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September 14, 2017

Lincoln's lake residents voice dam concerns

LINCOLN - The dry summer and questions over the stability of a local dam caused several camp owners and lake residents to put pressure on the council to address the problem. “There is an issue with the dam on Long Pond leaking severely,” Ronald Breton said during Monday night’s open forum of the regular council meeting.

As town tackles taxes, many properties believed undervalued

PASSADUMKEAG - As town officials work to recover delinquent tax money while working off a map that has not been updated since the 1970s, the new tax assessing agent is discovering many residents have property that is undervalued. “My own property value changed by $26,000 when I did the assessment,” Jaime Rogers said during the Tax Assessor’s report to selectmen during Wednesday night’s regular meeting “And not the so good side for me. Others were in the $10,000 to $12,000 range. Some went down a little bit, but our properties are quite undervalued across the board.” Though the undervaluation may be enjoyable to homeowners paying annual taxes, when it comes time to sell their property, or even share the cost of running the town, the lower rate can quickly turn into a burden. Rogers cannot do a full revaluation until she has held her license for three years. Her recommendation was for the town to invest in both a revaluation of the town by an outside company as well as to have the tax maps updated.

Fire contract talks continue for two towns

PASSADUMKEAG - Citing multiple concerns with the wording and perceived one-sidedness of a new proposed contract for fire coverage from Howland, the Board of Selectmen decided to seek a meeting with the nearby town. “This contract right now I would absolutely not sign under any circumstances,” Selectman Brent Faloon said during Wednesday night’s regular selectmen’s meeting.

Town to lease engine while voters decide fate of proposed new truck

LINCOLN - The Public Safety Department will temporarily fill its fleet with a leased vehicle, at least until voters decide the fate of the proposal to purchase a new engine to replace the dilapidated Engine 532. “It is my recommendation to the council, based upon all the research done by our committee and consultation with Director Summers (Lincoln Public Safety Director) that we go with option three, which is a 1982 pumper, which is $10,000 for one year.”

Lowell fire department expands off-road rescue resources

LOWELL – The big attraction to a lot of residents and visitors to the area are the outdoor recreation opportunities, from ATV trails and fishing remote lakes and streams in the summer to snow sledding and still more fishing, this time through feet of ice on the same lakes, in the winter. Activities like these do not take place on public ways, and, if something happens, it poses a unique challenge to the rural emergency departments that service the area.

Howland board approves financing package for road work, mulls future repair plan

HOWLAND – After receiving approval to fund work for two problem roads on Monday night, Howland selectmen learned Monday that they have options to perhaps tackle more roadwork in the future. Among the roadways that could be included in the future work are Howland's portion of the Mattamiscontis Road and the portion of the North Howland Road Howland is responsible for maintaining. During a special town meeting Monday night, residents approved borrowing up to $250,870 for work to repair Caron Drive and part of River Road, which were identified in a report prepared by engineer Al Hodsdon earlier this year.

RSU 67 enrollment lower in 2017-18, continuing recent trend

LINCOLN – As is the case in many school districts across the state, Regional School Unit 67 continues to lose students, its superintendent informed the school board last week. A total of 974 students in all grades were enrolled on the first day of classes in late August, Dr. Keith Laser told the board on Sept. 6, when the board was scheduled to meet but did not have enough members to legally conduct business. The total represented a 5.1 percent decrease from the 1,026 students enrolled on Oct. 1, 2016, Laser told the board. There are 329 students at the Ella P. Burr Elementary School, 329 at Mattanawcook Junior High School and 311 at Mattanawcook Academy, Laser reported.

Voters approve retail marijuana and food sovereignty ordinances at special Howland town meeting

HOWLAND – A small number of residents approved a handful of new and updated ordinances at a special town meeting Monday night, including one regulating retail marijuana establishments and another giving the town control over the sale of locally-grown food. A total of five ordinances and a 10 year loan to fund repairs for Caron Drive and part of River Road (see separate story) were approved by voters at the town meeting, moderated by Kim Soucier.

Attorney foresees good news about former LP&T site

LINCOLN - As talks with the debtors in possession of the shuttered Lincoln Paper and Tissue mill continue, the town’s attorney was a source of optimism for the development of the site in the future. “As anybody who has had the newspaper can observer its a contaminated site, but it is also a site that holds the prospect of redevelopment,” Andy Hamilton of Eaton Peabody said. Hamilton was available for the first half of Monday’s regular council meeting, and attended both of the lengthy executive sessions, one regarding “Council Rights and Duties” and the second to discuss the LP&T site specifically. There were few details available following the session as the town is still in the midst of private discussion with the holders of the property, but Hamilton said there would be good news soon.

