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It’s getting cold

The National Weather Service predicts a “warmer than normal” winter, but frost every morning tells Searsmonters winter is here. Given the price of oil, propane and electricity, lots of folks are burning wood. You can see chimney smoke and smell the stoves working in the village and along most roads.

No Searsmonter should be cold this winter. If you could use a little help heating your home, consider calling Waldo CAP at 338-6809, or get on the website. Call your local church for support. The Town of Searsmont’s general assistance program and Packard Fund are income-dependent but worth checking out at 342-5411. And don’t forget to call 338-2692 weekdays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., if you want to reserve a firewood pickup at the Waldo County Wood Shed near Thresher’s in the village.

Town Office

Residents attending the Dec. 5 selectmen’s work session heard a decision to call a special town meeting to authorize the lease of a quarter-acre town-owned village property for a broadband expansion switching facility. No meeting date was set.

Searsmont will have a new town auditor and a request for proposals has been sent to four firms that expressed interest in doing the work in the spring. Town Office staff and selectmen are exploring software or vendors for the town’s payroll, business licenses and payments activities, and Kathy Hoey’s position as town clerk/treasurer/tax collector has been posted in this newspaper. The description of skills her replacement should have is long.

The work session also discussed grading, culvert and pothole repair done and needed on Crie, Magog, Muzzy Ridge, Borough and Ghent roads, and even how often to service the transfer station port-a-potty.

Fire Chief James Ames tells us there were nine callouts in November. Thank you, firefighters.

Searsmonters are on a waiting list for popular Louise Penny novels at the Town Library. Photo by Joyce Sirota

Town Library

Searsmont’s library will be closed for the holidays Dec. 23, 24, 30 and 31, but there is a lot going on. Louise Penny’s new novel is in and there’s already a waiting list for it. The Onion Foundation awarded $5,000 to support another year of music performances starting in the spring.

Gentle Yoga classes are presented every Tuesday, 10 a.m., in the Community Hall. Need help buying a car or researching your holiday gift buys? Ask at the front desk for in-library access to Consumer Reports Online, now available for free at your library.

New members are welcome to join the next book group meeting Saturday, Jan. 7, 1 p.m., to discuss “Ernie’s Ark” by Monica Wood, nine stories about small town life, love and compassion.

The free Tri-Town Music Program, so successful this fall, returns Jan. 10. It provides small group percussion classes for students in grades 2 and 3 on Tuesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., and ukulele classes for grades 4 and 5, Wednesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sign up at the library, and say “thank you” to Belfast Flying Shoes and Friends of Searsmont Library.

Bits and pieces

Is help for the town’s Emergency Management folks on the way? Searsmont’s state Sen. Chip Curry just announced that a legislative commission is recommending $70 million a year for the next five years to help fund local EMS services. Maine now depends on an underpaid and volunteer workforce and volunteerism is decreasing, the commission reported. “We’re in a whole new world,” Curry said. “You may remember EMS from 10, 15, 20 years ago, but it’s different now.”

Sad to hear about some recent car break-ins in broad daylight at the YMCA parking lot. Seems like your choices are to take valuables out of your car and leave it unlocked or risk broken windows. Not what Searsmonters are used to, and that’s for sure.

Hate to tell you this, but flu season is here. Cases are sprouting up like weeds. The Ames and Capt. Albert Stevens schools had so many students and staff out that they closed last week. RSV respiratory virus and COVID-19 infections are also around, so there is a lot of coughing, sneezing, hacking and wheezing going on in town. Getting sick is a lousy way to spend the holidays, so a lot of Searsmonters are wearing face masks. Not a bad idea.

Searsmonters visiting the transfer station recently were asked to sign selectmen recall petitions. The signature collectors did not want to talk about the reasons for the effort, so the town will have to wait a bit to find out more.

There may be no town column next week, so an early “happy holidays” to all.