The Feb. 20 Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting began with a discussion with Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason, who said that Vassalboro and other small towns in Kennebec, Franklin and Hancock counties are facing changes in law enforcement assistance.
Currently, personnel from the state police and the county sheriff’s offices take turns on rural patrol in towns that have no or limited local policing. Mason said the state police are pulling back on this coverage to focus on their many specialized units, like evidence collection and cybercrime.
Therefore the sheriff’s department will have increased responsibility and will need more personnel and more funds, from the state and from local towns whose taxpayers support the county budget. Mason described his plans to make the change without reducing coverage or burning out deputies.
He emphasized that in Kennebec County the transition is friendly. He and his state police counterparts communicate well, he said, and he appreciates the assistance from the specialized state police units.
Fire chief Eric Rowe retires; Audience shows appreciation for service
Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe has retired, after what his colleagues said has been more than 40 years with the volunteer fire department and more than 30 years as chief.
At their Feb. 20 meeting, selectmen, on department members’ recommendation, unanimously appointed Walker Thompson the new chief and Robert Williams assistant chief.
Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus said gently he wished someone had told him, so he could have had a chance to thank Rowe.
Don Breton replied that Rowe didn’t want any ceremony. But, he said, the department plans one, and selectmen will be notified.
The audience applauded.
The selectmen’s meeting ended after a review of the board’s 2020-21 proposed budget, in preparation for a March 5 meeting with the budget committee.
In between policing and budget, selectmen again talked about on-going projects.
They unanimously approved borrowing funds for a lease-purchase agreement on a new police vehicle.
Selectman John Melrose reported on potential bids for a solar array in town, or possibly two solar arrays, one at and for Vassalboro Community School and the other elsewhere.
Board members unanimously accepted an updated proposal from A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, of Waterville, to design potential changes at the transfer station, with the understanding action is likely to be postponed until voters weigh in on the expenditure at the June town meeting.
They continued discussion of the proposed new Gray Road culvert, including size and materials.
On Thursday, March 5, the selectmen are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m., half an hour earlier than usual, and the budget committee to meet at 7 p.m. Both meetings are at the town office, and both are open to interested members of the public.