OXFORD — The town of Oxford is down one official. The Board of Selectmen voted to accept the resignation of first-term representative Ed Knightly, who stepped down on November 8. With one Selectman not in attendance, the Board tabled discussion on selecting a replacement vice-chair and filling the vacant seat until the next meeting on Dec. 5. The next scheduled town election will be held on March 3. A special election to fill the seat could be called earlier but would likely see low turn-out.

The Board heard presentations on various waterway projects and concerns.

Jeff Stern, of the Androscoggin River Watershed Council, updated Selectmen on erosion control projects he is working with Oxford on at Hogan and Whitney Ponds. This fall the town and the council began ditching and culvert work on Rabbit Valley Road. Stern said it’s about half done and $7,158 has been spent. The work is being paid from a joint grant between the town and the council.

Dave Cloutier of VHB, Inc. updates Oxford’s Board of Selectmen, Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen and Town Manager Butch Asselin about water monitoring recently done at Hogan and Whitney Ponds. Advertiser Democrat photo by Nicole Carter

Dave Cloutier, a hydraulic engineer with VHB, Inc. of South Portland, spoke about a water monitoring study he oversaw Hogan on and Whitney Ponds between Sept. 19 – Oct. 21. Five monitors were set at specific points in the ponds and up and down stream. He measured water levels as they were affected by the ground water, precipitation and Welchville Dam draw downs.

The water study is being done to address if the deteriorating dam should be removed and replaced, or whether using other materials for grade controls instead would best serve the ponds and river. Removing the dam altogether could cause an older bridge crossing Route 121 downstream to be affected by faster-moving water. Repairing the dam would be more expensive than removing and replacing it. But Maine Departmental Environmental Protection permitting to replace the dam would likely be hard to obtain.

Steve Heinz of the Maine Council of Trout Unlimited also presented about the Welchville Dam study as it would pertain to river herring and other fish activities. Some residents living along the ponds pointed out that with at least six dams downstream, removal of the dam would not mean a return of spawning fish. Chris Glass, who lives on Hogan Pond, requested that as the Selectmen review the findings of the study that they consider all options and suggested further study before making final decisions.

In other business, Fire Chief Paul Hewey reported on call statistics over the past two years. Between 2017 and 2018 the number of calls for emergency medical services after 6 p.m. increased by about 30%. Currently the Department maintains two on-call personnel after 6 p.m. With residences and businesses in Oxford on the increase, Hewey said it’s time to plan for EMS night staffing. He also reviewed ages and conditions of rescue and fire vehicles, stressing that while it is within safety compliance the town’s fleet is aging and will need to be addressed. Some trucks are more than 25 years old.

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