Transfer station presents five year plan

by Mary Grow

China’s Transfer Station Committee presented a five-year plan for transfer station improvements to the board of selectmen at the Oct. 2 selectmen’s meeting.

Committee Chairman Frank Soares said the committee recommends one major expenditure to be proposed to voters at the March 2018 town business meeting, a request for about $32,000 for a new forklift. The forklift now in use is old – Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said the town bought it used five or six years ago – and getting decrepit, Soares said. The committee recommends buying a new, larger one. For 2019, the committee plan suggests buying a second hopper to be used primarily to compact demolition debris and large items like mattresses and a new tractor to be shared with the Public Works Department for snowblowing, mowing and sweeping. Committee members further recommend an addition on the main transfer station building to create more recycling space.

Soares said the plan will be revised annually, so after the first year or two it should be considered tentative.

The Oct. 2 selectmen’s meeting included two public hearings. The first, on three local ballot questions, drew a small audience and a few questions; the second, on amendments to the maximum amounts allowed as general assistance, brought no comments.

The Nov. 7 local ballot questions ask voters to:

  • Appropriate up to $8,500 from surplus to build a fire pond on Neck Road;
  • Approve a requirement that non-profit organizations requesting town funds provide current financial statements for the selectmen and budget committee to review; and
  • Authorize selectmen to rent out space on the town’s communications tower at the town office.

In response to questions about the fire pond, Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said it does not need approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and Selectman Neil Farrington said willing landowners are cooperating; the town is not using eminent domain.

The town’s tower might be competing with privately-owned towers in the area, but, Farrington said, usually location is a major consideration when companies seek to rent tower space; if the town’s provides coverage where they need coverage, it would be preferred, but not otherwise.

Selectmen have not discussed what to charge or other details, since they need voter approval to proceed.

Voters will also elect town officials on Nov. 7, selectmen and planning board and budget committee members. There are contests for three openings on the Board of Selectmen and for the District 1 Planning Board seat (northwestern quarter of town). Mitnik attended the Oct. 2 selectmen’s meeting to present three enforcement issues to the board. Selectmen accepted his recommendations on two, granting an extension of time to finish cleaning up a Route 32 North property and approving a consent agreement, with fine, concerning a garage foundation on Fire Road 4 that was put in without the required inspection. They postponed action on the third, on Dirigo Road, because it has been referred to the Board of Appeals.

The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Oct. 16.

MAJEK Seafood opens new dining room

Mike and Aundrea, of MAJEK Seafood, will be welcoming patrons to come inside and enjoy great seafood no matter how windy, snowy or cold it is outside. Mike will also be updating his menu when the colder weather arrives to include some warm, homemade Mexican dishes. They have been at their present location, on Rte. 202, in South China, since 2011, and recently built an addition so customers can enjoy their seafood in a comfortable dining room, year round. Outdoor dining is still available, weather permitting.

Photo by Kathy Duhnoski

Erskine homecoming schedule 2017

Erskine Academy, in South China has released the schedule of events for this year’s homecoming:

  • Wednesday, September 27, Cross Country – Girls 4 p.m., Boys 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, September 29, Pep rally 1 p.m.; Girls JV Soccer vs. Lincoln Academy 3:30 p.m.; Boys JV Soccer vs. Lincoln Academy, 5 p.m.; Parade (meet at South China Detailing shop) 6:30 – 6:45 p.m.; Tailgating event—bring a donation for HOPE (music, games, food, etc.) 6:45 – 8 p.m.; FBLA Movie Night (*for students only*) 8 – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 30, Varsity Field Hockey vs. Lincoln Academy, 9 a.m.; Girls Varsity Soccer vs. Lincoln Academy, 10 a.m.; Leo Club Car Wash 10 a.m. – noon; Girls JV Field Hockey vs. Lincoln Academy, 10:15 a.m.; Varsity Boys Soccer vs. Lincoln Academy, 11:30 a.m.

EA Boosters will be selling concessions and Erskine apparel throughout the day.

Join them on the EA Campus to support our students, enjoy the activities, and share memories of your experiences at Erskine Academy!

As a follow up to their successful efforts to raise food and funds for the community through the participation in WGME’s School Spirit Challenge last fall, the goal is to help those within their own school community this year. The Helping Others Persevere at Erskine (HOPE) Club at EA assists students with food and other basic needs through their backpack program. Donations for HOPE will be accepted during lunches on Thursday, September 28, and Friday, September 29, as well as allow entrance to the tailgating party on Friday night.

