Rumford board OKs hiring police detective

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RUMFORD — Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday night to rehire a former Rumford police officer to fill a detective position.

The opening was created in the spring when the board added $50,000 to the police budget. Voters approved it at town meeting in June.

Peter Casey, a Marine Corps reservist, may start the job as early as the first week in November, police Chief Stacy Carter said Friday.

The second detective slot was filled by Sgt. James Bernard until July 2013, when town meeting voters in June approved a reduced Police Department budget that didn’t include pay for a second detective. Bernard returned to patrol work.

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During budget work earlier this year, Carter kept that in mind and presented his budget to selectmen, who rejected by a vote of 1-3 and told him to add $50,000 to bring back a second detective. That was approved 3-1 with Selectman Frank DiConzo the lone dissenter in both votes.

Carter told selectmen Thursday night that Casey is an 11-year police veteran.

Selectman Brad Adley said he personally knows Casey and believes he will do a good job as detective.

“This boy is a win for us,” Adley said.

The board approved it with Adley and Selectmen Greg Buccina and Jeff Sterling voting affirmatively and DiConzo and Selectman Mark Belanger dissenting.

In other business, the board told Stephen Shearer to return to the next selectmen meeting when the board will likely approve an agreement so he can get his tax-acquired property at 16 Free St. back.

Shearer, who runs an excavation business and works at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, apologized for being unable to continue paying back taxes on the property due to illness. However, he said he could now pay $500 a month toward the debt.

He owned it until the end of February, when the town took it over. A porch column rotted out and fell into the street, bringing the property to the attention of selectmen. The town crew removed the porch, Town Manager John Madigan said.

Buccina asked Shearer what he will change if he gets the property back. Shearer said he will put new siding on it and maintain the yard. He said he’s owned it for 18 years and tried to rent it out, but couldn’t make any money doing so and had several problems with Section 8-qualified tenants. Now he wants to make it a single-family home and live there.

“It’s a fairly nice house, and the living room is really nice,” Shearer said.

Madigan said Shearer has a record of taking care of back taxes.

“It shouldn’t take more than a year for him to pay the back taxes,” he said. “You could enter into an agreement with him.”

Buccina said he wants town attorney Jennifer Kreckel, who is also on the Tax-Acquired Ad Hoc Committee, to draft an agreement for the board’s next meeting.

“One of the strong points of the (tax-acquired committee policy) is to offer buildings back to their owners and (Shearer) has shown several times that he still wants to own the property,” Madigan said.

As for other tax-acquired buildings, Madigan said 139 Penobscot St., 222 Pine St. and 429 Waldo St. are OK to demolish now after hazardous materials in or on the buildings have been removed.

He said there is money remaining in the demolition fund to do one, possibly two unless a more cost effective way is found to do all three this fall.

Madigan said it was estimated to cost $35,000 for the town crew to demolish the three-story buildings at 426 and 428 Waldo St., remove the tons of debris, and grade and restore the lots. The actual cost was $30,808.

He said with the money left, they can do 429 Waldo St. and either the Penobscot Street building or Pine Street building.

Adley suggested using one of the Solid Waste Board’s steel tractor-trailers and removing its roof so a loader operator could dump material into it to reduce trucking costs, since selectmen will be approving more demolition work.

Madigan said it is a good idea and he would broach it at the next Solid Waste Board meeting.

The board also tabled a request from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles to add three more parking spaces along Cumberland Street for parallel-parking testing.

Selectmen want clarifying information because they previously approved adding three parking spaces and do not want to prevent residents and clients visiting area businesses from parking along the street.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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