joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

63 acres

On March 15 at the Community Building, Searsmont selectmen presented plans to purchase the McLellan property for conservation and recreation. The 63-acre undeveloped parcel is in the center of town, between the library parking lot, Georges River and Woodmans Mill Road.

Sixteen people attended and had questions about price ($250,000), purchase date (probably early 2023), funding (state grants), a conservation easement with Georges River Land Trust after the purchase, and possible use of seven acres for a new salt/sand shed or transfer station (“three to seven years down the road”).

This largest piece of conserved land in Searsmont will be used by hikers, fisherfolk, foragers, kayakers, hunters and people sitting quietly in the forest or by the river. There were maps and photos, and they will be on display at town meeting when Searsmonters vote on going ahead with the purchase. Sounds like a great idea to a lot of people.

Town meeting, Town Office

Town meeting starts 9 a.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Fire Station. The 32 warrant items range from the municipal budget to charitable donations, tax policies and Land Use Ordinance changes. Ten positions are up for election, including a selectman’s slot. There will be a broadband expansion update presentation, too.

Roads are posted in Searsmont. Beware of mud and frost heaves. Photo by Mickey Sirota

Town meeting moderator Lee Woodward will keep things moving with a strong dose of dry humor, so don’t miss the fun. Copies of the 2022 Town Report are at the Town Office, post office, store and library, with a beautiful cover picture of the Georges River and interesting reading inside.

The March 14 selectmen’s work session was mostly about roads, muddy roads and potholes in roads. There was also discussion about a tent for the transfer station guys to stay dry in the rain while the dumpsters are at the Town Office parking lot during mud season.

Town Library

Searsmont Town Library and Belfast Flying Shoes are launching the Tri-Town Music Program to give grade 2 through 5 students from Searsmont, Morrill and Belmont more access to free, small-group musical learning and experience. The after-school program runs Mondays and Wednesdays, April 25 to June 6.

Teachers Jeff Densmore (percussion, grades 2 and 3) and Jennifer Armstrong (ukulele, grades 4 and 5) will lead the program, helped by a team of retired educators and Library Director Steven Brown, who has a background in music performance. Library grants and Flying Shoes funds have purchased the program’s ukuleles and drums, and they will circulate like books and movies.

“Students who engage in musical activity benefit in their personal growth and development of functions in both sides of the brain. Learning to play music makes all learning easier!” Brown says.

Space is limited and parents can submit applications through the library or the Ames School through Friday, April 1.

Stand by for sounds of joy Monday and Wednesday afternoons at the library this spring.

Congratulations, Jim

With his family by his side, Jim Robbins Sr., former president of Robbins Lumber, received the North American Wholesale Lumber Association’s John J. Mulrooney Award at a March ceremony in Florida. The flamboyant eagle statuette was given in recognition of Jim’s important contributions, over more than 50 years, to the forest products industry through “steadfast leadership, strategic thinking, personal integrity, and service to others.” It’s a big deal, and Searsmont should be very proud.

Bits and pieces

The St. George River race paddlers will launch across from the post office in Searsmont village on Saturday morning, March 26. The road will be full of people and small vessels all morning, so be careful driving through town. Best wishes to organizer Dale Cross, who is recovering from a recent leg injury.

Welcome home, Cathy Gilmer, back in Searsmont after long travels around the country. Her adventures included being a “mare midwife” to 350 foals, trainer of 150 equine 6-month-old weanlings, owner of a wild mustang and training in “natural horsemanship.” No boarding or riding, but Cathy’s “Young Horse Services” (call 930-5961 for information) provides come-to-you skills training in trailer loading, dealing with horse spookiness and other behavioral issues, and building skills “to build healthy relationships between horses and their humans.”

No column next week while we escape the mud to travel south. We will see you at town meeting, and be back in print on April 7.