POLAND — This year’s annual town meeting opens with a municipal election Friday, April 5, to choose two selectmen, one School Board member and two library trustees.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the Poland Town Hall. The business portion of the town meeting will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at Poland Regional High School.

Four people are running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Both seats are three-year terms.

Michelle Arsenault said her motto is: “What’s right is right.”

“Everyone in our town deserves the same considerations and equality,” Arsenault said. “I have no personal agenda other than to see that we are a community to be proud to live and work in.”

Arsenault graduated from Lake Region High School in Naples in 1982 and worked for many years in the banking industry. She also has been an office assistant in different businesses. She volunteers at the Poland Food Bank and has coached basketball in Mechanic Falls. Arsenault also volunteered in local schools and was co-chair for project graduation in 2007. She has three sons — two in college, and the third attending Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland.

“I care about my town and its future and have the time to devote to helping, guiding and leading our town to a greater future,” Arsenault said.

Walter Gallagher joined the Board of Selectmen earlier this month, elected to serve the final month of Wendy Sanborn’s term following the recall election, which brought three new faces to the board.

Gallagher graduated from Lake Region High School in 1981. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Naples, where he managed Black Mountain Hardware’s retail store until 2000, when he went to work for Penmor Lithographers in Lewiston. He is currently a customer service manager at Penmor.

Gallagher has served on the town Budget Committee for the past three years, and as the committee’s representative, he worked with school officials in developing the RSU 16 budget. He and his wife, Janice, have lived in Poland since 2005.

“People who live in Poland still have say on how things will get done in their community,” Gallagher said, “I will listen to what you, the people, have to say and take the time to discuss whatever issues are on your mind. I will learn from listening. And I will speak from what I have learned.”

Sandra Knowles, speaking at Candidates’ Night recently, recalled that not so long ago, when she was chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, she made the call to Poland Spring Bottling Co., informing them that the town owed them a lot of money.

“Difficult times for the town, but we’ve come a long way,” Knowles said. “The present board is nonpartisan, going in the right direction.”

Knowles graduated from college with a major in anthropology and a minor in sociology, and took courses in housing and related subjects. She became director of the Clermont County Housing Authority in 1978 and moved to Poland in 1983, when she became director of the Lewiston Housing Authority. She remained in this position until 2001.

Knowles served a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen, as well as serving on the town Budget Committee and the Comprehensive Plan Committee. She is currently chairwoman of the Ricker Memorial Library 50th Anniversary Committee. Knowles is married to Bill Willett, and has three daughters, a son and six grandchildren.

Knowles said one of the first things she will do, if elected selectman, would be to get Fred Huntress back on board as town forester.

“I will encourage and welcome townpeople’s help and ideas, and do the business of Poland in an open and respectful manner,” she said.

James Walker Jr. said Poland was on the right track, “being open for business.”

“Many folk in Poland are already hurt by this tough economy — some are out of work, and prices are higher than in past years,” Walker said. “They cannot afford a tax increase.” 

A lifelong Poland resident with deep roots, he went to local schools, graduating from Edward Little High School in Auburn. For most of his adult life, he has been an independent tractor-trailer driver and has worked for the town’s highway department. He volunteers at the Poland Community Church Food Bank and Thrift Shop, and videotapes special programs held by the Poland Historical Society and the Friends of Ricker Memorial Library. He has two grown daughters and two grandchildren.

“I hope to work with the new board, looking for ways to solve our financial issues, making sure we are not wasting and looking for ways to increase Poland’s tax base without changing the character of the town,” Walker said. “We need to encourage new small business to help broaden our tax base.”

Mary Ella Jones, currently serving as chairwoman of the RSU 16 Board of Directors, is running unopposed for another three-year term.

There also are no contested seats for two openings on the Ricker Memorial Library Board of Directors. Ronald R. Morin and John Whitman Sales are on the ballot, seeking to replace Julie Cushman and Deborah Lamb, whose three-year terms are expiring.


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