BETHEL — Select Board Vice Chair Michele Cole said two citizens had previously asked, “How is the public supposed to act (at meetings)?”

At the Sept. 6 town office meeting she responded, saying that while they may formalize in the future currently they ask people to respond during the public comment period.

Frank Del Duca, Sarah Southam, and Pat McCartney sat at the head table with Outgoing Town Manager Natalie Andrews and Town Clerk, Jessicca Grover. Chair Meryl Kelly is on vacation.

Resident Candace Casey suggested they table two last-minute agenda items since Kelly was not present. Cole said Kelly was aware of the executive sessions.

Resident Marsya Robert said the select board shouldn’t limit public comment to the beginning of the meeting but instead it should be allowed before every non-procedural item. Secondly, she requested that all meetings be recorded digitally. “We need to have these things recorded in hard copy and the hard copy needs to be uploaded within an hour.”

Former Select Board Chair Lloyd Sweetser said he believed the Aug. 22 special board meeting was illegal because it was about recruiting for a town manager (not a personnel issue).


Del Duca voted against adding ice rink approval at the Ethel Bisbee lot to the agenda. Needing a unanimous vote, the motion failed and was not added to the agenda.

After the public comment, with the meeting was underway, Marsya Robert began to comment. Cole said, “we are conducting the business of the people at this time … we ask that you please hold your comments.”

After more discussion, Robert began loudly sighing and tapping her fingers on the podium at the back of the room. She spoke out of turn again. “I will leave the meeting after this, because you are going to kick me out if I don’t go now… You guys are so intent on doing things on the down low… ” Then she left.

They voted to go into executive sessions at 7 p.m. and again at the end of the meeting for two separate personnel matters. There was no action following either session.

The board approved  a victualers and liquor license for on-site, (not take away) for Watershed Woodfired Kitchen, 11 Philbrick Street. McCartney asked the hours. Proprietors Kate Goldberg and Vicki Fimiani were in the audience, introduced themselves and said they would be open no later than 9 p.m.

High Time Construction’s donation of $1,000 to the Bethel Regional Airport was accepted. “They were impressed when Randy was here making his airport presentation and offered to make a donation.” said Andrews.


TM Report

 The town office will be closed Sept. 21. Election training is mandatory and has not been available since 2019. All front office staff and the finance director will be attending. The CEO, TM and Assessor Assistant will be working that day.

A part time temporary employee has been hired to assist with reports, payments, and the counter. “Ms. Hanscom has experience with grant writing and office work. She will assist until a permanent position is hired,” said Andrews.

A scoping meeting is scheduled for the ALP (Airport Layout Plan) on Sept 15.

“I was made aware today that several planks are sticking up on the walking bridge over the Androscoggin. Public Works has been informed and will correct this before anyone is seriously injured,” said Andrews.

Department Head evaluations are nearly completed.


On Sept. 13 there are three meetings: a Department Head meeting is at 8 a.m.; Interlocal Solid Waste committee is meeting at 3 p.m.; and Bethel Airport Authority is at 4 p.m.

SCADA software for the Wastewater Treatment Plant is being updated. This is the monitoring and alarm system for the plant.

Positive press releases were made by Senators Collins’, Golden’s and King’s offices when they announced that the US Dept of Agriculture awarded a total of $3,495,000 to the towns of Bethel and Milo for wastewater treatment and sewer facility upgrades, with Bethel receiving a $1,200,000 grant and a $2,200,000 loan and Milo receiving a $95,000 grant. Andrews later confirmed that she applied for the grant from the state on her first week of work a year ago.

The winter sand bid is due Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. The board will make a decision on Sept. 20.

Taxes were committed on Sept. 5. The mil rate went up 66 cents. It is now $12. 90 per thousand. Tax bills have been sent out.

Hanscom presentation 


Bethel Ambulance Chief David Hanscom gave a report to the board. Of his 30 years on the ambulance service, he said, “I have seen a lot of change within our town and within the staffing of the ambulance service.”  He said Bethel Ambulance employs no full-time employees. “None of them are getting benefits. These are all folks who are doing this as a second, third or fourth job.”

The overnight staff gets $80. for the night which if you do the math works out to $6.66 an hour, he said. “It is getting harder and harder to fill those shifts … Our call volume has increased dramatically (since COVID). The last two years we’ve had over 500 calls each of those two years.”

He said they are competing with full time services like PACE and Med-Care which pays time and a half, which puts Bethel at a disadvantage. “We may have to put in a couple of full time positions in order to staff those shifts.”

He said he would urge Bethel to keep its service intact rather than regionalizing as has been discussed in the past. He said half of the Bethel Ambulance budget is covered by billings. He said it is enjoyable but cumbersome to monitor his staff of 35-40 people who must regularly meet EMS standards.

Hanscom asked the board to motion and accept Bethel Ambulance’s acceptance to the Maine EMS explorer’s program, a shadow program for young people ages 16-24. Bethel was one of five towns selected. It will be an agenda item for the next meeting.

Unbeknownst to Hanscom, Ambulance Deputy Chief Randall Grondin was there to present him with a plaque for his 30 years of service. Bethel Finance Director Amy Hanscom, wife of David, was in the audience with the couple’s daughters Sophie, Emily and Kristi.


Other business

Department of Transportation Regional Transportation Planner Matthew Drost and Marty Rooney both of PPI (Planning Partnership Initiative) came to present on the request of Andrews. Their group looks at transportation and infrastructure issues.

Drost said Bethel already has a beautiful downtown. However, they may consider having an area addressed,  like the Bethel Parkway, with it’s winter traffic challenges. The group has worked with Belgrade, Hallowell and Ogunquit. Currently they are working with Woodstock to add some of the “village feel” to route 26. They are working with Norway, too.

Bill Allen was unanimously appointed to the Appeals Board to a term that will end in December.

Public Works Director Scott Sumner explained a proposed agreement between Nathan Wight and the towns of Rumford and Bethel. The towns use Wight’s property as a bus turnaround. Debris was dumped at the site prior to the placement by Bethel workers of some large rocks. More recently Rumford took away 44 tires, part of a shed and more.

Wight said he would like to have something in writing that would insure that future debris be removed by the two towns. Cole and Andrews suggested they draft a memorandum of understanding that would be reviewed by the town attorney.


The ordinance review board returned two altered ordinances to the select board for review. Both were approved and will go to a public hearing next.

The Conservation Commission ordinance (5-59) adds the words “education of.” The new wording will allow the board to award a scholarship recipient. “We’re not really here to provide scholarships,” said Del Duca. ORC Chair Jim Bennett said the word education will allow for various opportunities, not only a scholarship.

A General Restrictions ordinance (136-5) would add, “No private signs shall be permitted on the town-owned property at the corner of Main Street and Mechanic Street, otherwise known as Veteran’s Memorial Park, including but not limited to, temporary signs within the right-of-way.”

They approved a liquor taste-testing event at The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum on Sept. 27. “Is it free? I didn’t get my invitation,” said Del Duca.

They returned from the second executive session at 8:34 and adjourned shortly thereafter.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: