China Historical Society seeks to improve use of old town house

by Mary Grow

At the July 31 China select board meeting, the China Historical Society (CHS) took another step toward reestablishing itself after a period of inactivity, getting support, though not full formal approval, for continued and improved use of the old town house.

Society president Scott McCormac said the organization leased the main floor of the building across the driveway from the town office years ago, and contributed money toward repairs. Now, the group would like to reaffirm the lease, and to arrange more and better storage space in the basement.

Treasurer Joann Austin has made sure The Town Line newspaper management has no problem with sharing its basement headquarters.

Select board members and Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood wanted to make sure there were no insurance issues with a charitable organization storing property in and inviting visitors to a town-owned building. Board members also questioned whether the furnace in the basement is properly insulated from the rest of the premises.

Board members voted unanimously to support the CHS’s continued use of the main floor, and to look into the insurance and furnace issues.

McCormac and Austin said CHS has its own bank account and post office box and about 20 members. The July 13 public discussion of local history in the China Baptist Church drew about 50 people, McCormac said.

McCormac said the CHS intends to fund any storage improvements, like dehumidifying part of the basement, with its own funds – although, he added, if select board members chose to add town money, it would be accepted with thanks.

In other business July 31, board members approved several appointments:

  • As China’s new animal control officer, Joshua Barnes, of China;
  • For a renewed three-year term on the Appeals Board, Robert Fischer;
  • As codes enforcement officer, to succeed Nicholas French, Hapgood;
  • As China’s continuing representative to the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments General Assembly, select board member Janet Preston.

Travis Mitchell, of Mitchell’s Property Management, in Vassalboro, was the only bidder for repairs to the town office building, old town house and garage, Hapgood said. She asked for more time to review the scope of the work with Mitchell and Director of Public Services Shawn Reed. Select board members postponed action to their Aug. 14 meeting, and agreed the proposed contract can be amended to extend deadlines for finishing the work if necessary.

Kennebec County Deputy Sheriff Ivano Stefanizzi urged residents to report anything that seems suspicious to the sheriff’s office. And, he said, anyone who accidentally hits 911 on a phone should stay on the line to explain and apologize, because calls are located automatically and an unexplained one will bring a law enforcement officer to the door.

He offered two other pieces of advice:

  • Beware of scams, on line and in person.
  • When driving, do not speed, and watch out for other drivers who ignore that advice. KSO has issued many tickets recently, he said.

Resident Fred Wiand brought to board members’ attention the proposed LS Power transmission line. (See the July 27 issue of The Town Line, p. 1.) If developed as planned, he said, it will go through his Wing Road property in southeastern China.

Wiand advocated an underground line using existing power line rights-of-way. Board member Preston said she heard at least one state department recommends using existing routes. Board member Jeanne Marquis said town officials should continue to monitor LS Power plans.

Hapgood reminded those present that Causeway Street at the north end of China Lake’s east basin will be closed for China Community Days events Saturday, Aug. 5, from 3 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 6, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Complete Community Days schedules are available on the website,, under China Community Days in the left-hand column, and at the town office and other public places.

The China select board’s August meetings are currently scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14, and Monday, Aug. 28.


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