Vassalboro select board hears grant requests from firefighters, library

by Mary Grow

At their Jan. 20 meeting, Vassalboro select board members got preliminary requests for money, federal or local or both, from town organizations. Further discussion was postponed until 2022-23 budget deliberations begin in earnest in February.

Two requests were presented at the meeting.

  • From the volunteer fire department, special funding to replace 20 SCBAs (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus), some 30 years old. Spokesman Michael Vashon reminded the audience that a firefighter inside a burning building depends on a SCBA to stay alive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency counts any older than 10 years as obsolete, he said.

The department has not requested taxpayer funds before because members keep hoping to get a grant. Grant awards are based on the number of calls, Vashon said; Vassalboro has few, compared to, for example, Waterville. Another grant application is pending, with results not expected until June at the earliest.

  • From the library, a $7,500 increase in town funding to cover, at a minimum, staff raises plus an inflation adjustment, and, if select board members and voters concur, up to $30,600 in additional money to cover raises, adjustments, more hours and more staff time for program development.

In addition, select board members talked about how to allocate federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) money. One possibility is giving bonuses to town employees and members of the fire department and rescue unit who worked through the pandemic.

Town Manager Mary Sabins reminded them that the Vassalboro Sanitary District is also asking for ARPA funds.

The only decision made was a unanimous vote to appropriate $4,200 in ARPA funds for training fees for three new Rescue Unit members.

Select board members have scheduled a budget workshop for 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8.

In other business Jan. 20, Codes Officer Ryan Page reported that Chad Caron had made no appreciable progress on cleaning up the grounds around the former church he owns on Priest Hill Road in North Vassalboro. As of Jan. 20, Page said, Caron was waiting to hear back from an engineer he hoped would do the building inspection selectmen required be finished within 30 days after their Jan. 6 meeting (see The Town Line, Jan. 13, p. 2).

Board members unanimously approved rules for the Town Forest and Red Brook trails, presented by John Melrose of the Trails Committee.

Fire Chief Walker Thompson asked whether town trails are wide enough for rescue vehicles, if needed. He plans to confer with Melrose and other committee members.

Three items postponed for more information were preparing a policy on background checks for town employees and volunteers; creating a committee to draft an ordinance on decommissioning solar farms after their useful life ends; and looking into installing heat pumps at the town office.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3.


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