joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

A weekend away

For the first time since March, we took a short trip to Patten to explore and hike in Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Staying overnight at Mt. Chase Lodge felt very different from the home-based activities we’ve been accustomed to.

From there it was up to Fort Kent to the first (or last, depending on your point of view) mile of Route 1. Having been to the other end of Route 1 in Key West, it felt only fitting. Then it was on to Acadian communities like St. Agatha and lunch on the terrace of Lakeview Restaurant. We were hoping for ployes, but they were not on offer this time.

Riding home through Caribou and Presque Isle along rolling fields of potatoes, broccoli and oats, we were struck by how different this agricultural part of the state is. We spend a lot of time on the Maine seacoast or in the mountains, so this was a real eye-opener. They say travel broadens one’s perspective, and our experience this weekend certainly proves that’s true.

Selectmen’s meeting

The Aug. 25 meeting featured a presentation by Assessors Agent James Murphy about the recent property revaluation – the first in 10 years. The revaluation reduces the mill rate next year from 20.5 to 17.5. Murphy, a trained assessor with years of experience for several towns, said “that length of time between revaluations won’t happen again,” with a five-year span more likely going forward and “tweaks” more often.

He said the state requires valuation at “just value,” which the courts have said is market value, and that each “class of property” (raw land, developed land, types of structure, waterfront property, and so on) must be “equitably” valued. He also calls assessment both “a science and an art.”

The science part is based on actual sale prices, which have been rising in the last five years. In 2016 Searsmont’s values were 98% of the state’s annual audit figures. That figure dropped to below 90% in 2018, and is estimated to be just 67% in 2019. If the town’s valuation goes below the 70% figure, the allowance for tree growth, veterans and homestead exemptions drops for every Searsmont taxpayer.

Murphy invites anyone with questions or concerns to call or email him at the Town Office. All property records are available to the public.

Selectmen will spend $2,300 to upgrade the Community Building’s solar panel system, approved $16,700 for Appleton Ridge paving, and sent out bid sheets to Searsmont contractors for Crie Road culvert, ditching and shoulder work.

They announced the end of Wednesday transfer station hours for the year, transferred about $7,500 from fund balance to cover the “final” school budget figure, and accepted Mickey Sirota’s resignation from the Cemetery Committee.

Go to townofsearsmont.com or call 342-5411 to find out how to “attend” their next meeting by Zoom.

What’s new at the library

We reserved a 30-minute slot for an in-person visit to the Searsmont Town Library last week. Walking in and being greeted by name was a treat, but actually being there to experience the space and all those familiar books was the best. The librarian had put aside a book we wanted, and there was ample time to look through the new books as well as choose a book by a new favorite author. To arrange your own appointment, just call 342-5549 or email Steven at searsmont.town.library@gmail.com. And while you’re there, check the free produce-to-share in the upper lobby.

Lake Quantabacook

This just in from Nancy and Paul Weser: While staying at the family camp on Sheep Island, Markenzie Kynoch, 23, decided to swim the 3-mile length of Lake Quantabacook from dock to dam. She dived off the New York Landing dock at Route 3, and in less than two hours stood on the dam at the southern end of the lake.

Proud mom Dale Kynoch and 91-year-old grandmother Sheila Given, both from Maryland, witnessed this achievement. Markenzie, a mechanical engineer from Bozeman, Montana, is no stranger to physical endurance and she challenges herself whenever possible. She has walked the Appalachian Trail, and cycled and hiked the mountains of Montana.

Wedding anniversary

We are pleased to announce that your town correspondents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this week. When asked how we’ve managed this (and we’re looking for 40 more), the truth is that we don’t always agree with each other, but we always like each other. And we work at staying connected.

And, as always…

Stay safe and be well.