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Special town meeting

Town meetings are entertaining and a pleasure of small-town life, and Searsmont’s on June 7 was no exception. About 50 voters spent 85 minutes considering four warrant items under the gavel of longtime town meeting moderator Lee Woodward.

Searsmonters quickly approved typographical corrections to the Land Use Ordinance and voted down by a vote of 21-15 a proposed $15,000 electronic sign at the entrance to the Community Building as “too expensive” and “not needed.” There was a lot of discussion before they approved allowing the selectmen to lease or sell the old fire house (by a leasing vote of 42-6 and a selling vote of 41-5).

Voters also approved a revised town animal control ordinance by what the moderator called “an overwhelming vote.” A town animal control officer and residents explained their concern and loss of patience over loose dogs, and how the ACO will educate, inform and warn violating owners before imposing a new $100 town fine for a second loose dog offense within two years, followed by a $150 fine for each additional incident. Animals removed to a shelter by the ACO can be redeemed after the owner presents the shelter a town receipt that the fines are paid. The owner pays any shelter fees.

So there you have it. Debate, agreement, disagreement, some laughter, a spike of emotion or two or five, four votes and off to home by 8:30 p.m. As always, everyone helped put away the chairs. Searsmont at its finest.

Town Office

At their June 6 work session, selectmen continued their discussion of road paving and repair for this year and next, and refined the winter plowing, salting and sanding contracting process. They heard from Selectmen Pete Milinazzo about discussions between the five-town (including Searsmont) Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition and the four-town coastal Midcoast Internet Development Corp. Those conversations have resulted in SWCBC’s agreeing to continue discussions with MIDC with an eye toward presenting a nearly dozen-town united front in obtaining large state and federal grants to expand high-speed broadband in the coming year or two.

Speaking of grants, the selectmen are preparing a request to Maine’s Land and Water Conservation Fund. If awarded, that money will be added to the $102,500 grant recently given preliminary approval by Land for Maine’s Future to purchase and conserve the 64-acre McLellan Property between the Community Center and the Georges River. Keep your fingers crossed.

Town Library

The library’s “Tea@Three” will host a social hour Friday, June 17, 3 p.m. The jazz-roots inspired Emilia Dahlin Quinter is next on Saturday, June 25, 4 p.m. at the “Live Outside the Library” free music series. Get book donations in before June 30 for the July 16 Book and Bake Sale.

More than 40 proud parents, siblings and relatives enjoyed the Tri Town Music program’s final concert June 6, featuring ukulele and drum pieces and songs performed by nearly 20 elementary school students from Searsmont, Belmont and Montville. They were good, and gold stars go to every one of them. Gold stars also go to the two instructors, three volunteer educators and library director who guided the young musicians.

Ames School vacation has begun and the library has “a ton of summer reading recommended by teachers.” There’s “Mercy Watson” and “Zita the Spacegirl,” “100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet” and about a zillion more. Stop in and fill your summer with new books.

Bits and pieces

Searsmont joins the proud families of this year’s quintet of local Belfast Area High School grads in congratulating Lincoln Holt, who is going to Southern Maine Community College in the fall, Faith Hughes (University of Maine), Taylor Lemon (Clark University), Chloe Staples (Kennebec Valley Community College) and Helena Staples (University of Maine).

A late spring butterfly enjoys a nectar meal at flowers along a Searsmont road. Photo by Joyce Sirota

Searsmont’s spring is ending quickly. Irises are blooming, bunchberry and rhododendron flowering early, daisies waving in the wind, dragonflies darting. Tiger swallowtail and monarch butterflies are here this week.

There will be no Searsmont town column July 7, 14 and 21. If you have news you want printed or posted online at Village Soup between those dates, please get it to us by June 20.

Bunchberry blooming early in Searsmont. Photo by Mickey Sirota