Vassalboro planners have one application on agenda

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members have one application on their Dec. 6 agenda, before they continue discussion of adding a section regulating commercial solar developments to the town’s Site Review Ordinance.

Joseph O’Donnell has applied for a medical marijuana grow facility at 960 Main Street, in North Vassalboro. The business will be on the third floor of a building owned by Ed Marcoux, the agenda says; maps show it just north of the Olde Mill complex.

Because the planned facility will cover less than 1,000 square feet, it needs a local site review permit, but not a local marijuana business license.

The planning board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the town office meeting room.

WINDSOR: Town trucks ready and waiting for snow

by The Town Line staff

The Windsor Select Board was informed at its November 7 meeting, by Road Supervisor Keith Hall, that the trucks are ready and waiting for the snow to come. He also reported that his search for prices to install heated headlights on the equipment would be around $750. In other road related business, Town Manager Theresa Haskell was informed by the Maine Department of Transportation that Route 105, from Augusta to Somerville, is scheduled for repairs in 2023.

Haskell also reported the waste management state fee will be increasing from $2 per ton to $5 per ton for construction and demolition debris, beginning in January 2023.

The town manager also reported:

  • The water quality test results for the town office all came back good;
  • The town received a grant reimbursement in the amount of $1,660 from the Maine Municipal Association for various public works safety items that have been purchased;
  • The town has received a paid certificate from Kennebec Savings Bank on the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department fire truck, and that the 2021 public works Western Star was paid off on November 9.

Selectman William Appel Jr. made a request, and all select board members agreed, that at least one of the Windsor School Board members be present at one of the select board meetings per month so the board can have an update or address any questions there may be regarding school business. It was also mentioned to have the state representative also come on an annual basis.

The next meeting of the Windsor Select Board was scheduled for November 22.

China officials disagree on need for solventless hash application

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members spent their Nov. 22 meeting discussing procedural issues.

The longest discussion was over cancelation of the scheduled public hearing on Bryan Mason’s application to convert a shipping container on his property at 1144 Route 3 to a solventless hash lab (see The Town Line, Nov. 3, p. 2).

At the board’s Oct. 25 meeting, Mason explained he intends to make hash oil from marijuana plants and sell it to companies that use it to make consumer products. He does not intend to make such products himself, nor to do retail business from his property.

Codes officer Nicholas French considered the application was for a change of use, which needs planning board approval. Board members agreed, and scheduled a Nov. 22 public hearing to give neighbors (and others) a chance to comment.

French emailed on Nov. 21 that town attorney Amanda Meader considered the proposed business a home occupation, which can be approved by the codes officer without board action. Therefore Mason withdrew his application and the hearing was canceled. Mason’s attorney had talked with Meader, French said at the Nov. 22 meeting.

Board members objected on two grounds. Based on consistent past practice, they think decisions about commercial marijuana businesses should be subject to planning board review; and they think the town attorney’s opinion should not have overruled the decision to hold a hearing that they had already made.

They therefore asked French to talk again with Mason, with the goal of getting the application resubmitted and the hearing rescheduled.

Planning board co-chairman James Wilkens was re-elected to that position, sharing with Toni Wall. Wall succeeds Scott Rollins, who was not a candidate for re-election to the board.

Board members reviewed the town’s Planning Board Ordinance and the Remote Participation Policy (which select board members reviewed the evening before). The latter describes when a board member can participate in a meeting remotely rather than attending in person.

Planning board members agreed that when winter weather made driving potentially dangerous, they would cancel a scheduled meeting, unless an agenda item were urgent enough to require meeting remotely.

Board members offered two items for future meetings. Wall wants to review the town comprehensive plan and see if any actions are needed, and Walter Bennett wants to continue developing an ordinance to control commercial solar developments and prevent “solar sprawl.”

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Deadline approaches for China TIF requests

by Mary Grow

The deadline for China organizations to apply for 2023-24 money from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund is Dec. 31, 2022.

That’s a Saturday, a TIF Committee member observed as the Nov. 14 meeting wound down. No problem, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood replied; it’s one of the two Saturdays each month, the first and the last, that the town office is open, from 8 to 11 a.m.

