Selectmen support fair trade resolution, approve funding fire station repair

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MEXICO — Selectmen on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution opposed to unfair trade practices and calling for tariffs to be placed on Chinese and Indonesian coated paper.

The resolution was presented by Verso Paper employee Daniel Dawson, who is on leave to work for the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which is an organization that advocates equitable trade policies.

“We want to play on a level field. We do safety, environmental projects. They don’t have those regulations. We pay benefits. If they get hurt, they get replaced,” he said.

He said paper manufacturing is subsidized by China and Indonesia, and sometimes the paper sent to the United States is sold more cheaply in this country.

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Selectman George Byam, just prior to voting for the resolution, commented that the quicker the better to get the resolution in place nationwide.

Dawson said one of the targets for Chinese paper was NewPage Corp., which has a mill in Rumford. He is bringing his message and resolution to other towns in the area, including Rumford and Dixfield, as well as to towns in Somerset County where he said another paper mill is located that is targeted by Chinese and Indonesian imports.

In other matters on Wednesday, selectmen agreed to take up to $30,000 from the Mexico Fire Department reserve account to pay for repairs to the foundation of the fire station.

That money was supposed to be part of a capital account for the purchase of a new fire engine in a couple of years. Town Manager John Madigan said during the development of the next few municipal budgets, an increased amount of funding will be built into those budgets so that the department can buy the new fire engine as scheduled.

At the board’s previous meeting, Madigan was directed to look into the possibility of seeking a grant to construct a new station from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He told board members that the agency does not generally provide funds for new fire stations, but might be able to provide money for dismantling the current station because it’s in a flood zone.

Removing the current station with no means to build a new one was not an option for the board.

“A Community Development Block Grant would allow up to $350,000 in funding for a new fire station, but we have road and recreation park bathroom projects for CDBG,” he said.

Work on the foundation, which is cracking, is expected to be completed during the upcoming construction season.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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