NORWAY — The Select Board approved a proposal Thursday night from Town Manager Dennis Lajoie to hire a temporary assistant for 2022 to help with multiple tasks beyond his normal duties.

Among those tasks will be hiring employees, including department heads who are retiring, and assisting the board with Lajoie’s eventual replacement.

Lajoie mapped out nearly a dozen projects that will require his full attention in the coming year. Near the top of that list is managing the $527,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act. Norway has received the first half of the grant and will get the rest in 2022.

“These last 18 months have been challenging for me and many of you as we dealt with a global pandemic while continuing to keep staff and residents safe, provide continuous municipal services and manage the staff and town budget,” Lajoie said.

One town employee has expressed interest in the one-year position and has no desire to become the future town manager, Lajoie said. Working as an assistant town manager would merely be an expansion of this person’s duties but he or she would have no supervisory function over employees.

The position would allow Lajoie to work from home two days per week to focus and complete the complicated projects facing the town in the coming year.

Since ARPA funds can be used to pay for administrative support, Lajoie estimated $20,000 from those funds could be used to cover part of the salary, which would free up money in the town’s salary account to pay for the new position.

The long list of projects facing Lajoie and the town includes the final closeout of the $3.5 million highway garage construction project, negotiations with Rural Development, the architect, contractors and the construction crew on the first phase of the Town Office construction project, negotiating a three-year contract with the police union, and revising and updating the 140-page comprehensive plan.

Other challenges include work on a new solar array project at the town landfill, preparing the 2022-23 municipal budget, assisting the wastewater superintendent in the funding development of the wastewater master plan, and continuing to monitor the town’s coronavirus response.

Retiring employees in the coming year are the police chief, fire chief, town clerk, deputy town clerk, counter clerk, Emergency Management Agency director, highway foreman, highway mechanic and the parks, recreation and cemetery director.

The board unanimously approved Lajoie’s proposal.

In other business, the board approved a beano/bingo license for Stone-Smart American Legion Post 82 for Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m.

The panel also approved a special amusement license for Boomers restaurant at 107 Lake Road.

Maine School Administration District 17 Superintendent Monica Henson and Chief Financial Officer Carrie Calley spoke to the board and answered questions. Henson said she was proud of the district’s response to COVID-19. Their policy of universal masking indoors, social distancing in the classrooms (3 feet) and at lunch (6 feet because masks can’t be worn), and pool testing have proven to be most effective. MSAD 17 has had no school shutdowns this year.

“It’s not rocket science,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to follow the recommendations.”

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