SUMNER – By a vote of 53-11, residents Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have made marijuana-related offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in town.

Led by sponsor Jonathan Leavitt, several people spoke in favor of the measure. Papers titled “Stop Wasting Our Tax Dollars In a Failed War on Marijuana” advocating passage of the law were distributed at people as they entered the meeting.

Leavitt proposed that residents adopt the ordinance as written but postpone implementation for a year and charge the community oversight committee with bringing an amended ordinance to the town next year.

Leavitt said six days ago black helicopters were hovering over his home for 45 minutes while spending government money.

Resident Clay Schneider said, “If you really want to see black helicopters, then declare Sumner a town friendly to marijuana.”

Resident Harvey (Hap) Gallin noted that the community oversight committee as listed in the ordinance was one-sided and loaded. It would consist of three residents: one civil liberties advocate, one medical marijuana patient and one drug counselor.

Gallin further pointed out that the sheet passed out at the door quoted the The Lancet, Britain’s leading medical journal as saying, “The smoking of cannabis is not harmful to health.”

That was written in 1995 and Gallin said more recent articles have refuted this statement.

Earl Simpson mentioned that there are as many carcinogens in marijuana smoke as tobacco smoke.

Leavitt was asked how many towns in Maine had passed the ordinance.

“No town in Maine has passed the marijuana ordinance,” he replied.

The marijuana article was the sixth of 42 articles on the warrant and after the vote was taken several residents left the meeting.

Changing the position of road commissioner from elected to appointed brought considerable discussion.

Stuart Cooper asked why the change was recommended.

Selectman Cliff McNeil said he had several complaints about relatives being used for road work and felt there may be issues with families getting jobs as contractors.

“Over the years, Jim Keach has done an awesome job,” he said. “This article is not a reflection on Keach, but I felt elections had become a popularity contest.”

Edwin Hinshaw, a road committee member, said, “If we are going to have town meetings, let’s have a vote. A road committee has been instituted and we didn’t propose this article. Let’s work together and not take away our vote.”

Fellow committee member Jim Durfee agreed with Hinshaw.

Schneider quipped, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The article failed 56-5.

All other articles passed, including the road commissioner’s stipend at $2,500.

Lana Pratt wanted to raise it to $2,800, but the town clerk pointed out there had been a $300 raise in the budget this year to bring the stipend to $2,500.

Cooper said he didn’t see the need for an emergency management director and committee. A PowerPoint presentation showed that the $8,600 in the budget for emergency management was mostly taken care of by a $8,100 grant the town had been awarded. Only $500 was coming from taxes.

Selectman Mark Silber said, “We are a self-sufficient town. We have always depended on ourselves, and we have to depend on ourselves, which includes the Fire Department and each other. Emergency management is just a mechanism for all of us to take care of all of us.”

Marti Elkins talked about the neighbors care program and asked for anyone interested to sign up for contacting neighbors in emergencies.

Fire Chief Robert Stewart spoke of the the need for a new tanker that would hold 2,000 gallons in two compartments. One of the dangers of the old 1987 converted Pepsi truck was that it had no baffling, and every time the truck went around a curve the water sloshed around making the truck difficult to handle.

Stewart said the new $135,000 truck should last up to 40 years. Using the monies in the firetruck reserve account, the amount approved for loan was $87,000.

Before the meeting officially began, a moment of silence and recognition was observed for two residents who had contributed much to the town and who had passed away this year: Roger Brigham, who died recently at 102 years of age, and Alphonse Goodberlet.


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