STRONG — Selectmen agreed Tuesday to close River Street to heavy truck traffic and post a 25 mph speed limit.

Selectmen determined at a March meeting that the street has been used regularly as a shortcut for large trucks. The road begins at the south end of Main Street near the Sandy River bridge and ends near the intersection of South Strong and Norton Hill roads. Large trucks have to make dangerous turns that block lanes of traffic, and they also damage the tar and culverts when they transport heavy loads.

The board also debated options for summer maintenance for the town’s public spaces, including the beach, the park, the tennis court and the grounds of the Forster Memorial Building.

Former custodian Emily O’Donnell had done the landscaping around the town building. She had also picked up trash at the town beach and mowed and trimmed grass at the tennis courts and town park, among other duties.

Planting flowers around the veterans’ monument was a statement of pride for the sacrifices its citizens made in various conflicts, according to Selectman Dick Worthley.

“If you don’t have flowers around that monument, it doesn’t say much about our respect for people who gave their lives for our freedom,” he said.

Larone Crockett, the current town custodian, was hired to work a few hours each week during the winter, shoveling the Forster Building walkways and basic interior cleaning. With summer hours, the outside duties require more attention.

Crockett has declined to care for the beach property, the tennis court and some of the other duties that O’Donnell performed, so selectmen debated whether to seek volunteers to plant flowers, hire someone seasonally to do the work, or to include these tasks in an updated job description for Crockett.

“If we hire a part-timer, we have to supply workman’s compensation,” Selectman Jim Burrill said. “Summer’s coming, and the grass has to be cut and the building has to be cleaned.”

Selectmen agreed to review Crockett’s duties and to delete any tasks that didn’t apply to the position. They also decided that many of the weekly and monthly duties on the current job description should be changed to an “as needed” status. Burrill will review the revised job description with Crockett to determine his interest in continuing as the custodian.

Worthley also reviewed his progress on costs to repair the deteriorating Village Cemetery vault.

“The rubber roof was put on by C. L. Beck, and their bid to replace it is $3,400,” Worthley said.

Worthley said the masonry work can be done for free by students in Steve Mitchell’s class at the Maine School of Masonry in Avon.

“I’m thinking for $4,500 at the outside, we could have it back in good shape,” Worthley said.

Burrill noted that Phillips and Farmington have closed their cemetery vaults.

Selectmen gave approval to Worthley to work with the masonry students and to continue seeking bids for additional work.

Selectmen also reviewed the annual $4,000 contract with Animal Control Officer Ann Dunne, noting that wild animal control is not part of her duties.

“I would hate to think that people would think that the ACO would come to their house to trap skunks,” Pond said.

Property owners are responsible for removing wild animals from their premises, and Dunne is only responsible for domestic animals that are not within their owners’ property boundaries.

In other matters, Library Director Cheryl McCleery told selectmen that several people living near the library have been using the library’s wireless signal for free.

She plans to block those users who seem to be permanently logged into the signal from her equipment, she said.

Those permanent users are very different from those who use the wireless access intermittently from the parking lot or on the front lawn. One user on Lambert Hill, she said, seems to be accessing cable television stations.

The wireless signal is meant to provide Internet access for library patrons through the federal eRate program. This program was mandated by Congress in 1996 and provides discounted telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.

“It’s against the law,” she said.


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