After several weeks of discussing the matter at regular meetings and in recent a workshop, the Searsport Select Board voted unanimously to approve an amendment to an existing policy regarding employees’ use of social media.

Searsport Town Manager James Gillway said selectmen adopted the amendment to the town’s existing policy titled “Email and Computer Documents” at the regular meeting Tuesday, May 1, and as a result the policy will now include guidelines governing town employees’ use of social media sites like Facebook.

In a telephone interview, Gillway said selectmen made two additions to the draft policy, one “reminding employees that they represent the town” and the second “re-emphasizing that their use of social media is being monitored.”

Gillway said the meeting was “pretty well attended” and several citizens spoke on that issue during the portions of the meeting dedicated to public comment.

The question of whether to address the issue with a policy change was first raised during the board’s regular meeting Tuesday, April 3, when Gillway presented selectmen with a proposed amendment after consulting with Maine Municipal Association about the language within the document.

When speaking after the April 3 meeting, Gillway confirmed the policy change was being considered, in part, because of an incident involving Facebook postings that were authored by the town’s Fire Chief Jim Dittmeier.

In December, Dittmeier took heat for a Nov. 16 post that appeared on Searsport Fire Department’s Facebook page that offered his personal thoughts about the ongoing debate surrounding the development proposal from Colorado-based DCP Midstream to construct a 22.7-million-gallon Liquid Petroleum Gas tank at Mack Point.

The post, which no longer appears on the SFD Facebook page, encouraged the “silent majority” of people in town who support the potential development to share their views with town selectmen. He further stated the development could bring jobs for young people and provide more tax dollars for the town, according to previously published reports.

At that time Dittmeier also described local opponents of the development as “a few people that just want the town to stay this way and die.” In closing, Dittmeier suggested, “maybe we should have a sign that says ‘Searsport, Town of Complainers who are against everything,'” reports at the time quoted. Dittmeier also submitted a letter to the editor that ran in the Dec. 1 issue of the VillageSoup Journal, in which he reiterated his position. In that letter, Dittmeier specified he was expressing his opinion as a taxpayer and not as the town’s fire chief.

Attempts to reach Dittmeier for comment on the issue have not been successful in recent weeks.

One issue the proposed amendments address, said Gillway during the April 3 discussions, is the need to preserve any postings that appear on a Facebook page that is created for use by town employees.

“We should be keeping all of those postings that appear on our social media sites,” Gillway said, referring to Maine laws governing public freedom of access to municipal records.

In other news, selectmen accepted the resignation of Searsport Police Officer Eric Bonney, whom Gillway said would be working as a court officer in the Waldo County court system. Bonney, who Gillway said also served as the town’s animal control officer and shellfish warden, would likely continue in those roles as long as his new work schedule allows.

Gillway said Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye plans to offer the position to one of the department reserve officers, who Gillway said has a wealth of experience at SPD and at other local police agencies.

The officer, who Gillway did not name because he has yet to accept the promotion, has also worked for the Stockton Springs and Belfast Police Departments.

“He’s worked for us for almost a year,” said Gillway, who added that the officer has earned a favorable reputation in the communities he has served.