DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen discussed purchasing an electronic sign to better inform residents of upcoming town events during Monday evening’s meeting.

Selectman Scott Belskis said that he had “discussed this idea with three or four people recently” and that he has brought it up to selectmen in the past.

“I want to look and see if there any local businesses or residents who would be willing to put together some donations to purchase an electronic sign for the town,” Belskis said to the board. “It could be something that the girls at the Town Office wouldn’t have to change every day. There would be a program or computer-type thing that allows you to change the messages.”

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that the purpose of the public message board would be to “better inform people about town events.”

“There used to be a sign at the fire station, but it’s no longer functional,” Puiia said.

Belskis said that the nearest sign that anybody could look at for town information “is on the front of Toll’s Hardware Store, and a lot of people aren’t looking up when they drive by it.

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“I thought I would run this idea past the board first, to get an opinion of what everyone else is thinking,” Belskis said. “Hopefully, we could get something thrown together in the next few months.”

Puiia asked Belskis where he would like to see the sign placed.

“I was thinking we could put it where the previous message board was,” Belskis said. “If we place it in front of the fire station, it won’t have any effect on any of the trees in the area. Also, I would want it to be double-sided, so you could read the messages from either direction.”

Fire Chief Scott Dennent suggested that the board “check with Public Works first, in respect to their plowing.

“The reason our old sign worked so well and wasn’t an issue is because we’d take it down in the winter time before Public Works plowed,” Dennent said. “It’s just something to consider.”

Selectman Norman Mitchell said that he’d like to “see something near the East Dixfield fire station to help inform residents on the outskirts of town what’s going on.”

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Belskis said that he thought of the idea for a new public message board after noticing at “this year’s town meeting that a lot more people are showing up and a lot more people are paying attention.

“I’d like to see more of that, so this may be a way to keep people better informed,” Belskis said.

Selectman Dana Whittemore said that the board should contact Peru about the message board they installed on the side of their fire station.

“It’s only one-sided, but it’s an electronic sign,” Whittemore said.

“That sign was costly, though,” Selectman Hart Daley said.

“Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me to see an electronic sign costing somewhere between $5,500 and $6,000,” Whittemore said.

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Belskis said that he knows the town of Peru charges residents to post birthday messages, which helps cover the cost of the sign.

Puiia told the board that they also have to consider the fact that there are “costs that you incur with these signs.”

“You have to pay for that software every year,” Puiia said. “Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to figure out who would be responsible for deciding which messages are accepted by organizations or residents, or who will maintain the signs. At some point, those things would have to be discussed.”

Puiia later suggested that Belskis look into forming a committee that would further discuss the idea of purchasing an electronic sign with private funds and donations.

“In the meantime, I can look up how much it costs to purchase a sign and report back to you,” Puiia said.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com


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