A pair of cardinals have been in my yard regularly now, as have the bluejays. I have not seen robins yet. They usually turn up in mid-February to eat the seeds off the sumac, but this year we cut a lot of the sumac back and there isn't anything on the new growth for them to eat. Has anyone seen any robins?
I can't say it's all out mud season yet. The sap is running and Russ has been tapping my maple, but he thinks sap season is all but over because it's staying relatively warmer at night. We've had alternating days of freezing and thawing, and the top couple of inches of soil in my driveway softened up enough to allow shallow ruts, but they are hard as rock on the cold days. The frost heaves are steadily rising, and the Barbara Sholes Memorial Speed Bumps seem to have been tamed. They are not nearly as bad as in years past. The Car-Sized Olympic Ski Jump on the hill just above Scott Ellis's place, is currently a flat dropoff. There's no ramp at the bottom to send you flying joyfully into the air.
Helen Christianson continues in her offices of Town Clerk and Treasurer. Laurie Johnson continues as Tax Collector. By a little more than 2:1, Brett Armstrong unseated Bob Bernosky for the open Selectmen's seat. Thank you, Bob, for your service these last several years. Welcome to Brett.
Annual Town Meeting
Again this year, State Senator Michael Thibodeau was our kind and patient moderator. As I predicted, the budget categories were funded to the least amount possible to try to keep the taxes from rising. It also means we will have to bear with the minimum again this year in road maintenance. We will be out from under the huge payment to our old road repair bonds next year. This will mean next year, without a rise in taxes, we can raise the $110K or so for real repairs instead of paying interest on a loan. Hold your breath, say a prayer, and if you have the wherewithall, mow your verges yourself, and hang on for one more year.
The articles on the warrant were approved as written with the lesser of the suggested amounts. The only things that were agonized over and changed significantly were Articles 31, 32 and 33. Article 31, Road Reclamation and Resurfacing was reduced to $80K, and Article 32, Mowing, Ditching, and Patching was reduced to $30K, both in an attempt to stay under the demands of LD-1 Tax Levy Limits. There are about $80K funds associated with Article 31 from URIP that will supplement these greatly reduced sums. Article 32, Social Services requests, were fought over vigorously, and after 2 motions, both with additional amendments, ended again this year with no expenditures at all. Our town clerk begs us to follow through and make donations directly to local charities. Folks here in town should know that our school-aged children can use the Belfast Free Library for free, even though we have not funded adult use. Swanville adults can gain a membership for about $20/yr directly from the Library.
Animal Control Update
Because of short funds, no cat calls (ha ha) will be responded to. Neither will small roadkill. The local foxes, crows, vultures, etc. need their natural food sources. If you have trouble with dogs or larger domestic animals, we no longer call the Animal Control Officer directly. Please call the Waldo County Communications office, 338-2040, and complain. A record will be made, and the Animal Control Officer will be sent out to you within a state statutory response time of 24 hours.
If you have emergency trouble with large roadkill (deer, bear, etc) call 911, and the police will involve State wildlife agencies.
The State requires us to have a Comprehensive Plan in order to qualify for grants to improve our town. Dan Horton reported that he volunteered last year and received a binder describing the job. He reports that it could easily be a large, time-consuming undertaking, close to a serious 20 hr/wk job, because of the detail wanted in the report. He also thinks that we could go a long way towards making a serviceable report to the state by simply removing all the information on businesses and properties that no longer exist in our town. Head Selectman Brian Thompson adds that much of the rest of the information could be gleaned efficiently by attending meetings and talking with the Planning Board members who have a sense of the history of things. If you'd like to volunteer to help the town get some "free" money towards the items in our budget that are being trimmed close, call Town Hall and leave contact information for Brian Thompson, 338-5834.
Transfer Station expands Recyclables Category
Belfast takes our recyclable plastics (previously we recycled only #2 plastic), and they are now approved to accept most plastics. There is no charge for clean recyclables bagged in clear plastic trash bags. This should help reduce your weekly bagged waste significantly. Bagged trash is still $2 per 30 gallon black trash bag. Please stop in at our Transfer Station to get the expanded list of accepted plastics.