CHINA, ME — After a long discussion at their May 23 meeting, China Select Board members unanimously voted to buy a new Volvo loader from Chadwick-BaRoss, Inc., of Westbrook.
Director of Public Services Shawn Reed urged them to make an immediate decision. Prices are rising weekly, he said; if board members put off action until their June 6 meeting, he would need to ask for new bids.
The proposed price, $154,300, was the lowest of five bids received, and the Volvo was one of two loaders Reed recommended. Select board members authorized Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood to negotiate for a lower price.
Hapgood said the balance in the equipment reserve fund is just under $370,000.
The bids included, separately, prices for a snow pusher and a grapple. These auxiliary pieces can be attached to the loader in place of the bucket. Reed recommended buying the attachments, eventually: the snow pusher, he said, would save time cleaning up after storms, and the grapple would make piling brush more efficient.
Select board members expect Reed to continue investigating the attachments, for example evaluating new versus used (if available), and seeing if he can obtain one or both, with connecting links compatible with the Volvo, at a lower price from another dealer.
Board members discussed several options before their decision, including keeping the town’s 25-year-old loader a few more years, or leasing instead of buying a new machine.
Hapgood had asked board member Wayne Chadwick, who is familiar with heavy machinery, to try the loader. His comment: “It’s startin’ to show its age, more so than I thought it was before I drove it.”
William Terry, a representative of one of the unsuccessful bidders, warned of expensive repairs and extensive down time if China tried to keep so old a machine operating. Local resident Brent Chesley, another man with expertise, said leasing a loader would cost taxpayers more than buying one.
The other unanimous decision made May 23 was to adopt a resolution approving the Kennebec County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency Director Sean Goodwin explained that the document is updated every five years, based on information towns supply. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has already approved the current draft, he said; municipal approvals are the final step.
Goodwin said the major advantage of adopting the plan is that it speeds relief funding in case there is a disaster in town. Towns are not required to deal with every listed risk, like a culvert that is likely to wash out; local officials are free to act according to their priorities and budgets.
The plan, dated 2021, is on the Town of China website, china.govoffice.com, the final item under the Emergencies tab at the left-hand side of the home page.
Sections of the document cover four types of potential hazards: floods, severe winter storms, wildfires and severe summer storms. The plan provides historical information and evaluates risks for each town.
For example, in China there are no areas known to be at risk for wildfires. Albion, Belgrade, Benton and Chelsea are among towns in which wooded areas, especially those with houses among the trees, are considered at risk. Clinton, Monmouth, Oakland and Readfield officials consider areas along railroad tracks as at risk.
Hapgood reminded those present that the town office will be closed Saturday, May 28, and Monday, May 30, for the Memorial Day holiday. The town office will also be closed Tuesday, June 14, because staff will be at polls in the portable building, and Monday, June 20, for the new Juneteenth federal holiday.
Absentee ballots for local, Regional School Unit 18 and state voting are now available, and the ballot return box is outside the town office building.
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