Alewife restoration project to receive grant award

Kennebec River (source Maine Rivers)

Maine Rivers, as part of the Alewife Restoration Initiative, has been awarded $200,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundations’ (NFWF) New England Forests and Rivers grant program. The New England Forests and Rivers Fund strives to restore and sustain healthy forests and rivers that provide habitat for diverse native birds populations, as well as freshwater and diadromous fish populations. Since its founding in 1984, NFWF has supported more than 16,000 projects that protect and restore our nation’s fish and wildlife species and the habitats they need to thrive.

The goal of the Alewife Restoration Initiative is to remove impediments or install fish passages at the barriers that prevent native alewives from accessing China Lake’s spawning habitat. The project will improve the connectivity between China Lake, the Sebasticook River and the ocean, and is expected to restore an annual run of between 800,000 and 950,000 adult alewives. The restoration of the Vassalboro’s nearby Webber Pond alewife run already provides revenue to the town of Vassalboro, in 2017 this totaled more than $18,000. The China Lake run is expected to be at least twice the size of the Webber pond alewife run.

For more information about the Alewife Restoration Initiative: Landis Hudson, phone: 207-847-9277.

Vassalboro selectmen change meeting time


Vassalboro selectmen have changed the starting time of their Thursday, March 22, meeting to 5:30 p.m., in order to accommodate a long agenda, including a 6 p.m. public hearing on building permit ordinance amendments, before they meet with the budget committee at 7 p.m. The meetings and hearing will be held in the town office meeting room.

Vassalboro public hearing on budget set for March 22


The Vassalboro public hearing, selectmen’s meeting and Budget Committee meeting postponed from March 8 due to snow are rescheduled for Thursday evening, March 22, with the public hearing at 6 p.m. followed by the selectmen’s meeting and the Budget Committee scheduled for 7 p.m. (ep)

The public hearing, held jointly with the Planning Board, is on proposed amendments to Vassalboro’s Building Permit Ordinance. Information on the proposed changes is on the town’s web site. (ep)

The selectmen’s agenda includes a discussion with Codes Officer Richard Dolby of dealing with violators of town land use regulations; a discussion with Kim Lindlof of the benefits of joining the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce; a potential appointment to the Conservation Commission; a discussion with Leon Duff and others who propose naming the Vassalboro Community School gymnasium in memory of James Mitchell; a review of responses to the request for proposals for alewife harvesting and perhaps awarding of the harvesting contract; a review of tax-acquired properties and discussion of disposal options; and preliminary plans for the 2017 town report. (ep)

The Budget Committee planned to spend most of its March 8 meeting in discussion with town department heads. (ep)

There is one vacant seat on the Budget Committee, to be filled at the June 4 town meeting. People interested in the position are invited to attend Budget Committee meetings or to submit their names to the town office.

Voters approve dissolving AOS #92 by large margin

Vassalboro Community School. (source:

by Mary Grow

AOS (Alternative Organi­zational Structure) #92 will soon be history.

In a March 13 referendum vote, all three member municipalities voted by wide margins to terminate the arrangement: in Vassalboro, the vote was 81 yes to 13 no, in Waterville, 183 yes to 58 no, and Winslow 122 yes to 62 no.

A majority vote for dissolution in any of the three member municipalities ends the AOS arrangement, AOS Superintendent Eric Haley said at Vassalboro’s March 6 public hearing in advance of the vote.

Haley explained to about 30 attendees that the change from an AOS to a proposed contracted-services arrangement will make little difference to Vassalboro students, school staff or residents.

The plan the school board is considering calls for Vassalboro to hire its own superintendent, perhaps a retiree or a superintendent shared with another school, to work the equivalent of one day a week for approximately $25,000 a year. One day a week is usually flexible, Haley said – the part-timer might divide eight or 10 hours among several days, as needed.

Central office functions like payroll and accounting, curriculum coordination, special education, transportation, buildings and grounds, student record-keeping and technology would continue to be done from Waterville or Winslow, with Vassalboro paying for its share of services based on the AOS cost-sharing formula.

