Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Meeting
February 20, 2020

Members Present: Rob Browne, Lauchlin Titus, and John Melrose

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Mike Poulin, Steve Polley & son, Sheriff Ken Mason and Lt. Chris Reed, Walker Thompson and several members of the fire department, Don Breton, Bob Williams, Police Chief Mark Brown, Gene Field, Tommy Richards, Jim Thomas, Cathy Coyne, and George Hamar (7:20)

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 6:28 p.m.

2. Minutes – Selectman Melrose stated that the person listed as unknown who attended the last meeting is known to him as Randall Berry. On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 2/11/20 meeting as written with this additional information included.

3. Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason explained that the mission for the State Police has changed. They have many specialty divisions which results in the State Police being short-handed for regular patrol work. He stated that the State Police have entered into agreements with other county sheriff departments in the State to increase sheriff deputy coverage and to reduce State Police coverage. Sheriff Mason indicated that the State Police has also communicated with him for the same purpose in Kennebec County. The current agreement is for the State Police and the Sheriff’s office to split coverage time, with each department covering two weeks on, two weeks off when patrolling the Town of Vassalboro. Sheriff Mason is proposing four new deputies in his department at a cost of $120K per deputy to cover the territory and to avoid burnout from overtime. He stated that the State Police doesn’t have enough people to go around and that they want to specialize on covering Rt. 95 and that’s it. Selectman Melrose asked what will happen in Vassalboro and if it will be an improvement, to which Sheriff Mason stated the townspeople will see more brown [uniforms] rather than State Police. Sheriff Mason repeatedly stated that he has to add more deputies. Lt. Chris Reed explained the plan for the scheduling of the new proposed staff which will include rotating deputies so they don’t get stagnant by working in the same zone all the time. The Board thanked Sheriff Mason and Lt. Reed for coming and updating the Board on the proposed changes.

4. Engineering proposals for Transfer Station layout design – Sabins began discussion by reminding the Board that this topic had been first approached last fall and one engineering firm had provided a proposal and price to conduct a study of the transfer station layout and to provide options for adding a new compactor. At that time, the Board had asked Sabins to obtain another price from another engineering firm for comparison. The work on obtaining a second price was delayed a few months due to other pressing projects. The second proposal arrived last week and is now the topic of discussion at this meeting. After brief discussion and review, and on a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by L. Titus, the Board voted unanimously to accept the proposal from Engineer A.E. Hodsdon of Waterville for $13,300. Selectman Browne expressed concern about the upcoming proposed town budget and stated he would like to know where the budget is headed before we commit to any large restructuring project at the Transfer Station.

5. Gray Road culvert engineering proposal – Selectman Melrose reported on research that he has performed recently concerning the large culvert that is proposed for the Gray Road and the large price tag accompanying it. He has spoken with Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Officials who are interested in the outcome of the project because, due to the proposed span of the culvert opening that will constitute a bridge, MDOT will have to maintain it after completion. J. Melrose stated he has also called John Maclaine of the DEP and he indicated to Melrose that the town has time to get a review done. He suggested that we invite the Environmental Division to come out to look at the project to determine the needed width of the culvert in relation to the bank-full width requirement. The MDOT has some concerns that towns receiving the culvert grants may build a project that is substandard and MDOT may not accept them. Jim Thomas, an engineer in the audience who wrote the successful Cross Hill Road culvert grant, explained that some products are inferior and should not be considered for these culvert projects. After discussion, the Board agreed by consensus to postpone any action on the engineering proposal at this time.

6. New Cruiser funding – Sabins had solicited proposals from three banking institutions to finance the cruiser for the price of $38K for three years. Sabins explained that the best option and her recommendation is the lease/purchase proposal from Androscoggin Bank at an interest rate of 2.95%. J. Melrose moved to accept the Manager’s recommendation to accept the Androscoggin Bank proposal. R. Browne suggested using surplus funds to purchase the vehicle up front, rather than financing for three years so we could use what would have been the annual loan payment toward some other expense in the upcoming budgets. J. Melrose stated that the article approved by the voters last year restricts us to this three-year financing plan. The motion was then seconded by R. Browne and voted unanimously by the Board. After months of waiting for the Town’s vehicle order to be filled, it is anticipated that the new cruiser will be delivered to the Ford dealership in the next few weeks.

7. Fire Chief Appointment – After several decades on the job, Fire Chief Eric Rowe made the decision to retire from his top spot. In the last week or so, the fire department members voted to select one of their own, Walker Thompson, as their new leader and Robert (Bob) Williams, also a long-time FD member, as the assistant chief. Walker and Bob attended the Selectmen’s meeting, along with many other members of the fire department to show support. Walker introduced himself and expressed his desire to serve as the new Fire Chief. Walker reported on the number of calls and mutual aid calls his department had responded to in the last year, and he informed the Board that 4 or 5 young men had joined the department in the last few months as new volunteers. Walker also reported on maintenance of the equipment and vehicles that has been performed, and work that still needed to be performed. When asked by Selectman Browne on his thoughts on the condition of the department, Walker responded that he thinks he has a good group and a good department, and that they are sitting in a good position. R. Browne stated that he is hoping the town can take some time off from buying more FD equipment as there are so many other capital expenses on the docket. Walker responded that the 40-year old fire truck from Fishkill needs work. At some point, a decision will need to be made whether it is worth investing more funds in an old truck. After discussion and on a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to recommend to the Town Manager to appoint Walker Thompson for the position of Fire Chief and Bob Williams as Assistant Fire Chief. Sabins then signed previously prepared appointment papers for both positions, and Town Clerk Cathy Coyne administered the oaths of office to both men at the meeting, with the audience able to witness the event. Congratulations were extended to both parties and photographs were taken as the oaths were being administered. Chairman Titus stated he was looking forward to improved communication with the Department. He indicated his disappointment that the long-time fire chief retired and the Board was not notified nor given any opportunity to recognize his years of service. FD Member Don Breton indicated that the department has not yet done anything to recognize former Chief Rowe’s retirement, but planned to do so in the future and that the Select Board would be notified.

8. Reportsa. Road Report - On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented. b. Investment Report - On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the report as presented.

9. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #46 and #47.

10. Other1. J. Melrose provided an update on the Solar RFP project. Three solar companies attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting and indicated a desire to prepare and submit proposals. The proposal deadline is March 9th. 2. Chairman Titus recognized the Boy Scout in attendance who was working on earning a badge and gave him a quick lesson about Vassalboro’s form of government.

11. Executive Session – on a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted at 7:45 p.m. to enter into an executive session pursuant to 1 MRSA Section 405(6)(c) for discussion on acquisition of real property. Chairman Titus declared the Board out of executive session at 7:50 p.m.

12. Budget work session and discussion ensued, with decisions and recommendations made as to amounts to bring forward to the Budget Committee.

13. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Select Board on 3/5/20 with the following amendments: The man named Jim Thomas listed in the “others present” attendance roster is incorrect. His name should have been listed as Jim Foster.