(from the
March 2006 Maine Townsman)

Auburn : The city’s police department will be implementing a new fuel-saving policy that has officers parking their cruisers for 10 minutes every hour. A goal of the policy is to reduce fuel use by eight percent in the next year, with a projected savings of about $4,842.

Thomaston: On May 16, residents will vote to decide whether to approve a retail store development restriction of 150,000 sq. ft., or of 70,000 sq. ft. The two size restrictions were contained in two separate citizen petitions. The referendum vote will be held on May 16. The town’s selectmen are supporting the 150,000 sq. ft. limit.

Van Buren: The SAD 24 school superintendent has been given the go-ahead by the school board to begin the process of consolidation of students in grades K-12 in the high school building. The high school was designed to house 1,700 students, and there are only 412 students in the entire school district. A final vote on the matter could come by this June.

Rockport: Selectman Geoff Parker has installed a new video recording system at Rockport Opera House in an effort to improve communication between town government and residents. This system will allow people to watch public meetings on television. The town is utilizing the $20,000 that it had budgeted for a system upgrade.

Presque Isle: City councilors have approved a $1.9 million public works garage project. The garage will be housed in 27,000 sq. ft. of an existing missile hangar at an Skyway Industrial Park. The hangar will be renovated thanks to federal funding, a bond from the state, and city funding. Construction of a new garage would have cost about 60 percent more than the hangar renovation. City officials will soon put the project out to bid.

Madison: Residents approved a tax increment financing (TIF) plan to support the development of a 23-acre greenhouse by a Massachusetts-based company called U.S. Functional Foods. The greenhouse would be used to grow tomatoes for distribution throughout New England, and would employ 67 to 75 workers. The company hopes to begin construction in the town by June.

Freeport: Town assessors are in the process of revaluing 4,000 parcels. State law requires that property valuations be at least 70 percent of the latest State Valuation (which is based on market value). The current municipal valuation has dropped to approximately 60 percent of the state valuation. This revaluation effort began in January and be done by late summer.

Roxbury: This town of 384 year-round residents has been trying a new approach to improving attendance at town meetings. Since adding an hour of socializing before the meeting begins, attendance has just about doubled. At this year’s March town meeting, the social hour was expanded to 90 minutes.