Harrison eyes new seal for town

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HARRISON — A variation on a design originally created to celebrate Harrison’s Bicentennial in 2005 may become the town’s first official seal if voters approve it in June.

Meeting Tuesday night, Harrison selectmen approved a number of items besides the proposed town seal, including an informal process to negotiate a new cable television contract with Time Warner, a grant policy, and a liquor license for Deertrees Theater.

The proposed town seal is the work of summer resident Rick Tenney, who offered a choice between a round and oval design. All five selectmen and Town Manager Brad Plante preferred the oval design.

Selectman Lisa Villa noted that this shape will fit more easily onto the town’s new sign, now in the planning stage. Matthew Frank, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, noted that taxpayer money will not be used to pay for the sign. Frank has offered to pay for the variable message sign, with his brother, in honor of their late mother, Eleanor Frank.

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In negotiating a new contract with Time Warner, selectmen decided to go along with Plante’s recommendation to go the informal route.

“I’ve been through this three times,” Plante announced – twice as a selectman and once as a town administrator. Although the current 13-year contract doesn’t end until September 2012, Plante said the negotiations take a long time. There is “not a lot of leeway” in the formal process, he said, which he described as “very strict, very controlled.”

“I’ve seen the formal process deteriorate to the point where attorneys are jumping over the table at each other,” he said.

Plante recommended that the board look at the suggested cable TV contract developed by the Maine Municipal Association.

Several ideas were tossed around, including getting together for a strategy session before meeting with the company. One idea floated was a shorter contract period. Plante said Time Warner wants 15 years. The strategy group could also look at the contracts other towns have to prepare, he said.

Asked how much the town now gets in fees from the company, Plante said it’s around $13,000. Those fees will be negotiable, as well as the extension of service to areas that don’t have cable.

“They want $600 to come up my driveway,” Selectman Bill Goodwin said.

To ensure the public weighs in on the new deal, Plante recommended having two hearings. “I can guarantee that you’ll have a room full of people,” he said. It is expected that the hearings will be scheduled sometime after the June town meeting.

The newly approved grant policy provides guidelines for applying for grants and accepting grant money. One of the provisions is that voters must approve grant applications that require matching funds from the town

John Wentworth, the town’s code enforcement officer, did not attend the meeting because his daughter, Sarah Wentworth, 30, is in a Lewiston hospital after being critically injured in an accident over the weekend.

In other action selectmen:

• Listened to a presentation by Neal Allen, director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, on a proposed Lakes Region planning process

• Agreed to have Plante look into concerns raised by some members of the town crew about early morning work

• Approved the release of two quitclaim deeds for Jeffrey Wilson

• Scheduled budget meetings for April 14, 21 and 28 at 7 p.m.

The town office will be closed Monday, April 19, for Patriot’s Day.

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