BUCKFIELD — The Town Office will remain opened to the public for just three days per week for the foreseeable future.

The office has been closed to the public on Mondays and Fridays since mid September to allow town staff to get caught up on paperwork and preparing reports required to run the town.

The town has struggled to get back to speed for nearly a year, as the town as gone thru five town managers since August 2020. Lorna Nichols was recently hired as town manager and began her duties Oct 4.

Nichols said she likes the idea of closing the office for two days to help the staff complete the backlog of paperwork and stay current on anything new.

The Select Board agreed, voting to keep the office open on Tuesdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with 30 minutes off for lunch.

Selectman Cameron Hinkley also asked to hold future board meetings in-person rather than via Zoom, which has been the current practice. Selectman Mike Iveson said he didn’t see the need, saying he could see and hear everyone on Zoom fine. Janet Iveson wondered if in-person might be a better option since she has heard complaints that not everyone has access to Zoom.

She conceded that “historically, we do not get many people at the meetings.”

Using Zoom, however, appears to have allowed more residents to watch and participate in Buckfield’s meetings. A few meetings have attracted more than 20 individuals.

Selectman Bob Hand said he was concerned about the recent spike in COVID cases in the county.

Saying she could see both sides of the argument, Chairperson Cheryl Coffman said, “I think it’s good that our policy gives us some flexibility.”

The board agreed to hold in-person meetings beginning with its next meeting Nov. 2, but will retain the Zoom option for residents and, in the case of emergencies, members of the Select Board.

In other business, the board approved a paving bid by Spencer Group Paving of Turner for $212,323. The list of roads to be paved in the spring was not available.

A bid for a new excavator was awarded to Milton Cat of Scarborough, which submitted the lowest of four bids at $21,969 for five years.

Nichols said the staff has been working nearly daily to get the information out for the tax bills. She expects the bills could be ready by next week. When asked about the mill rate, Coffman said the assessors have not yet set the rate.

The board will begin considering an opt-in for a marijuana shop in town. Nichols said she has met a resident who has refurbished his property in the hopes to open a dispensary. Nichols gave the board samples of other communities’ marijuana ordinances to ponder in order to draft its own.

Approved for committee assignment were Mark Fox and Zachary Williams to the Economic Development Committee, Kelsea Flynn for the Recreation Committee and Christopher Hayward to the Road Committee.

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