Windsor selectmen unanimously delete purchasing procedure policy

by The Town Line staff

The Windsor Board of Selectmen met on December 8, 2020, and worked through a rather light agenda.

The old and new proposed purchasing procedure policy was distributed and discussed. Since each department has a set budget and purchases are approved from the town manager and/or the board of selectmen, it was determine the policy is no longer needed. It was unanimously eliminated by the selectmen.

From the public works department, Keith Hall reported considerable damage was done to the Greeley Road following the last snowstorm. Hall said he spoke with Steve McGee, the contracted provider of plowing services to the town, and said they are going to meet to discuss getting the issue resolved.

Town manager Theresa Haskell distributed the monthly figures for the transfer station, and stated they were $7,543.40, which is up $1,809.40 from this time last year, which was $5,734.

Also from the transfer station, Timothy Coston said the salt was delivered and looked wet. He tested the salt and it came up with 2.5 percent moisture. The acceptable guidelines by the state is one percent. Moisture in the salt is constantly monitored and if the salt has unacceptable levels, the salt vendor has, in the past, credited the town or replaced the salt. According to Haskell, the salt is mixed with sand, and is generally fine to use on town roads.

According to Haskell, there were two quotes for the new office cubicle, one from George Murray at Creative Office Pavilion for $4,358.20 and one from Valley Configurations for $2,947.24. The board of selectmen unanimously chose the latter of the two quotes.

In other business, it was noted the Veterans Memorial Monument has been installed at the cemetery. The pavers, fabricated by Provost Monuments, in Benton, are ready, and they will be put in placed in July 2021.

There was also much discussion on the employee manual which will continue at the next board of selectmen meeting, which was scheduled for December 22, 2020.

At their December 22 meeting, some discussion took place about Christmas Eve, which federal and state considered a holiday, and some other municipal and federal offices would be closed. Selectmen decided to give the decision to the town manager who granted the employees the day off, with pay, as a sign of appreciation to all the employees who have worked during the Covid-19 pandemic. There was also discussion on compensation time that could be given to the public works employees regarding overtime. Haskell will write up something regarding the overtime for the public works employees and to move it to compensation time, for the board to review.

Ryan Carver informed the board the RSU school board voted against having the Windsor youth basketball teams using the Windsor Elementary School. Only school teams are being allowed to practice at the facility. Carver said he, personally, feels that as long as players and coaches follow Covid-19 CDC guidelines, they should be able to practice, also, since some of the students play on both teams. It is his opinion that by not allowing these players to play will have a huge impact now and in the future of any sport. He has asked the board of selectmen to write a letter supporting the Windsor youth basketball teams as long as they follow the current guidelines.

Rick Gray said it is not just youth basketball that is being affected by the school not being able to be accessed, but also the Boy and Girl scouts. Haskell will compose the letter for review by the board of selectmen before the January 5 meeting.

In other business, Haskell said the town had opened a fuel account for the public works trucks in the amount of $4,000 over a year ago, but the money has not been used because the town does not have an on-road diesel tank installed, and the town will be charged a dormant fee if they do not use it. Haskell recommended moving the money back to the general account, and was unanimously approved by the selectmen.

Haskell went on to say they still need to discuss the on-road diesel tank for the public works department.

For the eighth year, the town of Windsor has received a $25,000 grant for the 2021/22 NETCo Scholarship for Windsor residents, which has benefited 128 scholarships over the past seven years, an average of about 18 per year.

Selectman Ray Bates also informed the board that the federal government can mandate employees to take the Covid-19 vaccine, but that it was up to the employer if they wish to mandate the employee to receive the vaccine.

Discussion of the employee manual was tabled to the next meeting, scheduled for January 5, 2021.

WINDSOR: Increase seen in town’s waste contract

Compiled by The Town Line

The Windsor Selectmen held their meeting on November 10, at 6 p.m. Theresa Haskell, the town manager, advised that the town’s Waste Management contract is up for renewal and there will be an increase. If the town signs a contract for three years a 5 percent annual escalator will be applied, or if signed for five years a 3 percent annual escalator. Selectman Ronald F. Brann made a motion for Theresa Haskell to sign the Waste Management contract for five years at a 3 percent annual escalator, seconded by Richard H. Gray, Jr. and approved 5-0-0.

The three-month budget for 2020/2021 was reviewed. Some areas are overspent at this time but will balance out by the end of the year due to the schedule of payments. Other areas will be over-spent primarily due to the cost of elections and the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) safety protocols.

