joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

Brave new world

The world is opening up for vaccinated Searsmonters. There are still a few daily cases in Waldo County and, sadly, still COVID-19 deaths in Maine. But the one or two shots mean you can gather cautiously with other also-vaccinated folks and venture out to do some traveling, at least in this country.

There are hugs to be had, and meals to be shared in the newly safe spaces of a private home. Can dining out be far behind? So while our neighbors may not yet be ready to do some things, little steps toward whatever passes for normalcy these days are as welcome as the spring songs of Searsmont’s returning birds.

Town Office

At the April 6 budget hearing, selectmen presented a spending total of $1,190,000, plus $76,000 for salt and sand, fire and rescue, and road reserves, to be voted on at Town Meeting May 15. This is 6% more than last year’s reduced budget, with operating increases for the Fire Department, roads and transfer station.

Road work will include crack sealing, but no specific roads have yet been selected for work under the $427,000 budgeted amount (more than a third of the total). Selectmen did not budget for any federal “rescue” funds, or for anything but consultants for the Broadband Task Force.

No one knows yet what Waldo County and the schools (usually about two-thirds of the tax burden) are going to ask Searsmont to pay.

The Planning Board approved a deck addition for outside eating at the Old Mill Diner on Route 3 at its April 6 meeting. The high point of the meeting was a knock-your-eyes-out digital map system demonstration for every Searsmont property. You could use it to find out about assessments, permits, setbacks and much more, all from the convenience of your computer or phone. Very snazzy.

You have until April 30 to sign up and spread your 2021 property tax payments over 12 months through the Searsmont Tax Club Payment Plan. The office (342-5411) has information on that.

Town Library

We messed up and didn’t tell you about Sarah and Bill’s April 10 “Exploring the Wilds of Searsmont” hike, but you can register for the April 24 hike at searsmont.town.library@gmail.com.

There’s a call for artists to display at the library (people are welcome by appointment Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and by walk-in on Tuesdays), and you can call 342-5549 or use stlme@searsmont.lib.me.us email. Now is the time to use the free Seed Library Program (take one or leave one).

Don’t forget, the deadline to apply for the $500 H. Joyce Withee scholarship is April 30.

Broadband Advisory Task Force

The volunteer group met March 25 and April 8, and will meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 22. To bring you “up to speed” (pun intended), there is discussion about joining forces with one of two multi-town efforts, and what internet access expansion model might work best for Searsmonters.

Selectmen are looking at making any join-up official without affecting taxes. And everyone is waiting to see if federal infrastructure money will come to Maine towns. It’s a fascinating subject. To join the group or participate by Zoom, email mickeysirota@gmail.com or call 322-5671.

Bits and pieces

Everyone 16 and older can get vaccinated now against COVID-19. You can get an appointment through Waldo County General Hospital (mainehealth.org/vaccine or 877-780-7545), Walgreens, Belfast Drug, or Hannaford’s central signup for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson version.

We heard the first frogs in a nearby pond last week. Now we’re waiting for spring peepers. We also took the first tick off our hand. Anyone gotten a brown-tail moth rash yet?