OXFORD — Selectmen decided Thursday that before convening future meetings of the Thompson Lake Dam Advisory Committee the board needs to “get its own house in order,” Selectman Sharon Jackson said.

Jackson proposed that Oxford officials focus on determining short- and long-term plans for maintaining the dam, establish a list of priorities for maintenance, and complete a thorough cost analysis for it. She suggested that in place of advisory committee meetings that Oxford hold workshops and continue discussions with selectmen from the other three towns that share the lake frontage: Otisfield, Poland and Casco.

“We need to hold workshops and review different interlocal agreements between other towns” that share lakefront on dammed waterways, Jackson said. “We need to meet with officials of those towns to gather information about how the agreements work. Any decision about an interlocal agreement needs to be made by Oxford voters. I don’t believe it is something the board can do on its own.

“We need to gather this information as a board before we decide how we are going to proceed with this,  and at that point, once we are all educated, we can look at whether or not it’s going to be in the best interest to form a committee with other towns. That committee would be put together and also how an agreement would benefit all towns, along with cost-sharing. That is what I am proposing.”

Board Vice Chairwoman Samantha Hewey agreed with Jackson on the direction of what needs to be done for dam management but said the committee should not be disbanded.

“If we disband the committee the other towns will not get back on board with us,” Hewey said. “And it will ultimately cost our taxpayers.”


Selectman Dana Dillingham suggested they make a distinction between disbanding the committee and suspending it temporarily.

“I was encouraged by our last meeting with the other selectmen,” Dillingham said. “We told them then that we were not going to go back to the towns until we get the (east gate) project finished, and it would be with the selectmen, not the committee.”

Selectmen Caldwell Jackson, Scott Hunter, Sharon Jackson and Dillingham voted to suspend advisory committee meetings while pursuing plans for the dam’s future; Hewey voted against the motion.

The Welchville Dam spillway on the Little Androscoggin River. Advertiser Democrat file photo

With construction to replace the east gate of the dam set to start next month, selectmen moved on to discuss how to proceed with repairing or replacing the Welchville Dam, which drains Hogan and Whitney ponds into the Little Androscoggin River.

Scott Stone, who owns two properties, including a business in Oxford, and Hogan Pond resident Wanda Richard spoke during the public comment period against replacing the Welchville Dam.

Stone suggested installing “outlet protections” as a way to determine if water levels can be maintained without the dam and that if the protections work the dam could be removed, a two-phase process that would save taxpayers $1.6 million.


Richard went further, saying the dam should be removed altogether. She pointed out that her property has been flooded in the past because of high water levels caused by the dam, which is not functioning.

“Put it back the way it was and let it do what it’s supposed to do,” Richard said. She said taking out the dam would not impact the water table and private wells in the neighborhood around the ponds.

Caldwell Jackson said he had taken a number of calls since Monday and all the callers were in favor of keeping the dam. He suggested that the 212 property owners with frontage on the ponds be sent surveys.

“We should ask the taxpayers for their input,” he said. “Let them have their say.”

Selectmen agreed to draft a letter to Hogan and Whitney Pond landowners on the costs of repair, replacement, grade controls or other water level management options.

In other business, Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen informed the board she has arranged for an absentee ballot drop box to be installed at the Municipal Center on Pleasant Street. The Highway Department will begin the installation next week.

“We had 53 calls for absentee ballots just yesterday,” Olsen said. “It’s a daily thing we’re dealing with. A drop box will help with the alarms about post office delivery.”

Selectmen decided to have the box set next to the steps at the entry to the Municipal Center. Police Chief Michael Ward offered to put webcams in place to monitor activity around it.

The box is not required by the state but is approved by the Secretary of State’s office. The state will pay 80% of the cost, leaving Oxford to pay $180.

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