Rumford mud run bogs down

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RUMFORD – A mud run tentatively planned for next month on town-owned property located at the rear of the River Valley Crossing shopping center will not take place.

It may, however, still happen at another venue if approvals can be secured.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said at Thursday’s selectmen’s meeting that Jay Wise, owner of the shopping center, submitted a letter to the town denying permission for mud run vehicles and spectators to cross his property. The land is part of a skidder trail at the rear of the shopping complex. River Valley Crossing is on Route 2 about two miles west of town.

Tim Tyler, who had organized similar events along Route 2 in the past, had wanted to use a 400-foot strip of the cleared land for the event.

“There will be a lot of disappointed people,” said Tyler. “There are kids out there who are working on their vehicles for the mud run.”

Tyler said at an earlier meeting that much of the proceeds would go toward Moontide Water Festival events. Festival committee president Joseph Roberts said on Wednesday that a lack of funds and volunteers has caused the longtime festival to be canceled for this year.

Selectmen expressed concerns during previous meetings that the noise and gasoline fumes from mud run vehicles could drift into a nearby nursing home. They also feared liability issues for the town and were concerned that such use of town-owned property may set a precedent.

Eldridge suggested that Tyler talk with River Valley Growth Council Director Rosie Bradley about finding an alternative site. One such place, board members suggested, is in Mexico along the south side of Route 2 on property owned by Andy Dupuis.

Also on Thursday, selectmen heard a report from SAD 43 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin that Rumford’s share of school taxes will likely be reduced about $1 million this year if school directors and voters approve the district’s 2006-07 proposed operating budget.

Hodgkin said that although the proposed $14.3 million budget is 2.6 percent higher than last year’s adopted budget, increases in state aid to education have offset hikes. He said the cost of running the district is a nearly 50/50 split between state funds and local money.

Hodgkin plans to meet with selectmen in each of the district’s four towns to discuss the budget during the next few weeks.

The school board is expected to act on the proposed budget on Wednesday, April 12. Voters get their turn in June.

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