Peru board OKs ordinance, orders plow truck

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PERU — Selectmen on Monday approved an amended General Assistance Ordinance, decided to order a new plow truck and equipment, and held a hearing on turning the former Peru Elementary School back to town control.

Selectman Jim Pulsifer said during the General Assistance Ordinance hearing that it was necessary to amend the law to comply with state guidelines. There was no opposition to the changes.

Town Clerk Vera Parent said the changes did not require voter approval.

During their regular meeting, selectmen heard from Road Commissioner Joe Roach that the shoulder work on Gammon Road is complete.

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Selectmen discussed the availability of a plow truck through the state for about $5,000 less than proposals received directly by the town. Roach pointed out that the state truck did not meet the town’s specifications, which were based on using it for multiple functions.

Selectmen decided to order an Ford F-550 truck from Ripley & Fletcher Ford of South Paris, with equipment from Viking Cives USA.

Roach agreed with selectmen that the town should consider purchasing equipment through the state where applicable.

Board secretary Angela Barkhouse told selectmen that Animal Control Officer Sue Milligan is applying for a Pet Smart grant to pay for spaying and neutering pets in the River Valley.

Following their meeting, selectmen held a public hearing on the proposal to have the former Peru Elementary School/Peru Community Center managed by the town instead of rented by The Friends of the Peru Elementary School.

The Friends of the Peru Elementary School requested an article on the Nov. 4 ballot. The article also asks for $10,000 to help maintain the building.

Three years ago, the town voted to rent the former school to The Friends of the Peru Elementary School for a minimal fee and to spend no more money on it. The group manages it and pays for its maintenance through fundraisers, grants, fees from occasional events held there and rent from a food pantry and a senior citizens group.

Resident Kevin Taylor questioned whether the Friends group has applied for grants to help cover expenses and pointed out that in 2011 voters decided not to provide funds for the building.

Nick Waugh said any funds would have to be voted on each year, just like other budget items. He said that while the Friends group will continue its efforts to improve the community center and to increase its use, the additional funds would allow improvements that would make the facility more attractive to potential renters.

Waugh listed some of the uses of the building, such as a food bank, three Girl Scouts troops and one Boy Scouts troop.

Anne Tripp said Mark Trip was renting the commercial kitchen to make gluten-free products, which he ships all over the country.

Planned modifications to the kitchen will lead to its use by other small businesses, Waugh said.

He said the Friends’ mission is to promote community. He said when the school closed, something went out of the community spirit and the group is trying to restore the spirit through the community center.

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