Eustis Town Meeting voters well-informed

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EUSTIS — Most of the 33 articles on the Eustis Town Warrant passed with ease in a little under an hour and a half on Saturday morning. Only one article saw a bit of debate. Article 23 asked if the selectmen, at their discretion, could enter into a three-year snowplowing contract.

Some argued that a three-year contract was too long, and they’d be stuck in a long-term jam if they were not satisfied with a contractor’s performance.

Currently, Absolute Services of Coplin Plantation holds the contract.

“Some contractors need the three-year contract to recoup some of their costs for investments they need to make to properly maintain the roads,” First Selectman Jay Wyman said. He said they could break away from any contract if performance standards were not met.

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Meeting moderator Peter Farnsworth thought the show of hands was too close and asked the residents to stand to cast their votes. The article passed 20-13 to allow three-year contracts.

Before the 139th town meeting started, wind power representative Greg Shelton of TransCanada spoke to a crowd of nearly 45 residents. Last year, TransCanada commissioned the first phase of operation with half of the approved turbines installed in Kibby Township.

Shelton announced the first $18,000 delivery of its annual community benefit payment to Eustis relating to the Kibby Wind Power Project. The company had previously pledged a donation of $1,000 per megawatt produced for Eustis, the nearest local community.

Based on the wind developer’s pledge, the approved 44-turbine, 132-megawatt wind farm could, in theory, mean an annual donation of $132,000 if the turbines meet the anticipated rated capacity.

Shelton said if additional turbines were commissioned outside their current permit, Eustis would see the financial benefit. “It can be used in any fashion the town would like,” Shelton said.

Wyman told the crowd that the money received now and in the future would go directly in the General Fund to offset taxes. This news triggered a round of applause.

Representative Tom Saviello of Wilton presented Selectman John Caldwell with a Governor’s Certificate of Appreciation for his military duty in the Korean War.

His brother, Jesse Caldwell, was honored with two Silver Stars and two certificates in recognition of his duties in World War II. His son, Ralph Caldwell, was present to accept the honor for his father, who was a POW during the war and received a Purple Heart.

On elections held the previous night, Selectman Caldwell was uncontested and held his seat for an additional three years. Newcomer Sarah Struck won a spot on the RSU 58 school board, defeating incumbent Sarah Woods, 71-5.

There were no papers taken out for three open seats on the town Planning Board. After ballots were collected, Woods was written in by five voters, Deb Buschmann saw four write-in votes and Guy Woods, Debra Plouffe and Carl Hill had three each.

Wyman said that selectmen would determine who would hold new seats on the board from the names received.

Articles moved quickly on the municipal budget, which was down $16,000 from the previous year.

Questions were raised about the winter roads account, which was down as a result of a new one-year contract. The current plowing contract for $86,700 was added to costs associated with the town exceeding its budget in the previous year. The proposed $120,000 winter roads account was down $30,000 from the previous year.

“I think things went very well this morning,” Wyman said after the meeting. “People are well-informed, which always make the meeting go smoothly.”

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