News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 6, 2022
Castine Select Board receives thanks and $11,000 donation

State Street sign

The new sign on State Street warning drivers of the presence of children from the “round school” in the background.

Photo by David Avery Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by David Avery

On Monday, January 3, town resident Bobby Vagt thanked the select board for erecting road signs near the Community Childhood Learning Center, or “round school,” to keep children safe from traffic.

Vagt had asked the board for such signs a few months ago. The signs warn drivers of the presence of children at play.

Board member Gordon MacArthur convened the meeting at 4 p.m. at Emerson Hall. Board members Colin Powell and Peter Vogell joined by remote connection as did about five community members. Five people were present in person as well.

Three warrants were approved by the board to pay for bills. A general fund warrant of approximately $85,000 was authorized, while two water-related warrants totaled approximately $25,000.

Town Manager Shawn Blodgett was not in attendance but submitted his report in writing. MacArthur read the report.

In it, Blodgett summarized the warnings of state public health officials: Maine is in tough shape with respect to COVID-19 spread. The Hancock County posititivy rate, the percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, was 14 percent as of December 29. Below 5 percent is desirable.

In addition, Blodgett reported on the new COVID-19 quarantine regulations. The new period of quarantine has been reduced to five days, followed by wearing a mask. The new guidance was issued because the latest research shows that transmission occurs early during an infection, within the first five days.

The town manager also reported on a new state law to investigate PFAs (polyfluoroalkyl substances), long-lived cancer causing chemicals present in the environment.

Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection now has the authority to test for and regulate the chemicals. No new rules are yet in place.

Among the law’s provisions is a surcharge on the disposal of sewage sludge at $10 per ton. Castine produces about 50 tons of sewage sludge each year, according to town Finance Officer Karen Motycka.

PFAs have been detected in deer meat in Maine. The PFAs have been traced to sewage sludge.

Other business

The Castine Fire Rescue Volunteer Association donated $11,902 in various equipment to the town, according to a letter sent to Fire Chief Randy Stearns and Blodgett. The equipment includes rescue saws, breathing apparatus, training materials and more.

Chair of the ad hoc sidewalk committee, Marc Pelletier, reported that the committee intends to send a letter to homeowners asking them to arrange to have snow removed from sidewalks adjacent to their property.

He also asked the select board for more information regarding fuel gas detectors, which are now required in Maine residences and buildings with gas appliances.

Peter Vogel responded that he bought some at Lowe’s for $60 each.

The next meeting of the select board will be Tuesday, January 18 at 4 p.m., due to the Monday Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The next Town and Gown meeting, with the Maine Maritime Academy representatives, is scheduled for January 19. It will be held if it is deemed necessary, according to MacArthur.