CHINA: Short agenda leads to variety of discussions

by Mary Grow

China selectmen turned a short agenda into a variety of discussion topics at their between-holidays meeting on Dec. 27.

Called primarily to pay biweekly bills, the meeting included updates on the road crew’s work in the Christmas storm and on the new Neck Road fire pond; proposals to record selectmen’s meetings and to change the meeting time; ways to find a successor to Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux, who is retiring at the end of June; and plans to look into increased police service.

L’Heureux said the town road crew put in more than 50 hours during the Christmas storm, with satisfactory results. The new plow truck, which cost $77,000 plus trade-in, was in service, he said.

Board member Jeffrey LaVerdiere asked about progress on the fire pond, for which voters appropriated up to $8,500 in November. L’Heureux said the state Department of Environmental Protection approved the project, and digging to enlarge the existing pond started.

He doubts it will be possible to build a parking area for fire trucks to load water until spring. Also, he said, the town needs to get land and water easements from the two landowners involved.

Selectman Donna Mills-Stevens asked for further clarification from the state DEP on an old unresolved issue of alleged dumping on nearby land. The letter approving the fire pond does not appear to address the question, she said.

Mills-Stevens was the board member who proposed recording meetings. Board Chairman Robert MacFarland asked L’Heureux to look into the idea. Based on experience with written records, the manager doubted many residents would ask to hear recordings if they were made.

L’Heureux intends to present the draft 2018-19 budget at the board’s Jan. 8 meeting – he is still waiting for a small number of requests to arrive, he said. To allow time to begin budget review, board members agreed to start the Jan. 8 meeting at 6 p.m. They then discussed whether to change the meeting time permanently. Mills-Stevens said people tell her the meetings start and end too late; Irene Belanger said starting before 7 p.m. would not leave much time for working people who wanted to attend to eat supper first. No decision was made.

LaVerdiere told the board he knows an area resident with experience running offshore drilling rigs who might be interested in the manager’s position. His comment sparked discussion of ways to advertise the position. After the meeting, L’Heureux asked the Maine Municipal Association, of which China is a member, what assistance its staff can provide.

MacFarland reported that he and L’Heureux plan to meet with Oakland Police Chief Michael Tracy and Sergeant Tracey Frost, two of the Oakland officers who serve China, to talk about possibly increasing hours of coverage.

The China Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, to hear two administrative appeals from Bio Renewable Fuels Corp. on Dirigo Road. On Saturday, Jan. 6, the Four Seasons Club sponsors a rabies clinic from 11 a.m. to noon. More information on these and other meetings and events is available on the town website.

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