BUCKFIELD – The SAD 39 board last week unanimously approved a $5.7 million proposed budget for 2003-2004. It represents an increase of 1.94 percent over the $5.5 million approved last year.

Budget Committee Chairman Terry Hayes said that committee met regularly over the past two months with Superintendent William Shuttleworth and the administrative team to get a budget that balanced the needs of the students and the needs of the taxpayers.

“This was really tough because we came into this budget year with over a quarter of a million dollar increase in fixed expenses such as contracts, health insurance, lease/purchases, special education and liability insurance,” said Hayes.

She said that, in order to bring the budget down to a 1.08 mill increase, the board cut a teaching position at the elementary level, a bus driving position and a study hall monitor. There were also moderate to severe cuts in materials, library materials, improvement of instruction and school board expenses, she said.

Town Hall

project ‘real’

MECHANIC FALLS – One week before temporary offices are to arrive on its front lawn, leaders have signed contracts to renovate the aging Town Hall.

“We have squeezed the time as far as it could go,” Town Manager Dana Lee said last week. “Now, we know it’s real.”

The $670,000 project, debated for nearly a decade, stalled earlier this month after contractors submitted bids charging more money for the renovation than the town had approved.

The lowest of the three bids, from H.E. Callahan of Auburn, surpassed the budgeted amount by $89,000. So cuts had to be made.

Renovations are due to begin in the first week of June.

Family flees fire without injury

AUBURN – A Wood Street family fled their home last week when fire flared up on the second floor, sending smoke pouring from the eaves of the house.

Firefighters made quick work of the blaze at 10 Wood St., but part of the building sustained fire, smoke and water damage.

The couple and a grandchild who live in the house escaped without injury. Wood Street runs between Summer and Winter streets, near Union Street bypass.

The first police officer to reach the scene Tuesday night reported seeing flames in a second floor window. Thick smoke rolled from the eaves. Firefighters smashed out windows and attacked the flames with jets of water. Crews manning firetrucks surrounded the house, on Wood, Summer and Parker streets.


blocks e-mail

AUBURN – Auburn City Councilor Bob Mennealy can cross one name off his e-mail list: Councilor Kelly Matzen has set up his computer to block notes from Mennealy as soon as they arrive.

“I don’t think he was trying to get away with anything,” Matzen said. “I just think he was inviting people to take part in a discussion that is better suited for City Council chambers.”

Matzen said he made the decision late one night last week after receiving several e-mails from Mennealy asking questions about city TIF districts.

“I just made a snap decision and e-mailed back that he was blocked from my home computer and my computer at work,” Matzen said.

“I’m just trying to present all the facts,” Mennealy said. “I think that there is information out there that is contrary to what we are hearing in council chambers, and I’m trying to get all of the information on the table.”

Selectmen table garage bids

BUCKFIELD – Selectmen unsealed the four bids received for the proposed highway garage project last week, voting to take no action until asking townspeople about construction options.

Fourteen invitations were sent to engineers and design build firms throughout the area. In an attempt to narrow their choices for designing a cost-efficient garage, selectmen chose to invite bids from seven engineers and seven design-build firms.

Just one bid, submitted by Professional Engineering Design of Norway, fell within the proposed budget.

Town Manager Cindy Dunn said the board would like to keep the engineering costs for the project at around $8,000, with the total cost of the project, including salt storage facility, site work, gas/diesel pump and security fencing at around $200,000.

Veterinary hospital back in business

FRYEBURG – Veterinarian Scott Johnson can’t say enough good things about the way the community has helped out since fire consumed the Fryeburg Veterinary Hospital April 25.

Because of the help, the hospital was able to relocate to a new space and was back up and running eight days after the fire.

Two days after the fire, a client who is a real estate agent found a vacant building for the veterinary hospital to rent at 85 Portland St. in town, and other clients have “really gone above and beyond,” bringing blankets, donating shelving, painting and cleaning the new temporary space.

It hasn’t just been clients of the vet hospital, either.

“So many people in the community have helped us, even people from other towns, to get back on our feet,” Johnson said.

Bring plans

back in year

OXFORD – Selectmen on Thursday agreed to give the Oxford Recreation Department a year to show how the former fire station on King Street can be used to expand recreational opportunities in town.

Selectmen told the department to use the building this year for storage and possibly as a meeting space, and bring plans for an expanded recreation department to next year’s town meeting.

The meeting space, which would include the bathroom and kitchen, could be used by the Oxford Baseball and Softball Association, Scouts, 4-H and senior citizen groups, by using a third of the building and making slight alterations, recreation committee members said.

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