(from the
April 2007 Maine Townsman)

Alna/Bremen: The tiny towns of Alna and Bremen have received a federal Homeland Security grant of $128,250 for equipment and training for volunteer first responders.

Bangor: The regional transportation committee that oversees state road projects in much of Greater Bangor have been told by state transportation leaders that funding for the region will be reduced by 65 percent this year, representing a loss of about $3 million. The state blamed the cuts on a cash flow problem caused by a 35 percent increase in construction costs, combined with declining gas tax revenue.

Bar Harbor: The town council voted not to follow in the tire prints of the Bangor City Council by rejecting a proposal to outlaw smoking in cars in which children are riding. Councilor Jeffrey Dobbs had suggested the tourist Mecca should follow Bangor’s lead and endorse a ban. The idea was squished by a vote of 5-2 in early March.

Belfast: Several years after a contentious public battle over so-called Big Box development, which resulted in capping retail stores to 75,000 square feet in a citywide referendum vote, the city council has designated one area of the community where retail stores up to 100,000 square feet can be built.

Camden: The town is among the latest to wrestle with the question of regional 911 dispatching. Police Chief Phil Roberts is proposing to sign on with the regional communication center, which would cut three full-time municipal jobs. Camden is the only Knox County community to still operate a local dispatch service. Town meeting voters in June will make the final call.

Chebeague Island: Residents are scrambling to hire staff and develop a budget estimated at $2 million to take effect when the island becomes Maine’s newest town on July 1. As of mid-March, the hunt was on for people to fill jobs ranging from a town administrator to animal control officer. The island has been part of the town of Cumberland for nearly 200 years.

Deer Isle: Town meeting voters narrowly defeated a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The vote was 359 opposed and 336 in favor.

Ellsworth: The city is the latest to adopt a moratorium on methadone clinics. Councilors wanted to give city officials time to draft regulations to control where a clinic could be sited. Ellsworth is the gateway to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, the state’s No. 1 tourism destination. Lincoln Planning Board members, meanwhile, are considering banning or restricting where such clinics can be established.

Freedom: The town’s appeals board has overturned a planning board permit for construction of three 260-foot turbines. The project was considered the biggest in the town’s history, calling for an investment of up to $12 million. Worry over noise was a key factor in the appeals board reversal.

Freeport: A $45 million “ Village Center” development project won final approval from the Project Review Board. The project includes 118,500 square feet of new retail and restaurant space and a parking garage of 550 spaces. Meanwhile, retail giant L.L. Bean has announced a plan to spend $1 million to create an 8-acre park off Bow Street and donate it to the town so people can enjoy Maine’s natural beauty not evident in the crowded downtown village made famous by Bean’s flagship retail outlet. The park will feature a “natural amphitheater” and nearly a mile of walking trails.

Hallowell: The city council is considering borrowing nearly $1 million for paving projects and a steel bulkhead to buttress the riverbank, which is estimated to cost $700,000.

Kennebunk: The town became the latest in Maine to sign the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, joining only Belfast, Biddeford, Portland and Saco in pledging to cut greenhouse gases by 2012.

Livermore Falls: Selectmen voted in late March to call for a referendum on whether to change the annual town meeting from the open-floor format to secret balloting. Selectmen said the change would boost voter turnout, but some residents were upset because in a 2004 straw poll, residents had supported keeping the traditional open-floor town meeting by a vote of 195-175.

Lyman: All three selectmen will remain in office after a Recall Election on March 30. By nearly a 2-1 margin in all three recall votes, residents overwhelmingly decided to keep their current board of selectmen – Roger Bergeron, Charles Harrison and Norman Hutchins.

Rockland: The Island Institute has given the new Affordable Coast Fund a grant of $235,000 to begin helping year-round island communities and residents acquire more saltwater access for fishermen and more affordable housing in areas where property values are sky-high.

Sanford: A district court judge ruled in late March that the town had the prerogative to evict Sanford Air from rental space at the city airport after the city’s lease with the company expired on December 31, 2006. Sanford Air said it would appeal the decision, but town officials are confident the city’s rights would be upheld by a higher court.

Skowhegan: The Somerset County Communications Center lost power and dispatch capabilities for 90 minutes on March 2 after a back-up generator failed. Center director Michael Smith dispatched three staff members to the Maine State Police barracks and to the Madison and Skowhegan police departments to use what radio equipment was available there.

Winslow: The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld a state review board’s decision that found the town was justified in its assessment of the Kennebec hydro dam, owned by the Canadian firm Brookfield Power Inc., at $25 million for tax year 2000. Winslow selectmen and Town Manager Michael Heavener, meanwhile, were told the state wants the town to revalue because assessments have fallen below 70 percent of market value.

Waterboro: Municipal employees concerned they might be required to pay a part of their health insurance premiums are considering joining the Teamsters Union. A majority of town staff have signed a union authorization card. An election date has not been set.