Monroe residents elect officers and pass warrant at town meeting
Monroe — About 50 people attended Monroe's town meeting Monday evening, June 16, where officers were elected and the warrant was passed with only one amendment in just over an hour and a half.
Outgoing selectman of six years Suzanne Hall gave a witty and heartfelt farewell speech in which she expressed gratitude to the town citizens, select board and town officers and spoke of her wish to "attract young families needed to keep the school, church, post office and store open for business, also inviting fresh ideas and an insurgence and much needed energy to add to our various town committees."
Bob Fenney moderated the meeting, which began with elections. Tyler Yentes Demere and Robert Tinsman were nominated for the one position on the select board, and Demere won the position with 39 votes. The rest of the positions were uncontested. Lynda Oliver was re-elected assessor. Philip Dalto and Rick Hillman were re-elected to the planning board for three year terms, with new members Seth Yentes for a three year term, Elsie Gawler for a two-year term, and Robert Tinsman and Alison Rector for one-year terms. Ken Clements was re-elected fire chief for one year, Patricia Lawson was re-elected E911 officer for one year, and Mario Tribuzio was re-elected civil emergency preparedness director for one year. Frieda Mavor was re-elected to the RSU 3 school board for a three year term. Mario Tribuzio was elected to the recreation committee with a two year term, and one position on that committee was left open because no one else was nominated.
The town approved all the articles in the warrant with little discussion.
Article 20 dealt with appropriating $500 from the town's surplus for a bicentennial celebration in 2018, and one resident asked how much has been saved so far. Fenney stated that $5,000 has been saved to date for the celebration.
During a discussion of the $100,000 the town appropriated for road construction, Selectman Holly Emerson said they plan to resurface Bartlett Hill Road using this year's money, as well as Dickey Hill Road. Tarring will be done on Moody Road and elsewhere. Some of the town officers used a state computer program to rate all the roads, and created a computerized priority list they're working off of, which has been very helpful, Emerson said.
Pony Stubbs raised concern about a dangerous pothole by the railroad tracks on Back Brooks Road. "If you met a truck there, you'd be in the hole," she said. The selectmen assured her they would use road maintenance funds to fix the hole.
"I've heard from people in surrounding towns that if we think our roads are bad, their roads are worse," said Selectman Hall. "The selectmen really work hard in trying to maintain a sense of thoroughness when it comes to our roads."
When discussing Article 38 about supporting the Arthur Jewell Community Health Center, Keith Nealley spoke about the organization, which he said currently has 12 volunteers and responds to 250 calls per year with two ambulances. These calls break down to approximately 100 to Brooks, 75-80 to Monroe, the second busiest area, 25-30 to Jackson, and occasional calls to Knox, Freedom and Thorndike, he said.
Nealley called on residents to consider volunteering. "We invite people to think about time commitment," he said "We need drivers and people willing to train as EMTs. Some people in town have military training and they can flop that over to EMS training."
Those interested in volunteering should attend a meeting at the Arthur Jewell Health Center, on the last Monday of the month at 6 p.m. Nealley also noted that they've seen a rise in people using the ambulance as a transport service to get to doctor's appointments.
"We don't refuse anyone service, but if we don't have enough people to man a call then we send the call to Belfast," he said.
Article 44, on the town's donation to Waldo County Committee for Social Action, Mike Weaver spoke for the organization and said the $3,408 figure which was a typo in the article, was last year's requested donation. The request is based on a percentage of the amount spent in the town. Because some federal government funding was cut, they were not able to provide as many services as the previous year, which is why there is a difference in the requested amount. Last year they provided $92,947 in services for residents of Monroe, and asked for $2,600 to be donated. The majority of spending was transportation.
"If we know a couple days ahead, we can have a driver take people to medical appointments," Weaver said. He encouraged Nealley to let people know that that service is available, to free up the ambulance for what it was really intended for.
During discussion for a $500 donation to Midcoast Maine Community Action, which provides vouchers for foods through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, Chris Yentes asked "How do you decide which foods you get to use on WIC program, because a lot of the cereals are sweetened cereals and no one can get organic products with those vouchers?"
Jessica Tyson of the MMCA answered, "The food packages are established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, because it's a nationwide program. We've had requests from families to use, say, almond milk, but if there isn't a nutrition risk for that child, it isn't going to be approved. Since it is a national program we have to use national brands."
Another resident asked, "Therefore no local organizations can make independent decisions at all?"
Tyson responded that they cannot. However, she said, "this is the time of year when we get money for the farmers market vouchers and those are used extensively by WIC families with local farmers markets, so they are accessing those sorts of products locally."
The article passed.
Article 57, about selling foreclosed properties of which there are none yet this year, was mistakenly left in the warrant from last year and was not passed, at the request of the select board.
Article 58 was amended to read "To see if the town will vote to authorize the select board to sell foreclosed parcels by sealed bid if arrangements and payments have not been made within 32 days of this annual town meeting." The wording was changed so the town could act on selling foreclosed properties in the event that there are any when the time limit for payment of taxes is up on June 18, without those properties having to be listed in the article. The additional grace period of 30 days was amended to 32 days from the June 16 town meeting, to give owners a full 30 days from the foreclosure date.
After voting by written ballot to allow the town to increase the tax levy limit if necessary, the meeting adjourned at about 8:10 p.m.