The state’s plan to add sidewalks on the right side of Mayville Road is a concern for the Waste Water Treatment Plant staff who will need to complete work in that area first.  Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — “Right now we’re running on a Frankenstein system. The thing was installed in 1974.  If something happens there it’s going to be a mess… It’s a dire, dire situation. I cannot overstate how critical that piece of infrastructure is,” said Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Jeff Warden of the Mill Hill pumping station on Mill Hill Road.

“One of the things that’s driving the hurry-up, it’s the oldest section of pipe in town… Mayville is all swamp. We’ve got camera footage of the pipe and it’s all broken…when the rain comes up, that gets into the sewer, then ends up coming at the plant. If water can get in, waste can get out. The pipe is only four feet deep. It’s close to being in the water there.”

For the past eight months Mill Hill has been breaking down. Warden has spent about a thousand dollars of WWTP money and many hours there with staff, already. Because there is a single working pump, at Mill Hill, (one has failed), a dire situation could result where,  “there would be a  septage truck having to suck the pit dry, drive it down to the plant, dump it, and then run back and get it again before it overflows,” said Warden.

Warden spoke at the Select Board meeting held Wednesday, January 18 at Bethel Town Office. Also present were: Town Manager, Natalie Andrews, Town Clerk, Darren Goyette, and a full board: Lloyd Sweetser, Meryl Kelly, Patricia McCartney, Frank Del Duca and Lori Swain.

“We have no capital plan. We haven’t been putting any money away, ever,” said Warden. Besides the pumping station, work is necessary on ground valves [which are 30-40 years old] at the treatment plant, on Mayville Road sewer reconstruction and much more.

“It’s going to be a complete replacement at this point. $540,00 up to $900,000 for the Mill Hill pump.  The total amount that we’ll need, it’s closer to $5M, but because of our rates and our fiscal sustainability [Maine Rural] probably won’t approve us for that much,” said Warden.


The aging and broken Mill Hill pump station on Mill Hill Street is a concern for the Waste Water Treatment Plant and the Town of Bethel. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

“We are a couple of years behind. You can get reimbursed for all of your design funds once you get the big loan. But we can’t  go out to bid without having a final design. We need actual blueprints and draft contracts to go out to bid. That’s what this $110,664 [design estimate] gets us.

Warden said that while the Department of Transportation has delayed once already for them, they currently have plans to build a sidewalk this April on Mayville Road in the area in front of Rusty Lantern extending to the existing walking path that crosses the Androscoggin River. The WWTP would like to repair 10-12 connections on that side of the road first. “We don’t need to add a new sidewalk to our job,” said Warden.

Earlier in the meeting, Andrews had asked the board to consider using the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA ) funds of $289,176 for the Mill Hill Pump  and Route 2 sewer project design with an estimated cost of $110,664. The monies were originally slated for a First Light application that was not funded, since it did not serve greater than 50% population.

Selectboard member, Meryl Kelly, said, “We need to have actual plan for Waste Water Treatment plan. We need to stop saying we need a plan,”

Andrews said she has gathered information about sewer rate billing structures. She has conversed with the water district about combining utilities into a utility district, and she has talked with town officials in Norway and Oxford. She has asked those officials, “how do they use taxes toward that? Because undesignated funds is tax money and your code [in Bethel] says you don’t use the tax money [to pay for this].”

“If that thing bubbles over and goes into the river…the town is on the hook,” said Del Duca, “it’s imperative to replace the pump it’s imperative that we look at the whole picture and that includes changing the code so we can pay for the thing.”


They board approved a motion to move all of the ARPA funds to the Wastewater Treatment Plant to spend what is needed for the design.

The board also scheduled a workshop with Warden for Monday, January 23.

More news

Town Manager Natalie Andrews reported that the State of Maine found no record of asbestos or the abatement of asbestos at the Ethel Bisbee School on Philbrook Street.

Atlantic Environmental charged $1,500 for the inspection which uncovered the existence of asbestos. The lead paint can safely go to the landfill. The all-inclusive cost for removal is $13,000. Because the removal amount exceeds $10,000, it will need to go out to bid.  Andrews was following up on the board’s request to see if there was an existing record of removal and what the cost would be, separate from Cross Excavation’s submitted RFP for demolition which had included asbestos removal.

Andrews said she, Neil Scanlon, Randy Thurston and Woodstock Town Manager Vern Maxfield, met with Northern Forest to present lot suggestions for the middle income housing planned for Gehring House on Broad Street.


Consideration of a community solar farm is underway, “considering how our electricity costs doubled,” said Andrews.

The town will be taking over the East Bethel cemetery.

Effective February 3, the WWTP superintendent, Jeff Warden, will resign (see related story). Andrews was informed by DEP that a level 3 worker will be required by the following day. Randy Autrey, WWTP operator, is also leaving. He retires March 1. Andrews said Rural Maine may be able to place someone temporarily. Rick Davis a former superintendent, is meeting with Andrews. Both jobs have posted with no applicants.

Twenty people participated in Super Sunday, seven hours of firefighter training.

The board approved Jim Bennett to the Capital Improvement Committee. Neil Scanlon and Carina Walter both applied for Bingham Forest Advisory Committee. Bennett, who was in the audience, offered to resign from the Bingham committee, so both Scanlon and Walter could serve. After a short discussion about who should serve which term, they appointed Walter for one year and Scanlon for three years.

Aaron Osterhage was appointed to the Ordinance Review Committee as was select person Patricia McCartney, for a one-year term, to represent the board.


Two permits were approved for the Marijuana Store and G&M, LLC

In February, and possibly continuing into March, the board will discuss the general code. There are 140 items that need to be updated, they are due April 4, 2023. The public is invited to the meetings.



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