News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 19, 2020
Castine closes town hall, library

Castine closes town hall

From left, selectmen Gordon MacArthur and Chairman Colin Powell review Castine’s statement regarding emergency preparedness for COVID-19, which outlines additional screening measures for emergency personnel responding to cases exhibiting coronavirus symptoms.

Photo by Eli Forman Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Eli Forman

In an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the event that it reaches Castine, the board of selectmen voted on March 16 to close Emmerson Hall and Witherle Memorial Library to the public.

According to the protocol discussed by the select board, all town hall business will be conducted online or by phone, with staff remaining on-site to assist the public by phone. Witherle Memorial Library will also continue to serve patrons online and by phone, with drop off services available to minimize public contact.

“There’s a surprising number of things that can be done online that people don’t know about, such as vehicle registration,” said Selectman Colin Powell.

“We can help step by step in the process,” said Town Clerk Susan Macomber.

Town manager Shawn Blodgett also noted that the Castine Fire and Rescue Department has developed increased screening protocols based on guidelines from the Maine State Emergency Medical Service, to effectively respond to COVID-19 should cases arise in Castine. He additionally stated that the Fire and Rescue Department has conducted inventories and has determined that enough response equipment, including personal protection equipment, is on hand if needed.

“We should be in good stead unless we have a run…of calls,” said Blodgett.

In other business, selectmen approved a recommendation from the planning board to include a revision to Castine’s sign ordinance to appear on the warrant at Town Meeting.

The revision allows businesses to display portable signs in front of their property, as long as they do not disrupt or obstruct the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic in any way, are not permanently affixed, and are removed when the business is closed.

The verbiage was discussed with the Castine merchants association which endorsed the revision.

Castine has also been awarded several Maine 200 grants for a total of $3,000. A $2,500 grant will go to celebrations in town while an additional $500 will be given to the library to support the acquisition of Bicentennial inspired books and children’s programs.