CANTON — The annual Town Meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at the ball field on School Street, selectmen decided Thursday.

Their decision was based on Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order restricting inside gatherings to no more than 50 people.

The board considered using the Town Office meeting room and the fire station room, but if more than 100 people showed up they would have to cancel the meeting.

Benjamin Copeland, 96, of Canton, the town’s oldest resident, holds the Boston Post Cane presented by selectmen Thursday night. Submitted photo

Town Clerk Carol Buzzell said 51 voters attended last year’s meeting.

Selectman Brian Keene said trying to adhere to the maximum limit in a room could be very difficult.

Selectman Carole Robbins said she could almost guarantee that not as many residents would attend because of health and safety concerns.

“My gut instinct is we’re not going to have the numbers,” Robbins said.

“The bottom line is, I don’t care if there is 50 or 51,” Selectman Don Hutchins said. “What I care about is people; that they feel comfortable coming out. God forbid somebody says ‘I would have wanted to go to Town Meeting but I was scared to death I’d get sick.’ That’s not democracy.”

Board Chairman Russell Adams wondered whether flat-funding all departments might be possible, with the idea of postponing the meeting.

Selectman Scotty Kilbreth thought turnout might depend on what’s on the warrant, saying a marijuana issue could bring more voters.

The board decided to include a straw poll on marijuana sales in Canton when voters go to the polls July 14 to elect town officers.

In other business, a spring cleanup will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the transfer station on Jewett Hill Road. All tires must have their rims removed, and paint and stain cans accepted if they are solidified and have covers. Kitty litter or sand can be added to solidify the liquid.

Also at the meeting, resident Benjamin Copeland, 96, was presented with the Boston Post Cane as the town’s oldest resident. His wife, Judy, said he was born in Albion and has five children from his prior marriage. He has delivered newspapers in Peru and Canton, worked at shoe factories in Auburn and driven a pulp truck for a business in Winslow, she said.

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