DIXFIELD – Last week’s vote on SAD 21’s 2003-04 school budget of $6.78 million took all of 15 minutes to pass.

Twenty-eight voters from the district’s towns of Canton, Carthage and Dixfield turned out.

The new budget represents a $315,740 increase over last year’s budget.

Planners send

amendment back

LIVERMORE FALLS – The proposed amendment to the Building Lots Standards ordinance was torn apart by the Planning Board and tossed back to the selectmen, continuing its winding way to the voters at town meeting.

Selectmen had made two changes to the proposed amendment, as suggested by audience members who felt it clarified the brief amendment.

Planning Board members disagreed, however, and a letter is to be sent to Town Manager Alan Gove by the code officer, relaying their objections that what they originally approved had been changed.

The board was not even scheduled to discuss the amendment but were to hold a public hearing about whether the downtown planning grant was in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan. Since planners had given approval to the grant’s intent at the last meeting, they held no hearing and discussed the amendment instead, displaying anger and frustration at the changes.

High-schoolers

build classroom

LEWISTON- Three days after moving in, teacher Linda Adkins still marveled at her new portable classroom.

Its walk-in closet with built-in shelves give her storage space. The two white ceiling fans and large, blue-curtained windows bring in air. The room’s massive open space lets her kids spread out.

Said the sixth-grade teacher, “That’s my favorite thing.”

For the past eight months, students from Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s carpentry class spent their mornings constructing the 28- by 64-foot building behind Longley Elementary School.

It was the sixth portable built by LRTC students over the past 15 years.

With supervision from carpentry instructor James Conners, the high-schoolers did everything from framing to shingling – all while Adkins and her sixth-graders watched from their cramped, dark portable a few yards away.

The kids applauded each big step.

Chizmar prevails

in Lisbon recount

LISBON – An inspection of ballots cast for a seat on the Board of Selectmen in Saturday’s municipal election resulted in no change.

The inspection was requested by former Selectman Layne Curtis who lost the election to Paul Chizmar by one vote, 192-191. The inspection, which took less than an hour, was held at the town office.

After reviewing the ballots, Curtis said he was satisfied with the count, saw no irregularities and shook hands with Chizmar, who was then sworn into office by Town Clerk Twila Lycette. Curtis, who ran for both selectman and School Committee in the election, won the latter race with 226 votes, but had not taken the oath of office pending the outcome of the inspection.

Petitions force

issues to ballot

MEXICO – Residents will see two more articles on the annual town meeting warrant thanks to two successful petition drives to get the items back on.

Selectmen last month approved a $1.5 million proposed municipal budget. The warrant excluded money for most social service agencies and for the usual amount the town contributes to the Mexico Trailblazers Snowmobile Club.

The move, according to officials, was an attempt to keep the municipal budget down. This year’s mill rate is $30.80 per $1,000 valuation. The adopted 2003-04 budget by the Board of Selectmen is expected to result in at least a 1 mill decrease.

But a week before the deadline for submitting petitions, local people turned in at least the minimum number of signatures from registered voters required to force both issues onto the town meeting warrant.

Arts get a boost

with annual forum

MEXICO – The arts are alive and well in the River Valley. At least that’s the feeling from the nearly 100 people who turned outfor a community forum intended to determine the level of interest and importance of culture and the arts in the area.

The forum, sponsored by the River Valley Arts Initiative, under the umbrella of the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, is the largest forum held in the coalition’s five-year history, said director Patricia Duguay.

“There are so many facets to the arts,” she said. “And the feedback has been so positive.”

The process under which the arts initiative is being conducted, known as Discovery research, was explained by Keith Ludden of the Maine Arts Commission, the organization that has provided some of the funds for the local project.

“There is art all around us, in our communities and in our homes. It determines who we are and is what makes us unique,” said Ludden. “Strengthening the arts attracts creative people and creative people strengthen communities.”

