Selectmen appoint withdrawal committee members

By Dan West | Apr 08, 2014

Searsport — The Searsport Selectmen have appointed three members to the committee that will work to develop a plan for the town's withdrawal from Regional School Unit 20.

On March 4 Searsport residents voted to pursue withdrawal from RSU 20. The first step in the withdrawal process is the formation of a withdrawal committee. The withdrawal committee must consist of four members — a member of the local board of selectmen, a member of the group that petitioned for withdrawal, a member of the general public and a member of the RSU 20 board of directors. The selectmen appoint all the members with the exception of the RSU 20 director, who is appointed by the RSU 20 board.

During their April 1 meeting the selectmen unanimously appointed Charlie Ford to the petitioner’s seat and Doug Norman to the general public seat. They were the sole applicants for each of those seats.

Both Meredith Ares and Dick Desmarais applied for the selectmen's seat on the withdrawal committee. Ares said she felt the education of Searsport students was "extremely important," and that she would be a good member of the board because of her ability to collaborate with other group members.

Desmarais said he has been following the withdrawal attempts of other towns over the last two years and has been reaching out to neighboring towns over the last few months to firm up a direction for the withdrawal committee to take. Desmarais said it is his hope that both Stockton Springs and Swanville will join with Searsport to reform a new district following their withdrawal from RSU 20. Both Stockton Springs and Swanville have voted to pursue withdrawal from RSU 20.

"I'm trying to build, brick by brick, something that could include three towns instead of two," Desmarais said.

Jack Merrithew, who was recently elected to the select board, said he favored Ares because she was the first to submit an application for the seat on the withdrawal committee. Selectman Joe Perry said he favored Desmarais due to the amount of time he had already put in to following the withdrawal efforts of neighboring towns. Select Board Chair Aaron Fethke concurred with Perry.

Ares offered to withdraw her application of the seat on the withdrawal committee since the other selectmen favored Desmarais.

The selectmen voted in favor of appointed Desmarais to the withdrawal committee, and suggested Ares may be able to serve in an alternate type role, or could attend the open meetings as an audience member.

The selectmen voted to table discussion on hiring an attorney to represent the withdrawal committee until the committee has had a chance to hold its first meeting.

Fire truck maintenance

The selectmen voted to authorize Town Manager James Gillway to spent up to $10,000 on maintenance for the town's three fire trucks.

Gillway said the trucks were all being sent away for inspection this year. The first truck was recently inspected and around $4,000 in repairs are needed to bring the truck into compliance. With two more trucks to be inspected Gillway sought the additional money in case issues were found with those vehicles; however, Gillway noted the first truck was the one they would expect to find more issues with.

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