CANTON — The Canton Historical Society has been advised to prepare a petition for the June town meeting for voters to determine whether $60,000 given to the group in 2017 was a gift or a loan from the town.

The issue was debated at the selectmen meeting Thursday night when society member Phyllis Ouellette said the organization did not get a grant, as expected, to demolish its building and move the Masonic Hall next door onto the site. CN Brown offered the Masonic hall to the town to provide more space for a Big Apple store on Route 108.

Ouellette said she examined the 2017 warrant article and minutes of the town meeting and there was nothing about the money being a loan.

“In neither the warrant nor the minutes does it discuss a loan or repayment options or anything to that effect, and so when you look at those two official town documents I don’t see why we consider it a loan,” Ouellette said.

Selectman Don Hutchins agreed with Ouellette, while Selectmen Brian Keene and Carole Robbins said it was considered a loan to be paid back.

“It was said numerous times by (Ouellette) that it was a loan and you were going to pay it back,” Robbins said.


“From the public hearings I was under the impression that it was a loan and it would be paid back,” Keene added. “When would it be paid back, that wasn’t specified. It could be $5 a month, it could be $100 a month, but it would be paid back.”

After discussion by selectmen and several residents, Chairman Russell Adams decided the society should draft a petition with signatures from townspeople to have an article on the June annual town meeting warrant. The purpose is to have voters decide whether the money will be a gift or a loan.

In other business:

• Canton Food Pantry organizers Steve and Lisa Wills and volunteers gave out 46 hams over the Christmas holiday and 52,000 pounds of food in 2018. “It’s making a difference in the town; people need it,” Steve Wills said;

• Brian Jordan, Donna Hebert and Faith Hutchins were appointed to the Budget Committee for one-year terms; and

• The Canton Bicentennial Committee will hold a Be My Valentine party Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Historical Society building. Catered food, dancing and a cash bar will all be available. Tickets are $20 and on sale at the Town Office. All proceeds to go toward the 2021 bicentennial celebration.

Canton residents attend the selectmen meeting Thursday evening at the Town Office to discuss whether a $60,000 appropriation to the Canton Historical Society was a gift or a loan from the town. (Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson)

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