Plant auction

a fund-raiser

LIVERMORE – A group of local “green thumbs” thins out their plants each year to benefit charity. At the same time, they share their bounty with each other and strengthen a bond of friendship.

For the last four years, these women have dug up plants and perennials from their gardens to sell at a silent plant auction.

Prior to the auction, the group, which grows each year, chooses a charity to donate the proceeds to. This year, the women chose to give their money to the Livermore Fire Department to help buy a $12,500 thermal-imaging camera.

People bring in plants and their garden objects, such as potting soil, a package of seeds, even a garden decoration.

People wrote down on slips of paper what they were willing to bid on about 40 plants that were on the block. After two hours, the bids were read and the highest bidder took home the plants.

Bids range anywhere from 25 cents to $4 or $5.

Selectmen troubled by library issue

DIXFIELD – With town meeting coming in June, a tempest suddenly sprang to life Tuesday between Ludden Library trustees and selectmen.

The right to manage library affairs, including money – whether town-appropriated or not – appears to be the crux of the storm.

Following comments made by selectmen at their May 12 meeting, the Ludden Library Board of Trustees issued a press release citing their opposition.

Trustees “believe that they have the right to manage the affairs of the library and spend funds given to the library,” the release stated. “They disagree with the statement that the Board of Selectmen have the sole responsibility to direct the activities of the library and spend library funds.”

At the May 12 selectmen’s meeting, Selectman Dan Mitchell stirred the cauldron by confronting head librarian Justy Nazar about ongoing library renovations.

“I’m concerned about the Board of Trustees making changes in the library without public knowledge,” Mitchell said on May 12, noting that any desired changes must first go through selectmen because the town owns the library.

Board resists plan

for group home

LIVERMORE FALLS – A possible use for the former Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center met resistance from the Planning Board.

Planners first objected to discussing the matter that was not on its written agenda but then relented to hear the basics.

Armand Madore of Mexico, agent for Western Maine Assessment Inc., explained that he only wanted to discuss a pre-application for a group home.

Quoting from the town’s Site Plan Review Ordinance, he suggested his plan should be exempted from review as it was the same use (caring for human beings) as was its previous life as a nursing home.

Planner Elicia Pillsbury objected, saying that caring for troubled youngsters was different from caring for the elderly.

Madore countered that his attorney had indicated the application should be waived as it fell under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the only difference being age.

You cannot discriminate because of age, he said. “This is a therapeutic center, offering the same services,” Madore said.

Sidewalk signs

violate ordinance

LEWISTON -The patio table and sign in front of Joan Pelletier’s sandwich shop are more than sidewalk clutter.

The sign tells passersby about specials on the menu at Just Joan’s each day, and the table provides a comfortable place to sit on warm days.

“People look for my sign to see if I’m open or not,” Pelletier said. “If it’s out, that’s how they tell.”

So Pelletier was surprised when Code Enforcement Officer Kim Austin delivered a letter asking her to remove the sign because it violates a city ordinance.

“My table is safe, because it’s on my property, but moving the sign would be a pain for me,” she said. “It really is a part of my business.”

Gil Arsenault, Lewiston’s deputy development director, said Pelletier’s sign and similar ones along Lisbon Street can stay for another few weeks at least, while the city develops a new policy for sidewalk obstructions.

Arsenault has been letting people know about the ordinance and asking them to comply.

“By consensus, they haven’t been very pleased,” he said. “So we’re not going to enforce the ordinance as it stands, but we’ll come up with a new ordinance.”

Two-year dispute ends in agreement

GRAY – A tentative agreement was reached between representatives of the Gray-New Gloucester Educational Support Staff and the SAD 15 Board of Directors to resolve a contract dispute that spanned nearly two years.

The new agreement, if ratified by the parties, will extend through the end of the 2005-06 contract year.

The contract covers roughly 130 employees consisting of custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, education technicians and secretaries.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by both parties to go into effect.



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