SEARSPORT — Ruth Fethke was appointed to the Regional School Unit 20 Board of Directors by the Searsport Select Board Oct. 5.

Searsport Town Manager James Gillway said two people recently resigned from the school board and he recommended Fethke as a suitable candidate to fill one of the seats.

Dave Walsh and Josh McFarlin both resigned for “personal reasons,” Gillway said. There is “nothing going on,” he added. Both had “things going on in their lives, and had to move away from it.”

Fethke said that having attended school board meetings since the start of the pandemic, it is apparent to her that there should be a parent on the board who has children in the school system.

“I understand that the second opening is a parent who is leaving, so I feel it is very important, especially now, during these times, to have a parent on the board that actually has children in the school, and to have a good working relationship with the school and with community members.

“My hope is to try and find a way to get more parents involved,” she said. “At best, there are two to three parents (who attend)… I think it is very important that the school board is heard and that the parents in the community feel more comfortable coming, and that their concerns are heard as well.”

RSU 20 Superintendent Chris Downing thanked Walsh and McFarlin for “their time and commitment to the RSU 20 School Board.”

“Family and personal responsibilities are always one’s number one priority and need to be measured accordingly,” Downing said.

Gillway said one other Searsport parent with a child in school has shown an interest in the remaining board seat: Wendy Hamill. The Select Board nominated Hamill and requested she attend the next Select Board meeting, in case there were any questions regarding the position.

The policy for selecting a school board member typically involves two meetings, Gillway said, one for nominating a candidate and the second for confirming the appointment. Gillway recommended the Select Board suspend the policy in order to appoint Fethke immediately.

“With two people missing off the board,” he said, “you’ve got a bit of a problem in front of you — or they (the school board) has a problem in front of them. They have a lot of work to do with the school in session.”

Select Board Chairman Doug Norman said, “We need to be represented immediately.” He went on to say he would not normally support suspending the two meeting policy. “I think it is a crisis and we absolutely have to,” he said.

Searsport has three school directors representing the town on the school board, but because of the recent resignations, there is currently only one — Board Chairman Anthony Bagley. Kris Braga and Denise Dakin, who represent Stockton Springs, round out the board.

In other business, Charlie Plourde has agreed to accept the Swan Lake Dam Committee seat held by Stan Wood, who is resigning from the post after being on the committee for decades.

Gillway recommended Plourde, saying, “He has a camp on Swan Lake and has a vested interest. He is also a resident of Searsport and would represent us very well.”

Norris Staples was appointed as a full-time member of the Searsport Planning Board after Tom Gocze moved and left the board. There are still two alternate positions available on the board, Norman said. Anyone interested can call the Town Office at 548-2305 and fill out an application.

Searsport Police Chief Todd Boisvert asked the board for authorization to fill an opening in his department. Gillway said because of shortages in the police department, he urged the board to move quickly.

“The sheriff’s department is down several members, Belfast (Police Department) is down several members,” he said. “If we don’t start sooner than later, we might miss out on a candidate.”

The board ultimately approved authorization to hire a new police officer.

Searsport board member Linda Payson was elected to the 2022 Waldo County Budget Committee.

During the exchange of town news among board members, Steve Tanguay announced that, after two years of construction, Rio’s Spiked Cafe is opening Oct. 6 on the site of the former Searsport Automotive facility at 357 West Main St.