Stockton Springs Report
The Historical Society holds their monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1 at the Colcord House.
The Planning Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the town office.
The Select Board will convene at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5 at the town office.
The 2012 Town Report is available for download at the town website www.stocktonsprings.org. A link to the pdf is located halfway down the home page.
To help educate the public on town office hours and to offer tips for experiencing a smooth visit while going there, the town has posted fliers in local stores. The flier indicates that hours are from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday. The flier advises that transactions will not be started 15 minutes before closing. It further advises that debit and credit cards are not accepted. They request that one has their old registrations when re-registering, and to have insurance proof and the mileage of the vehicle being registered.
With public postings, the town television channel and the town email, it should be apparent to any that transparency is taking seriously and public service is the goal of our town officials.
In a recent email, Town manager Rich Couch forwarded an email sent to all the offices of the member towns of RSU 20. To prevent any err or possible misinterpretation, I have copied the email verbatim.
“On July 30, 2013, the voters of RSU #20 did not approve the proposed FY14 school budget. Since then, the RSU #20 Board of Directors and the Finance Committee have revisited the budget and worked to develop a new school budget for FY14 that supports and balances the needs of the children and the wishes of the taxpayers. The continuing problem for education is decreasing State revenue. Since 2009, RSU #20 has experienced the loss of approximately a $2.5 million in State subsidy. In the same time period, the local municipal mil expectation has risen from 6.69 mils in FY10 to 7.86 mils in FY14. Combine these two factors with increased operational costs and it becomes very difficult to create a budget to keep the cost of Pre-K-12 education at a level that satisfies all constituents.
“The Finance Committee and Board of Directors have worked very hard since the validation Referendum on July 30, 2013. The Finance Committee has conducted public forums for budget input, a web survey and have spoken with individuals regarding their concerns with the budget. The result is a reduced proposed budget whose overall expenditure is DOWN .21% from the last proposed budget on July 30, 2013 and 1.93% below the 2012-2013 budget. This is only a .07% or $21,000 increase in expenditures. Even with these decreases in expenditures, the budget represents an overall tax increase of 10.18% ($2,013,134.28).
“The Finance Committee and Board of Directors made the hard decisions regarding programs and personnel. Cuts from the Local Funded Budget reflected in the proposed budget include: 4.5 Teaching positions - 2 support staff - 1.5 Library Ed Techs-Reduction in Food Service-Reduced maintenance - Reductions in technology - Middle School Co and Extra Curricular stipends - Supplies and Professional development - Reductions in Central Office administration and school administration.
“As a result of the public forums, web survey and conversations with individuals in their communities, the Finance Committee and Board of Directors restored to the budget the following: Restored 1 Art position - Restored the School Resource Officer - Restored 2 Library Ed Techs.
“The figures in the budget include the increase of 50% local contributions for teacher retirement as approved by the Legislature. Along with this added expense is a loss in revenue with the departure of Frankfort, declining student population, costs associated the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, decrease in revenue from the state and increased health and property insurance.
“Even with all these uncontrolled cost increases, the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors are presenting a budget where expenditures are down $578,000 over 2012-2013. Continuations of cuts of this magnitude in the coming years are not sustainable. To continue to cut at this level will negatively impact the programs and education students will receive in the future. All members of the Board of Directors are aware that other measures need to be taken and as such, will look for alternatives.
“RSU #20 will continue to provide an excellent education for all students. The focus is and will be to continue to improve the quality and excellence of the instruction and educational opportunities provided to all students as we move forward with innovative ideas designed to improve education and student performance. I want to thank all involved for their budget input. RSU #20 has excellent teaching staff and support staff, and be assured, they will continue their fine work for all students as we endeavor to approve the budget for 2013-2014. If anyone has questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, please contact me. Sincerely, Brian M. Carpenter, Superintendent of Schools, Regional School Unit 20.”
Please attend the upcoming public meeting at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Troy Howard Middle School and vote on the Budget Referendum on Sept. 17. Stockton Springs residents vote in the lower level meeting room of the town office. You cannot vote absentee on the school budget.
