The Town Office has been closed for just about two weeks, but Clerk Melinda "Mindy" Rowlands has not been sitting with her feet up reading a good book. In fact, she has been busier than ever making sure voters who want absentee ballots get them, and that other essential town functions can go on.

The office closed Oct. 15 after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, she explained. That person was hospitalized for a time, but is now home and "much better," Rowlands said. She said the sick person was not a member of Brooks Pentecostal Church, but she did not know whether the person might have had contact with someone who picked up the virus there. She added that while she expects the employee to return to work eventually, it will probably be a while longer before that happens.

Over three or four days after learning of the positive test, the rest of the staff got tested and, thankfully, all tested negative. Still, staff at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention advised that the Town Office should be closed for two weeks.

In the meantime, it was election season, and there was other business to attend to as well. The town offices in Searsmont and Montville offered to help with any emergency vehicle registrations during the closure, Rowlands said, and she talked to Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn to find out what to do about absentee ballots.

She put out notices telling residents how to request an absentee ballot online, and also placed an envelope outside the Town Office with ballots for voters to take. People could put requests into the secure drop box where absentee ballots are collected, she said, and she came by and collected them at the end of each day.

Rowlands sounded excited when she said the Town Office would reopen Oct. 29, after having been thoroughly cleaned. She noted that about 230 absentee ballots have been returned so far out of approximately 720 registered voters. Thursday is the last day to request an absentee ballot to be mailed; Friday is the final day for early voting without an emergency. Early processing will be done Monday, Nov. 2, she said.