Junkyard owner found guilty, fined

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TURNER – A Turner junkyard operator has been issued a cease and desist order, fined $85,900 in penalties to the town, and ordered to pay $3,548.91 for the town’s attorney fees.

William C. Whitman of 388 Upper St. was found guilty of operating an automobile graveyard and a junkyard in Androscoggin County Superior Court on March 31. The court found that Whitman had been operating the yard in violation of town ordinances for more than 850 days and had repeatedly resisted orders to clean up his property.

The Board of Selectmen learned of the court’s decision from Town Manager James Catlin at the regular meeting Monday evening. The court indicated that Whitman would probably appeal the decision. Whitman’s property has been a key target of the board for more than two years, and selectmen last night expressed optimism that the court decision might convince others cited for junkyard operations to clean up before a recently established July 3 deadline.

In their final meeting before Saturday’s town meeting, selectmen heard many questions and concerns from members of the Leavitt Institute Building Board of Directors regarding the town’s newly established relationship with the recently formed Turner Center for the Arts, located on the first two floors of that building.

Beatrice Gilbert, current secretary and past president of the LIB board, said she and other members are concerned that taxpayer money might become involved in supporting what has been established as an entity separate from the town. Selectmen assured the group that all matters pertaining to the town’s financial and other relations with the art center will be made perfectly clear in bylaws that will be established after Saturday’s town meeting.

An article in the meeting warrant asks voters to establish a Turner Center Arts Board of Directors, and to establish a proprietary fund for the Turner Center for the Arts. If the article is approved, according to Catlin, the bylaws written for its operation will make clear the center’s financial obligations to the institute directors and free taxpayers from any obligation to the center. All concerned with the discussion agreed the subject will get a full airing at town meeting.

A public hearing on the town’s $100,000 Community Development Block Grant application for handicapped accessibility improvements and additions to the Boofy Quimby Memorial Center drew no comment. Catlin was given permission to issue requests for proposals to architects for the work, which includes 11 bathrooms, a new entrance, and a 30-by-44-foot addition. A special town meeting has appropriated $84,000 from surplus to go with the grant and construction of the project under way this year.

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