Committee members scheduled their next meeting for Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. They will review applications and begin matching requests with the limits set in China’s TIF document and with available funds.

At the Nov. 14 meeting, they discussed two ongoing projects, fixing erosion problems at the boat landing in South China and the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), and considered recommending a new one, assistance with replacing failing shoreland septic systems.

The current proposal for the boat landing is to spend TIF money to control run-off into China Lake, to protect the lake’s water quality. Hapgood and committee members discussed results of the first step, a survey of the town-owned property that shows it is only 25 feet wide.

The next step is to develop an erosion control plan. Suggestions included adding culverts and check dams, diverting water onto neighboring wooded properties (by arrangement with landowners), installing pervious paving and other measures.

The proposal that was adopted for immediate action was to apply to the National Guard for an engineer’s study and plan, followed by the Guard doing the work to implement it.

The related issue was whether the 25-foot strip should continue to be a boat landing, either open to everyone or limited to hand-carried craft like canoes and kayaks.

The consensus was to leave it as a landing open to everyone, perhaps with designated parking spots along the side, perhaps with arrangements to park elsewhere in South China Village. Considerations included frequent use – committee member Michael “Mickey” Wing said he often saw three or four trucks parked there – and the need for emergency access for fire departments and other agencies, like the warden service.

The revolving loan fund, intended to help business locate or expand in China, has been used once so far, and the borrower has defaulted. Suggestions included managing it better, perhaps with outside help; eliminating it; or turning it into a grant fund.

“Food for thought,” committee chairman Brent Chesley summarized the inconclusive discussion.

Chesley proposed recommending a grant or loan fund to help replace failing septic systems in the shoreland, as a contribution to water quality. Several other committee members liked the idea, though no action was taken.

Chesley said he had been disabused of the idea that everyone owning waterfront property is wealthy. Some residents, he said, inherited their homes and are trying to maintain them, and pay lakefront taxes, on limited incomes.

Wing told the group that the current cost of a new septic system ranges from about $6,500 to about $16,000.

Any change in use of TIF funds, deleting or amending a program or adding a new one, would require a recommendation from the committee to the select board; the select board’s agreement to present the change to town voters; voters’ approval; and approval by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

For the 2023-24 TIF budget, Hapgood said she has one application, from the China Four Seasons Club for work on recreational trails.

Stephen Greene, president of the China Lake Association, promised his application would be in by the Dec. 31 deadline. He intends to seek funds to start building an account for an expensive alum treatment in the north end of China Lake’s east basin. The alum would seal off phosphorus-laden bottom sediments to limit internal phosphorus loading in the lake.

Scott Pierz, executive director of the China Region Lakes Alliance, also plans to apply. He pointed out that costs of CRLA programs are increasing. “Operations are a function of money,” he concluded.

Chadwick chosen as China select board chairman

by Mary Grow

Wayne Chadwick

Four China Select Board members began their Nov. 21 meeting by electing Wayne Chadwick board chairman and Janet Preston secretary. Both votes were unanimous (with Blane Casey absent). Chadwick succeeds Ronald Breton, who did not run for re-election to the board.

Items on a long agenda included discussion with Municipal Building Committee members and engineer Keith Whittaker, of Presque Isle-based B. R. Smith Associates (BRSA); the China Recreation Committee’s request to buy a tractor; select board responsibilities; and an annual review of town policies.

Building committee chairman Sheldon Goodine said committee members and Whittaker were not clear on what select board members expect as BRSA’s current product. Everyone agreed the company should design a climate-controlled vault to store paper records that the state requires municipalities to keep forever. The questions were whether BRSA should also plan for a future addition, and if so, to what level of detail.

The vault, Whittaker said, will be entirely concrete, including the roof, with temperature and humidity controls. Chadwick and new select board member Brent Chesley said there should be a small separate mechanical room.

Whittaker said usually the concrete cube is inside a wooden building with a pitched roof.

