(from the May 2009 Maine Townsman)

From Around the State and City Hall

Frenchboro: The tiny island town off Mount Desert Island was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in late April. Winfrey was seeking a small and unique community to feature and one of her producers remembered Frenchboro from a visit several years ago. The town has a year-round population of about 50 people.

Hamlin: A small U.S. Customs house will be rebuilt in this northern Aroostook county border town under the federal stimulus package (aka,American Recovery & Reinvestment Act) recently enacted by Congress. In all, Maine will receive almost $19 million for border protection and improvements.

Kennebunk: Selectmen in mid-April rejected a proposed no-idling ordinance drafted by its Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee. Idling laws exist in 32 states, but only two Maine municipalities presently have local ordinances: Bar Harbor and Portland.

Millinocket: Town councilors are poised to sign a resolve calling for the Legislature to abolish the Land Use Regulation Commission and to shift its responsibilities for the state’s unorganized territories to the 16 county commissions and the legislative committee that oversees forestry and agriculture. There are six bills pending in Augusta that would either eliminate LURC completely or significantly reduce its authority.

Milo: The town will receive a $150,000 state grant to help rebuild the downtown area following a devastating arson fire last year. The town also has been awarded $350,000 under the state Safe Streets program, and another $222,300 grant to build two public parks.

Roxbury: The Federal Aviation Administration has reversed its initial rejection of 13 of 22 wind turbines proposed for Record Hill in mountainous western Maine near Rumford. The recent reversal was based on the government originally getting incorrect height measurements. The FAA said none of the turbines pose hazards to air traffic.

Saco: The police department welcomed its first canine in a decade in mid-March and expects the 1-year-old Malinois to eventually help local officers during drug searches. “Ranger” will get some on-the-job training over the next few months by Officer Nicholas Stankevitz, who was selected as the dog’s handler.

Sanford: Voters in eight towns have endorsed a plan to contract with Sanford for emergency dispatch services rather than pay a 42 percent increase for state dispatching. In addition to the eight surrounding towns, Sanford also dispatches for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

St. Agatha: Spring flooding caused raw sewage to mix with stormwater and drain into Long Lake. The town needs $700,000 to replace an old sewer pipe, among other improvements, according to engineers hired by the town to help find solutions to the problem.

Van Buren: The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has indefinitely closed the burn area at the town’s transfer station after allegations of illegal burning. Town officials are working with DEP staff to consider whether the burning operation should be shut down permanently.

Waterboro: Selectmen’s proposed 2009-10 budget, which goes to town meeting in mid-June, could include cuts in municipal staff schedules, reduced hours of service and volunteer coverage of fire and rescue calls. The town is looking for about $700,000 in savings as revenues drop and costs rise.

Waterville: The city has received a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant from the state. Among other efforts, the grant money will help finance a gateway plaza to the city’s trails system, provide handicap accessibility to the Two Cent Bridge and build walkways. Officials hope to attract new businesses and jobs by improving its downtown and waterfront.

Wells: Selectmen voted 3-2 in March to accept a 3-year union contract for municipal staff. The new bargain calls for a 3.5 percent pay raise each of the three years, but increases employees’ share of insurance costs from 5 percent to 15 percent over the life of the contract. The agreement covers 22 unionized workers.

Westbrook: Citing the strained economy and fear of layoffs, all five labor unions representing almost 150 city employees have voted to give up a 3-percent pay raise in the coming fiscal year. Employees will get extra time off next year and a delay in paying higher insurance costs as part of the agreement, which is projected to save the city about $200,000.