Mechanic Falls Council gets update on pellet heating problems

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MECHANIC FALLS — Town Manager John Hawley told Council members Monday that he has hopes that problems with the heating system serving the municipal building complex are under control.

“We had folk from Northline here today, working on the pellet-delivery system,” Hawley said, “It seems to be flowing smoother.”

Hawley reported that the town has used a lot of oil this year, the first full season the town’s wood-pellet boiler has been in operation, because the delivery system has proven unreliable and frequently has shut down, causing the system to switch over to burning oil as a back-up.

“We’d budgeted for wood, not oil, and on a cold weekend we can burn 500 gallons of oil. We have some pretty hefty bills to pay Bryant Energy,” Hawley said.

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Hawley also noted that he wasn’t too happy to have to pay someone overtime just to babysit the system.

The problem seemed to be with the vacuum system that draws pellets into the burner, and that, according to Hawley, appears to have been corrected.

The system, in operation since late winter/early spring of last year, cost about $200,000 — half of which was paid for through a grant.

Hawley also reported that Code Enforcement Officer Nick Richard is working with town attorney Jack Conway on a problem with illegal dumping off Riverside Drive.

Following up a tip from an area resident, who observed the action, town officials now estimate that four or five pickup truck loads of household trash have been dumped over the river bank.

Hawley said that Conway intends to get a judge’s order allowing the town to hire a contractor to remove the material and haul it to Mid Maine Waste Action Corp., with the town placing a lien on the property in order to recover expenses.

Hawley hopes this can be accomplished before spring thaw, before such time as much of the material might be found floating down river and through town.

The Council also heard RSU 16 committee members Jennifer Boenig and Jessica Smith give an update on progress in hiring a new superintendent, and inviting council members to Wednesday’s public forum, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Elm Street School. The forum will seek residents’ ideas on where they would like to see their schools headed in the next five years.

In other business, the Council postponed a joint meeting with Poland’s Board of Selectmen, intended to discuss cooperative Public Works efforts, until Poland has replaced the three selectmen who were recently recalled; approved a fraud prevention policy; and named Bonnie Payette, a member of the town Budget Committee, as the town’s representative to assist RSU 16 in the preparing the district’s 2013-14 budget.

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