Comets and planets and moonbeams, oh my!

Early this week, we had some wonderful clear nights for viewing Comet NEOWISE with its long “rising” tail under the Big Dipper in the northwest, and observing the dance between Saturn and Jupiter near each other in the southeast sky. The evenings were so lovely that we ventured out for our walk last night around 9:30. With a waxing moon low in the west, walking the road without additional light was a real treat. How different this familiar walk seemed, lit only by the moon and light spill from neighbors’ homes. And it was a lot cooler than walking during the day.

Selectmen, Town Office and transfer station

The July 28 live socially distancing selectmen’s meeting attracted nearly a dozen attendees, and we were pleased at how well newly elected Pete Milinazzo and Arlo Redman worked with “veteran” Chris Staples to get things done. They’ve decided not to name a first selectmen for now, but will rotate the meeting chair every four months with Arlo Redman starting off. They will now meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month (August 11 and 25 are the next two). Chris reported on Appleton Ridge culvert and pavement work, and Pond Road repair review. Transfer station road upgrades will start with culvert, grading and tree work. Paving is “possible after we see how the road holds up this winter and next spring.” Nothing new about troubled waste processor Fiberight. Interim Town Manager Kenn Ortmann will finish his review of a roadside spraying agreement with the state and town employee evaluations by late August. There was a long discussion of resident reactions to property reassessments (especially on properties near streams and ponds). There will be more conversations around the process — the selectmen are also the assessors and hear appeals — and interactions with Assessors Agent Jim Murphy.

Check or call 342-5411 to find out how to “attend” the meeting Aug. 11, 5 p.m., on Zoom.

Summer hours for the transfer station are Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday 3 to 6 p.m., The new trash bag fees are now in place (5 orange bags or 10 blue bags for $8, $6 for a contractor bag, and $3 for unmarked bags). Attendants Neal and Lloyd appreciate your breaking down recyclable cardboard boxes since dumpster space is tight because so many Searsmonters are getting package deliveries.

Lobster feed to go

Thursday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m. is the deadline for ordering lobsters from Searsmont United Methodist Church, 18 Route 131, for the takeout event Saturday, Aug. 15. $20 buys a full meal that includes one one 1.25-lb. lobster, drawn butter, an ear of local corn picked that morning, coleslaw made by Angler's Restaurant, and a generous slice of homemade blueberry cake. $10 for an extra lobster or just lobsters. Call 207-589-3059 for your reservation. Dinners and lobsters may be picked up from 5 to 6 p.m. at the church on Aug. 15.

School Budget Referendum and Town Tax Bills

Tax bills (due Oct. 31 this year) will be set after the RSU71 school budget referendum vote on August 18, from noon to 6 p.m. downstairs in the Community Building. The schools portion makes up about two-thirds of the total taxes we pay. Assessment appeals can be made for six months after the billing date. As always, you can pre-pay if you don’t want to wait. Call the town office for more information. School budget vote absentee ballots are available from the town office in person, by phone request, by mail or can be requested online at

2020 Census and more

Because of COVID-19, local response numbers to the request for census data are down and we’ve seen census workers driving around town to get the information in person. Census information sets federal funding to Maine and legislative representation for the next 10 years. So if you haven’t yet completed the census questionnaire at, take a few minutes and “get ‘er done.”

Seen the foundation work across from the village store? The town was kind enough to allow the lumber to be stored at the sand and salt shed for a new barn going up at the Lamont-Otis house next door.

Food that’s in when school is out

Free grab and go breakfast and lunch bags for kids and teens 18 and younger are offered at Ames School Mondays and Thursdays from 8 to 9:30 a.m. All meals must be eaten off-site, and no application is required. While you’re at the Ames School, look for the free vegetables offered by local gardeners with extra produce. Grower drop-offs are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to noon at the Ames School foyer. Produce pick-ups are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more info:

Town Library

Hooray! Thirty-minute in-person library appointments can be scheduled on Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Face coverings are required. The Library Bandito will continue to help patrons who prefer parking lot delivery. Borrowing times are extended to 28 days, and there are no late fees. The Librarian is available by phone on Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 342-5549 and the blue drop box is now open for returns 24/7.

And, as always…

Stay safe and be well.