Web exclusive, March 9, 2017
Brooksville voters OK all but one article
Hannah Peasley was crowned Miss Brooksville Tuesday night having been chosen during balloting on Monday during the town’s municipal elections. Hannah, the daughter of Frank and Tonyia Peasley and a senior at George Stevens Academy, will represent the town at events this year marking Brooksville’s 200th birthday.
by Rich Hewitt
With just a couple of glitches resulting from printing problems with the warrant, Brooksville voters worked their way smoothly through the town meeting articles Tuesday night.
They rejected just one of the 71 articles on the warrant. Following the lead of Sedgwick voters, they voted down a plan to harvest and sell wood from the jointly owned public access property at Walker Pond in Sedgwick. Sedgwick voters had voted down the article at their town meeting on Saturday.
Selectman John Gray explained that the policy of the two towns has been to agree on projects at the town landing.
“Sedgwick voted not to do it,” he said. “We don’t do anything if one of the towns doesn’t sign on.”
He suggested Brooksville voters could vote for the project if they wanted to register their support, but reaffirmed that no cutting would take place.
The article indicated that any income from the sale of the wood would be used to help maintain the property, but Selectman Hal Snow said there wasn’t likely to be any income due to the decline in pulp prices. Voters heeded the selectmen’s advice and voted the article down.
In a related item, voters approved $20,000 for operations at the Walker Pond town landing. That amount is $5,000 more than in the past, and Gray said the two towns planned to pave a steep portion of the road down to the landing in an effort to prevent erosion and constant grading.
“We’re not going to do the whole road,” he said. “We just want to get started on the worst part.”
When all was said and done, voters passed the proposed municipal budget of roughly $893,000, a decrease of about $40,000 from the previous year.
The $1.8 million school budget passed with no debate and little dissension. Superintendent Mark Hurvitt said that the total budget of $1,878,395 represented an increase of $35,223 or 1.91 percent.
There was little new in the budget, which Hurvitt described as a “maintenance” budget. The budget does include $15,500 for a new roof on the gymnasium, he said. That project will go out to bid in early summer with the work to take place in July and August.
The budget also anticipates a decrease in state subsidy, Hurvitt said. The school department received $39,408 toward the current school budget. The new budget includes just $25,000, a figure that could change as state Legislators approve a final state budget.
Hurvitt also announced that the school board on Monday had voted 5-0 to name Cammie Lepper as the new teaching principal at the elementary school. She has been serving as interim teaching principal.
Voters authorized the selectmen to continue to work with abutting landowners to find a way to widen and/or relocate the South Wharf Road. According to Selectman Snow, the project could give the town a parking area at that site as well as a safe turn-around area.
Selectman Gray said selectmen have been talking with property owners about moving the road away from the homes on the existing road. He said one option would be to move the road to the south side of existing trees along the road.
“We still need to negotiate with the property owners,” he said. “We wanted to know if people were interested in pursuing the idea.”
Snow said they were at a point where, if they did more, it was going to cost money. The selectmen stressed, however, that any plan that developed from the discussions would be presented to voters at a special town meeting, before any work was done.
Voters also approved $1,000 for the Brooksville Historical Society. This is the first time in a number of years that the society has requested town funds. Earl Clifford Jr., BHS vice president, explained that the society has poured a new foundation and plans to move the society building onto it soon. The relocated structure will have heat and electricity, which will allow the society to better store and preserve historical records and artifacts, Clifford said. The town funds will help cover the cost of heating and electricity, he said.
The only dissension at the town meeting came during discussion of the request from the Washington Hancock Community Agency, which, at $3,842, was more than triple the request from the current budget. The town’s budget and advisory committee had recommended $1,000, which was the 2016 request. Members noted at the meeting that recommendation came because the agency had indicated they had changed the method by which they calculated requests. The committee members wanted more information about how those calculations were done. There was no one from the agency present to answer questions.
That rankled some residents who suggested that anyone asking for such a large increase ought to be there to explain it. Gray, who said he served on the board of Friendship Cottage, one of WHCA’s projects, said the agency helps a lot of people through that program and “that’s only a small part of what they do.”
Despite the questions, voters approved the funds for WHCA.
In a split vote on Monday, voters approved a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, stores and social clubs. The vote was 152-117. The moratorium was effective immediately upon adoption and will last for six month.
Most town officials ran unopposed in municipal elections. In the contested races, incumbent road commissioner Mark Blake was reelected to the post by a vote of 228-59 over challenger Matt Down; and Eliot Coleman won a seat on the school board, defeating incumbent Brad Jones by a 159-122 margin.