If anyone tells you how they tried and failed to find Sandy Point Beach, you can now ask them to pay more attention while driving down the road. Couch has proudly announced the placement of large signs directing beach goers to one of Maine's most pristine beaches. I took a picture of one of them. But so much has happened in town this week, that a sign would make a poor accompanying photograph. Head down Route One and see them for yourself.
I had the pleasure of attending the SDMHS TIE Teacher Meet and Greet at the Searsport District Middle/High School on the Mortland Road in Searport. The TIE group had prepared quite a lunch buffet for the teachers and educational technicians who were participating in their first in-service of the year.
The three day event was presented by the Buck Institute of Education. BIE faculty member Micki Evans facilitated the workshop and told me that her focus is Project Based Learning, a method of using real world content to engage students. A local example is the use of the cooperative programming between the school and Penobscot Marine Museum. Ms Evans explained that PBL has two purposes; engaging real world experiences in education and connecting content across the different disciplines. Their focus is Twenty-first century learning through collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creative thinking.
During the three day workshop, attendees learned to design a project on day one. Day two had them learning to access Project Based Learning. And on the day I attended the luncheon, Evans was guiding them through the management of their project. She explained to me that it was an intense workshop with a lot of content. For the teachers and education technicians, the three Rs of the in-service were “Rigorous projects, Relevance and Relationship.” I look forward to seeing what develops and thank the TIE for rewarding the group's hard work with such a beautiful spread of food.
The Stockton Springs Community Library will be closed on Saturday, Sept. 7, so that volunteers may prepare of the sold out Annual Library Tea. We hope their event will be as successful as the past year's teas.
The Sandy Point Community Club is offering our bonfire on the beach from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 at the Sandy Point Beach. Just follow the big green signs posted on Route One. The rain date will be Sept. 7. This annual event is a lot of fun and the fall weather will make it extra nice. We hope to see you there.
Members are reminded that beach clean up is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.
The SPCC holds another Cribbage Night beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept 11 at the clubhouse at 648 Route One in Stockton Springs.
Stockton Springs residents Matthew and Jessica Patterson have proudly announced the arrival of Stockton Spring's newest resident Olivia Harper Patterson. She weighed in at 9.14 pounds and 21 inches. Congratulations to grandparents, Stockton Springs Public Works employee Bruce Gray and his lovely wife Laurie Gray. I know the mother causally. She use to work at the Main Street Market and is a delightful person. I miss seeing her there. I met the father, too. He is equally delightful and is an aspiring author. Now he has something to write about and Bruce has another reason to make sure our roads stay plowed.
From the Columnist
Winter will be here soon and our thoughts should be turning to winter preparation. Each week I would like to touch on a subject to help remind us of those needs. I saw an ad for Maine Chimney chimney service on the bulletin board of the Main Street Market. I called the number, 207-323-7755, and spoke with owner Brad Williams. Brad, of Belfast, has been serving the Stockton Springs area for over 20 years. He spoke of his dedication to the elderly of our community. He offers free inspection and will pro-rate the bill for the elderly. We talked about that for a while, while I tried to find a way to put his offer without having his phone ring off the hook with people wanting a free chimney cleaning. Finally, he said, “Usually, I make a judgment call.” From our conversation, I believe the man has good judgment. He mentioned checking in on your elderly neighbors. If their chimney is a disaster and they are broke, he will do what he can.
He is also making the month of September his company's Stockton Springs Month. All residents of Stockton Springs qualify for a free chimney inspection each year during the month of September. Thank you, neighbor.
When not playing the role of town columnist, I am a resident of the town. In that capacity, I have been involved in the recent the RSU 20 budget debate. In the last meeting that I attended, I posed a question to a person who choose not to answer me. She told me that she would take care of her town and that I should take care of Stockton. I cannot do what that suggestion implies. My town is in an alliance with other towns to educate our children. To me, this alliance is similar to the band of brothers that I served with in the army, the fellow officers that I served with at the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office and the union brothers that I worked with during my time with the IBEW. When one is in an alliance, you have to leave individual loyalties at home if you wish the alliance to be successful. Therefore, taking care of the other towns is the best way that I can take care of the beautiful town of Stockton Springs.