Goodine believes within two or three years town office staff will need another addition, though not all select board members agree. Whittaker said regardless of timing, it would be useful to plan for an addition, by making electricity and heating extendable and designing the roof so another roof could connect.

He offered to do a detailed plan for phase one, the vault and surrounding building, and for not much more money a conceptual design for an addition. The conceptual design would include a rough floor plan and elevations, he said, without details.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood asked for a cost estimate for this two-phase project, saying if she has the information in time, the topic will be on the board’s Dec. 5 agenda.

Recreation committee chairman Martha Wentworth presented the request for a Husqvarna tractor. It would serve two purposes, she said: plowing the ice rink in the winter, smoothing the ball fields the other three seasons.

She had two bids, both lower than the committee’s budget surplus.

Hapgood and select board members discussed at length issues like liability, with volunteers operating town-owned equipment; training for those who would use the tractor, and limiting the number of users; cost of maintenance (already built into the recreation budget, Wentworth said). Wentworth’s husband, James “J.J.” Wentworth, said he expects to be one of the people who run the tractor, and to do routine maintenance.

After almost half an hour’s discussion, select board members voted 3-1, with Chadwick dissenting, to authorize purchase of a Husqvarna tractor for $8,863, from MB Tractor & Equipment, in Fairfield, with training to be provided by the dealer or by J. J. Wentworth, Chesley or another qualified local person. The price will be $140 lower if tire chains are not included; J. J. Wentworth thinks them unnecessary.

Two issues about select board members were discussed. The minor one was Classes are three hours, she was told; the next scheduled ones are Jan. 24 and Jan. 27, 2023.

Chadwick raised the other issue, whether select board members should be members of subordinate town boards and committees, and if so, how active they should be.

Chesley chairs the tax increment finance committee. He was prepared to resign, but was told he need not. Chadwick emphasized the issue is one he’s thought about for some time; discussion was not inspired by Chesley’s positions.

Hapgood’s notice from the Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency: select board members are required to be trained in their roles in emergencies.

The most difficult question was about a select board member on a committee who supports the committee’s decision to request select board action, like appropriation of town funds. When the select board hears the request, should he or she remain silent, or participate in discussion but not vote, or discuss and vote?

Preston, who is a non-voting member of the China Broadband Committee, said she thinks it is useful for her to bring committee information to the select board and to advise committee members on select board positions. Hapgood asked whether it is right for any one person to speak for a committee or board.

The manager said filling committees with select board members limits other residents’ participation; but finding committee volunteers is often difficult.

At Chadwick’s suggestion, she intends to ask the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) for an opinion.

The Nov. 21 select board meeting was preceded by a very short public hearing on the town’s Remote Participation Policy, which attracted no comment except Hapgood’s explanation of changes MMA staff recommended.

Later in the meeting, board members unanimously re-approved 10 town policies, including Remote Participation, most without change. All are on the China website,

In other business Nov. 21, Kennebec County Deputy Ivano Steffanizzi issued a warning, especially to senior citizens: beware of scams, including telephone calls asking for money for any reason, from bailing a relative out of jail to paying advance taxes on a promised new car to donating to your local police department.

He also advised seniors – and others – to stop speeding on China’s roads.

Select board members unanimously accepted a bid from Nichols Roofing, of China, to repair the recycling building roof at the transfer station for $5,200, if Hapgood finds the company’s references are satisfactory. The manager said the building will need more work after the roof is fixed.

Board members accepted the lower of two bids for a new equipment trailer, a 2023 Reiser tilt deck for $7,951 from Scott’s Recreation, in Turner. They will sell the old trailer by bid.

Hapgood reported that Pine Tree Waste had demolished the house trailer on Chadwick Way and cleaned up the site, as agreed (see the Nov. 9 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

Board members unanimously appointed Alan Pelletier as an appeals board member.

The next regular China Select Board meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Dec. 5.

