TURNER — At their regular meeting Monday night, selectmen expressed outrage at recent vandalism at the Leavitt Institute and discussed steps to catch and prosecute the perpetrators.

An arsonist attempted to set fire to the book return box on the Institute grounds. Miscreants gained entrance to the building by surreptitiously unlocking windows during the times the public has access to the building, then returning after the building was closed.

The Leavitt Institute has long played an important part in the life of Turner. James Madison Leavitt gave the building to the town of Turner for use as a secondary school. The first class graduated in 1896, the last in 1968, the year before Turner joined SAD 52.

The renovated building is the home of the Turner Public Library and the Turner Historical Museum.

Selectman Ralph Caldwell said, “It would be tragic to lose the unique material in that building.” He went on to explain that while the building and contents are covered with insurance, many of the items are irreplaceable.

In other business, Terrence F. McCabe, national president of Spirit of America, and Bruce Flaherty, president of the Maine chapter, discussed their program for honoring outstanding people, projects or groups that have benefited their town through volunteering. Selectmen decided that the next honorees will be the Turner Food Bank and Laurel Grange. They will be recognized at the next annual town meeting. More than 50 Maine towns participate in this program.

Resident Charlie McPhail presented a request that the Turner Center Community Church be permitted to adopt a section of Highway 117. The Maine Department of Transportation sponsors the program. Those who adopt a section of highway agree to pick up roadside litter at least twice a year.

McPhail said he walks this section of road regularly and is appalled at the amount of litter. “I don’t believe people are purposefully littering,” he said. “Most stuff seems to be trash thrown in the back of pickup trucks for later disposal, then forgotten and blown out along the highway.”

Selectmen approved the application, which now goes to the state. Public Works Director Jack Moultrie offered to loan McPhail a reflective vest. Selectmen directed Town Manager Scott LaFlamme to check that the town insurance covered any liability.

Chairman Angelo Terreri said that the traditional Fourth of July celebration, complete with parade and fireworks, will be held again this year.

Selectmen discussed the bell recently stolen from the town. LaFlamme is obtaining prices for a new cast bell. He is also looking into replacing it with another historic school bell owned by the town.

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