Selectmen move to begin demolitions, address fire department concerns

MATTAWAMKEAG - With winter fast approaching, selectmen at Monday night's meeting moved to begin the process of demolishing three buildings in town that were deemed unsafe. Code enforcement officer Dwight Tilton said that he felt that the bid for the project should be for all three, the first of which to be addressed would be the one on Boyd Street. He also informed selectmen that they would need a release to tear down the buildings for the property owners to sign; they in turn voted to contact the town attorney to draft the proper document. While the ideal situation would be for the property owners to contribute some money towards the demolitions, the board noted that they are unable to afford that option and said that the town had authorized $5,000 to be spent. Bid packages will be available soon, and the cost will be revisited at a later date. Ultimately, the selectmen would like to see the project completed by winter.

Investigation continues in York Street blaze

MILLINOCKET—A fire two weeks ago that destroyed a Millinocket residence and damaged two others in the Little Italy neighborhood remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Deputy Chief Tom Malcolm of the Millinocket Fire Department said the probe into the Sept. 2 fire remains ongoing and there is no timetable on when the investigation will be complete. State Fire Marshal Investigator Ken MacMaster and Sgt. Joel Davis are overseeing the investigation into the blaze that destroyed a vacant York Street residence before spreading into the roof and attic of a neighboring occupied house. The fire melted siding on another nearby residence that was also unoccupied.

Planning board advised to keep it simple, waiting for comp plan

MEDWAY – Members of the Medway Planning Board continued their education on the duties and responsibilities last week when they met with Code Enforcement Officer Mike Noble for a questions and answer session. Noble works as the CEO for Medway, East Millinocket and Millinocket and also serves as Millinocket’s tax assessor. Noble has 17 years of experience working with planning boards including those in East Millinocket and Millinocket and encouraged Medway members to use those boards as a resource and keep things simple. Generally speaking Noble said he only deals with the Millinocket planning board on “larger” projects and uses an already established “schedule of uses” to guide his decisions. He said he’d be glad to share that schedule with Medway and that it’s basically a matrix that shows what type of activity is allowed in specific zoning areas located in town. If the business or activity fits the zoning and schedule of uses then it’s pretty cut and dry – if it doesn’t and it’s something the board wants to consider changing or thinks the town should consider changing then the planning board’s work becomes more involved.

Michigan man airlifted from Mount Katahdin after injuring leg while hiking

BAXTER STATE PARK-A 55-year old Michigan man was evacuated by helicopter Sunday from Baxter State Park when he injured his leg while hiking Mount Katahdin. According to a press release from Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell, the man, whose name was not released, was hiking the Appalachian Trail and had just begun descending Mount Katahdin on Abol Trail after completing a summit of the Hunt Trail to Baxter Peak when the accident occurred. The man was hiking with his wife and daughter around 3:30 p.m. when his leg became wedged between two rocks.

Town receives grants, lauds Ellis expansion

EAST MILLINOCKET – In what he called a “red letter day” East Millinocket Board of Selectman Chairman Mark Scally signed the quit claim deed for the property the town sold to Ellis Family Investments, LLC for the expansion of their store and grant agreements for grants awarded to the town from the Gloria C. MacKenzie Foundation.

Board opens playground bids, decides to repair 882

MEDWAY – The dream of a new playground in the Medway Recreation Area is coming closer to fruition as selectmen opened bids for new playground equipment at their board meeting Monday evening. The town received bids from Gametime and OBrien & Sons, both of whom have supplied the area with equipment over the years. Recreation Director Jody Nelson said she spoke with a representative of Gametime over the phone and met with the OBrien & Sons to go over the area. Gametime was the lowest bidder at $97,998 but in looking at that bid Nelson said it didn’t include everything she’d asked for and the layout of the area was quite a bit smaller than the OBrien bid of $124,247.

Selectmen add another article to special town meeting warrant

MEDWAY – The list of warrant articles continues to grow for the Sept. 19 special town meeting in Medway. In addition to raising money to repair the current fire truck and permission to spend money on new or used options, re-loaning money to the Sno Rovers and a potential school request, selectmen will now be looking for money to pay for part-time cleaning services at the town office.

Board sells 6 Beech, approves credit cards, buys plow

EAST MILLINOCKET – Proving that good things come to those who wait, East Millinocket Selectmen finally received an offer on the foreclosed property at 6 Beech Street that they could accept. In other board business, acting on a request from the school department, selectmen gave Town Treasurer Beverly MacLeod permission to open an account for a school credit card. The request had already been approved by the school board. Selectmen accepted a bid of $9,000 from Howard Fairfield for a new town plow. It was not the lowest bid but Public Works Leadman Steve Campell said it was the only bid that followed his bid specs and it is a preferred brand used by the town. He said the cost of potential future repairs needed for the lesser quality plows in the lower bids could quickly make up the difference in price. This plow is replacing one that is more than 20 years old.

Special town meeting date changed

MEDWAY – After speaking with school officials, the Medway Selectmen have changed the date of the special town meeting to Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Medway Middle School. Administrative Assistant Kathy Lee said the school won’t be able to approve the articles it needs for the special town meeting warrant until the school board meets on Sept. 12 and she will need time to meet all the legal requirements in posting the meeting – meaning it needs to be moved to Sept. 26.