MEXICO – A variety of downtown beautification projects for this summer were outlined at Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

The board also agreed to grant the local public access channel half the cable television franchise fees.

Town Manager Joseph Derouche said several more colorful signs denoting the downtown area are expected to be erected within the next few weeks, including a new sign pointing out the town office.

The town office sign will be a first.

“Visitors don’t know where it is,” said Derouche.

Also planned for dressing up the main streets are a series of seasonal banners. In past years, the town, with the financial help of MeadWestvaco Corp., has installed baskets of live flowering plants. But attempts to keep them alive throughout the summer have generally failed.

So Derouche thought colorful banners might be more successful. A meeting of the Community Advisory Committee will be called within the next few weeks to help decide the theme and placement of the banners.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the plan to turn the former graveled parking lot at the rear of the town office into a green space, complete with a gazebo. Paving and lining of a portion of the lot is already completed, and plans are under way to construct a gazebo in the center green space using volunteer labor and at least some donated materials. The lot borders the Androscoggin River.

Civic groups within the town have hoped to have a gazebo for use by bands and other community events.

The town is also planning to decorate all graves of military veterans with American flags.

In other matters, Derouche said the board-approved proposed 2003-04 municipal budget, if passed as presented, would result in a 1 mill rate reduction for property taxes. That decrease, however, may not remain once the town’s share of the SAD 43 assessment and Oxford County assessment have been determined. The annual town meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 9, when residents will act on a $1.5 million proposed municipal budget.

Also, several social service agencies that usually receive town funding but were denied at a budget meeting held last month, are circulating petitions that could return their monetary requests to the town meeting warrant.

The board had cut about $5,000 from agency requests, including zero funding for many.

In other matters, the board:

• Approved placing an article on the town meeting warrant that would return $1 from each all terrain vehicle registration fee to the River Valley Riders ATV Club.

• Granted the local public access channel 51 percent of the franchise fees the town receives from Adelphia cable TV. This year, the town received about $9,600. The remaining money will go into the town’s general fund.

• Denied a request by SAD 43 to install a guardrail near the superintendent’s office on Park Street.

• Approved a four-day workweek for the highway crew for the summer and early fall months starting the first week of May.

Following the regular public portion of the meeting, the board entered into closed sessions to discuss the police and highway department contracts.

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