Newry board learns about road woes

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NEWRY — Selectmen learned Tuesday night that $1,000 a month, on average, is being spent to patch potholes on Sunday River Road.

Code Enforcement Officer Dave Bonney said the worst of it was between Foster’s historic farmstead and the Sunday River bridge.

That prompted Selectman Gary Wight to ask if the town should consider rebuilding that section, too, even though there is a project in the works to reconstruct a 1,200-foot stretch of Sunday River Road between Nordic Knoll Subdivision and the Letter S swimming hole.

“It’s not going to get any better, but I don’t know how much they want to spend with Letter S, too,” Wight said.

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The Letter S project has been estimated to cost between $300,000 to $320,000.

Continuing with his report, Bonney said road striping is completed and the Fire Department tried to clean out a problem culvert, but didn’t have much luck and will try working with a contractor.

He also gave selectmen Wight and Brooks Morton, and Administrator Loretta Powers a copy of the document he sent to the Maine Department of Transportation seeking reimbursement for paving a stretch of state-owned road at the Skiway Road intersection. Photographs of the work and site accompanied the document.

Wight noticed that it wasn’t signed by selectmen and said that should MDOT not reimburse Newry for the work, all three selectmen would sign the document and resubmit it.

Powers said she had received a $195 bill from contractor D.A. Wilson of Bethel to fix a sign with a bent post and was holding off on payment. She said she thought the price was “extreme for one sign” and is seeking more information.

Bonney said they replaced the post.

Morton wondered if Newry should hire a road commissioner to handle maintenance like that and patching pot holes and mowing roadsides rather than contracting it out.

“I mean if we’re spending the money anyways since we’re having trouble contracting out and getting people to respond,” Morton said.

“They can sweep driveways and do light maintenance. We might have better response (with a road commissioner) and we’d definitely have more control,” he said.

“Would we have enough to do here to keep someone busy all the time?” Wight asked. “That could be coming down the road if we get back to doing our own thing.”

Morton suggested looking into contracting with Bethel for a road commissioner.

“We’ve got to come up with a more reliable option than what we have been doing,” he said. “Food for thought.”

In other municipal news, Bonney updated the board on fencing for the town’s three cemeteries: Powers, Head of Tide and Sunday River Road. He said it would cost $21,500 for chain-link and granite-post fencing, not including freight costs. Selectmen asked him to also check with local fence contractors.

Powers passed around a document from Wilton selectmen, saying they had signed a resolution against Question 1, which seeks to ban bear hunting with bait, traps and dogs. Wight and Morton looked at the document, which Morton said was a Sun Journal article.

Powers also said she and office staff have been receiving scores of phone calls from people in California and across the country, all wanting to reserve time slots for use of The Artist’s Covered Bridge over Sunday River. It’s a popular venue for weddings.

“They’re calling for next year already,” she said.

Other than the state, there’s no one in charge of the bridge, which is a public place, she said. Additionally, a caterer wants to set up there to make money, she said. The Newry staff has also been getting complaints.

“Last Saturday or the Saturday before, there was three weddings there,” Powers said. “It’s not our job to monitor it, but if it keeps up, they’re going to shut the bridge down and nobody will use it.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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