers, rivers are connected to the ocean,” she tells the audience, “and my work with Maine Rivers is to restore connections between lakes and the ocean, and to make the habitat more accessible and healthier for native creatures, including alewives. What we’re aiming to do is restore a self-sustaining population of up to a million adult alewives that should be returning [to the lake].”
Matt Streeter, a project manager with Maine Rivers, spoke about the progress they are making. “There were six dams on Outlet Stream,” he says. “There are now four dams remaining. This year, 2019, we’re working on a fishway at Ladd Dam. Next year, 2020, we’re going to be working on a fishway at Box Mill Dam. Those are the first and second dams on the river. The next year, 2021, [we’ll be installing a fishway at] Outlet Dam. The final piece will be Morneau Dam, probably in 2022 — although we haven’t decided yet if that will be a fishway or a dam removal. We fully expect that by 2023 there will be a returning round of alewives into China Lake, with full outgoing fish passage as well.”
Robbie Bickford, the Director of Water Quality for the Kennebec Water District, then stepped forward to speak about how KWD is working with local communities to improve water quality. (He recently took over the position, as of July 1, from Matt Zetterman, who was also present.) “The Kennebec Water District monitors transparency data, and dissolved oxygen and phosphorous levels in all three basins of China Lake,” Bickford says. “Over the last six years, there’s been a pretty good trend of transparency data getting better.” Transparency is a gauge of how clear the water is based on how far below the surface an object can be seen. “July 3 actually marked the best transparency data that we’ve seen in the west basin since 1971, at 8.3 meters (26-1/2 feet),” he reported. “The best [data] we’ve ever seen since 1971 in any basin was 8.4 meters, so that’s awesome. The average that we’ve seen in July this year is still well above the ten-year average. That’s fantastic.” Bickford noted that phosphorous levels in the lake have improved as well.
The Kennebec Water District has operated the Outlet Dam, which controls lake levels, for the last ten years. However, this year they were unable to renew their contract with Vassalboro because of a dispute over certain cost increases they were requesting. As a result, the Vassalboro Public Works Department is now operating the dam. Everyone agreed that the current lake levels are unusually high for this time of year, but Bickford and Zetterman confirmed that water levels are within the guidelines set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association, suggested the town of China could purchase the dam in order to operate it themselves, but such a move would need to be voted on at the town business meeting next year. This was confirmed by China Town Manager Dennis Heath, who was in the audience.
Richard Dillenbeck spoke briefly about the litter initiative he has been organizing with the China for a Lifetime Committee. “We’ve started this year an official approach to picking up litter along our highways,” he said. “We’ve gotten partial success so far. We’ve got it covered from Erskine Academy [in South China] to portions down the Neck Road [at the north end of China Lake]. We have about 30 volunteers who have stepped forward, but we need more. There are some portions that are still not covered. If you’d like to play a role, or know someone, please have them contact me.” This was greeted with raucous applause, but no volunteers. Dillenbeck can be contacted at 445-8074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marie Michaud, coordinator for the LakeSmart program on China Lake, got up to present awards and speak about the progress they’ve made. She spoke about the importance of the program in educating lake residents on how to construct vegetative buffers to prevent phosphorous run-off into the lake. They are also beginning a LakeSmart ambassador program to help spread the word.
Finally, Bob O’Connor reported on the loon count for China Lake. This is his 30th year running the program. “We have 48 loons,” he reported. “We haven’t had that many loons since 2003. So, that’s really great. And there were four chicks!”
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Bar Harbor Bankshares (NYSE American: BHB) announced that its banking subsidiary, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust (“BHBT”), has signed a definitive agreement to acquire eight branches located in central Maine with approximately $287 million of deposits, $111 million of loans and $284 million of assets under management (as of March 31, 2019) from People’s United Bank, National Association (“People’s”.
Both banks will be working closely to ensure a seamless transition for customer accounts and associates transferring to BHBT. The Company intends to offer continued employment to the professionals associated with People’s central Maine region, which is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2019. This acquisition is subject to regulatory approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the State of Maine and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. The eight branches will increase BHBT’s total branch count to 56 in its footprint, and 22 in the State of Maine. The Company is well positioned to integrate the new branches into its existing operations and deliver the product depth and local responsiveness that it has become known for.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Curtis C. Simard stated, “We are pleased to welcome our new colleagues, customers and communities to our already deep Maine roots. We look forward to servicing their banking and Wealth Management needs, and to providing our full suite of personal and commercial deposit and loan products. We believe this acquisition provides our existing and new customers enhanced convenience and underscores our commitment to Maine while expanding into contiguous markets in a sensible way. These branches stretch across the central Maine I-95 corridor with four branches in the greater Bangor market and includes all deposits from People’s central Maine territory.”
