Oxford County faces loss of money for unorganized territories

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PARIS — The Maine House of Representatives has approved an amendment to a bill that would remove $100,000 from Oxford County’s unorganized territory budget to prevent a bridge from being built on a private road in Parkertown Township, county Administrator Scott Cole said.

However, Cole said a bridge was “never proposed in the unorganized territory budget. We had some people come from Aziscohos Lake last September asking for some help, and nobody here said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to them about the bridge. We said we’d look into it, but for some reason, that’s not good enough. The commissioners were asked to renounce their consideration of the bridge.”

Last year, Paul Hodsdon of Norway, president of the Aziscohos Lake Campers Association, told commissioners camp owners want the Aldrich Brook bridge on Lincoln Pond Road replaced so they can get to their lots without taking a 26-mile detour.

The association represents 61 camp owners, 38 of whom use Lincoln Pond Road, Hodsdon said in January. Owners have deeded access over 13 miles of the private paper company road, including the bridge, he said.

Hodsdon added that camp owners pay a total of about $71,000 in taxes annually to the county but get nothing in return.

The Aldrich Brook bridge washed out in May 2017 and was removed by the owner two months later.

Cole said that before the washout there was a culvert “but sometime around 2011 or 2012, Trout Unlimited made an effort to remove the culvert to allow better fish passage.”

He said an “undersized bridge” was installed but was inadequate.

“It only lasted for about three or four years, and then it became unsafe,” Cole said. “The bridge ended up being blocked and removed. Now the core issue is that there’s no bridge allowing the camp owners to get in and out. Instead, they have to go a roundabout way.”

It was unclear Monday what the status of the legislative bill, LD 1862, is.

In other business at last week’s commission meeting, Oxford County Sheriff James Theriault said he’s had inquiries from school districts about hiring school resource officers.

Cole said Theriault told commissioners there have been many “emerging grant opportunities” following the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The commissioners agreed to allow Theriault to explore the concept of applying for grants for school resource officers.

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The Aldrich Brook bridge on Lincoln Pond Road in Parkertown Township washed out last year and has not been replaced. (Submitted photo)

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