The town received a $5,000 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life strictly for the planning and conducting a safe and secure election. It was noted this money was very helpful in helping to ensure the safety of our residents and employees during the past election.

The expenses on the Eagle Scout Project on the Parke Property ended up being more than the $465.85 available to spend. The posts were $395.36 and the paint was $180.10. Selectman Ronald Brann said he will donate the balance of $109.61 to complete the project.

There was brief discussion of voting and ways to improve the process for the safety of voters. There are 1,998 registered to vote and 1,499, or 75 percent, voted. Of those who voted, 694 were absentee ballots.

2020-’21 Real Estate Tax Due Dates

Albion

Tax year runs Feb. 1 to January 31
Taxes due September 30, 2020

China

First Half
Sept. 26, 2020

Second Half
March 26, 2021

Fairfield

Four quarters

November 10, 2020
January 6, 2020
March 10, 2020
May 12, 2020

Vassalboro

One fourth
Sept. 28, 2020

One fourth
November 23, 2020

One fourth
Feb. 22, 2021

One fourth
April 26, 2021

Waterville

First quarter
Oct. 9, 2020

Second quarter
Dec. 11, 2020

Third quarter
March 12, 2021

Fourth quarter
June 11, 2021

Windsor

First Half
September 30, 2020

Second Half
March 31, 2021

Winslow

Four quarters

October 9, 2020
December 11, 2020
March 12, 2021
June 11, 2021

To be included in this section, contact The Town Line at townline@townline.org.

WINDSOR: Town receives $5,000 grant to help offset added election expenses

by The Town Line staff

The Windsor board of selectmen met on October 26 with members Ray Bates, William Appel, Jr., Andrew Ballantyne, Richard H. Gray, Jr., and Ronald F. Brann. present.

According to Town Manager Theresa Haskell, public works director Keith Hall has been busy getting trucks ready for snow.

Selectmen unanimously approved appointing Peter A. Nerber as the backup Animal Control Officer.

Cemetery Sexton Joyce Perry informed the board that the cemeteries will be closed as of October 30, 2020. They have had their last meeting of the season and will meet back up in the spring.

A resident informed the board that he was the owner of a warehouse and it has a medical marijuana establishment with the proper state licensing. The Board of Selectmen thanked him for coming forward.

Haskell said the Town of Windsor has received confirmation that they will be receiving a $5,000 Elections COVID Response Grant to be used for voting.

Haskell also said they received a Building Valuation Update for the Town of Windsor from MMA Property and Casualty Pool for the town hall, town garage/food pantry, and the fire station. Each building has increased in estimated insurable value. This will be an increase of $266 per year. It has been waived this year but will need to be budgeted in next year.

Also, Haskell said the town needs to update the E-911 Addressing Officer and Alternate(s). The town has received a call from Todd Fenwick from E-911 who has indicated that he has received a grant which will be able to pinpoint every building within the town and if he is sent an updated E-911 address list it will help with this process. Todd said he will send over the results. This will not change any addresses for the town but will give a good update on what may need to be updated or changed. Haskell said with the current change within the office she is suggesting the board appoint Kyoko Roderick the new E-911 Addressing Officer and have Debbie French as the alternate. The Board of Selectmen agreed.

Haskell has prepared a letter to the MMEHT regarding having all waiting periods be 60 days. Ray Bates made a motion to have Theresa L. Haskell sign the letter having all waiting periods for the MMEHT be 60 days. The board approved unanimously.

Haskell then handed out the 2019/2020 end of year report. The total 12-month budget for the Town of Windsor was 88.01 percent. There were no categories that had deficits. Each category was within the budget. The Town of Windsor was up on revenues for the year just over $34,000 and would have been higher if they were able to collect excise taxes during the COVID-19 State of Emergency time frame. The town may see an increase in next year’s excise taxes.

Haskell received a concern about the Welcome to Windsor signs regarding the plant box deteriorating, and since the Windsor Fair Association passed these onto the town it is the town’s responsibility to maintain them. Ronald F. Brann made a motion to remove the Welcome to Windsor signs and have the Public Works Department take them down. The request passed 4-0 with Andrew Ballantyne, absent, since he left the meeting early.

