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Winterport News

By Jacob Gran | May 22, 2020

jacobgran97@gmail.com

323-0050

Council plans paving project

Residents on Elm, Commercial, and Washington streets, as well as Baker, Staples, and Stream roads can expect a smoother ride home soon, as the town plans for the 2020 paving season. Six bids were opened last Tuesday night for the paving of 2.8 miles of local roads.

General Contractor Vaughn D. Thibodeau II, Wellman Paving, Hopkins Paving, Roundy’s Paving, Pike Industries and Northeast Paving all threw their hats in the ring for a chance at being awarded Winterport’s yearly paving project.

Preliminary reports showed Roundy’s Paving, an operation based out of Palmyra, as the low bidder, with their total cost of the project coming in at $262,910.11. A close second was Wellman Paving, a well-known Winterport firm who has been awarded the paving project in years prior, at a total cost of $266,747.98. Those numbers, however, will be confirmed by Town Manager Michael Crooker before final figures are released.

The fate of the project lies in the hands of the Town Council. There is no stipulation requiring that the municipal officers award the project to the lowest bidder. There is some belief that the council has, in years past, given a 5% leeway to contractors who house their business in Winterport. Meaning that if a local company comes within 5% of the lowest bid, the council awards them the project.

The council is expected to act on this proposal at its next meeting on June 2.

Town meeting plans confirmed

The coronavirus has forced municipalities, churches, schools, and businesses alike to become creative in the ways they provide services. Towns and cities, in particular, have had to figure out how to continue to facilitate municipal business, all the while maintaining efficiency and transparency.

June marks a busy time in the life of many towns, particularly those who run fiscal years. Year-end budgets are compiled, tax bills are prepared, annual reports are printed, elections are facilitated, and town meetings are hosted.

Winterport's municipal election has traditionally been held on the second Tuesday in June, with the annual town meeting on the Thursday immediately following the election. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the timeline of the entire process. Voters will make their way--6 feet apart--into the voting booths on July 14, and assemble for town meeting that next Thursday, July 16.

Discussions have been held among council members recently pertaining to how staff will hold a town meeting while complying with the governor's various mandates. As it currently stands, there can be no more than 50 people in a gathering, and individuals are expected to socially distance themselves 6 feet from other people.

In an effort to reduce voter turnout, Councilors discussed the notion of leaving certain articles, that could be considered controversial, off the warrant. Items such as selling a piece of property on Airport Road across from the Winterport Dragway, and a $75,000 fund request from the Winterport Ambulance Service, to name a few.

Also discussed was the option of hosting the town meeting indoors, but with outdoor overflow. Such an idea was defeated, given the uncertainty in the weather. A town meeting via Zoom, a video-conferencing platform, was considered, but not allowed according to state guidelines.

In the end, the council agreed to hold the town meeting in the Wagner Middle School gymnasium, and plans to provide an additional overflow room should the number of attendees surpass 50.

Rioux chooses not to seek reelection

After a combined six years as a municipal official for the town of Winterport, Councilor Peter Rioux has chosen not to seek reelection. Rioux, a local business owner, was first elected to the Town Council in 2012.

Rioux stated that he joined the council because he wanted to play a role in local government. "I ran (for Town Council) to participate in town business," he said, "I wanted to make sure that the money was being spent wisely."

There were several large projects tackled by the town during Rioux's time as a councilor. Projects such as the completion of a new Town Office and Fire Station in 2017, deciding to stay with PERC for the town's solid waste in 2018, as well as the hiring of Town Manager Michael Crooker, after the retirement of former longtime Town Manager Phillip Pitula in 2019.

When asked what he plans to do with his free time, Rioux said, "I plan on putting more time into my business. I'll still be attending the Town Council meetings, I'll just be sitting in the public section now."

 

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