Most items currently needed are canned tuna or chicken, peanut butter and jelly, canned vegetables or fruit, macaroni, spaghetti sauce, shampoo, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes.

Erskine Academy parent/teacher conferences Fall 2017

All parents of Erskine Academy students are invited to attend fall Parent/Teacher Conferences on October 4 and 5, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Progress reports will be emailed to parents by October 3.

For those parents who have not yet submitted a primary email address, please stop by the Guidance Office for a printed copy of your student’s progress report. No appointments are necessary as teachers will be available to speak with parents in their respective classrooms. However, to avoid long waiting lines, two separate evenings have been scheduled:

  • Wednesday, October 4, for students whose last names begin with A through I; and
  • Thursday, October 5, for students whose last names begin with J through Z.

The sports boosters will also have items available to purchase on both evenings.

Contact the Guidance Office at 445-2964 with any questions or concerns.

CHINA: Eight vie for three seats on board of selectmen

by Mary Grow

China voters have three contests and four vacancies on the Nov. 7 local election ballot.

There are a total of eight candidates for three seats on the Board of Selectmen. For the two-year terms currently held by Irene Belanger and Ronald Breton, Belanger and Breton are running for re-election and Frederick Glidden and former Selectman Robert MacFarland are also on the ballot.

For a one-year position to finish Joann Austin’s term there are four candidates, Wayne Chadwick, Randall Downer, Ralph Howe and Donna Mills-Stevens.

For the planning board, Steven Hadsell and Kevin Michaud seek the District 1 seat for which Board Chairman James Wilkens did not file nomination papers.

There are no candidates on the ballot for the Planning Board District 3 seat (currently held by Milton Dudley; Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood said his nomination papers did not have enough valid signatures for his name to be on the ballot) or the alternate at-large position (currently held by Ralph Howe).

For the Budget Committee, Robert Batteese and Kevin Maroon are unopposed for re-election as chairman and District 1 representative, respectively. There is no candidate for the District 3 seat currently held by Sheryl Peavey.

China voters also have three local referendum questions asking if they want to pay up to $8,500 for a new fire pond on Neck Road; require nonprofit organizations seeking town funds to provide current financial statements; and authorize town officials to rent space on the communications tower by the town office.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 in the former portable classroom beside the town office.

Board unanimously approves library move

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members have unanimously approved the first steps in the South China Library’s plan to open a new building in a new location.

Jean Dempster, president of the library Board of Trustees, explained the project at the board’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The library, currently located on a very small lot on Village Street opposite the South China church, will be moved to a 4.75-acre lot on Jones Road, sharing it with the 1815 Rufus Jones birth-place, one of several China buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Downhill from the Jones house, Dempster said, library trustees plan to create a new driveway and parking lot; put the former portable classroom acquired from the Town of China on a cement slab; build an addition on the portable building; and move part of the existing library building to the new site. Planning board members voted unanimously to waive a public hearing. Reviewing the town’s criteria for such a project, they found the application met them all and approved it after half an hour’s review.

Dempster said water will come from the existing drilled well and an appropriate septic system will be installed so the library will finally have plumbing. The new parking lot will accommodate 16 vehicles, including two handicapped spaces. The building will have a permit from the state fire marshal and will meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

She told board members the trustees hope to do the driveway and site preparation this fall; the slab might be postponed to spring, depending on workers’ availability and weather.

In the future, she said, trustees hope to revive the Jones house as a historic site.

A second applicant on the Sept. 12 planning board agenda did not attend the meeting, so the application was not reviewed. In the absence of Chairman Jim Wilkens, board members postponed decisions on the ordinance amendments and procedural issues they have been discussing.

Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said he received an exploratory phone call about possible construction of a Dollar General store at the intersection of Route 3 and Windsor Road, near the South China Hannaford. He emphasized there is no definite proposal.

The next China Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Sept. 26.

Selectmen reduce ballot questions to three

by Mary Grow

China selectmen cut the Nov. 7 local ballot from four questions to three at their Sept. 18 meeting, postponing the proposed Local Food Safety Ordinance to the March 2018 town business meet-ing.

Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux expects the state legislature will amend the state law on which the local ordinance is to be based. He therefore recommended waiting until the state law is final so the local ordinance will conform.

In addition to local elections, China voters will decide at the polls whether to:

  • approve a statement requiring nonprofit organizations seeking town funds to provide financial statements;
  • expend up to $8,500 from sur-plus for a fire pond on Neck Road;
  • authorize selectmen to lease space on the town-owned com-munications tower behind the town office building; and
  • approve a Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 bond issue for building improvements and repairs.

