VASSALBORO: No comments during marijuana ordinance hearing

Probably the shortest in town history

by Mary Grow

A dozen residents attended the Vassalboro selectmen’s April 29 public hearing and board meeting, but not to talk about the proposed “Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance” that was the hearing topic.

Selectboard Chairman John Melrose opened the hearing and asked for audience questions and comments. After less than half a minute with no reactions at all, he closed the hearing, making it probably the shortest on record in the town.

Voters will accept or reject the ordinance by written ballot on June 8. It is posted on the town website, in the central section.

Later, it appeared that some of the residents wanted to talk about whether John Green, who now owns Tom’s Rubbish Removal, should have a key to the transfer station. On two occasions during the winter Green was unable to dump a load of trash.

Selectmen were reluctant to give a private hauler a key to the facility, citing town liability should anything go wrong. Town Manager Mary Sabins said Green and Transfer Station Manager George Hamar have been talking, and she thinks they have resolved the issue.

Another topic of interest to some in the audience was awarding the bid to install a Kohler 250-watt diesel generator at Vassalboro Community School so the school can serve as an emergency shelter.

Sabins reported only one bid was received, from Generators of Maine, in Belgrade, for $121,250, including complete installation work. The price was $6,250 higher than the town had accumulated grant and other monies to cover.

Selectmen voted unanimously to accept the bid, planning to take the extra money from savings in other departments or from the $15,000 contingency fund voters approved at the 2020 annual town meeting.

“This is something we have to have,” said Robert Browne, known as the most conservative money person on the board.

Sabins said the Red Cross has approved the school as an emergency center. In the future, Red Cross and Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency personnel will train local volunteers to run it.

Dan MacKenzie, vice-president of Generators of Maine, wrote on the bid form that the company could start work within 154 days of the award and would try to have the generator installed by Oct. 31. However, he wrote, Covid is delaying deliveries, so he cannot guarantee the date.

Selectmen signed the warrant for Vassalboro’s June 7 and 8 annual town meeting. Board Chairman John Melrose said the Kennebec County budget has increased, mostly because of staff expansion, and Vassalboro’s share has risen by 5.6 percent. Sabins said the amount in the town meeting warrant (Art. 21), $383,911, matches the planned increase.

In response to a query from resident Tom Richards, Melrose said the state Department of Transportation has postponed plans for extensive work on Route 32, which runs from China to Winslow through the villages of East and North Vassalboro. DOT hopes to find money to repave a short section in North Vassalboro, from about the post office to about the Baptist Church.

Melrose, who is a former state Commissioner of Transportation, predicted the planned “maintenance mulch” on several other roads in town “won’t last long.”

Sabins said she had a request from an event promoter who wants to stage a July 2022 music festival featuring Waylon Albright “Shooter” Jennings, son of country music stars Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, and Coleman “IV” Williams, Hank Williams’ great-grandson. Vassalboro has no ordinance to regulate such gatherings; selectmen decided they and probably the planning board need to discuss creating one.

The next Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13, in person in the town office meeting room.


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