MINOT — Selectmen voted recently to delay town meetings in response to the governor’s executive order on social distancing. They also rescheduled the municipal election as they prepare for a public hearing on the matter of town broadband service.

According to Town Administrator Danielle Loring, selectmen voted to postpone the town meeting to May or June because the current executive order only allows 50 people to gather indoors. They feel it is important, Loring said, to try and uphold the traditions of the town versus holding a referendum vote at the polls.

The board will make a decision at the April 5 meeting. They are able to postpone the meeting without jeopardizing the budget because of the executive order, allowing the town to operate with the same amount as last year’s budget.

Selectmen scheduled the municipal election and referendum for March 12 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Town Office. It’s normally held the first Friday in March, Loring said, but they needed more time to hold a public hearing for a question on broadband service.

The election includes two three-year terms for selectmen. Incumbent Lisa Cesare and newcomer Matthew Callahan are running unopposed. Callahan’s father, Daniel Jr., is not seeking re-election.

There are also two three-year terms for the Regional School Unit 16 board of directors, for which no one is running. The seats are held by Michael Downing and Michael Lacasse.

Absentee ballots will be available Feb. 10.

The broadband question involves authorization to appropriate $100,000 from surplus, or the undesignated fund balance,  to serve as a ConnectME Authority Grant Match. Minot is partnering with FirstLight to expand broadband service to underserved parts of the town and will cover about 50% of the residences that do not have adequate internet access.

According to Colleen J. Quint, chair of the committee on the broadband issue, the matter is being voted on in March rather that at the town meeting because the application for state funding is due to the ConnectME Authority by March 25, and because that application requires demonstration that town support has been secured — the Selectmen voted unanimously to move the warrant article regarding the broadband expansion to be voted on as a referendum item at the March 12 election.

The project total is just over $300,000, Loring said, and will be split three ways among FirstLight, ConnectME, and the town. The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 during the selectmen regular meeting. Space is limited for in-person attendance but people may join via Zoom. More information will be available by the end of the week on the town’s website at minotme.org.


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