The next regular board of selectmen’s meeting was held on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

Windsor fire truck repairs OK’d by selectmen, new insurance plan

by The Town Line staff

At the October 13 selectmen’s meeting, they learned of many trees down in the town that need to be cleaned up, said Public Works director Keith Hall. The selectmen instructed Hall to take care of the worse ones first.

Also, a town truck that was brought in to be undercoated had to be put back into service without the work being done after a three week wait. The windshield needed to be repaired in order to pass inspection.

Town manager Theresa Haskell reported the town received a bill from the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department regarding the Top Kick water tank that needed to be repaired. The cost for the repairs was $13,309.82, and the WVFD asked that the funds be taken from the Fire Safety Capital Reserve Fund savings account. The request was unanimously approved.

Also concerning the fire department. Haskell asked to have a meeting with the WVFD and selectmen regarding the on road diesel tank they are looking to have installed on the town’s property at the fire station, which will benefit the town and fire department for the diesel fuel for town and fire department trucks. Discussion, plan and cost will need to be in place for next year’s budget.

Haskell also said she would like to have one consistent waiting period for the Maine Municipal Health Trust Plans the town offers. Currently, they have 30-, 60-, and 90-day waiting periods. The town also has the opportunity to participate in a new Dependent Life Insurance Benefit Plan. If they are interested in doing any changes or want to participate in the new plan, a letter will need to be written.

The new plan would be paid for by the employee and not the employer. Selectmen agreed to have all benefit plans to be a 60-day waiting period, and to participate in the new plan. This would not change the current probationary period for new employees. These changes would be reflected in the updated employee manual.

Haskell asked to schedule a special board of selectmen’s meeting for Tuesday, November 17, concerning the employee manual update.

The next regular meeting of the selectmen took place on October 27.

WINDSOR: Shoulder work complete on all roads; assessors grant abatements

Compiled by The Town Line staff

The September 29 meeting of the Windsor Board of Selectmen opened with the board voting to adopt the MMA Model Ordinance GA Appendices (A-H) for the period of October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021.

Public Works director Keith Hall reported that all shoulder work in the town has been completed, with the roads still needing to be marked so the center line can be painted. It was also suggested that the electronic speed sign be placed on Coopers Mills Road, Griffin Rod, Weeks Mills Road or even at the Windsor School area, as these areas typically experience high traffic with excessive speeds. It was believed that the state Department of Transportation may need to be contacted for any state road.

Hall also reported that public works hours have gone back to Monday through Friday, eight hours a day.

Transfer Station director Timothy Coston said the compactor was scheduled for servicing on October 14. All fluids to be drained and filters and screens checked.

Reporting on the cemetery, Sexton Joyce Perry indicated that 61 stones in North, three in Resthaven and nine others in the cemeteries need to be raised and cleaned, at an estimated cost of $1,870. The selectmen approved the expenditure. The cemeteries will be closed on October 30. Money, from the cemetery maintenance account was also unanimously approved for four to six inches of loam to be spread to help the grass grow.

Three junkyard permits were unanimously approved to Allen Rogers, Stanley Pelletier and Millard Nicker III.

The board then suspended its meeting and convened as the board of assessors.

The assessors unanimously accepted tax abatement requests by Oxford Property Management for $244.48, and to Scott Thibodeau for $128.

A tree growth penalty was assessed to Donna and Paul Pinkham in the amount of $1,420 by a unanimous vote.

The board of selectmen then reconvened and adjourned. All members of the board of selectmen were present for the meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Windsor Board of Selectmen took place on October 13.

From Madawaska to Kittery: Journey of two cyclists

Steve Ball, left, and John Benziger, prepare to begin their journey as they depart the Inn at Acadia, in Madawaska. (photo courtesy of Steve Ball)

by Steve Ball

After plans to cycle across the U.S., from Maine to Washington, were scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, John Benziger and I decided to stay in Maine and tackle a safer, Maine challenge: riding our bicycles from Madawaska to Kittery.

As an introduction, Benziger and I have been riding in the local area regularly for some time. We ride through China, Windsor, Vassalboro, Jefferson, Whitefield, Albion, and bordering towns, hugging the shoulders of the roads and dressed in our yellow safety gear. You may have seen us and the many other riders who are increasingly populating the roads. The long-distance travel limitations presented by the pandemic only intensified the itch to get out locally more often.