China town office, transfer station closed Nov. 24-25

The China town office and transfer station will be closed Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday. On Saturday, Nov. 26, both will be open as usual, the town office from 8 to 11 a.m. and the transfer station from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Vassalboro Community School honor roll (Fall 2022)

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

High Honors

Third grade: Freya Caison, Camden Desmond, Olivia Hartford, Evelyn Meyer, Sawyer Plossay, Charlie Reynolds, Oliver Sugden, Alivia Twitchell, Mayla Wilson and Haley Witham.

Fourth grade: Hunter Brown, Kamdyn Couture, Molly Dearborn, Cooper Grant, Mikkah-Isabella Grant, Aria Lathrop, Simon Olson, Landon Quint, Willa Rafuse and Alexis Reed.

Fifth grade: Twila Cloutier, Samantha Craig, Mariah Estabrook, Leah Hyden, Lucian Kinrade, Sarina Lacroix, Isaac Leonard, Olivia Perry, Cassidy Rumba, Charles Stein, Lillian Whitmore and Cameron Willett.

Sixth grade: Samuel Bechard, Basil Dillaway, Fury Frappier, Zoe Gaffney, Savannah Judkins, Cheyenne Lizzotte, Agatha Meyer, Mackenzy Monroe, Weston Pappas, Grace Tobey and Ava Woods.

Seventh grade: Benjamin Allen, Drew Lindquist, Caleb Marden, Paige Perry and Judson Smith.

Eighth grade: Madison Burns, Henry Olson, Bryson Stratton and Mackullen Tolentino


Third grade: Parker Bouchard, Parker Estabrook, Marley Field, Emma Freeman, Norah French, Henry Gray, Ember Irwin, Brayden Lang-Knights, Tucker Lizzotte, Finn Malloy, Gage Nason, Gabriella Reynolds, Preston Richmond, Raegin Rodgers, Trenten Theobald, Roman Wentworth, Sawyer Weston and Alivia Woods.

Fourth grade: Ryder Austin, Reese Chechowitz, Braiden Crommett, Ashton Derosby, Ashlynn Hamlin, Sophia-Lynn Howard, Tanner Hughes, Desmond Landreth, Olivia Lane, Brooklyn Leach, Landon Lindquist, Jackson Robichaud, Christopher Santiago, Asher Smith and Robert Wade.

Fifth grade: Kiara Apollo, Lukas Blais, Grace Clark, Xainte Cloutier, Wyatt Devoe, Riley Fletcher, Camden Foster, Dawson Frazer, Aubrey Goforth, Chanse Hartford, Aubrey Judkins, Landon Lagasse, Arianna Muzerolle, Jaxson Presti, Elliott Rafuse, Juliahna Rocque, Haven Trainor and Meadow Varney.

Sixth grade: Mason Brewer, Bryleigh Burns, Emily Clark, Ariyah Doyen, Allyson Gilman, Lillyana Krastev, Jack LaPierre, Kaitlyn Lavallee, Kaylee Moulton, Kassidy Proctor, Adrian Sousa and Autumn Whitmore.

Seventh grade: Dominick Bickford, Juliet Boivin, Gabriella Brundage, Zoey Demerchant, Jeffrey Feyler, Ryleigh French, Bentley Pooler, Trinity Pooler, Alana Wade and Reid Willett.

Eighth grade: Logan Chechowitz, Peyton Dowe, Xavier Foss, Bailey Goforth,Kylie Grant, Olivia Leonard, Jack Malcolm, Harley McEachern, JosslynOuellette, Noah Pooler and Grady Sounier.

Honorable Mention:

Third grade: Titus Caruthers, Layla Holt, Maksim Lacroix, Bryson McKay.

Fourth grade: Alexander Bailey, Maverick Brewer, Avery Hamlin, Kendall Karlsson, Keegan Robinson and Elliot Stratton.

Fifth grade: Aliyah Anthony, Zander Austin, Jayson Booker, Sophia Brazier, Kaylee Colfer, Brandon Fortin, Peter Giampietro, Jayden Leighton, Isaiah Smith and Eli St. Amand.

Sixth grade: Peyton Bishop, Kaleb Charlebois, Tess Foster, Keighton LeBlanc, Mia McLean, Elliot McQuarrie and Landen Theobald.

