At their July 20 meeting, China selectmen approved new Town Manager Becky Hapgood’s proposed town office hours, emphasizing her plan to review them after a few months’ trial.
The new schedule, effective Saturday, Aug. 1, will be as follows: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday the office will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday hours, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and on the first Saturday of each month, beginning Aug. 1, the office will be open from 8 to 11 a.m.
Wayne Chadwick dissented on the decision, because Hapgood proposes reinstating Saturday morning hours only one Saturday a month, instead of every week as in pre-pandemic days.
Chadwick and Board Chairman Ronald Breton pointed out that in an advisory referendum in November 2019, China voters endorsed Saturday hours. The referendum question asked voters if they preferred to have three town office hours from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, or from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays. The result was 490 votes for continuing the then-current Saturday schedule and 180 votes for changing to a late closing on Thursdays.
Donna Mills-Stevens recommended accepting Hapgood’s plan as a temporary Covid-19 measure, to be reconsidered at an appropriate future time.
The other major discussion July 20 was about China Lake’s water quality. Tom Michaud and Scott Pierz came to the meeting to talk about water quality programs in the age of Covid-19; they have received questions about whether the lake is turning green.
Pierz said Kennebec Water District Director of Water Quality Robbie Bickford said Secchi disc readings showed the lake water is nowhere near as clear as it was this time last summer. Pierz cited experts from Colby College and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection who blame the unusually hot weather for poor water quality.
The water level is also high, in China Lake and, Chadwick commented, in other area lakes. Michaud thinks the high water might be a factor, and he questions whether last fall’s drawdown was enough to drain off a significant amount of the phosphorus that feeds algae blooms.
Pierz suggested that China selectmen consider exploring the possibility of acquiring the East Vassalboro outlet dam, which controls the water level, from the Town of Vassalboro. Breton said a first step would be to seek legal advice on buying property located in another town.
Michaud’s report on lake issues was that two programs, gravel road work and Lakesmart recognition for landowners with effective run-off controls, are continuing in modified form this summer, despite Covid-19.
For the Tax Increment Finance Committee, he reported that two bids were received for Phase Two of the causeway project at the head of the east basin and TIF members, Hapgood and others will begin discussions with the low bidder. Phase Two involves shoreline protection and a walkway to complement the new causeway bridge.
In other business July 20, selectmen:
- Appointed former selectman Jeffrey LaVerdiere to fill a vacant position on the Board of Appeals.
- Approved a request from the Four Seasons Club to operate off-road vehicles on sections of Pleasant View Ridge and Bog roads on Aug. 15, as part of a planned family fun ride that will be mostly over the club’s trails. Club President Tom Rumpf’s letter said monitors will be on hand to keep trail riders and vehicular traffic safely separated.
The next regular China selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, Aug. 3.
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