Mr. Simard stated “This transaction contributes to our financial and long term strategic goals with manageable risk based on our experienced team’s history of successful acquisitions and system integrations. We plan to use the acquired deposits to replace certain existing higher cost of borrowings which will result in an immediate accretion to earnings and will support future growth with additional core funding. Incremental earnings will allow for an estimated earn-back of tangible book value per share less than a period of five years. At closing the Company will pay a 6.3% premium on average total deposits plus a premium of 1.2 times annualized wealth management revenue and approximately $4.4 million for the fair value of premises and equipment acquired.”
Griffin Financial Group, LLC served as financial advisor to Bar Harbor Bankshares and K&L Gates served as outside legal counsel. A presentation with additional information regarding the branch acquisition is attached as an exhibit and can be found on their website.
Photos and text by Ron Emery, Assistant Scoutmaster
On Saturday, June 29, Troop #479 honored an Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor held for China resident Misha Littlefield, at the China Baptist Church. Family, friends and Scouts attended the ceremony marking the advancement of this young man to the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
Misha joins a group of Eagle Scouts who have completed community service projects with the help of fellow Scouts and other volunteers. Each Eagle candidate must plan and supervise an Eagle service project to demonstrate his capacity and willingness to exert his leadership ability in activities that are constructive and worthwhile in his community.
Misha’s project benefited the community by building shelves at the China Food Pantry for the monthly delivery of USDA Federal goods. They did not have room to store the monthly delivery in a convenient location to stock food boxes. This Eagle Service project led by Misha Littlefield was greatly needed, according to Ann Austin, at the China Food Pantry.
Misha recognized all those who helped him to reach the Eagle Rank. Misha is the son of Rodney and Julie, of China, and is working at Lowe’s, in Augusta, and running his own business while working toward becoming an EMT.
High Honors: Molly Babson, Gavin Blanchard, Madison Boynton, Jenna Butler, Joseph Clark, Dominic Durant, Cameron Falla, Phillip Gilbert, Sage Hapgood-Belanger, Samantha Heath, Eleanor Hodgkin, Kayla Hodgkins, Amber Rose Holmes, Andrew Jackson, Antonio Jacobs, Christopher Jamison, Kyli Julia, Robert King, Morgaine Kmen, Olivia Kunesh, Caitlin Labbe, Noah Labbe, Milo Lani-Caputo, Rivers Malcolm, Tara Maltese, Desiree Mayo, Myles Nored, Jacob Praul, Seth Reed, Austin Roderick, Christina Roy, Hunter Rushing, Seth Savage, Jessie Sepulvado, Conor Skehan, Katherine Smith, Braden Soule, Elizabeth Sugg, Willow Throckmorton-Hansford, Jack Tobey, Kassidy Wade, Hagen Wallace, Jacob Wright, Alana York and Peilin Yu.
Honors: Samantha Allen, Dominque Andrews, Brenna Audet, Alex Barney, Nina Boudreau, Daniel Bourgoin III, William Bourque, Justin Browne, Arthur Carey, Nicholas Cates, Jonathan Condon, Caitlyn Denico, Damien Doe, Keara Doughty, Travis Dow, Tiffany Doyle, Samuel Falla, Courtney Gallagher, Madeline Geidel, Ashley Gillis, Chad Grant, Dylan Grotton, Lucas Grotton, Regina Harmon, Alexis Haskell, Tristan Hawk, William Jones, Jack Jowett, Garrett Keezer, Dylan Keller, Paige Leary, Conner Leeman, Searra Lord, Alexander Mahon, Mya Maxim, Isaiah Morrison, Conner Paine, Joshua Peaslee, Zachary Plourde, Hannah Reid, Cole Roberts, Caleb Sacks, Shaine Staples, Briana Strout, Mercedes Tibbetts, Megan To, Shay Tripp-Laliberty, Ashlyn Wing and Jiwei Jeff Ye.