Seventh grade: Tristyn Brown, Cooper Lajoie, Mattea Strout and Hannah Tobey.

Eighth grade: Kayliana Allen, Emma Charleston, Owen Couture, Ryley Desmond, Eilah Dillaway, Wyatt Ellis, Madison Field, Caspar Hooper, Mason Lagasse, Alexis Mitton and Kaleb Tolentino.

Vassalboro town office hours adjusted for Nov. 30

The Vassalboro town office will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Nov. 30, so that office staff can meet with candidates for the position of town manager. The office will reopen at noon.

The Vassalboro select board will meet at 5 p.m. Nov. 30 in executive session to interview town manager candidates.

Vassalboro school board reviews draft lease agreement with daycare

Vassalboro Community School (contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

At their Nov. 15 meeting, Vassalboro school board members reviewed a draft lease agreement with Jennifer Lizotte’s daycare, which has been operating at Vassalboro Community School (VCS) with mutual satisfaction.

Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer said he, assistant principal Tabitha Brewer and director of maintenance and grounds Shelley Phillips worked on the document with Lizotte. He did not expect a Nov. 15 vote, and board members postponed final action to their December meeting (which, Pfeiffer reported later, will be earlier in the month than usual, on Wednesday, Dec. 14).

Pfeiffer said the daycare is headquartered in the one available room and shares common spaces, like the gymnasium, cafeteria, playground and front lobby, with VCS students and activities getting priority.

School board chairman Jolene Gamage questioned how much extra the daycare costs in janitorial and other services, and whether its presence in the summer adds costs or complicates summer repairs and maintenance.

Phillips said when the daycare shared Winslow school buildings, they “pretty much took care of themselves.” Cleaning had to be done anyway, and Lizotte and her staff were accepting of suggestions and easy to work with.

VCS Principal Ira Michaud said his experience has been the same: Lizotte and her staff are “very good to work with.”

The draft contract includes a $25-per-day fee, to be confirmed or changed at the December meeting. Pfeiffer said both the daycare program and the school have appropriate insurance, and the contract has had legal review.

In its present form, the contract would run to June 30, 2024, with a review scheduled in May 2023 and the possibility of amendments based on 2022-23 experience.

The other topic discussed at length Nov. 15 was Michaud’s and curriculum director Carol Kiesman’s analysis of VCS students’ performance on the NWEA tests. The letters stand for Northwest Evaluation Association; NWEA is described on line as a research-based nonprofit organization that develops assessments of student performance.

NWEA tests are widely used, Michaud said, providing a large number of students with whom to compare local results. Kiesman summarized VCS results from spring and fall 2022: “We did improve from last year to this year, but we have a long way to go.”

Michaud and Pfeiffer said VCS teachers will use their classes’ results to help find strengths and weaknesses and refine teaching methods and materials. The next important round of NWEA tests is in the spring of 2023 – but, Michaud said, the Maine Department of Education intends to change the format, making comparisons with previous results difficult. He sees the spring 2023 tests as “starting a new baseline.”

The Nov. 15 meeting was the evening of the day that 10 Maine schools – Gardiner Area High School was the closest to Vassalboro – received calls claiming an active shooter was on campus. The calls were hoaxes.

Pfeiffer said he was promptly in touch with state police and later with the Kennebec County sheriff’s office and state education officials.

Most of the rest of Pfeiffer’s report dealt with pending maintenance issues – a possible grant to improve heating and ventilation, and repair or replacement of damaged curbing along parking lots and driveways. The curbing in the staff parking lot is still the original, put in in 1992, he commented.

Kiesman enthusiastically reported that VCS pre-kindergarten classes are “all good stuff, wonderful.” The October school newsletter, available on line at, reports that pre-k students spent part of the month learning about pumpkins, including a song and crafts projects.

Speaking for finance director Paula Pooler, Pfeiffer said the budget is running as planned and the school lunch program, which in past years has lost money, is “still in the black.”

As the superintendent recommended, board members approved higher wages for some categories of employees. They met in executive session after the Nov. 15 meeting and again on Nov. 21 to continue contract discussions.

