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Blue Hill Consolidated School band.
Ann Stadden and John Bannister.
Rep. Ralph Chapman.
Dr. Eckley Herrick.
Town Clerk Etta Perkins swears in those newly elected: from left, Sue Walsh, planning board, Duane Gray, selectman, road commissioner Billy Cousins and John Richardson, school board.
Blue Hill Consolidated School Principal Della Martin spoke on behalf of the school budget.
Superintendent Mark Hurvitt, far right, addresses selectmen. Behind from left, Selectmen Jim Schatz, Duane Gray and John Bannister.
DocumentsBlue Hill Election Results Blue Hill Election Results
by Faith DeAmbrose
With just under 100 residents in attendance, Blue Hill selectmen opened the business portion of town meeting April 7 with a series of stories in remembrance of long-time selectman Gordon Emerson, who died earlier in the year. Emerson served on the board from 1962 to 2003.
Getting down to business, voters approved $200,000 for a new, wider, more pedestrian-friendly bridge on High Street. The project to replace the 40-year-old bridge, explained Road Commissioner Billy Cousins and former Road Commissioner Mike Astbury, is long over due and, once complete, will make the road safer for foot traffic along the road between schools.
All in all, voters elected to spend approximately $1.9 million for municipal expenses
(up about 1.7 percent from the previous year), and $4.4 million (an under-2-percent increase) for education expenses.
With little hesitation, Eckley Herrick asked why, despite a largely snow-free winter, the winter roads budget was still almost fully expended. Selectman John Bannister said that plowing is a contracted service and, while the system “works reasonably well,” some years there is more snow, some years less. In both instances, the town pays the same amount.
Voters also accepted a grant of approximately $45,000 to be used for energy efficient projects in town. The bulk of the funds will be used for a new furnace at town hall, and there was some discussion about where else the funds would be used. Initially there was discussion about using some for lighting and exhaust upgrades at the fire station, but members of the department thought it would be unnecessary.
An article seeking to move funds from a reserve account to be spent in the coming year for law enforcement drew much discussion, without a great deal of change. Through a series of motions and amendments, voters sent a message to the board that they wanted to allow the money in the law enforcement reserve account to accumulate for future use. The selectmen said they heard what the voters were saying.
Another article engendering conversation had to do with the town’s bill for emergency dispatch services. Article 32 asked for instructions regarding payment of a $4,840 bill for the Hancock County Regional Communications Center. Speaking about the article, Fire Chief Denny Robertson urged voters to instruct the board to demand better accounting from the county commissioners before paying the bill, and not to do so until the town felt it was in their best interest. Robertson said that inequity exists in the dispatching service; not all towns pay for the service, and Blue Hill appears to pay disproportionally more than other towns. The selectmen said they would not make any moves that would jeopardize safety.
Many municipal articles were similar to previous years, and voters passed the budget nearly as presented. When it came to raising $2,000 for trimming trees, selectman Duane Gray asked voters to “vote down” the article, saying the local chapter of the Odd Fellows
(of which he is a member) had volunteered for the task as a community service and, therefore, no money would be needed for that budget line. The article passed with no funding.
After breaking for a lunch prepared by the Blue Hill Consolidated School seventh graders, approximately 40 people reconvened to pass a nearly $4 million school budget. Resident Rick Alexander moved to bundle all spending articles into one, reducing the number of votes needed to pass the budget from 76 to eight. The budget passed as presented with little discussion.
In voting that took place on Friday, April 6, voters resoundingly approved a resolution tied to the national “Move to Amend” campaign seeking to change the U.S. Constitution. The change would say that “money is not speech” and that “human beings, not corporations” are entitled to constitutional rights. In a second referendum question, voters approved fireworks as part of the town’s 250th anniversary of settlement celebration.
In a straw poll, the addition of a pre-K program was approved.