That formula, Haley said, uses the three-year averages of the number of resident students and municipal valuation. It changes only slightly from year to year, and has worked well for the nine years of the AOS. Dissolving the AOS will have no effect on school choice, Haley said – “school choice won’t go away.”

Vassalboro Community School will have a new principal because Dianna Gram is retiring in June, not because of the AOS vote. School board members discussed hiring one person as principal and superintendent, but decided against it for several reasons, Haley said. For example, the dual role pits the principal-as-superintendent against his or her own teachers in contract negotiations, and it leaves no administrative avenue of appeal against a principal’s decision. School Board Chairman Kevin LeVasseur added that sometimes a second point of view is useful.

The AOS office projected that Vassalboro would save about $45,000 in central service charges by changing from AOS membership to contracted services. In addition, each member town will receive its share of the AOS’s undesignated fund, with Vassalboro getting almost $52,000 as a one-time payment.

The superintendent emphasized, however, that the central services budget is only a small part of the total school budget. School board members have begun budget review and will continue at their March 20 meeting; Vassalboro Budget Committee members will review the school board’s figures, and voters will make the final decision at the June 4 annual town meeting.

VBA offers scholarship in 2018

The Vassalboro Business Association has announced that applications for its $500 VBA Scholarships are now available in most local high school guidance offices or by calling 207-314-2655 to have one mailed or emailed to you.

This scholarship is for Vassalboro residents who are pursing their two to four year post-secondary education. It values and honors community service. Scholarship applications must be received by the VBA by April 15, 2018.

Vassalboro: Town meeting scheduled for June 4


Vassalboro voters will make 2018-19 spending decisions and choose budget committee members at their annual town meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, at Vassalboro Community School. Local elections and any other written-ballot items will be decided on Tuesday, June 12, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the town office.

Town Clerk Cathy Coyne announces nomination papers are available Monday, March 5, for the following positions: one three-year term on the board of selectmen (the late Philip Haines’ term, being filled by John Melrose, ends) and one three-year term on the school board (Jolene Clark Gamage’s term ends). Signed nomination papers must be returned to the town office by noon Friday, April 13, for candidates’ names to appear on the June 12 ballot.

VASSALBORO: Committee begins budget process for FY 2018-19


by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Budget Committee members used their March 1 organizational meeting for a preliminary, partial review of the proposed 2018-19 municipal budget developed by Town Manager Mary Sabins and town selectmen.

As the meeting ended, they tentatively scheduled future meetings for March 8, primarily to talk with town department heads (Road Foreman Eugene Field, Transfer Station Manager George Hamar, Police Chief Mark Brown, Fire Chief Eric Rowe or a representative, First Responders Chief Dan Mayotte); March 20 with the school board; and March 22 with representatives of three nonprofit organizations asking for town funds.

  • Interested residents are welcome at all budget committee meetings – especially, Selectman Lauchlin Titus said, residents who might seek election to the committee in June. John Melrose’s seat is vacant, because he was elected to the board of selectmen in last November’s special election.

Likely topics for the March 8 discussion include new vehicles for the public works department and the police chief, a new roof for the Riverside fire station and mileage reimbursement for First Responders.

Sabins said Field is ready to buy a new truck while the one he drives has trade-in value; selectmen prefer to wait a year. The police cruiser raises the same question: replace it now, or wait until next year (and increase the 2018-19 maintenance budget). Firefighters want $25,000 for a metal roof on the Riverside station, including replacing the fairly new shingles on the addition so snow sliding off the metal won’t damage them. Titus said a complication is that the town does not own the building, though he said the fire department might consider turning over ownership. Budget committee member and firefighter Donald Breton said the department’s deed says if the department ceases to exist, the land reverts to the previous owner’s heirs, but he does not know whether any are still alive.

Sabins said the first responders answered more than 300 calls last year. They request $3,500 for mileage reimbursement (not for stipends). Newly-elected budget committee Chairman Rick Denico said he recently witnessed a traffic accident and was pleased at how quickly Vassalboro First Responders and firefighters reached the scene.

