FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted Tuesday to have high-resolution aerial photos taken of the county, buy five hybrid cruisers and upgrade jail security with federal stimulus funds.

The county received about $2.9 million of its $5.86 million from American Rescue Plan Act funds last year. It is expected to receive the other half later this year.

Commissioners had two presentations on the Maine Statewide Orthoimagery Program in 2021 for specialized, aerial digital photos of the county. At that time, Maria Jacques of the Emergency Services Communication Bureau said the state GeoLibrary would pay two-thirds of the total cost.

The GeoLibrary’s goal is to cover the state and develop reliable, consistent statewide data, promote cost-efficiency, make timelier decisions, reduce unwanted costs and promote data sharing, according to Claire Kiedrowski, executive director of Maine Library of Geographic Information at the 2021 meeting.

The county approved a similar project in 2014 for 24-inch high-resolution photos. The flyover was done in 2016 and the Franklin County Regional Communications Center is using those photos in its 911 emergency communications system.

The cost to the county and unorganized territory is a combined $40,382 for 18-inch photos, Susan Pratt, the county’s rescue plan act program administrator, said. Of that amount, $20,128 would pay to cover about 1,118 square miles in the county and $20,254 to photograph about 1,125 square miles of the unorganized territory, she said.


Of the $121,122, the state would pay about $80,740, according to information provided previously by Maine Library of Geographic Information.

The 18-inch photos would be more detailed than the 24-inch ones taken in 2016.

The project would promote economic development and improve 911 emergency communications system mapping, among other benefits.

A municipality in the county could buy higher-resolution photos at a substantial savings, Pratt said.

Commissioner Terry Brann, who was elected chairman Tuesday for the third year in a row, said initially he was against spending money on the project. But said he changed his mind when he heard from several people, including a small municipality where it would cost well over $100,000 to have the photos done. He also heard from those in the woods business.

Commissioners also voted to upgrade security at the jail, including the control room. The estimate is about $290,600. Pratt said.


The jail has an analog system, which controls the doors and locks from the control room, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said. It was installed about 1982-83 when the jail was built, he said.

He would like to change it to a digital system for better security. The change would also get rid of most of the exposed wires that the jail’s Board of Visitors and others have raised concerns over, he said, but the county had no money to deal with it.

Pratt said the upgrade is allowed under the federal stimulus program and would not have to go out to bid because the system would be done by a unique vendor. There are not many vendors that do this type of work, she said.

The system would have to be available to be integrated into any expansion of the jail, Nichols said.

Commissioners also voted to purchase five hybrid cruisers with the federal money. It would save the taxpayers about $200,000 over the next two years, the sheriff said. He would solicit bids for them.

He had an estimate of $38,000 for each vehicle. The cruisers would have battery assist and would have Ford interceptor police packages, he said.

Commissioners also agreed to pay the second half of a $2,000 COVID-19 stipend commissioners approved last year for qualified employees. The first $1,000 was paid in December. The money should be included in the next paycheck.

Pratt said that with everything that has been approved so far, including stipends to be covered by American Rescue Plan Act funds, the county would spend about 32% of the first payment and 16% of the overall $5.86 million.

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