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July 17, 2014

LePage visits Lincoln during one-day July 16 campaign stop

LINCOLN – Gov. Paul LePage spent some time in the Lincoln Lakes region recently, visiting local businesses before heading to a fundraising event. LePage, seeking reelection to a second term in November, had lunch with supporters at Gillmor’s Restaurant before touring a series of area businesses, including Lincoln Paper and Tissue, during the July 16 visit. During a brief interview after lunch, LePage noted that the two main issues he hears on the campaign trail are welfare and jobs. He touted a welfare-to-work program with an aim of helping those needing assistance to ensure that they have the skills necessary to find employment as a way to break out of generational cycles.

Weatherbee to remain as Lincoln’s interim town manager

LINCOLN – At least for now, a lifelong Lincoln resident will continue to serve dual roles as town manager and heading its parks, recreation and cemeteries department. Town councilors voted 7-0 on Monday to stay with Ron Weatherbee as interim town manager while a permanent replacement is sought. Weatherbee will earn $288.46 per week for his stint as interim town manager, according to town officials. He is also scheduled to earn $47,146 as director of the parks, recreation and cemetery department, according to the fiscal year 2015 budget approved by the council last month.

Enfield tax rate to increase by less than 1 percent

ENFIELD – Property owners will notice a slight increase in their tax bills, as selectmen recently set the town’s 2014-2015 tax rate at $16.10 per $1,000 of property value. The new rate represents a $0.10 increase (or 0.625 percent) increase compared to the 2013-2014 mil rate of $16.00, which translates to a $10 increase on property assessed at $100,000. The new mil rate was set by selectmen, who are also the town’s assessors, at a meeting earlier this month. In Maine, assessors establish tax rates.

Town, DOT working together on potential West Broadway widening

LINCOLN – The Maine Department of Transportation is working with Lincoln on a potential $1.8 million project to add a center turn lane to a mile stretch of West Broadway, officials said Monday. The widening of West Broadway has been seen as a crucial step in the development of Lincoln. Right now, individual developers are dealing with a Department of Transportation mandate to pay impact fees if certain car count thresholds are tripped.

$300,000 in Millinocket school budget cuts reached

MILLINOCKET—The Millinocket School Department has made the required $300,000 worth of reductions to its fiscal year 2015 budget to bring the spending pact’s bottom line down to the $6.1 million amount approved earlier this month by the Millinocket Town Council and voted on by the community’s residents during Tuesday’s budget validation referendum. The budget for the new fiscal year that began on July 1 calls for total expenditures of $6,127,794, but to get down to that amount the Millinocket School Committee had to finalize a series of cuts from its proposed spending pact. Millinocket School Department Superintendent Frank Boynton said nearly one-third of the $300,000 in reductions came through discussions with the Millinocket Education Association, the union representing the department’s teachers and support staff, to achieve a one-year wage freeze, a one-year moratorium on tuition reimbursement for employees and a 30-percent reduction in extra-curricular and co-curricular stipends. Boynton said those cuts totaled $95,000 and helped enable the department to make the necessary cuts without negatively impacting students’ education.

Firefighters save Medway trailer after lightning sparks blaze in garage

MEDWAY—A lightning strike is being blamed for sparking a fire last week that destroyed a garage at a Medway residence, but the quick response of firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to the nearby mobile home. Interim Chief Jon Buckingham of the Medway Fire Department said the garage fire at 135 Stanley Road was reported shortly after 7 p.m. on July 15. At that time Buckingham was out on the Turnpike Road performing driver training with a newly hired firefighter on one of the department’s trucks, and they were able to respond within a matter of one or two minutes to the fire scene, which was located a short distance off Turnpike Road. Buckingham said he could see visible smoke when they got to the top of Turnpike Hill and once on scene they found a fully involved garage fire that was starting to melt the siding on the trailer, which was detached from the garage and located about 10 feet away.

East struggling with lost mill value; high mill rates

EAST MILLINOCKET – The residents of East Millinocket have several decisions to make and none of them are going to be easy but need to be made nonetheless. After hearing presentations from town tax assessor William VanTuinen and auditor Ken Foster it’s clear that the town needs to make some fundamental changes to way it budgets and does business. With the decline in the paper industry and an idle paper mill VanTuinen said the town is compelled to reduce the $30 million value it currently has on the mill and absorb that value loss.

Millinocket weighing next step as deadline passes for GNP tax payment

MILLINOCKET—As Monday’s deadline came and went without the town of Millinocket receiving payment in full for the nearly $1.2 million in personal property taxes for 2013-14 it is owed by GNP West, town leaders are weighing their options for how to proceed in an effort to settle the delinquent balance from the community’s largest taxpayer. Millinocket Town Manager Peggy Daigle said she was notified late Friday evening that the municipality received $133,500 from Koster Industries, which is the company that handled last month’s auction of machinery and equipment at GNP’s Millinocket location and is disbursing money to Millinocket as it is received from auction buyers in accordance with an agreement approved July 3 between the Millinocket Town Council and GNP West to settle the company’s tax obligation for last year.