Candidates for positions on the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and Budget Committee have until 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, to return signed nomination papers to the town office to get their names on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The selectmen’s Oct. 2 meeting will be preceded by two public hearings. The first, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the town office meeting room, will be on the three local ballot questions. The second, tentatively scheduled for 6:55 p.m. and expected to be brief, will be the annual public hearing on amendments to the General Assistance Ordinance.

RSU #18 officials will hold public hearings on the bond issue in four of the five member towns. China’s hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23, at China Middle School.

Also likely to be on the China selectmen’s Oct. 2 agenda are a presentation from Transfer Station Committee Chairman Frank Soares on the committee’s five-year capital plan and two code enforcement issues.

In other business Sept. 18, selectmen unanimous approved the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee’s recommenda-tion to hire Wright-Pierce Engineering for preliminary work on a new causeway bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin and authorized L’Heureux to sign an agreement with the firm.

Selectman and TIF Committee member Irene Belanger said the committee authorized re-estab-lishing a temporary committee to look for a site for a China Lake public beach. Volunteers for that committee and for the China Bicentennial Committee should contact the town office.

Selectmen made two committee appointments, approving Jean Conway as secretary of the budget committee until November 2018 elections and Tom Rumpf as a member of the Revolving Loan Fund Committee. The latter group reviews applications for the revolving loan fund for town businesses set up by the TIF Committee.

Belanger announced two upcoming special waste disposal options for China residents. On Saturday, Oct. 21, Winslow holds its annual household hazardous waste disposal day at the Public Works Department on Halifax Street. Pre-registration is required through the China trans-fer station; information on acceptable waste will be avail-able there and at the town office.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, China will host Shredding on Site, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the public works garage just west of the transfer station and a drug take-back program from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the transfer station.

L’Heureux reported representa-tives of The Town Line newspa-per inspected the old town house basement and found it potentially suitable for a relocated office. Selectmen and contractor Robert MacFarland discussed work still to be done to prepare the base-ment for renting.

Selectman Ronald Breton expressed his disappointment that no one from RSU #18 reported to the town on the recent water back-up that closed China Middle School for a few days, or on other school issues.

“We never hear from them,” he said of China’s RSU board representatives, Dawn Castner and Charles Clark.

After the selectmen’s meeting, board members reconvened in their capacity as assessors to act on recommendations from town assessor William Van Tuinen. The Oct. 2 meeting will probably be followed by another assessors’ meeting, as board members found they lacked information on one request for a change in valu-ation and want to hear from Van Tuinen and the property owner.

Sheepscot Dam: State need not take action until studies complete


by Joseph Burke
Sheepscot Pond, Palermo, resident

As a 30-year seasonal resident on Sheepscot Pond, in Palermo, I write to voice my strong opposition to Maine state bill LD922, introduced by state representative and president of the Alewife Harvesters Association, Jeffrey Pierce. This bill orders the opening of the fishway at the Sheepscot dam to allow the entrance of alewife herrings, American eels and parasitic sea lamprey eels. This fishway, installed by the state many years ago has been closed each May and June during the spawning season to prevent damage being done to the lake’s indigenous population of salmon and togue by the lamprey eels which attach to and drain much of the life out of these fish.

The alewives present a possible contamination of the brown trout fingerlings in Palermo’s Fish Cultural Station just downstream from Sheepscot Pond, one of only eight fish hatcheries/rearing stations in all of Maine’s 6,000 lakes and ponds.

Moreover, the state’s representatives with whom we have met admit that the opening of the fishway year round could result in lowered water levels during dry years causing lake front properties to lose much of the use of their shoreline, especially their docks and other aids to boating, fishing and swimming.

For 30 years my wife and I, our children and nine grandchildren, not to mention the loons, the fish, the beaver and our nesting population of bald eagles, not to mention the other people of Palermo and surrounding towns through their participation in boating, the Fish & Game Club and organized fishing derbies have marveled at this balanced, clear, healthy living entity called Sheepscot Pond. Please, let’s keep it that way!

Simply put, no further action should be taken by the state until longitudinal studies in both environmental and engineering areas have been mounted, and Bill LD922 must be taken off the table completely, now!

CEO rules permit not needed for controversial dock in China

by Mary Grow

China Board of Appeals members delved into a complex 58th Fire Road neighborhood dispute at their Sept. 7 meeting, ultimately denying Kevin Meader’s appeal of Codes Officer Paul Mitnik’s decision not to require permitting or removal of a controversial dock.

