NEW GLOUCESTER – Selectmen on Monday evening dedicated the 223rd annual town report to Avis Thurston Ford, a founding member of New Gloucester Rescue in 1975 and longtime community volunteer.

New Gloucester Selectman Steve Libby presents Avis Thurston Ford with a copy of the 2018 Town Report dedicated to her. Ford was a founding member of New Gloucester Rescue. Ellie Fells photo

“Avis is truly a gift to New Gloucester in so many ways,” New Gloucester Historical Society President Beverly Cadigan said during the dedication ceremony. “In the early 1970s, there was no New Gloucester Rescue. Avis was one of the 12 residents who took classes and qualified to become a basic EMT responder.”

During her years with the rescue unit, Ford also worked full time at the Pineland center for the disabled.

She retired from the rescue service in 2015, then joined its auxiliary.

She also works part time for Pine Tree Home Health Care and volunteers with the Salvation Army.

As a longtime member of the New Gloucester Historical Society board of directors, she is overseer and chief baker for the 150 apple pies sold annually and makes all the biscuits for the society’s Strawberry Festival in June.

In other matters, the board agreed to retain consultants and hold an informational meeting on creating a Town Charter Commission. A group of residents has pushed for a charter, which defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of municipal government. Voters will decide June 11 whether to establish a commission.

Penny Hilton also asked about the inspection of the New Gloucester Public Library basement by the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

According to the report, it needs a sprinkler system and it off limits for public assembly. Also, the ceiling is too low to accommodate sprinklers, Town Manager Carrie Castonguay said.

The inspection was done for the new stairwell that was recently completed to allow as second exit.

The board continued revising a policy on using certain town buildings and grounds, and establishing rental fees for them. The properties include the community building, library meeting room, the fairgrounds pavilion, an ice rink and ball fields at the fairgrounds and on Rowe Station Road.

Selectmen also decided to keep the Senior Property Tax Assistance Ordinance on the May 6 annual town meeting warrant, but advised voters to reject it if more information is not received by then.

The ordinance offers an annual property tax credit of $1,000 to residents age 70 or older who have lived in town for at least 10 years and have an annual household income of $40,000 or less. Residents must apply for assistance annually.

Town officials said $50,000 would be taken from the undesignated fund balance to cover the first 50 applicants who qualify.

“This is needed,” Chairman Steve Libby said.

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