We arrived in Mada­waska in the mid-afternoon of August 16. What a wonderful town. It lies comfortably along the St. John River and overlooks Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. The streets are wide, either to accommodate the snow plowed from the streets or wood mill traffic running in and out of town. Everyone we met was charming and happy to greet us, even as we were all peering over our masks. We had a fortunate accidental run-in with Judy Paradis, Madawaska’s long-serving legislator to the State House and Senate. She educated us on the Acadian spirit that runs deep within the people of the region. It was from her that we learned that nuns from France played a big role in settling Madawaska and that the town of St. Agatha is only pronounced one way, and that is “Saint Agatt”.

Our trip started early Monday morning, riding south on Rte.1 with every intention to make it to Caribou. I had heard that Aroostook County was hilly, but I was beginning to doubt the description as we rode south along the St. John River Valley. It was a very scenic and relatively easy ride until we hit Van Buren and took a right headed toward Caribou. Leaving the St. John River Valley we headed inland and abruptly upland, ascending the hills we had heard so much about.

The scenery was breathtaking, though I wasn’t so sure if my breath was taken away by the terrific, colorful and expansive views of agriculture and nature, or by the nearly constant extreme elevation gain we were trying determinedly to overcome. In either case, we conquered the hills and enjoyed every bit of Aroostook County’s natural beauty. We made it to Caribou and Russell’s Motel as planned.

I must add here that time and again throughout the journey we were impressed with the effort and cleanliness of each hotel or motel we stayed in. To run a hotel, inn or motel in these difficult and uncertain times is almost mind-bogglingly difficult; yet at each establishment in which we stopped, the owners or managers appeared intent on doing what they could to make our stay with them safe. We felt as safe as we could expect to feel given the circumstances.

John Benziger, left, and Steve Ball, take a break along the St. John River, during their trek. (photo courtesy of Steve Ball)

We woke up to a downpour on Tuesday, our second day. We had no reasonable alternative but to head out and ride. We headed for Presque Isle with hopes the rain would let up as we moved south. By the time we hit Presque Isle there was no sign of the rain easing up so we stopped for an extended breakfast and drying out in the Governor’s Restaurant, on Main Street. We were able to get our bikes somewhat out of the rain and enjoyed a nice meal and warm hospitality.

On our way to Mars Hill we enjoyed riding through our solar system. In a mock-up put together by the University of Maine at Presque Isle, the planets are arranged along Rte. 1 in distances relative to the actual distance from each other in space. For instance, the Sun is in Presque Isle, the Earth is about one mile from the sun and Pluto is in Houlton, over 40 miles away. If you have not traveled on this part of Rte. 1, I recommend it. It would be fascinating for anyone interested in astronomy, space and the planets.

Our first real glitch occurred waking up in Houlton to news that there was a COVID-19 outbreak in Millinocket. This was not anything we had planned for and, since our next night’s reservation was in East Millinocket, we were in for an interesting day. We needed to change our plans, but where does one stay in this part of Maine? We needed to ride on and try to arrange for a new reservation somewhere a safe distance from Millinocket. During our periodic stops, we were unable to access the internet on our phones. There apparently is not a robust cell tower network in such towns as Smyrna Mills, Island Falls, or Monarda along Rte. 2. We had success in Mattawamkeag! It was late in the afternoon when we finally were able to search for available rooms. We found a room in Lincoln. The added distance from our original plan was a bit of a challenge, but well worth the effort. After 81 miles we arrived at a safe and warm room in the White Tail Inn, in downtown Lincoln.

Our next day’s ride was shortened given our added distance the day before, and we were not unhappy with that. We arrived in Orono about midday and relaxed in our room in the University Inn. We had time to do a very necessary load of laundry and rest our legs and bikes.

The following morning we met Bob Bennett, a friend and local China-area rider, with his bike. Bennett joined us for our ride to Belfast. We rode through Bangor and followed the Penobscot River down to Stockton Springs and Rte. 1. Whew, the extreme hills were behind us and from here on out we would generally hug the coast all the way to Kittery. Bennett departed from us in Belfast and headed for home.

We headed south on Rte. 1. If the usual number of summer vacationers had been driving the famed tourist route, our ride from Belfast to Brunswick might have been more challenging. John Williams, a dear friend and avid cyclist, joined us for this leg of the journey. It was a wonderful ride with very nice late-summer weather and wonderful views of coastal Maine.

