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News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, November 23, 2011
AT&T cell-phone tower is on, Moose Island work to begin

Cell Tower Archive
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by Alice Wilkinson

Some residents who have been chafing at the bit to use their cell-phones on the Island got some good news at the November 14 Stonington Selectmen’s meeting—the AT&T cell-phone tower is finally working. However, the tower does not work for all phones, so some people are still going to be waiting. See related story in this issue.

Much of the rest of the meeting consisted of tying up loose ends.

In a follow-up to a previous discussion of what to do about tax-acquired properties, Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris asked the selectmen to approve hiring attorney Lee Bragg of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer and Nelson, of Augusta, to look over the properties’ paperwork. Among the questions are whether there are title work issues, if the properties need to be sold via sealed bids and what disclosures, if any, need to be made.

The selectmen agreed to spend $500 to have Bragg research the properties.

In a discussion of the Moose Island Causeway project, now expected to start on March 5, the selectmen awarded the stone-crushing contract to Skip Eaton. At Eaton’s suggestion, in lieu of a bond, which would cost approximately $2,000 the selectmen agreed with Billings-Pezaris and engineer Andrew McCullough that Eaton would be paid when the project is complete.

The new contract with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department—which includes a raise of $2 an hour, bringing the total to about $60,000 a year for 24-hour a week coverage—was set aside until the budgeting process for the town starts. The selectmen told Billings-Pezaris to indicate to the sheriff’s department that they were “processing” the contact.

Also delayed was a decision on the Harbor Committee’s request to raise the buyer-transport fee on the fish pier from $2,000 to $4,000 per truck. Selectman Evelyn Duncan wanted to know who would be affected by the new fees and the issue was tabled for clarification.

A request from Live Lobster, the Oceanville branch of Lobster Web, based in Massachusetts, asked for a letter of support in a grant application. Billings-Pezaris said she was going to meet with Frank Chiavalloti and Peter Portert of Live Lobster later in the week, and when the selectmen indicated interest in going with her, she pointed out that only two could go, “or there would be a quorum.” They were reluctant to support a grant application without knowing how the grant would benefit the citizens of Stonington. Board Chairman Chris Betts recused himself from the discussion because the company he works for does work for Live Lobster.

Praising her work and quickness to learn, Billings-Pezaris recommended that clerk Lucy Bradshaw be given a raise from her starting salary of $12.25 an hour. The selectmen authorized a raise to $13.25.

Selectman Donna Brewer reported that the new officers of the Clam Committee are Robert Ray, chairman, Herbie Carter, vice-chairman, and Kurt Ciomei, secretary/treasurer. She said the committee is looking for ways to generate funds. Because lobster is so plentiful right now, many clammers are instead working on boats, which has reduced the number of licenses sold. Billings-Pezaris said that it’s important to keep the clam committee going, since that’s how the clam warden is paid, and how the resource is preserved. She said that it’s important to “sustain whatever we have for fisheries.”

A water company meeting which preceded the selectmen’s meeting took up the continuing issue of the water line that runs through the basement of a nearby house to the gym building. The pipe is insulated, so it won’t freeze in the unheated house, but that’s not the main problem. Superintendent Roger Stone, with the assistance of the school superintendent’s office, has not been able to find any paper-work that authorized the location of the pipe. Water Company President Donna Brewer, assuming that the house will someday be sold, said it was important to find another route for the pipe, and suggested Stone “do some measuring.” The quantity of ledge in the area surrounding the house and gym building was discussed, and Stone said he would look into other places to put the line.

Stone also told the selectmen, who are the officers of the water company, that the pacing meter, which measures how much water is being pumped and how much chlorine needs to be added, based on that quantity, is not working. Stone has been controlling the amount of chlorine manually, since the part for the meter is no longer available, and a new meter costs $3,000.

Duncan said three people have called her to complain that the water tastes like chlorine. She is concerned the water may not be being chlorinated properly, and suggested that she go over the books to see if there is money available to purchase a new meter. She also said that a scrap dealer should be brought in to look at the generator, which weighs a couple of tons, and has not been used for years.