Relations among town departments seem to be running smoothly

by Mary Grow

VASSALBORO — Relations among major Vassalboro town departments seem to be running smoothly, according to an Oct. 4 discussion of public safety and law enforcement issues and communication between town and school officials.

The exception, perhaps a minor one, is a potential change in the services that dispatch emergency personnel.

Currently, Vassalboro firefighters, rescue unit members and the town’s one policeman depend on the state’s Regional Communications Center in Augusta and the Kennebec Sheriff’s Office. Town Manager Mary Sabins said a recent letter suggested potential rearrangements that might take effect in July 2019.

Firefighter Michael Vashon said the Vassalboro volunteer fire department is unlikely to be affected, and is satisfied with the Regional Communications Center. Police Chief Mark Brown expects the Sheriff’s Office will continue to dispatch Vassalboro law enforcement, which is shared among him, sheriff’s deputies and state police.

First Responders Chief Dan Mayotte said his service is less satisfied with the Regional Communications Center than the firefighters are, and gave an example of an error that delayed an emergency response – not the first, he said.

Mayotte advised selectmen to look into alternatives for dispatching service, including Somerset and Waldo counties. Selectmen assigned the job to Sabins, with local emergency personnel to give her names of people with whom to talk.

New Vassalboro School Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer immediately accepted the selectmen’s suggestion that he provide them with monthly reports on school issues affecting the town, especially the budget, like numbers of students and the condition of the school building.

Pfeiffer commended custodial staff at Vassalboro Community School for conscientious maintenance that he said seems to have kept the building in good shape. Perhaps, suggested Selectmen Chairman Lauchlin Titus, there would be occasional projects on which the town crew could help.

Pfeiffer also commended Police Chief Brown for his frequent visits to the school, and Vashon praised his cooperation with the fire department. Selectmen and Brown agreed that given Brown’s limited time – he is paid for 15 hours a week – he should focus on community policing.

Vashon mentioned the lack of road access to the back of the school building for emergency vehicles, a situation Pfeiffer promised to look into.

Sabins reported on ongoing efforts to get a grant for a generator that would let the school building serve as an emergency shelter. Mayotte offered as matching funds the money voters approved for rescue unit grant matches, saying he had not yet made any applications this year, and Vashon and Pfeiffer suggested additional possible grant sources. In other business Oct. 4:

  • Selectmen voted unanimously to pay the Town of China $100 so Vassalboro residents can bring confidential papers to the shredder that will be at the China town garage on Alder Park Road from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 27.
  • They accepted the only bid on a tax-acquired lot on Harmony Lane, $10,010 from Gerard and Elaine Grenier.
  • After a brief public hearing, which drew no comments, on amendments to the appendices to the General Assistance Ordinance, they unanimously accepted the amendments.
  • The meeting began with selectmen and town office staff presenting Sabins with a congratulatory potted plant in recognition of her election as president of the Maine Municipal Association.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Oct. 18.

Agreement approved with Hussey Communications to expand wireless internet

China Baptist Church

by Mary Grow

China selectmen settled two issues they and Town Manager Dennis Heath have been working on for weeks at their Oct. 1 meeting.

By unanimous votes, the four board members present:

  • Approved Heath’s policy on internal financial controls, which includes, among other things, the requirement that town checks have two signatures and an expanded advisory role for the budget committee (see related story here).
  • Approved an agreement with Hussey Communications of Winslow aimed at increasing availability of wireless internet service in China.

Board member Neil Farrington said two small wireless towers have already been added, one at the China Village fire station and one at Three Level Farm on Route 32 North, and the first few lakeside residents have signed up for service. He said as income increases, more towers will be provided; the eventual goal is to cover the whole town, in spite of the hills that block signals.

In other business, Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said absentee ballots should be available by Oct. 3. Residents unable to come to the polls Nov. 6 can apply for absentee ballots or vote in person at the town office until Nov. 1, when the early-voting period ends except in emergency cases.

Selectmen agreed to advertise for an assistant codes officer, to work 18 hours a week with Paul Mitnik, with the possibility of taking over Mitnik’s position when he retires.

Selectman Irene Belanger reminded those present of the household hazardous waste disposal in Winslow Saturday morning, Oct. 20 – pre-registration at the China transfer station is required – and the shredding on site at the China public works building Saturday morning, Oct. 27. China residents may bring unneeded drugs to each event, she said.

Planners approve camp expansion on Webber Pond

by Mary Grow

For the second month in a row, Vassalboro Planning Board members commended the only applicants before them for a well-prepared application and approved it unanimously with only a brief discussion.