Steve and John approach their destination as they peddle along Rte. 1, near Old Orchard Beach. (photo courtesy of Steve Ball)

After a good night’s sleep we headed for Portland. It was not a terribly long ride, roughly 30 miles. This was going to be a particularly good day as we were meeting up with our wives, Mary and Allane, to spend the night together before we headed for our last day of the trip. The wives had arranged for a room and we were looking forward to a comfortable meal together and a relaxing evening.

The last day of the journey was exceptional. We departed Portland fairly early to make sure we arrived in Kittery with enough time to have a good meal, pack up and get ready to head back home. We left Rte. 1 in Cape Neddick and turned East toward the ocean along Rte. 1A into York Beach and Rte. 103 to Kittery Point and Kittery. What a fabulous route. The smell of the ocean, the views of the harbors and coves and the gentle rolling hills made for one our best days on the journey.

We ended the trip having logged 430.02 miles and were in the saddle pedaling nearly 39 hours. As disappointed as we were that our original plans for a grand trip across the country had to be scrapped, this journey was truly a highlight, exceeding all of our expectations. Across all parts of the state, from northern agricultural to mid-state industrial to coastal fishing, Maine is indeed a one-of-a-kind state, full of amazing people and breathtaking scenery.

Editor’s note: That coast-to-coast trek is still on the radar.

Whitefield Lions to donate art supplies

Poster contest winners from 2019. (Contributed photo)

The Whitefield Lions Club will be donating to the local school’s art departments this fall. Due to Covid-19 the WLC was not able to conduct their annual Peace Poster Contest held every October. Every year each of the schools which include Windsor, Jefferson, Whitefield and Chelsea Elementary participates in the contest through their art department. The selected winners come to the club house with their parents and display their art work. A winner is chosen to go on to the district competition. Since the Lion’s Club was not able to hold its competition, they agreed they would contribute to each of the schools art departments hoping to resume the Peace Poster Contest next year.

Bottle drive helps fund Cub Scout programs

Pack #603 Bear Cub Scout Tristan Morton stands in front of bottles at Neighborhood Redemption, in Augusta. The Cub Scout Pack harvested near Gilbert School after a flyer campaign the prior Saturday. Pack #603 serves Augusta and Windsor, at American Legion Post #205, on Eastern Ave., in Augusta’s Mayfair. Funds raised through the bottle and can collection will be used to help defray the cost of the program the Cubs receive. (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Morton, CR)

Common Ground Country Fair to be held on-line

Keynote speaker Leah Penniman. (photo credit: Jonah Vital-Wolff)

The Common Ground Country Fair, the premier educational event of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), will be held online September 25-27, 2020.

April Boucher, MOFGA’s Fair Director, noted, “While we can’t gather together in person this year, many aspects of the Fair will be available online, including iconic and educational content that folks look forward to year after year.” Additional resources specific to the Fair are available in the fall issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener newspaper. An online marketplace of fair vendors, will run from September 25, 2020, through January 8, 2021, and offers shoppers the opportunity to support local businesses that would typically participate at the Fair, including farmers, crafters, nonprofit educational organizations and more.

The 2020 Common Ground Country Fair artwork features bee balm and bees.

The schedule of live presentations, released earlier today, offers three full days of content related to gardening, farming and sustainable living. The schedule is available at fair.mofga.org and video will be streamed there and on MOFGA’s Facebook and YouTube pages. In addition to keynote addresses each day at 11 a.m. there is a great mix of educational and entertaining content lined up. Learn how to plant garlic, make a sweet annie crown, bake bread, ferment vegetables and so much more! Plus, the ever-popular sheep dog demonstrations will take place each day.

This year’s keynote speakers highlight a mix of national perspectives on farming and gardening in diverse communities. Friday’s keynote speaker, Leah Penniman, is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and is the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. Saturday’s speaker is Barbara Damrosch, farmer and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, author of The Garden Primer and Theme Gardens and co-author of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook. She has also served as MOFGA’s board president. Sunday’s speaker, Winona LaDuke, is a rural development economist and author working on issues of Indigenous economics, food, and energy policy. LaDuke lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota and is executive director of Honor the Earth.

Members of the MOFGA community are also developing additional content that will be available via an online library on the Fair website. All are encouraged to grow and submit items for the online exhibition hall, submit photos for the online garden parade, share poetry and fair stories and more.

Sarah Alexander, executive director of MOFGA, shared, “We’re hoping that the online fair will still provide a sense of community and engagement related to everyone’s favorite activities from the Fair.”