Board members accepted the resignation of kindergarten teacher Miranda Kuesport.

The Vassalboro school board’s December meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, to avoid a conflict with the Dec. 20 VCS band and chorus holiday concert.

China transfer station committee debates use of RFID tags

by Mary Grow

China Transfer Station Committee members spent much of their Nov. 15 meeting talking about whether to continue using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to separate China and Palermo residents from out-of-town users, or to go back to stickers on vehicles.

The RFID system was started with state grant funding in 2019. The main purpose was to track recycling.

The current system is that a resident gets one free RFID tag and can buy as many more as needed for family or business vehicles, for $10 each. People who move out of town in theory return their tags; that doesn’t always happen, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said.

In addition to identifying users as entitled and showing where each vehicle stops inside the transfer station grounds, the system provides statistics on such things as busiest and least busy times and how often the same tag comes in.

To protect personal privacy, tags are not associated with tag-holders’ names for these purposes. As a result, transfer station attendants know for sure that someone with a tag is a resident only when they recognize the person.

Onsite transfer station supervisor Tom Maraggio asked if town office staff could notify transfer station staff when someone moves away. With about 200 deeds being processed every month, Hapgood said, staff members don’t have time.

Her main problems, with which committee members sympathized, are that people move away and continue to use the China transfer station, and residents lend RFID tags to non-residents. China taxpayers therefore end up paying to get rid of out-of-town waste; they’re getting “gypped”, in committee chairman Paul Lucas’ opinion.

“The problem is we’ve lost control over who can use the transfer station,” Palermo representative Robert Kurek summarized.

Chris Diesch, Palermo’s other representative, asked how big the problem is. Her question led to discussion of ways to give attendants limited access to the town office list connecting tags with people, so they could do random checks.

Committee members cited three objections to going back to stickers. Some people object to putting stickers on their vehicles; changing the system again so soon would make town officials look silly, in Kurek’s opinion; and Maraggio said depending on where they’re affixed, stickers are often harder for attendants to see than an RFID tag dangling from the rearview mirror.

The discussion ended with Diesch, a computer expert, and Lucas agreeing to meet and see what additional uses they can make of the RFID system.

The problem of improper disposal also plagues the Free for the Taking building, building manager Karen Hatch said. Intended as a swap shop where people can leave usable household items they no longer need, it too often acquires unusable items, including furniture and other bulky items for which the transfer station charges fees.

Discussion led to consensus that people leaving such items – the list is on the China website,, and posted at the transfer station – should pay the fees, even if the items go into the Free for the Taking area. If the previous owner is still on the premises when someone else claims an item, the fee might be refunded.

Transfer station staff pointed out that with winter coming, items too large to be displayed inside the building will have to be rejected anyway.

Lucas repeatedly returned to a suggestion made at earlier meetings that a guard shack be installed at the transfer station gate, where an attendant could direct people to proper disposal areas and collect fees as needed. No one else followed up.

In other business, Maraggio and Director of Public Services Shawn Reed proposed a custom-made liftable metal cover for the pre-crusher.

Reed said the new loader, to be shared by public works and transfer station crews, is here. He hopes the snow-pusher attachment will arrive in a week or so.

Maraggio plans to update the transfer station five-year plan. Briefly-mentioned potential recommendations include replacing the mixed waste hopper, which Reed said has been repeatedly repaired; buying a closed container to store mattresses, of which Maraggio said he gets about 10 a week; and installing a proper lighting system in the Free for the Taking building.

Maraggio said work is going smoothly at the moment. Each transfer station employee has a specialty, but all are cross-trained and able to assist each other. Relocating a cardboard bin near the mixed waste hopper has improved traffic flow.

Hapgood reported receiving many compliments on Maraggio’s Halloween decorations at the station entrance.

Committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20, in the town office meeting room.

China town office, transfer station closed Nov. 24-25

The China town office and transfer station will be closed Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday. On Saturday, Nov. 26, both will be open as usual, the town office from 8 to 11 a.m. and the transfer station from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.