Stockton Springs Report
The Town of Stockton Springs Planning Board will conduct a site review of a proposed project at 190 Main Street at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 8, 2014. A Public Hearing regarding this proposed project has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8, 2014 in the Stockton Springs Town Hall located at 217 Main Street in Stockton Springs, Maine. While the public is invited to attend the site review, no public comment is permitted until the Public Hearing. The owner of the building is proposing a physical fitness/physical therapy studio for the building. This notice will also be placed in the Republican Journal, on the Town's cable bulletin board, the Town's website (www.stocktonspirngs.org) , and bulletin boards in Stockton Springs. Abutting property owners will be notified via certified mail as required by law.
Being the last week of 2013, I am sure that our municipal officers and elected officials are busy with End of Year reporting. It has been difficult year financially, yet a rewarding year for the town. We began the year having $500,000 of delinquent tax revenue. By the time the town had whittled it down to under $300,000, homes were lost. Fortunately, most that were foreclosed were abandoned and the one that I knew that a family lived in has been repurchased and rebuilt to its former glory by a local mariner. The education and the financing of that education was largest and most pressing problem we encountered. With the overwhelming and increasing majority of our taxes going for that purpose, the troubles at RSU 20 has been closely monitored by the town hall. It has indeed been a difficult year financially.
However, through the difficulties, a better town has emerged. It's definitely prettier due to our Gateway Project sidewalks and pedestrian traffic light, which I believe is a historic town first. It is the opinion of the state, via the Gateway Project, that we will need those sidewalks and light by 2030. And, of course, we saw the rebirth of the steeple of the Stockton Springs Community Church, a steeple that the town refers to as “our steeple” regardless of church membership or religious beliefs. We saw the closing of our elementary school. Yet, in the spirit of understanding and support, we saw SES principal Linda Bowes arrange buses and personally deliver our town's children to the building so that Stockton Springs children can continue their time-honored annual Harvest Parade. We suffered the loss of our Recreation Department's director position. Yet, our town's children could not have noticed the loss as volunteers continued to ensure that opportunities still existed for our children. Our library's door were worked half off the hinges by children showing up to participate in the many opportunities provided by library volunteer and activities director Debbie Harris. Volunteer Amber Poulin stepped in to ensure the town participated in this year's Christmas Fair at French's Point. Lighthouse keeper Terri Cole and his wife Jeri opened our lighthouse to the public more this year than it has been opened in the past. Lighthouse tours and the US Army Band performance brought tourist and their money to town. I always divide the column into municipal and volunteers news. Guided by the wisdom and professionalism at our town office and the dedication of our town volunteers, we ended the year with our blessings outweighing our difficulties. Thank you to all from your town columnist.
Congratulations to resident point of light Amber Poulin. Town manager Rich Couch recently announced that the town of Stockton Springs will be appointing Amber Poulin as the Town’s Staff Tax Assessor beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The Town’s Assessment Office will continue to be open for 20 hours per week. “Stockton Springs has not had a Tax Assessor on staff since Howard Ruben passed away in 2005. Assessment services have been provided by Maine Assessment and Appraisal Services Inc. of Dixmont Maine since that time.” At the time of Mr. Ruben’s passing Maine Assessment and Appraisal Services was involved in a town wide re-evaluation. The Select Board and Town Manager asked Maine Assessment and Appraisal Services to stay on in an interim basis. “There was always the intent that the Town would eventually have a tax assessor on staff. Eight plus years is a long interim period.” Couch stated. There was a change in Town leadership in 2012 when Couch was hired as Town Manager. “The Tax Assessor plays an important role in Town Government, it was important that we have the right fit”, Couch stated. Amber Poulin joined the Assessment office in August 2012 as an Assessment Assistant. “Early on it became apparent that Amber was very bright and eager to advance. The Town assisted Amber in preparing for the Certified Maine Assessor (CMA) exam in May of 2013. While the Town was warned that 75% of those who take the CMA fail it the first time – Amber proved them all wrong – she passed on the first try – with an impressive grade”, Couch pointed out. Ms. Poulin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Spatial Information Engineering from the University of Maine at Orono. Poulin has served on the Town’s Recreation Committee since 2008; she has chaired the Committee since 2011. Couch commented “I’m very pleased to be able to bring Amber into a professional position in Town Hall. “She is home grown” he joked. Amber and her family have called Stockton Springs “home” since 2006. Amber came to town government from the J.W. Sewall Company in Old Town. Poulin lives in Stockton Springs with her husband Chris and their son Gabe. Couch concluded that he felt Ms. Poulin would serve the Town of Stockton Springs very well; he stated that “Poulin is smart, works well with people, and will be fair and equitable”. Maine Assessment and Appraisal Services will continue to serve the Town in a consulting capacity during a transition period which ends June 30, 2014. I have work personally with Amber on a few volunteer projects throughout that past year. She is a delightful and insightful young lady. We are certainly lucky to have her.
Our own Cape Jellison residents Dave Mussey and Fran Doonan will be performing at New Year's By the Bay in Belfast at 7 pm and 8 pm at the Belfast Co-op Café on New Year's Eve. Dave and Fran's enthusiastic love of music is infectious. Using blended harmonies and traditional folk instruments, including guitar, bowed psaltery, mandolin, autoharp and accordion, they engage audiences with melody, fun and humor. Their repertoire includes traditional American folk as well as original songs. Fran's inspirational stories leave the audience with good feeling, laughter and food for thought. I put this item in the volunteer news as I know the couple takes their show on the road to play for elderly. You see a point of light, you should point to it.
Veronica Magnan advises that the Congregational Church of Sandy Point will have a Christmas Eve Service starting at 7:00 pm on Dec. 24. This year the children of the Sunday School will participate in the readings and lead some of the singing. Everyone is welcome to attend and celebrate the Birthday of Jesus with our church family.
In the December meeting of the Jerry Dobbins Post 157 of the American Legion, and following the opening ceremonies, which included the POW/MIA Empty Chair, Gold Star mother Mrs. Olmsted presented a photograph of Major Andrew James Olmsted killed in action in Iraq Jan. 3, 2008; the photograph will be framed and included in the Post’s “Wall of Honor.” Mrs. Olmsted also presented a book entitled A Soldiers Words written from blogs which describe day-to-day events of her son during his tour in Iraq.
From the Columnist
For a boy who spent his childhood growing up in the south and only getting to dream of a White Christmas, the Season of Giving in New England holds something special. I can drive around the cape, go uptown, drive out to Sandy Point or out the Harris Road, the Pout Town Road and points west. And everywhere I go, I feel as though I am but a brushstroke in a Norman Rockwell painting, a line in a Longfellow poem or an extra in a film shown in parts of the world where boys can only dream of a White Christmas. Merry Christmas from the beautiful town of Stockton Springs.