Residents of Belmont made clear their feelings on drugs March 19 during the annual town meeting with votes in favor of banning retail sales of recreational marijuana as well as scheduled drugs as defined by Maine's criminal code.

There was no discussion on either article in the town warrant and approval appeared to be unanimous. The first approved ordinance prohibits retail marijuana establishments and social clubs as well as retail cultivation, testing and manufacturing facilities. The second approved ordinance outlined the same rules for prohibiting scheduled — often medically controlled or illegal — drugs. Neither ordinance is meant "to prohibit lawful use, possession or conduct pursuant to the Maine Medical Use" of marijuana or prescribed medications.

Maine law defines scheduled drugs as including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine base (more commonly known as crack), oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl.

Proving slightly more contentious were elections for selectman. Incumbent Sharon Reed-Hall was re-elected to the position of first selectman with five written votes. For the position of second selectman, incumbent Robert Currier was challenged by Gene Newton Jr.; both were nominated from the floor. A count of written ballots saw Currier re-elected with 26 votes to Newton's eight.

Newton was nominated from the floor again for the position of third selectman, which was open with the departure of sitting Selectman Dale Thorburn. Also nominated for third selectman was Ann Marie Stoltz, who was not able to attend the meeting.

Newton spoke of growing up in Belmont and raising his family in town.

"I hope in serving on the select board, I can make this town a better place," he said.

Fire Chief Ron Harford II spoke on Stoltz's behalf and said she's been attending board meetings and is active in the Fire Department and with the annual Christmas party.

"She's excited to help the town more," Harford said of Stoltz.

Residents elected Stoltz with 24 votes, while Newton received 13.

The 80-minute annual meeting was punctuated with moments of levity. Clerks counting nomination ballots for moderator Lee Woodward discovered a nut inside the ballot box and stated he was chosen with "three ballots and one nut." After being re-elected as the town's fire chief, Harford joked the five written votes in his favor were "more than years past!"

An article requesting health insurance benefits for the town's two full-time employees drew a few questions around cost. Currier noted the anticipated $14,000 was included in the proposed budget.

Tax Collector Kristen Waterman, one of the full-time employees, said before the vote there is no health insurance offered by the town and the costs would be split 75/25 between the town and the employee.

Once the questions were answered, residents approved the proposal.

In pointing out increases to the general government lines in the budget, Waterman spoke of security measures needed in the Town Office.

"We need to install a service window … to keep us safe," she said, adding there have been "incidents" that have made town staff, who often work alone, uncomfortable.

Harford explained a slight increase to public safety, noting there were a few areas over budget last year, including a line for hose/ladder/equipment.

The overage, he said, was because about 1,000 feet of 4-inch hose had to be replaced after an outside company tested all hoses and trucks — at a savings to the town over the department handling its own.

Another benefit of using an outside company for testing: "It isn't just a piece of paper we obtained in a gravel pit in Searsmont" that states the equipment is safe, Harford said.

When the public works line was open for discussion, some residents wondered how much money was set aside for road work.

"$240,000 for roads," Waterman said. She pointed out maps in the rear of the hall outlining where work is expected to be done this year, including Back Belmont and Lincolnville roads. "All we can do now is patch and fill until work can be done," she said.

The only article to be amended fell under health and welfare accounts. Waterman said there was an error in the request from Midcoast Maine Community Action, which provides WIC services, and residents agreed to amend it.

Earlier, before the meeting began in earnest, several candidates for political office addressed the crowd. Democrats Erin Herbig and Joe Greenier, and Republican Jayne Crosby Giles, candidates for state Senate, spoke about their goals for the governmental office representing all of Waldo County.

Rep. Stanley Paige Zeigler, D-Montville, was at a Regional School Unit 3 Board of Directors meeting, so his wife spoke for him; he is seeking re-election in House District 96. Republican Robert Michael Currier, who is challenging Zeigler, also spoke briefly.