WOODSTOCK — Selectmen began a discussion Tuesday on when and how to hold the annual town meeting as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.

Last year’s meeting was postponed from late March to July and held outside the Town Office while voters stayed in their cars and spoke via portable microphones.

With the pandemic more widespread now, and the future uncertain regarding vaccinations, selectmen are considering again delaying the meeting.

“It’s going to be like this for a while,” Chairman Ron Deegan said.

They discussed possibly repeating last year’s method in April or May, though there was concern a delay could impact the ability to get bids and make plans for summer roadwork, including a planned bridge replacement.

The board will discuss its options further as work proceeds on the municipal budget.

Also discussed at the Tuesday meeting was a request from the Maine Department of Transportation to use Mills Road as a detour for two weeks while a box culvert near the roadside spring on Route 26 is replaced. The state plans a two-year rebuilding project on the road through Bryant Pond, and the state tentatively hopes to do the culvert this summer, Town Manager Vern Maxfield said.

Selectmen expressed concern that heavy Route 26 traffic over Mills Road could seriously damage it. They wondered if the state could be persuaded to resurface, or at least repair damage that might occur, if the town agreed to the arrangement. Town officials said they could photograph and document the condition of the road before the detour in order to judge what repair work might be needed afterward.

Maxfield said he would talk to MDOT about the possibility and report to selectmen.

In other business Tuesday, Fire Chief Kyle Hopps said he hopes to replace firefighter helmets with a modern version that resembles a motorcycle helmet and provides better protection. He said the United States is the only country still using the older style ones, and there is general resistance in the U.S. to switching over, largely out of tradition.

Deegan said he would support the change if it makes firefighting safer for the department.

Hopps said he would want a trial use of some new helmets before making a recommendation, and would report to the board with results and a total cost.

The next board meeting is Jan. 19.


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