Susan B. and Al Traylor’s plan to enlarge their camp at 54 Birch Point Road, on Webber Pond, met Vassalboro’s shoreland requirements, board members agreed. The Traylors plan a bigger room and a new deck, with minimal earth-moving and no expansion toward the lake.

Normally, the next planning board meeting would be Nov. 6, the first Tuesday of the month. Because the Vassalboro town office meeting room will be used for voting that day and evening, board members rescheduled the meeting to Tuesday evening, Nov. 13.

Selectmen to open bids on tax-acquired lot; review emergency services, police

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen begin their Thursday, Oct. 4, meeting with a 6:30 p.m. public hearing on amendments to the appendices to the General Assistance Ordinance. In a typical year, amendments slightly increase general assistance allowances, in conformity with state-wide changes.

Other major business items on the Oct. 4 agenda include reviewing bids for a tax-acquired lot on Harmony Lane; considering options for emergency services dispatching; discussing local law enforcement and public safety; and considering ways for selectmen to become better informed about school activities, now that the school is part of town government rather than a member of a regional school organization.

The selectmen meet in the town office meeting room. All meetings are open to the public.

2018 LOCAL TAX PAYMENT INFORMATION

TAX PAYMENT INFORMATION

CHINA

First half payment due Friday, Sept. 28.
Second half payment due Friday, March 29, 2019.

VASSALBORO

First quarterly payment due Monday, Sept. 24.
Second quarterly payment due Monday, Nov. 26.
Third quarterly payment due Monday, February 25, 2019.
Fourth quarterly payment due Monday, April 22, 2019.

WINDSOR

First half payment due Sunday, Sept. 30.
Second half payment due Sunday, March 31.

WINSLOW

First quarterly payment due Friday, Oct. 12.
Second quarterly payment due Friday, Dec. 7.
Third quarterly payment due Friday, March 8, 2019.
Fourth quarterly payment due Friday, June 7, 2019.

These compiled from the China and Vassalboro town reports (town meeting warrants) and the Windsor and Winslow websites.

Vassalboro selectmen postpone business due to chairman’s absence

by Mary Grow

VASSALBORO – With Chairman Lauchlin Titus unable to attend their Sept. 20 meeting, selectmen postponed the main planned business, a discussion of issues related to police and dispatching services, to their Oct. 4 meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the town office. The two board members present approved the major business item on the Sept. 20 agenda, a boundary agreement with Comprehensive Land Technologies, Inc., which owns a gravel pit adjacent to Vassalboro’s in South China. (ep)

Ben Brann of CLT explained that the CLT pit requires a state license, because it covers more than five acres. To get the license, it must be at least 50 feet from an adjoining pit or have an agreement with the owner of the adjoining pit allowing for a lesser separation. When CLT bought the pit, he said, the separation was already less than 50 feet.

The Town of China has increased the assessed value of Vassalboro’s pit, thereby raising the taxes on it from less than $200 in 2016 to more than $1,500 in 2017 and 2018. China selectmen in their role as assessors unanimously rejected Vassalboro’s appeal of the valuation earlier this month. Vassalboro selectmen did not rule out further investigation, but decided taking the issue to court immediately would not be a wise use of town funds.

Town Manager Mary Sabins reported on steps taken toward applying for grant money for a large generator to make Vassalboro Community School a potential emergency shelter.

Better communication between agencies topic of Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting

by Mary Grow

Communication was the theme at the Vassalboro selectmen’s Sept. 6 meeting, as board members talked with new Vassalboro School Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer and School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur about better information-sharing between school and town officials and with Police Chief Mark Brown and audience members about Vassalboro’s law enforcement needs.

Pfeiffer, newly-hired as Vassalboro’s one-day-a-week superintendent, came to introduce himself to the board. He promised to return as his schedule permits; a former principal and superintendent, he now works as a consultant to the state education department and travels throughout Maine.

Selectmen Lauchlin Titus and John Melrose expressed frustration at hearing from school officials only while the annual budget process was underway. They would like more frequent information, especially now that dissolution of the regional school unit makes the school more clearly a town department.

Titus called for out of the box thinking to find ways to fund tuition, transportation, special education and other essentials without taking money away from elementary education programs at Vassalboro Community School.

Town Manager Mary Sabins brought Pfeiffer up to date on her efforts to have the school designated a Red Cross emergency center and equipped with a powerful generator.

Melrose raised the law enforcement issue. He pointed out that Vassalboro hired Brown for 15 hours a week, supplementary to his full-time job elsewhere, but gave him the title of police chief, implying, Melrose thinks, more policing than the town really provides.