Budget committee members will probably not ask to hear from representatives of non-profit organizations and social service agencies that received funds for the current year and submitted written requests for 2018-19. They would like to meet on March 22 with people from 47 Daisies, The Town Line newspaper and the China Region Lakes Alliance.

According to its website, 47 Daisies is a community farm on Webber Pond Road offering naturally grown produce (the web site lists vegetables, berries and mushrooms) and flowers, educational programs and public access to the property. The organization asks for $2,500 in town support, its first request. (ep)

The Town Line has applied for town funds previously, but not for the last few years, so its request for $3,000 is being treated as new. The China Region Lakes Alliance is open for discussion because Sabins and selectmen recommend only one-third of the requested $15,000 and because at least one Vassalboro resident has expressed interest in talking with the budget committee.

Other points from the March 1 meeting:

  • The selectmen and Sabins present different recommendations for the 2018-19 administration budget, primarily because Sabins recommends three percent employee raises and selectmen recommend two percent.
  • Sabins reported that the new Fiberight plant will not be ready to receive waste from Vassalboro’s transfer station by the scheduled April 1 opening date – the delay might last most of 2018. In the interim, she said, Vassalboro’s waste will go to the Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, at the same tipping fee ($70 per ton) and a lower trucking fee ($200 per load versus $225) because of the shorter distance.
  • The Cemetery Committee is asking for $40,000, mostly for mowing and to begin computerizing cemetery records. Sabins said she is applying for the second time for a grant to help with the records and expects a decision before the town meeting warrant is final. Meanwhile, she said, Vassalboro “has no cemetery records to speak of”; a volunteer census in the 1990s compiled lists of names, but without tying them to graves.
  • Sabins reported discouragingly low ridership on the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) buses serving Vassalboro and China, despite a survey that found transportation the most needed service in town. Nonetheless, she recommended continuing the program for another year. KVCAP has asked for $1,450, she said. She added that FAVOR (Friends Advocating for Vassalboro’s Older Residents), prime mover in starting the bus service, will sponsor a second senior service fair in May, in the planned community center in the former St. Bridget’s Church in North Vassalboro.

VASSALBORO: Meeting on dissolving AOS #92 planned for March 6


by Mary Grow

Two major Vassalboro boards meet simultaneously Tuesday evening, March 6.

The Vassalboro School Board has scheduled a public informational meeting on plans to dissolve AOS (Alternative Educational Structure) #92 for 7 p.m. at Vassalboro Community School. The meeting will be preceded by a two-hour supper meeting to discuss 2018-19 budget requests; the budget discussion is also open to the public. A week later, on March 13, Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow voters will vote on dissolving the AOS. Vassalboro polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the town office.

The Vassalboro Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. March 6 in the town office. Its agenda lists four applications:

  • From Leo Barnett to add an indoor growing facility on his Old Meadow Road property, off Riverside Drive;
  • From Joseph Presti III to dissolve the Country Way subdivision on Ilona Drive, off Crowell Hill Road;
  • From Jeffery and Erica Bennett to build two residences in the shoreland zone on Sheafer Lane, both more than 100 feet from Webber Pond; and
  • From Kevin Luczko for an automobile repair and sales business plus a beauty shop at 270 Main Street, on the south edge of East Vassalboro.

The Vassalboro Budget Committee was scheduled to meet March 6, but latest information from the town office is that the meeting has been canceled so budget committee members can attend the school board’s informational session.

The budget committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8, in the town office meeting room, after that evening’s selectmen’s meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. The selectmen’s agenda includes a discussion with planning board members of proposed changes in Vassalboro’s building permit ordinance.

Andrew Browne makes dean’s list

Andrew Browne, of Vassalboro, majoring in communication, was among 2,419 students at Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina, who made the fall semester 2017 dean’s list.

To qualify for the dean’s list, freshmen must earn a 3.25 grade point average, and upperclassmen must earn a 3.5 grade point average. All students must be enrolled full time.

Coastal Carolina University is a dynamic, public comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Conway, near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.