Brooks residents spent about 3 ½ hours March 18 working through a 46-article warrant that included creating a reserve account to replace an aging bridge on Valley Road, addressing a request for money for town-sponsored fireworks, authorizing selectmen to cash out the town's interest in Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.'s plant, and giving selectmen a green light to begin drafting an ordinance related to marijuana retail stores and social clubs.

Town Clerk Jane McLaughlin said about 55 to 60 residents — an average turnout — attended the annual meeting. While much of the warrant was standard housekeeping fare, a few new articles appeared this year.

One of those items, Article 29, asked if residents would appropriate $25,000 to go into a bridge reserve account for the purpose of replacing Hall Bridge on Valley Road. The bridge's condition has been deteriorating for years, McLaughlin said, and it will need to be replaced in the coming years.

She noted the town had an engineer assess the bridge's condition a few years ago and that assessment determined it was still structurally sound. However, the state has informed the town it will need to replace the structure at some point.

Residents approved the funding request and McLaughlin said it's likely town officials will request a similar amount at future town meetings to cover replacement costs. At this time, town officials do not know how much it will cost to replace the bridge, the town clerk said, but the selectmen felt it was wise to begin saving money now to finance the project and protect taxpayers from having to fund a large lump-sum payment in one year.

Also new on this year's warrant was a request for $3,500 for town-sponsored fireworks. Traditionally, the Brooks Park Boosters have hosted a fireworks display during the town's annual Fourth of July celebration. However, this year, the club is no longer going to do so. As the fireworks display has been a yearly tradition for decades, McLaughlin said selectmen wanted to have residents weigh in on the town paying for the display.

The town clerk said the selectmen didn't feel strongly either for or against the article, but simply wanted feedback from residents. When taken to a vote, residents soundly defeated the article, McLaughlin said.

She also pointed out that many neighboring towns offer fireworks displays that Brooks residents can attend.

Residents also authorized selectmen to exercise what is known as a “put option” regarding the town's interest in PERC. With the exercise of that option, PERC will repurchase the town's equity and make a $2,100 cash payment to Brooks.

Last year, the town voted to stay with Municipal Review Committee and begin sending trash to a soon-to-be built facility in Hampden. If Brooks does not then exercise its “put option” with PERC, the town most likely would lose that money, McLaughlin said.

“Twenty-one hundred dollars is better than nothing,” she said.

While many articles passed without much discussion, residents spent about an hour debating how much funding to provide to several social service agencies. The 11 requesting agencies asked for a total contribution of $14,434. Such requests are often divisive in towns as some lobby for the amount requested and others argue the total amount is burdensome for taxpayers.

Despite the lengthy debate, McLaughlin said residents approved the total requested amount.

During this year's town meeting, Patricia Donovan received the Spirit of America award.

The meeting adjourned at about 4:30 p.m.

Election Results

Darren Mehuren was re-elected as selectman, Jeff Archer as fire chief, and Rosco Kenney as road commissioner. Residents also re-elected Patricia Donovan, Paula Miron and Steve Littlefield to the Planning Board.