High Honors: Jay Austin II, Julia Basham, Haley Breton, Abigail Cordts, Cheyann Field, Jada Fredette, Alyssha Gil, Annika Gil, Joshua Gower, Alyssa Hale, Emma Harvey, Keimi Henry, Summer Hotham, Ashley Huntley, Sarah Jarosz, Parker King, Benjamin Lavoie, Eleena Lee, Stephanie Libby, Jordan Linscott, Brandon Loveland, Marissa McGraw, Jakob Mills, Adalaide Morris, Lyndsie Pelotte, Hunter Praul, Miina Raag-Schmidt, Benjamin Reed, Mitchel Reynolds, Andrew Robinson, Alyssa Savage, Taylor Shute, Dominic Smith, Alisha Stevens, Jacob Sutter, Hailee Turner, Cameron Tyler and Richard Winn.
Honors: Alec Baker, Derek Beaulieu, Adam Bonenfant, Ashlee Bossie, Yanic Boulet, Kole-Tai Carlezon, Jacob Cater, David Chubbuck Jr, Summer Curran, Colby Cyr, Devin Davis, Dominic Denico, Joshua Donahue II, Joshua Duggan, Dominick Dyer, Vincent Emery, Mitchell Gamage, Boe Glidden, Bryce Goff, Tori Grasse, Gage Henderson, Nicholas Howard, Julianna Hubbard, Emily Jacques, Cameron Johnson, Colby Johnson, Luke Jordan, Tristan Klemanski, Brandon LaChance, Benjamin Lagasse, Cole Leclerc, William Leeman, Desiree Leighton, Sydney Lord, Haymanot Maynard, Reece McGlew, Kaytie Millay, Grady Miller, Krysta Morris, Nathaniel Mosher, Chandler Peele, Matthew Picher, Dalton Pushard, Jennifer Reny, Dominic Rodrigue, Michael Rogers, Shawn Seigars, Serena Sepulvado, Santasia Sevigny, Nicholas Shelton, Alissa Sleeper, Kayla Sleeper, Lily Solorzano, MaKenzi Strout, Nicole Taylor, Courtney Tibbetts, Brandon Tibbs and Katelyn Tibbs.
High Honors: Philip Allen, Abbygail Blair, Jane Blanchard, Samantha Box, Trevor Brockway, Eleanor Brown, Zoe Butler, Joleigh Crockett, Cody Devaney, Jacob Devaney, Abigail Dumas, Amelia Evans, Addison Gamage, Margaret Gamage, Patrick Hanley, Avery Henningsen, Nathan Howell, Emma Hutchinson, Muzzammil Iqbal, Delaney Ireland, Bryan Joslyn Jr, Madyx Kennedy, Sierra LaCroix, Isabela Libby, Colby Lloyd, Emily Lowther, Chiara Mahoney, Michael Nicholas III, Ian Oliphant, Brian Ouellette, Aiden Pettengill, Sydni Plummer, Harry Rabideau, Kristin Ray, Hanna Spitzer and Kelby Young.
Honors: Mara Adams, Nicholas Barber, Kylie Bechard, Rylee Bellemare, Isabella Bishop, Everett Blair, Johnathan Blair, Christopher Bourdon, Anthony Chessa, Saydi Cote, Katelynn Dubriel, Jake Emond, Phillips Gidney, Hailey Haskell, Braydon Hinds, Paeshance-Rae Horan, Keith Knowles, Kaylah Kronillis, Haley Laird, Joanna Linscott, Eva Malcolm, Jonathan Martinez, Hailey Mayo, Gavin Mills, Tyler Ormonde, Olive Padgett, Daniel Page, Courtney Paine, Isabella Parlin, Annaliese Patterson, Allison Roddy, Hailey Sanborn, Acadia Senkbeil, Paul Slimm, Carly Spencer, Joshua Tobey, Mollie Wilson, Dylan Wing and Samuel York.
High Honors: Isaac Baker, Julia Barber, Alana Beggs, Jacob Bentley, Jack Blais, Wyatt Brann, Lilian Bray, Evan Butler, Emily Clark, Tabitha Craig, Liberty Crockett, Colby Cunningham, Isabella DeRose, Luke Desmond, Emma Fortin, Samantha Golden, Trace Harris, Hayden Hoague, Grace Hodgkin, Rachel Huntoon, Emma Jefferson, Grace Kelso, Taidhgin Kimball, Aidan Larrabee, Lili Lefebvre, Isavel Lux Soc, David Martinez – Gosselin, Hayden McMurtry, Adam Ochs, Abigail Peaslee, Devon Polley, Sarah Praul, Riley Reitchel, Mackenzie Roderick, Abbey Searles, Shawn Searles, Hannah Soule, Natalie Spearin and Lily Vinci.
