joycesirota@gmail.com; mickeysirota@gmail.com

322-7572; 322-5671

Cut off

When internet connections go out for two days, Searsmonters realize how dependent they are on this link to the outside world. No Zoom meetings or telehealth visits (thank you, Searsmont Town Library for your lightning-fast computers), slow 4G phone downloads of mail and texts. With limited streaming, it can be a pleasant change to read and listen to birds and grasshoppers outside. There is a shameful feeling of relief when service comes back on. Do we control our technology, or is it the other way around?

Town Office

On Aug. 15, Searsmont selectmen discussed a possible salt and sand shed location and approved a request for library wall repair and repainting. As usual, since the line item makes up about a third of the municipal budget, they talked and talked and talked about roads and road repair.

The Town Office staff is mailing this year’s property tax bills. Yours is coming soon. The mil rate is going down from $17.80 to $15 per $1,000 of assessed value this year. Spoiler alert: revalued assessments are going up for many Searsmonters, so your tax bill may go up or down, or stay about the same.

Many in town, ages 65 or older and full-time residents for at least 10 years come next April, are turning in a completed Initial Application for Property Tax Stabilization for Senior Citizens, found online at maine.gov/revenue/taxes/property-tax. You have until Dec. 1 to complete yours and save some money.

Broadband update

Selectman Pete Milinazzo is now Searsmont’s representative on the Waldo Broadband Corp. board of directors. Liberty, Palermo, Freedom and (after townsfolk vote later this month, presumably) Montville will also have board members.

WBC is a Broadband Utility District and lawyers are drawing up papers for the new charitable, tax-exempt corporation. The district has also hired an experienced company to help prepare a request for proposals to be sent out to internet service providers and guide the district through the RFP review. All of this is in anticipation of WBC and its ISP partner (or partners) applying later this year for major funding from Maine Connectivity Authority.

A lot of acronyms, but the bottom line is that affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband expansion with no tax dollars is more likely to come to Searsmont in the next two or three years. None too soon.

Fire Department

Chief James Ames and the Searsmont firefighters thank everyone for their generous donations to the July 30 boot drive. “We took in $2,673 for the town’s Jaws of Life fund, and there is now a drop box for returnable cans and bottles in front of the fire station, too.” The Department is still looking for trainees and members. Interested men and women ages 14 and up should contact Chief Ames at searsmontfiredepartment@fairpoint.net, 342-5707 or 314-2927.

Town Library

The “Live Outside the Library” summer series ends Saturday, Aug. 27, 4 p.m., with the Mondaynite Jazz Orchestra. An 18-piece swing band from Camden with featured singers, MoJO plays modern and traditional big band music. The group is “danceable, sure to force your toe to tap at the very least.” Bring a camp chair or blanket, and a picnic if you like. On Saturday, Aug. 20, the local Hot Suppers rocked the joint with its mix of rock, blues, country and Americana. Thanks again to Friends of the Searsmont Library and the library board of trustees for funding the concerts so they are free to Searsmonters and everyone else.

Bits and pieces

Tickets are still available for Muzzy Ridge Concerts’ last set of Searsmont performances this Saturday, Aug. 27, 7 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 28, 3 p.m. It’s a family affair featuring violist Jonah Sirota, oboist (and Jonah’s wife) Gigi Brady, and pianist Victoria Sirota. The $10 and $20 tickets can be ordered at robertsirota.com/muzzy-ridge-concerts.

Last weekend’s concerts were well-performed and well-attended, attracting locals, non-Searsmonters, summer visitors and a few out-a-statahs.

Peter Dalton, standing, and Karen Withee, right, at the Searsmont Historical Society’s “Mainers in the Civil War” presentation Aug. 11 at the Community Building. Photo by Mickey Sirota

Two dozen people heard Peter Dalton’s Aug. 11 Searsmont Historical Society talk on Mainers (including 135 Searsmonters) in the Civil War. Entertaining presentation and great cookies. Don’t miss the “Stone Face” on exhibit at historical society. They will be open Thursday, Sept. 1 and Thursday, Sept. 8, 3 to 5 p.m.

Local blueberries started picking early and are nearly done. They are a bit shriveled on account of so little rain, but very sweet.

It’s that time of year. Killer zucchini the size of baseball bats are appearing mysteriously on porches and even at the post office, left there by “who knows who.”