The final motion, approved 6-0 with Board Chairman Spencer Aitel abstaining, was that Meader’s appeal was denied because the dock is “grandfathered” and therefore the appeals board did not have jurisdiction.

An earlier motion made a finding of fact: the dock is grandfathered because testimony and evidence showed a dock had been in the same place for many years.

Yet another motion, approved by four board members before the final motion, said the right-of-way is not fully defined and therefore the appeals board cannot make a judgment. Board members Dale Worster and Michael Gee did not support the motion, saying the boundary is not an appeals board issue.

Meader and other residents of the subdivision who use the dock agreed on a few facts. The dock stands at the water end of a 15-foot-wide private right-of-way to China Lake; use and maintenance of the right-of-way is governed by an agreement among the residents.

The parties disagreed about whether the dock has been there since before China required permits for docks. If it has, it is “grandfathered” and can continue to be used, and when necessary improved, without a town permit.

Sheila and Brian Higgins, Christopher Pike and Stephanie Uhlman-Pike and Stan and Linda Rodrigue all said the dock had been there for many years – their now-grown children played on it. When the Higgins’ original wooden dock became too battered, Pike bought a replacement.

The Roderigues brought to the hearing an aerial photo showing the dock. Stan Roderigue said the photo dated from the days when the late Senator Edmund Muskie owned a China Lake home. (Biographies of the Senator refer to the family’s China Lake property in the 1950s and 1960s.)

Meader claimed the dock had been put in six years ago and was blocking half of the stairs to the lake. The rest of the right-of-way owners said there were no access or safety issues.

The exact location of the right-of-way is also disputed. During about eight years of argument – ever since the Meaders arrived, according to Sheila Higgins and Christopher Pike – involving lawyers and law enforcement personnel, two surveys were done locating the right-of-way boundary in two places five feet apart. A third survey has been commissioned but not completed.

Mitnik, in a written statement of facts that he summarized for the board, said Higgins did not need a permit to put the dock at the end of the right-of-way because the dock is grandfathered. A seasonal dock requires only one permit, not annual renewals, he said. Other issues, like the parties’ land use agreement, safety and trespass questions, he considers are not in his jurisdiction.

In 2016, according to the discussion, Meader put his own dock at the end of the right-of-way and Higgins put a dock off Roderigues’ land, with the Roderigues’ permission and an after-the-fact permit from Mitnik. Higgins said he moved his dock back to the right-of-way this summer because he did not want to continue having access over the Rodrigues’ land. Board of Appeals members found this information irrelevant to their decision.

China Voters will be asked to act on four business related items in November

by Mary Grow

China selectmen are moving toward asking voters to act on at least four business items at the polls Nov. 7, in addition to local elections and state questions.

The potential questions ask if voters will approve:

  • A tentatively-titled “Local Food and Community Self-Government Ordinance,” as authorized under the 2017 state food sovereignty law allowing municipalities to regulate local food production;
  • A request to spend up to $8,500 from Unassigned Fund Balance (surplus) to build a fire pond on Neck Road;
  • A statement that all non-profit organizations asking for town funds are required to submit a financial statement, a question aimed at making permanent a policy often followed already; and
  • Authorization for selectmen to rent out space on the town’s communications tower. The proposed ordinance is borrowed from another small Maine town. Selectmen asked Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux to draft wording for the other questions. They plan to give them final approval at their Sept. 18 meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in the town office meeting room.

The budget committee met Sept. 11 and unanimously recommended voters approve the second, third and fourth questions, with a minor change in wording in the third one to require organizations’ “most recent” financial statements. The proposed ordinance did not require budget committee review. Officials to be elected are three members of the board of selectmen, two for two-year terms and one for one year to finish Joann Austin’s term after she resigns effective Nov. 1; Planning board members from Districts 1 and 3 plus the alternate at large; and budget committee members from Districts 1 and 3 plus the chairman.

Signed nomination papers must be returned to the town office by 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, for candidates’ names to appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

In other business Sept. 6, board Chairman Neil Farrington reported on the most recent bicentennial committee meeting. Board members unanimously appointed the following people to the committee to plan the 2018 two-hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of China: Eric Austin, Donald Bassett, Irene Belanger, Bob Bennett, Farrington and Betty and Sherwood Glidden. More volunteers are welcome.

Selectmen agreed unanimously to allow The Town Line newspaper to rent space for a nominal fee in the old town house basement, after planned cleaning and renovations are finished.