Searsmont residents gave their blessing to a new building for the Searsmont Historical Society, elected a new selectman, bid farewell to a veteran of the Select Board, and appointed a lot of people to other boards with promises that they probably wouldn’t be called upon to serve.

In town elections, Christopher Staples was chosen as third selectman, assessor, overseer of the poor and road commissioner. Staples said he felt that serving the town was his civic duty. “Everybody should do it once,” he said.

Staples will fill a vacancy left on the Select Board by the resignation of Stacy Benjamin, who, after serving nine years, declined to seek another term. Benjamin said nine years had been enough for her and that it was time to get some new energy on the board. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “Almost every minute.”

In other municipal elections, George Sprowl Sr. and Andrea Walker were elected to the Planning Board.

Four panels covered with drawings and photographs of a proposed new home for the Searsmont Historical Society remained leaning against the wall, untouched, as residents granted the organization a site upon which to build it.

The warrant article, which authorized the town selectmen to enter into a lease agreement with the historical society for use of a parcel of land behind the Searsmont Community Building to construct a 36-foot by 60-foot, two-and-a-half-story barn to house the collection of town artifacts, drew no discussion.

President Karen Withee said, to date, the organization had secured $40,000 worth of in-kind goods and services toward the construction of the building. Most of the historical society’s collection is now housed on the upper floor of the Community Building, with the exception of several pieces that are too large or heavy to go in the current space.

Cattle stanchions, a “one-lunger” engine, a jitterbug tractor, a horse-drawn mowing machine, an old sleigh and a road grader are some of the large items in people’s barns or garages that the historical society will be able display in the new barn.

Social services generated a fair amount of discussion as residents weighed the value of donations against a goal of keeping taxes low. Representatives of Waldo Community Action Partners and the Crossroads Food Pantry spoke in support of their organizations.

Several motions were made to increase the contribution to WCAP from the budget committee’s recommendation of $2,150 — first to the organization’s full request of $4,338, then when that was defeated, to $3,000. The second motion was also defeated and the committee’s recommendation approved.

Representatives of the Tri-town Snowmobile Club asked townspeople to specify that $400 in snowmobile registration fees go to them rather than to them “and/or” the Appleton Ridge Rider Club.

The Tri-town representatives said they alone maintain a transmission line trail and they should therefore be entitled to all the fees. Resident Michael Sirota argued that the request amounted to a disagreement between the two clubs, to which the town should not be a party. Others agreed and the money was given to one club “and/or” the other.

Selectman Bruce Brierley said the town’s receipts from municipal revenue-sharing had gone from $100,000 in 2008 to $90,000 in 2009 and were projected to drop to $60,000 in 2010. Reimbursements from the state for the homestead exemption and roads have both been dropping he said. Brierley said the amount paid to the school district has been level, and the county tax went up $60,000 — due to an increase in the town’s valuation.

“I think taxes will be up some. I hope they won’t be up a lot,” he said.

Townspeople voted to use some of the town’s $471,000 surplus to offset taxes this year. The bottom line of the 2010 budget was approved at $916,582, up seven percent from last year.

Several early articles on the warrant concerning elections of officers and alternates to the Assessors’ Board of Appeals and the Planning Board of Appeals, nearly went unresolved when what few nominations were made were declined.

Benjamin offered that a member of the Assessors’ Board of Appeals was unlikely to ever be called to serve. “If you want to feel like you’re participating but not really do anything, that’s a good board to be on,” she said.

“Sounds like it’s a good resume builder,” said Moderator Lee Woodward.

When nominations for an alternate on the Planning Board of Appeals were no more forthcoming, Woodward noted that the position was not for a regular member but for an alternate. “Which even makes it less likely that you’ll be asked to do anything.”

“Who’s not here?” someone shouted.

After several stretches of awkward silence, punctuated by declined nominations, Charles LeRoyer agreed to serve on the board.

“Just to move things along,” he said.


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