OTISFIELD — Voters approved a $1.2 million town budget, turned down a request to expand the Board of Selectmen and relinquished the old Town Hall to the Historical Society.

More than 100 voters turned out to act on the 30-article warrant and to re-elect Hal Ferguson to the Board of Selectmen and as the board’s chairman. Tom Moore was re-elected as a director to the SAD 17 Board of Directors and Richard Bean Sr. was re-elected as road commissioner.

Frank Blauvelt was elected moderator of the meeting which was held on the Otisfield Community School gymnasium.
Voters failed to approved an article that would have expanded the Board of selectmen from its current three members to five members. Selectman Rick Micklon said he requested the article be placed on the warrant to allow voters their say. The majority of voters said the move was not needed at this time.

“Sometimes people don’t serve for the right reason,” said Selectman Leonard Alder who along with his fellow board members said they felt the current board worked well together and had great diversity to represent voters.

Additionally, board members and others said that if approved, it would probably mean a move toward a town manager system that would cost the town thousands of dollars and could place the board in divisive split votes.

“These sorts of things happen,” said Chairman Hal Ferguson.

“Why reorganize if it isn’t broke?” asked a resident.

Following limited discussion about how the Historical Society would fund the maintenance on the Bell Hill Road building, voters also ok’d the organization’s request to convey ownership of the former 1905 Town Hall to them.

“They deserve their chance,” said Selectman Leonard Alder who along with his fellow board members supported the move.
Historical Society President Henry Hamilton said lack of money prohibits a full building restoration at this time but the society has about $5,000 in its coffers to maintain the building.

Selectman Rick Micklon said the town has been unable to maintain unused buildings. “If we want to maintain it as a town we have to raise taxes,” he said.

The building still has the original oak wood work, chairs and voting booths — it was used on a very limited basis by the town until the 1970s.

By taking ownership of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, Hamilton said it will be easier for them to seek out grant money.

In another action voters ok’d an approximately $1.2 million town budget, pausing long enough to discuss at length a request to raise $2,000 for a sixth-grade program called Camp Kieve.

The three-day, two-night program, which this year will have 20 Otisfield students attending, provides them with team building skills to address issues like bullying that they may encounter when they enter middle school. The cost this year is $139 per student and requires some additional fund raising to get the full amount.

Proponents said the program deserves the full support of the community because the town lacks a PTO or PTA to help raise money.

Voters also approved raising $3,395 to fund the formation and implementation of a First Responder program in the Otisfield Fire Department; $200,000 to pay for the care of roads in the winter, $105,000 for the care of summer roads and approved an ordinance that places a ban on smoking on Otisfield beaches.

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