joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

A sobering update

These last weeks have felt like “déjà vu all over again” as many Searsmonters dug out face masks and began wearing them indoors. Like many others in town, your correspondents had felt some pride in how well Waldo County was doing in keeping COVID-19 cases down to a dull roar. Then the numbers started rising as the nasty delta variant flared up and put all of us, even those fully vaccinated, at risk.

We understand there has been an outbreak among members of the Calvary Chapel Belfast on New England Road, and we send our hopes for a safe recovery to all those affected. This is serious, folks. Please do what you can to keep yourselves and those you love safe. We don’t want to see any more people in the hospital, or worse, because of this horrible disease.

Town Office

The 2021 property tax bills are out. The lilac paper may soften the blow, but payments are still due by Sept. 30.

Much of the discussion at the Select Board’s Aug. 9 work session was about mowing, cutting, chipping, ditching and even paving on roads such as Ghent, Thompson Ridge, School, Muzzy Ridge and even a cemetery. They also talked about winter sanding and plowing work, transfer station mowing and a new required sign at the Fire Station. The costs of doing all of this are an eye-opener.

Nearly 400 responses are in from Searsmont, Liberty, Montville, Freedom and Palermo on the broadband survey at surveymonkey.com/r/SWCBCsurvey to help the five-town Southwest Waldo County Broadband Coalition. Street mapping is identifying homes and businesses where people can benefit from high-speed internet connections.

News is that Waldo County is providing only $20,000 per town out of the $7.7 million it received in American Rescue Plan funds for broadband or other eligible projects. The rest is going to the county’s wish list, including regional communications, Sheriff’s Office, emergency management and even a boiler. Half the money still unallocated. How do the county commissioners make these decisions?

Town Library

There was a good crowd at the Aug. 7 Juke Joint Devils “Live OUTSIDE the Library” performance. Scott Ainslie plays traditional Piedmont and Delta blues, southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo at the Saturday, Aug. 21, 4 p.m. free concert. The last in the series will be The Barn Dance Band’s “old time country and downeast fiddlin’” on Saturday, Sept. 4. Call 342-5549 or email searsmont.town.library@gmail.com to reserve your places on the lawn. Thanks again to the Onion Foundation, Maine Community Foundation and Friends of the Searsmont Library. Until things get safer for everyone, face masks are still “de rigueur” inside the library

Bits and pieces

The Muzzy Ridge Concert on Aug. 15 was a sell-out at Searsmont’s newest concert hall (the ceiling trusses came from the former Sprowl mill). “We couldn’t have asked for finer music or a more appreciative audience,” said composer and event presenter Robert Sirota.

Searsmont’s newest concert hall near Muzzy Ridge. Courtesy of Robert Sirota

There may still be seating available for the second chamber music concert on Sunday, Aug. 22, 3 p.m., featuring famed violinist Laurie Carney and Grammy-winning pianist David Friend. Go to robertsirota.com/muzzy-ridge-concerts to find out more.

Searsmont gardens are producing like crazy and the Waldo County Bounty produce kiosk at the Community Building parking lot (“give what you can, take what you need”) is doing a brisk business, with everything from summer squash to corn to herbs available these days. Even tomatoes are coming in.