Board approves moving forward with NOAA grant

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OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed Thursday night to move forward with a pre-application for a NOAA fisheries community-based restoration grant and to a $30,000 match.

The grant is intended to support habitat-restoration projects that would help recover threatened and endangered species of fish, and help rebuild fish stocks in the Little Androscoggin River, which could include building fish ladders.

Steve Heinz of Trout Unlimited presented information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) grant program, saying the river could support the reemergence of certain species, including Atlantic salmon, which were once abundant in the Little Androscoggin.

NOAA is anticipating up to $6 million will be available in fiscal 2019 to support selected awards. Cost-sharing is not mandatory, but typically provides more incentive to the agency to award a grant, according to Heinz.

“There’s no fish passage” he said of the river. “Oxford has a golden opportunity. The timing is right.”

Heinz said he would provide in-kind services in the form of grant writing with Town Manager Butch Asselin.

The pre-application is due in early January. If the town is asked to proceed to a full application, it will be due in April.

Selectmen also approved four abatements totaling more than $2,000 to correct problems, including an error in ownership and acreage of two lots that were split, assessing an outbuilding to the incorrect lot and two requests for abatements on businesses that had closed prior to the April 1 cutoff.

The approval was given unanimously, but not without questions from the board about the number of abatement requests. Asselin said the assessor only works two days a month and is as thorough as possible.

Selectman Scott Hunter questioned the possibility of hiring a police officer to fill a vacancy on the Oxford Police Department who is currently working in another department and looking to join the Oxford department.

The unidentified deputy sheriff is an Oxford resident with four years of experience. Because the candidate has been trained at the police academy, the town would only have to pay $6,000 to the deputy’s current employer to cover prorated costs of academy training.

Asselin said $6,000 is available in the budget if the deputy is hired.

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Floyd Thayer, chairman of the Oxford Board of Selectmen, reviews information Thursday night about a NOAA grant designed to restore endangered fish to the Little Androscoggin River. (Leslie H. Dixon/Advertiser Democrat)

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