Ambulance service funding further delayed

The $30,000 awarded to the Winterport Ambulance Service by a vote of the townspeople has once again been delayed. The vote, which was held at the yearly town meeting, included a stipulation that a committee be formed to assess the necessity of a local emergency medical service.

At its Sept. 8 meeting, the Town Council continued to review applicants to serve on the committee. At that time, three individuals — of the five needed — had applied for a spot. Those applying were Logan Craig, assistant director of the Winterport Ambulance Service; William Olver, owner of Winterport environmental engineering firm Olver Associates Inc.; and Lee Bowden, a nurse, and wife of retired Fire Chief Stanley Bowden.

Another stipulation of the vote was that the committee would consist of one member of the Town Council, and one member of the Ambulance Service. At a previous meeting, the municipal officers chose Councilor Maggie English-Flanagan to be their representative.

Some confusion arose among council members when Town Manager Michael Crooker said he was unaware whether someone from the Ambulance Service had been chosen to sit on the committee. According to minutes from the July 28 meeting, Phillip Higgins was discussed as being the representative, as he is the director.

Councilors debated whether the Ambulance Services Committee could meet without the required five registered voters. On a motion of Councilor Maggie English-Flanagan, the council voted to postpone the committee meetings until the entire group is selected.

"We have plenty of time," English-Flanagan said. Her motion resulted in a 4-1 vote, with Councilor Stephen Cooper opposed.

Asked if he had anything to add to the conversation, Ambulance Director Higgins said, "Just know that time is not on our side."

Technology upgrades considered

The town's municipal officers hashed over a well-known topic at their meeting, bringing up various technological upgrades needed at the Town Office. Among those considered were a complete overhaul of the municipality's website and a new phone system.

The website was produced by Saco Design, a web development company owned by Winterport resident Kevin Wentworth. The software is now out of date, and Saco Design has moved on to different business ventures, and consequently is unable to provide tech support to the town.

The website has been a thorn in the council's side over the years, given its lack of relevance. The real estate database, for example, lists many individuals as owners of parcels of property who are now deceased or who have moved away. In several instances, residents have pleaded with town staff to make information available on demand by keeping the website up-to-date, as well posting meeting agendas and minutes in a timely fashion. This has, at times, been difficult, given the website's lack of user-friendliness.

Another website component that the town is considering is live-streaming meetings. Currently, a voice recorder is used to tape the meeting, but the audio file is not posted anywhere for the public to listen to. Live-streaming would not only allow the public to be virtually present at meetings, but would also allow individuals to watch the meeting at a later date.

The current phone setup is thought to be at least 15 to 20 years old, and was used at the former Town Office on School Street. When the front office staff has to transfer a call to the town manager, they must go into his office to alert him. They also cannot change the recorded voicemail greeting, so the message remains out of date.

The council asked Town Manager Michael Crooker to research both of these matters, and provide them with financial estimates in a month’s time.