Melrose recommends either using a more accurate job description or creating something more like a local police department, perhaps by contracting.

Brown told board members he works closely with state and county law enforcement and the state Drug Enforcement Agency. They take on the extended, time-consuming cases, he said; he focuses on local issues, including spending time with students at Vassalboro Community School.

Selectmen agreed to continue the discussion at their next meeting, which they scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 (instead of the usual 6:30 p.m. Thursday). Sabins asked Brown how the police cruiser is holding up. Brown, whose request for a new vehicle was shot down during spring budget discussions, said it is costing money for repairs, as he forecast.

In other business Sept. 6, selectmen agreed to offer for sale a tax-acquired lot on Harmony Lane, with a minimum bid of $5,000.

Road Foreman Eugene Field suggested additional road repaving if there is money available. Selectmen approved his suggestions and left decisions to him once he sees how much, if any, money he has.

Board members asked Sabins to send a thank-you letter to Steve Jones, of Fieldstone Gardens, for trees donated to the East Vassalboro park.

They approved a plan to provide enough water for the Sept. 8 Double Dam Ducky Derby, worked out by Kennebec Water District authorities, a representative of the Alewife Restoration Project (ARI) who is working on dismantling Lombard Dam and Vassalboro Days organizers.

Titus said he and Melrose plan to attend the Oct. 9 Vassalboro Historical Society meeting to discuss issues involving the society’s lease of the former East Vassalboro schoolhouse.

Notice of Webber Pond draw down

Webber Pond

Photo courtesy of Frank Richards, president of Webber Pond Association.

Frank Richards, president of the Webber Pond Association, has announced that as a result of the unanimous vote at the Webber Pond Association annual meeting on August 18, the 2018 drawdown is set to begin on Monday, September 17, at 8 a.m.

“It is advised to pull docks and boats on the weekend of September 15-16. The pool may go down faster than usual because of the drought conditions,” said Richards

Vassalboro planners approve lone applicant

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members took about 10 minutes to approve the only application on their Sept. 4 agenda, commend the applicant for well-done paperwork and congratulate themselves on a record short meeting.

David Tyrol has permission to tear down a two-story barn in the shoreland zone on his Dore Road property and use the material to build a one-story barn. The present barn, which Tyrol said is leaning enough so he fears it will collapse, is 24-by-24 feet and about 120 feet from Seven Mile Stream. The new one will be 24-by-36 feet and about 224 feet from the stream.

Tyrol plans a pole barn on concrete footings with a crushed-stone floor, to be used for storage. He does not intend to install plumbing or electricity or create a new driveway, he said.

Vassalboro Days 2018 schedule of events

Vassalboro Days 2018!

Double Dam Ducky Derby at High Noon 9/8!

KV Cap will provide free transportation to anyone wanting rides from North to East Vassalboro and back for the days activities! Simply flag the van down!

Gary Coull will serve as DJ from 10 – 3!

Double Dam Ducky Derby tickets will be for sale from 10-11:30. Blocks of tickets will be auctioned off from 11:30-11:45!

Craft Fair at the Mill from 10 – 3 FMI call Linda Ellis @ 649-3697

Yard Sale in and out of the Mill all day. FMI call Bill Whitman @ 416-4346

Scavenger Hunt 10 – 4 with prizes! Sign up at the VBA tent

Kora Karts Demonstration at 1:00 beside the former Doctor’s office

 *Face Painting from 11 to 1 pm

 From 10 AM to 3 PM:

*Speed Pitch & Challenge Course Inflatables
*Play pools of grain for the kiddies
*Touch a Truck
*Bubbles Galore
*Meet Our Local Policeman Mark Brown!
*Child Identification Program (Mason’s)

 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Food Vendors from 10-3:

Hot Dogs/ Hamburgers/ Drinks by JMG

Build Your Own S’Mores by Cub Scouts

Cotton Candy & Waters by Masonic Lodge

The Library Book & Food Sale will be held at the Grange on 9/7 for members from 7-8 PM and from 9-3 on 9/8 and from 10-1 on 9/9 (Buck a Bag on Sunday!)

Cruise into Freddie’s Ride at the Town Office from 9-2. Great cars and raffles galore!

Historical Society Open Houses on 9/8 and 9/9 from 9-3. Concert featuring the Gawler Family Sunday at 4 PM at the Grange $5.

Coffee House at the Grange 9/8 at 7 PM. Free and bring an instrument– join in!

Sponsored by the Vassalboro Business Association, Maine Savings FCU, and the Town of Vassalboro!