Wind mill company and selectmen hash out their differences

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CANTON — A representative from the developer of the $50 million Canton Mountain Wind power project drew the ire of one selectman Thursday night when she said the Massachusetts company would donate half the amount requested to rebuild the snack shack at the baseball field.

The town had requested $15,000, but Rebecca Howard, assistant director of government and community relations, said the company did not receive the town’s initial letter for the request.

In an email sent later to Budget Committee member Faith Campbell, Howard said the company would donate $7,500, and the town should cover the rest from the $32,000 community development fund Patriot Renewables gave the town.

“We felt your company got what they wanted and now they’re leaving,” Selectman Don Hutchins said. “It felt that way; you’ve got your windmills up now you’re gonna go like hell and get your electricity and now the hell with Canton.” 

Howard apologized to the board for the miscommunication and said her company would honor the $7,500.

“We want to talk about other ways we could make the other $7,500 happen,” she said.

“Our options could be somehow we could split (the money) out of whatever donations we could be giving next year and just count that as a donation that you wouldn’t receive from us next year instead,” Howard said.

Howard said she would speak with Patriot Renewables officials and notify selectmen of the decision at a later date.

In other matters, Steve and Lisa Wills asked selectmen for a commercial refrigerator or freezer for the Canton Food Pantry.

The couple run the pantry with the help of 18 to 20 volunteers. It serves  45 to 50 families from Canton.

The pantry receives a monthly distribution from Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn and has an opportunity through Hannaford in Rumford and Good Shepherd Food Bank to receive about 3,425 pounds more food a month, Wills said.

“From Hannaford we get chicken, beef, pork, lamb, a lot of fresh produce, vegetables, fruits, milk, yogurt, cheese (and other food products),” he said.

“We’re going to need some more freezer or refrigerator space because of the amount of food we’re putting out,” he said. “Right now we have 28 hams that we picked up that we’re saving for Easter in our freezer in our basement (at home),” Wills said.

He estimated that a commercial size refrigerator or freezer would cost between $5,000 and $8,000.

Selectman Brian Keene said the request should be put in the town budget for a vote at the annual town meeting in June.

“Where money wasn’t appropriated (for a freezer), we really can’t spend it on that now,” Keene told Wills.

Howard told the Willses that her company gives to food pantries annually, and she encouraged them to make a request to Patriot Renewables for a donation toward the pantry.

In other matters, selectmen:

• Appointed John Evans of Auburn as code enforcement officer, succeeding Town Administrator Scotty Kilbreth who resigned in October 2017; and 

• Heard a presentation from Seth Warren of Buckfield and Shawn Gagne of Skowhegan on Ambit Energy, an international multi-level marketing company that provides electricity and natural gas services in energy markets in the U.S. that have been deregulated.

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Steve and Lisa Wills run the Canton Food Pantry with the help of volunteers. They asked the selectmen for a commercial refrigerator or freezer for the food bank during the selectmen meeting on Thursday. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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