After nearly a quarter-century of being known as the town’s “unofficial” historian, Charlene Knox Farris got a promotion Saturday.

At the start of the town’s annual meeting that day, Town Manager James Gillway announced that Farris had been named the first-ever “Official Historian of Searsport.” Gillway and Selectman Aaron Fethke presented Farris with a clock to recognize her appointment.

Farris thanked town officials for the recognition, and thanked other historians who had come before her in town — specifically, Charlie Howard, Dr. John Richardson and Josh Curtis. Of Curtis, Farris said he was her “beloved mentor,” whom she “never came close to feeling worthy to.”

Farris said the two accomplishments she is most proud of are bringing to light the story of Searsport’s own Sam Houston and getting the panels turned around on the Civil War memorial in downtown Searsport, so that the names engraved on them can be seen.

Addressing speculation about whether she will ever write a book simply titled “The History of Searsport,” Farris emphatically said no. Three people had set out to do that in the past, she said, and all three died before they could complete the work. She said she did not dare find out whether that was coincidence or not.

Lastly, Farris made reference to an article in a local newspaper from 1987 where she was described as the town’s “unofficial historian.”

“Today, I am official,” she said. “Thank you.”

With no hot-button items such as the comprehensive plan or the land use ordinance on the warrant, this year’s meeting did not last as long as other meetings in recent years and it also drew a smaller crowd. Anticipating that, town officials had decided before Saturday to hold this year’s meeting in the cafetorium at Searsport District Middle/High School, rather than in the traditional setting of the school’s gym.

After making their way through a number of budget items ranging from the town manager’s line (down $500 from last year to $81,537) to the police department (up $31,471 from last year to $266,198) to the public works highway department (down $7,364 from last year to $330,258), the first item on the warrant to draw any real attention was the holiday decorations budget line.

After approving $900 for that account last year, townspeople were asked to appropriate $1,250 this year. Arthur Koch asked what the reason for the increase was.

“It seems like a frivolous place to be spending an extra $350,” said Koch.

Selectman Dick Desmarais explained that the town is on a four-year cycle to replace all of its holiday decorations. The $1,250 figure was approved.

When voters arrived at the budget line for the town’s video system (unchanged from last year at $7,000), Desmarais asked how many people watched selectmens’ meetings on television. That prompted a discussion about where cable television is available in town, and what might be done to increase access.

The budget line for the sidewalk repair reserve account ($2,000, also unchanged from last year) prompted Farris to ask if somebody could “talk about Mortland Road.”

“A lot of people are talking about Mortland Road,” noted Moderator Faith Garrold.

The two women were referring to the section of Mortland Road just off of Route 1, which was torn up at the end of last year to allow the Searsport Water District to make some improvements. The stretch is now a bit bumpy, and Gillway said the town hopes to be on the schedule to get the repaving done “as soon as it warms up enough to do it.”

After voters made their way through all of Article 4, which contained the bulk of the individual budget lines, Anne Crimaudo offered her thanks to town officials, selectmen, department heads and members of the town’s Budget Advisory Committee for reducing a number of line items from the previous year.

“Thank you for being very cognizant of the financial situation,” she said. “We appreciate that. Thank you.”

When the focus turned to the articles dealing with various social service agencies, those relating to early-childhood education drew the most attention.

Waldo Community Action Partners, which operates (among other programs) Waldo County Head Start, had asked for $15,582. Selectmen had recommended $10,000, while the BAC recommended $15,000.

One woman in the audience urged people to support — which they did — the $15,000 figure, because she said funding early-childhood education programs will “help kids go on to become productive members of society.”

Article 25 asked how much money voters would raise and appropriate in support of Broadreach. The group had asked for $2,000, and both selectmen and the BAC recommended $1,000.

“I wonder what the thinking is behind cutting funding for a group that we appropriated $2,000 for last year,” asked Peter Taber, “particularly when this concerns something that has such a broad impact on the future.”

BAC member Percy King said the BAC hadn’t had a complete budget for the organization to look at in past years, and that since they did have that this year, the BAC was able to “look at it a little more closely.”

The same woman who had spoken in support of Waldo CAP spoke again, offering her opinion that the money was “not a waste of tax dollars.” Taber offered an amendment to fully fund the group’s $2,000 request, but it was defeated, and the $1,000 amount was approved.

The Children’s Center, which according to its Web site is a “private nonprofit agency that provides services to children of all abilities” based in Augusta, asked for $1,292 from the town, but both selectmen and the BAC recommended appropriating no money.

The woman who had spoken earlier made a motion to give the full amount, and Taber seconded it, but it was not supported. John Moran said the agency “duplicates services” already provided by other groups, but the woman who made the motion disagreed.

The Game Loft in Belfast requested $300, and selectmen recommended giving $100, while the BAC suggested giving no money. Several people, including Farris, spoke in support of the $100 amount, and it was approved.

A $500 request from the town’s beautification committee drew the attention of Koch, who had earlier commented on the holiday decorations. King explained it was for flower pots, flower arrangements and related supplies for floral displays around town, prompting Koch to observe that the money would buy a lot of seeds at Walmart.

In other business Saturday, voters rescinded part of the town’s fire code ordinance because the same requirement was now a state law. They also approved an ordinance regulating the “placement of wireless communications facilities” in town.

With the option to go as high as $150,000, voters opted to take $125,000 from surplus to offset what would otherwise be raised by taxes. This was higher than the $100,000 figure recommended by town officials, and the vote was close enough to require a hand count.

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