WEST PARIS — Thursday, Joy Dinsmore was introduced as the new town manager during the town’s regularly scheduled select board meeting. Selectmen approved appointing Dinsmore as town manager, tax collector, treasurer, clerk, road commissioner, general assistance administrator, local public access officer and addressing officer.

Dinsmore has previously served as Adult Residential Manager at John F. Murphy Homes in Auburn.

In other news, selectmen authorized Fire Chief Troy Billings to use $1,623 the town received from Woodstock for assisting with traffic control to buy water rescue gear.

Selectmen also appointed Mike Grass to the planning board. Grass recently resigned from the select board after six years.

Sovereignties

Resident Natalie Andrews said the CDC “has been curating their message regarding mask wearing “on the backs of the Americans with Disabilities Act” and that the ADA states that accommodations need to be made for those with disabilities, but that it does not specifically mean not wearing masks.

“I think we should keep doing what the CDC advises,” resident Troy Billings said. “If other disability groups are stating that they do not want to be lumped into this resolution than I don’t think the town should be part of it.”

Resident Richard Ring said he believes that Gov. Janet Mills “has overstepped her authority by a longshot.”

“If we don’t draw the line somewhere, what are we going to do, keep backing down?”, another resident asked.

Beacon for Sovereignty is a recently formed group who’s main goal is to protect the rights of people with disabilities, according to founder Karley Estes. A few Maine towns have already adopted the resolution.

Disability Rights Maine, an advocacy group for the disabled, does not support the resolution.

If citizens vote to approve the resolution at the special town meeting on Saturday, May 15, selectmen will sign the resolution and it will act as a statement of the town’s sentiment, according to Selectman Dale Piirainen. Piirainen added that the resolution has “no legal effect at all.”

A local food sovereignty ordinance is “intended to provide residents increased access to local food, to support the ability of residents to produce, sell, purchase and consume locally produced foods, and to reduce governmental regulation of local foods to the extent permitted by and pursuant to 7 M.R.S. 28 1 – 286.”

Selectman John Eli White said if approved, the ordinance would allow West Paris residents to sell certain foods out of their homes without having a Food and Drug Administration Certified kitchen. The ordinance would not apply to any meat products.

“That leaves the burden of safety on each citizen,” White said.

One resident wondered if farm stands would be impacted by the ordinance. White said they would not since items typically sold at stands, like eggs, fruits and vegetables, are not considered prepared foods.

Sanctuary

Resident Bob Carey proposed having West Paris declare itself as a second amendment sanctuary. Carey has proposed the idea to numerous towns in the county, with some deciding to take the vote to a town meeting. He started the public hearing by giving his thoughts on the proposal.

“In article 16 of the Maine Constitution it states that our right to bear arms should be not be infringed upon or even questioned. Right now, it’s being questioned,” Carey said in reference to executive actions President Joe Biden announced earlier in the day on how his administration plans to tackle gun violence.

“If you think criminals cannot get guns, you are absolutely wrong. They got easier access than a legal owner does because they are not going through background checks,” Carey added.

“Gun owners are not foaming at the mouth to start a war over this. All we want is our God given right to protect our family,” resident Wayne Theofrastou said. “Criminals will get guns, so do not take them away or make it harder for law abiding citizens to get them.”

Theofrastou worked in a corrections facility for 10 years, is a veteran, gun safety instructor and registered Maine guide.

Resident Sarah Cummings said she comes from a family with a long tradition of hunting, but thinks declaring the town as a second amendment sanctuary would come across as “thumbing our noses at existing laws and protections.”

Cummings mentioned that she and her husband plan to open a hospitality business in the next coming years and that they want the town to have the reputation as a welcoming, friendly and inclusive community.

“My concern is that a label such as this becomes a hallmark of our town and perhaps one that not everyone wants,” Cummings said. “I am concerned about the stigma that accompanies this type of label. I understand that some may not consider being a second amendment sanctuary as a stigma and may in fact be proud of it, by I urge residents to realize that this designation would paint all community members with the same brush. We do not all have the same opinions.”

Scott Thurston, a resident and veteran, spoke against the declaration, saying it’s an unfair to label an entire community as one thing when other people might have different opinion on the matter.

“Someone in this community may have lost a family member to gun violence, we don’t know what triggers people,” Thurston said. “We need to be respectful of everyone in this community. No one is taking your second amendment rights, they are still there and have lasted through several different presidencies.”

“The second amendment is ab0ut defending yourself against tyrannical government. This is the reason the town needs to be a sanctuary,” resident Dannie Abbott said. Abbott called the current government in Washington D.C. tyrannical, citing recent discussions they’ve had on red flag laws and restricting regulations on ghost guns.

If approved, selectmen will sign a resolution (drafted by them) declaring the town a second amendment sanctuary.

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