Honors: Griffin Anderson, Nickolas Berto, Austin Campbellton, Nathaniel Collins, Jasmine Crommett, Daniel Cseak, Caleb Cyr, Tiana Dingwell, Kaden Doughty, Alexander Drolet, Abigail Dutton, Kelsie Fielder, Jacob Fisher, Chase Folsom, Wyatt French, Jenna Gallant, Josette Gilman, Ciera Hamar, Thomas Hanley, Larissa Haskell, Skye Havey, Hannah Huff, Hunter Johnson, Tanner Klasson, Mallory Landry, Madison Lully, Calvin Mason, Robert McCafferty, Wes McGlew, Ben Monroe, Christian Moon, Rebecca Morton, Brady O’Connor, Lilly Potter, Paige Reed, Parker Reynolds, Kadince Rideout, Natasha Ryder-Lewis, Andrew Shaw, Hugo Smith, Nathaniel Solorzano, Hannah Strout – Gordon, Brennen Wade, Samuel Worthley, Emily York and Hannah York.
Clifford Glinko gave his well-prepared presentation on his proposed medical marijuana facility on Route 3, in South China, at a July 9 public hearing – to no audience, and without enough detail to satisfy the China Planning Board, which can’t rule yet anyway.
Glinko has applied for a marijuana growing facility with a retail storefront for marijuana patients in the Route 3 building that has housed Mabel Charles’ used book store and Maine-ly Trains, among other past businesses. He was initially scheduled to present the application at a June 11 meeting, but was not notified. In his absence, board members scheduled the public hearing.
Three neighbors of the project attended the June 11 meeting. Glinko said he talked with them before his July 9 presentation.
Another development between the two meetings was Planning Board Chairman Tom Miragliuolo familiarizing himself with the new state law’s “opt in” provision. According to information from the Maine Municipal Association, municipalities must vote to allow medical marijuana operations before any can be approved. Those in operation before December 13, 2018, are grandfathered, so Nathan White’s business farther west on Route 3 is not affected.
Glinko brought to the July 9 hearing a slide presentation in which he explained why a medical marijuana facility would be a good neighbor – odor controls, normal business hours, not much traffic, extensive security – and described his family and his interests. His wife Tracey is a dentist who heads Kennebec Valley Dental Arts, in Fairfield.
Glinko said he does not use marijuana himself, but became interested in medical marijuana after hearing some of the dental patients, including one who was on chemotherapy, describe it as “better than opiates.”
Miragliuolo asked for more specific details about proposed business operations. Glinko referred the question to his consultant, Jared Jandreau, who prepared the application with guidance from former codes officer Paul Mitnik.
After a discussion of the many definitions in state law, whether the facility would be closer to Grace Academy than the law distancing marijuana operations from schools allows, different odor control methods and related topics, board members remained in need of more information.
Glinko and Miragliuolo agreed an “opt-in” town vote is a preliminary necessity. If China voters allow medical marijuana businesses, Glinko can present a more detailed application, Miragliuolo said. New Codes Officer William Butler offered suggestions for revisions.
The July 9 meeting was the first in China for Butler, a former Maine Department of Environmental Protection staffer and codes officer elsewhere in Maine. Butler said he applied for the job after Mitnik, a former DEP colleague, told him he did not want the full-time position China officials decided they need.
“Paul was incredibly efficient,” Butler commented, keeping up on things during his two days a week.
The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 23.
“I’m saying goodbye to China,” Paul Mitnik said toward the end of our June 25 conversation in his office in the town office. After four years as codes enforcement officer, licensed plumbing inspector and building inspector, Mitnik is moving on, sooner than he intended, with a mixture of regret and pleasure.
Regret because he has enjoyed working in China. Most people are “friendly and want to do the right thing,” and “I like the [Town Office] staff a lot – they work as a team and get along really well,” he said.
