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, china.govoffice.com.
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.
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