STRONG — Selectmen decided Tuesday night that they will continue to research ways to keep employees’ health insurance plans without affecting taxpayers.

Selectman Dick Worthley shared information from the Maine Municipal Association, which might be an option to the plans offered by a representative of Portland-based United Insurance at the board’s last meeting.

“If we look at this other plan (from United Insurance), our employees are taking an awfully hard hit,” he said.

“The question is what will the town support,” Selectman Mike Pond said.

He suggested part of the problem, based on his experience, is that the insurance company can decide what part of medical expenses it will pay. One solution could be having voters and municipal officials decide on a financial cap for employees’ insurance.

In other business, now that the town has a lease to use the American Legion’s field for sports activities, selectmen should have a committee to develop a plan to improve the area, Pond said. 

Lignetics of Maine, the pellet mill in town, has bark mulch to spread on the property, Pond said. He and Selectman Rob Elliott offered to start the process.

On another matter, Pond and Forster Memorial Building Committee member Mary White explained a proposal to use money from the committee’s building trust fund to pay half the cost to pave the driveway.

Pond said the Town Office budget is separate from the Forster Memorial Building Committee trust fund, but some expenses needed to be shared. Contractor Bruce Manzer has offered to pave the parking lot this summer for $8,990, and the town and the building committee should share that cost, selectmen and White said.

White said the committee had given selectmen authorization to make decisions on maintaining and improvements to the building and property.

Elliott suggested voters might question spending money they didn’t approve in March.

Pond said if they delayed another year, the project would cost another $5,000, because the contractor will have to grind the pavement.

The Building Committee’s money is in a trust, and Pond suggested the stock market may not be doing as well next year as it is now, and that money might not be available.

The committee won’t retain a strong financial cushion if they use this money, White said, but the paving has to be done.

Selectmen agreed to the plan, but Worthley asked that when the job is done, that both parties should agree to seal the lot each year.

Worthley asked selectmen to consider ways to support the struggling Strong-based Sandy River Riders ATV club, which does not have enough young members to maintain about 50 miles of trails.

“The ATV club is in trouble, as we all know,” Worthley said.  “They are talking about closing the trails.”

The 50 miles of trails are accessible only by landowner consent, Worthley said. Without support and leadership from an active ATV club, landowners will refuse to allow access, he said.

Members pay dues, but the work to maintain trails has fallen to the aging membership, who can’t do the physical work, Worthley said.

Worthley said club President John Evans has stepped down, and no one has volunteered to take his place.

Worthley and Pond volunteered to attend the next club meeting Thursday, July 6, at the American Legion hall.

Worthley also reported that stone mason Albert Stehle has done excellent work on the most damaged stones in the Village Cemetery.

“He really knows what he’s doing,” Worthley said. “He has all the equipment and special glues and materials to repair those stones that were broken and on the ground.”

The damage is the result of age and frost heaves.

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