News Feature

Castine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 19, 2014
Castine Selectmen allow historical preservation exemption for UUCC sign

by Anne Berleant

Selectmen followed the lead of the historical preservation commission and, on June 16, unanimously approved a request to place an historical sign that does not conform to the historical preservation ordinance.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Castine asked that the sign be allowed outside the parish house, which faces the town common. The sign is a reproduction of an historical sign marking the 1790 meeting house as the oldest meeting house in eastern Maine and the early site of town meetings and many judicial proceedings.

Selectmen have the authority to exempt historical signs from the historical preservation ordinance, and historical preservation commission chairman Jimmy Goodson said the commission supported the UUCC’s request.

“This is a perfect example” of the exception allowed by the ordinance,” said Unger, noting that the UUCC “structure as a whole remains on land that is owned by the town.”

The large wooden sign, formerly hanging inside the parish house, will face the town common on the wall to the right of the parish house.

Municipal officials appointed in Castine

In an annual event necessitated by state law, selectmen named those who will fill town offices for the 2014-15 year.

“They are the same folks, with one exception, who’ve served in these positions for a number of years,” said Town Manager Dale Abernethy. “They’re doing a good job.”

Jimmy Goodson, who will step into the role of town manager on July 1, will act as code enforcement officer. Abernethy has filled that role since Drew Marks resigned earlier this spring.

Two municipal positions remain vacant, that of shellfish warden and tree warden.

“I don’t know if we need a shellfish warden,” Abernethy said. “Drew [Marks] was certified…so we appointed him on the offchance we passed a [shellfish] ordinance.”

“We do need a tree warden,” he added.

Susan Macomber, reappointed as town clerk and register of voters, “has the longest title of any municipal official,” Chairman David Unger noted. Macomber also acts as notary public and is deputy to the three positions Karen Motycka holds—financial officer, treasurer and tax collector.

Selectman Peter Vogell holds the office of Local Plumbing Inspector, town employee Henry Erhardt is Animal Control Officer, Randy Stearns is Fire Chief, Anne Romans is Library Director and Ingrid Scott is Health Officer. Selectmen unanimously approved all appointments.

Special town meeting record?

In a special town meeting called to transfer school and library funds, three articles were read, motions made and seconded, and the articles unanimously approved in about five minutes—including the time it took to vote in Robin Mass as moderator and read the usual town meeting proclamations. None of the articles prompted questions or discussion. As a result, $8,000 was transferred from the school’s system administration services to student transportation for 2013-14; $15,000 was moved from the school’s special education reserve account for a “known special education expense” in 2014-15; and $1,000 moved from the Witherle Library Investment Fund to the Library Administration Account for 2013-14.

The 2013-14 fiscal year ends on June 30 and, for that reason, a selectmen’s meeting is scheduled the same day to close the fiscal year. This is also the final selectmen’s meeting for which Abernethy will serve as town manager.

While Abernethy “has made it very clear” that he doesn’t want any celebration marking the end of his 10-year tenure as town manager, Unger said, “If you’ve always wanted to say something to Dale, [the June 30 meeting] is your last chance.”

In other business, School Board Chairman Kathryn MacArthur requested selectmen approve the use of a pesticide other than what is allowed by town policy. The site is the school playground. The pest is red ants.

MacArthur described the problem as “pervasive” for several years, with allowed natural methods having no discernible results. The ants “are biting our students,” she said, with some having an allergic reaction, and more “afraid to go out for recess.”

Karen Motycka noted a similar problem on the Castine Health Center grounds, with similar results from attempts at eradication through natural methods.

“There comes a point where what are you going to do?” she asked.

The selectmen unanimously voted to let the school board use a pesticide of its own choosing.

Finally, Castine will receive a $500 share of a $10,000 grant to assist low income residents with heating and electricity costs. The grant is funded by an agreement that the county reached with commercial wind farm developer First Wind, which will contribute $200,000 each year to a community benefit fund that is controlled by the county. The organization OneHancock lobbied the Hancock County Commission for a portion of the 2014 funds to go to local fuel assistance programs, and its chairman, John Bradford of Orland, had appealed to Castine selectmen to formally support its effort.

However, the funds are required to go to a 401(c0(3) nonprofit agency, and the Ecumenical Fuel Outreach Fund of Castine, comprising the four town churches, is not itself a nonprofit agency.

“It never occurred to me that it would become so complex” after signing the letter, Abernethy said. However, he “was under the understanding” that depositing the funds in joint-church account “would be acceptable.”

Upcoming Selectmen Meetings
Monday, June 30, 1 p.m.,
Monday, July 7, 4 p.m.,
Monday, July 21, 4 p.m.
at Emerson Hall