Tuesday night, Dec. 4, the Searsport Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to allow the town to enter what is known as the Nixle System, which Town Manager James Gillway described as an automated callback system capable of contacting all residents and business owners in the event of an emergency.

Getting the system online would involve a partnership with Fairpoint, said Emergency Management Director Bud Rivers, as the phone company would compile all phone numbers of town residents and businesses — both listed and unlisted — for use by the system.

Rivers said the Nixle System could leave spoken automated messages explaining the nature of the emergency to all residents or just those who reside in the area of concern.

"If we have a hazard, we can plot it and figure out the hazard radius," said Rivers. "Then the system will call just the people in that location."

Rivers said the system can send out messages for a variety of emergencies — everything from severe winter storm warnings and alerts about Route 1 traffic hazards to larger scale emergencies.

"It's a very flexible system," Rivers said.

Rivers explained the startup cost would range between $250 and $1,000 to enter the Nixle System and carry an annual price tag of about $3,600.

The town emergency management budget has funds available to cover the startup costs, River said, largely because Maine Emergency Management Agency reimburses the local emergency management department for at least 50 percent of its annual costs. The state returns those funds, said Rivers, thanks to the continued availability of federal grants.

Selectman Doug Norman asked if the emergency service listing compiled through Fairpoint would include cell phone numbers, as he noted some people no longer use landlines.

Rivers said Fairpoint only has access to landlines but that the town website has a feature that allows cell phone users to provide their cell phone number, email address and zip code and that information will be included in the system.

"One of us will load that data in," said Rivers.

Resident Anne Crimaudo asked about whether the phone listings from other companies, like Time Warner or Vonage, would be included in the listings Fairpoint would prepare.

Rivers said he would check with other local landline providers to make sure those phone listings are included as well.

In other news, selectmen:

• Accepted the resignation of longtime public health officer Tom Calderwood;

• Authorized the North Fire Station Committee to use up to $3,000 from the public safety building fund to pay for a bid specification sheet and cost estimate for the new North Fire Station building, and;

• Agreed to close the town office Monday, Dec. 24.