FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen amended the town’s policy on community announcement space Tuesday to make it available for nonprofit and “non-commercial organizations holding charitable” events of broad community interest.
Adopted in 2003, the policy covers three locations for public messages announcing community events.
A new sign donated by Richard Bjorn has been installed at 140 Farmington Falls Road to replace the pole banner sign formerly used at what is now Bjorn Park.
The sign, next to Pro Service, is available for announcements, along with spaces on the traffic island bordered by Water Street, Bridge Street and Wilton Road and at Philbrick Park in Farmington Falls.
According to the amended sections of the policy, “announcements will be limited to the name of the organization hosting the event, the name of the event, the location of the event and date and time of the event.”
Asked after the meeting about the wording of “charitable” events, Town Manager Richard Davis said he checked with attorney Frank Underkuffler on the use of the term “charitable.” Underkuffler said it is a legal term that is broadly defined to include such events as Chester Greenwood Day.
The town will continue to allow those types of announcements, as it always has, Davis said.
Use of the space must be reserved in advance with town secretary Linda Grant. Space is available on a first come, first served basis.
“There are three lines available on each of the message boards, which hold approximately 25 letters per line,” according to the policy.
The policy was reviewed and adjusted by the town attorney to ensure it did not infringe on any constitutional issues. The attorney checked with 35 towns and only two, including Farmington, have such a policy, Davis said.
In other business, the board approved a paid holiday 0n Friday, Dec. 26, for town staff.
The Town Office will be closed that day because of a lack of staff, Davis said.
When some selectmen questioned cost, Davis said the 8-hour shift is covered through the regular payroll budget. The town just wouldn’t receive the work from them.
But for those who have to work, such as police officers, to be fair, holiday pay should be paid, he said.
This would also apply to employees in the Public Works Department if they have to work that day, he said.
An estimated cost was unavailable.
Some board members considered it a measure of goodwill toward town employees.
Chairman Ryan Morgan voted no because he said he thought other small businesses require employees to work that day or take it as a vacation day.