VASSALBORO: Selectmen to bid out new alewives harvest contract

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 25 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen acted on waste-hauling bids and decided to bid out the new contract for harvesting alewives.

The board had five bids to haul solid waste after April 1, first to the Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock and later to the new Fiberight facility in Hampden.

Town Manager Mary Sabins said Greg Lounder, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee representing Vassalboro and other Maine municipalities that intend to use the Fiberight facility, advised her to plan on at least six months’ use of Crossroads. Each company bidding offered different prices for the two hauls; Sabins did some math, based on the estimated six months, and recommended Vassalboro stay with the current hauler, Bolster’s Rubbish Removal, of Burnham.

Bolster’s charges during the one-year contract will be $200 per trip to Crossroads and $225 per trip to Fiberight. The company is the only bidder willing to remove a full container from Vassalboro’s transfer station on 12 hours’ notice; the other four asked for 24 hours’ notice. Sabins said Transfer Station Manager George Hamar is happy with Bolster’s service.

The town’s three-year contract with Ronald Weeks to harvest alewives at the Webber Pond dam ends this year. On advice from Nate Gray of the Department of Marine Resources, selectmen decided to seek bids for a new five-year contract. They emphasized that they are not dissatisfied with Weeks.

Gray recommended a five-year contract because alewives born in Webber Pond return to the ocean for four years and come back to spawn the fifth year. The harvester thus has an incentive to make sure he or she leaves a generous number of fish for the future.

There are 22 alewife runs in Maine, as dams are removed on rivers like the Kennebec to let the small fish go inland. Gray said Vassalboro did well to create a sustainable harvest so quickly.

Alewives are trapped as they return from the ocean in May and early June and sold to be used as lobster bait. Gray said increased need for bait has raised the price in recent years. It is standard procedure, he said, for the town to get one-third of the sale proceeds and the harvester two-thirds.

Board members discussed costs of counting the fish, ways to provide information the state and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission request annually and perhaps adding a count of fish sold. They asked Sabins to draft a proposed contract for their review, with Gray’s input.

In other business Jan. 25, selectmen renewed the liquor license for Natanis Golf Course on a 2-0 vote, with board member and Natanis owner Robert Browne absent due to illness.

They approved a resident’s request to tap sugar maples in Union Cemetery.

Sabins and board and audience members commended Road Commissioner Eugene Field for checking Vassalboro’s roads during the night whenever the weather forecast is doubtful and for calling out the road crew when they are needed.

Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus announced a Feb. 11 fishing derby sponsored by the Vassalboro Business Association. More information is on the town website.

The next two Vassalboro selectmen’s meetings are scheduled for Feb. 8 and Feb. 15 (a one-week interval instead of the usual two weeks to avoid meeting during school vacation week) at 6:30 p.m. in the town office meeting room. The 2018-19 municipal budget will be a major topic at both meetings. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, selectmen hold a budget workshop at 1 p.m. in the town office.

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