Pleasure because “I’m kind of excited about entering another chapter of my life.” Mitnik has three jobs already: as the two-day-a-week codes officer and plumbing inspector in Wayne, where he’s worked since May; as Palermo’s very part-time plumbing inspector; and as an on-call construction inspector with Augusta-based Kleinfelder engineers.
He said Wayne is another nice town with a pleasant town office staff. As in his previous jobs, he’s in a town with lakes – nine, he said – and therefore handles shoreland zoning issues with which he’s very familiar. Mitnik expressed appreciation to former China Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux and the selectboard who hired him four years ago as a part-time codes officer. He’s worked Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and occasionally, especially when he first came and had to learn about China, Wednesdays.
This spring, he said, the current town manager and selectboard decided the codes officer’s position should be full-time. Mitnik was not interested; this is a man who’s already retired twice, from the state Department of Environmental Protection and from the town of Manchester, and wants to keep on working without committing to 40 hours a week.
He therefore resigned, earlier than he had planned. He considers the town action “kind of like a breach of contract,” since he was hired for a part-time job, but instead of arguing found the Wayne position.
In Mitnik’s opinion, “You don’t need a full-time codes officer here [in China],” as his four years as a part-timer have demonstrated.
Mitnik’s full-time replacement was hired late in June, after two false starts. The first advertisements brought no qualified applicants (because, Mitnik believes, the salary offered was too low) and the first person hired left after two weeks. Now selectmen have hired William “Bill” Butler, another ex-DEP employee whom Mitnik commends as knowledgeable and experienced.
When he worked as a Department of Environmental Protection environmental engineer, Mitnik had “a technical job with tight deadlines.” Being a codes officer is harder, he said, because “You have to know so much more.”
A good codes officer, he said, has to be a psychologist and a policeman, able to be patient with the people who need and appreciate assistance and with critics.
One piece of his job that Mitnik has enjoyed in China but will give up in Wayne is applying MUBEC, the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. Under current law, MUBEC applies in municipalities with at least 4,000 residents; Wayne is too small. MUBEC requires inspections at different stages as a new building goes up. Some towns use third-party inspectors; Mitnik thinks having a town employee qualified as a building inspector is more effective and less expensive.
Builders receive a list of required inspections and are supposed to notify the inspector as they’re ready for each one. Where an out-of-town inspector might not follow up, Mitnik used a spread-sheet to keep track and remind builders.
The code authorizes inspectors to fine builders who neglect notification requirements and to make them tear down recent construction to reveal earlier work. Mitnik said he’d be unlikely to have something torn down, except maybe a deck built without a permit and illegally close to a water body.
Mitnik offered China officials and residents two pieces of advice on his way out: protect your water quality, and try to change China’s image as business-unfriendly.
Good water quality is vital all over Maine to keep up the tourism that supports the state’s economy. Mitnik recommends strict enforcement of shoreland ordinances, especially limits on development within 100 feet of a water body. He called China’s Phosphorus Control Ordinance “a great thing,” but pointed out that it is “badly outdated” and recommended an update, especially to add alternative techniques to control run-off instead of relying so heavily on buffer systems.
Mitnik said during his first year the planning board reviewed 18 business-related applications. Now it’s three or four a year. Yet, Mitnik said, in a state that’s considered too far from the rest of the country and too cold to attract big industries, small businesses are vital.
Townspeople “really should consider zoning,” he said, realizing his view is unpopular. If one deterrent to business is the NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome, zoning helps: it designates areas where commercial development is welcome and protects residential neighborhoods where business is not wanted.
With a zoning ordinance, “people are in a way losing rights,” but the town is “encouraging and controlling growth,” in Mitnik’s view. Wayne has had zoning since 1972, he added.
Area students were recently named to the highly selective dean’s list at Colby College, in Waterville, for outstanding academic achievement during the spring semester of the 2018-19 academic year. A total of 443 Colby students – or 23 percent of the qualified student body – earned a spot on the Dean’s List last semester.
Kathryn K. Bernier, a member of the class of 2020, attended Waterville Senior High School and is the daughter of Daniel and Jennifer Bernier, of Watervillee.
Eleanor Rose M. Theriault, a member of the class of 2021, attended Erskine Academy, in South China, and is the daughter of David and Linda Theriault, of Vassalboro.
Students had to earn a semester grade point average of 3.78 or higher this spring to be included on Colby’s Dean’s List.
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