AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office will dedicate a deputy to patrol the Route 4 corridor in an attempt to slow traffic and make the road safer for commuters and residents.

The Androscoggin County Commission unanimously approved the request from Chairman Sally Christner of Turner to hire a traffic enforcement officer during discussion to finalize the preliminary county budget during Wednesday night’s meeting. The vote was 6-0 with Commissioner Edouard Plourde of Lewiston absent.

Christner said Route 4 is one of the most dangerous roads in the state. The corridor saw two major crashes in Turner and Auburn last week.

Emergency vehicles are stationed Sept. 8 on Route 4 in Turner where a motorcyclist and an SUV collided. The motorcyclist was seriously injured. Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office photo

Sheriff Eric Samson estimated the cost of the new position would be about $115,000 for the first year, which would include a police cruiser, radio, uniform, equipment, salary and benefits.

Commissioners, who made several cuts to the county budget Wednesday night, did not balk at the cost.

Stating that, constitutionally, policing is the top job of the county, Commissioner Garrett Mason said, “It’s our job to make that road safe.”


“Most of the residents in the surrounding communities take Route 4,” Commissioner Terri Kelly of Mechanic Falls said. “This will save lives.”

When Commissioner Andrew Lewis of Auburn asked Samson if he saw “value” in such a position, the sheriff said having a dedicated deputy patrolling Route 4 would make the road safer.

Only Commissioner Roland Poirier of Lewiston expressed concern. He wondered if dedicating one officer to patrol one road in the county would entice other municipalities to seek a similar arrangement.

Firefighters and police work Sept. 7 on Route 4 in Auburn where a Turner motorcyclist crashed into a truck and later died. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

While other commissioners understood his uneasiness, they said Route 4 is a unique situation. While mostly a two-lane road — except in Auburn and a section of Turner where it is four lanes — it is a busy major thoroughfare through the county with vehicles driving at high speeds.

Commissioners adopted Samson’s suggestion that the first-year expenditures be paid as follows: cruiser, radio and equipment from federal pandemic relief funds and $60,000 salary and $2,000 for a uniform from next year’s county budget.

Despite that addition to next year’s budget, commissioners cut more than $175,000 from the initial proposal. The biggest cut was to the building fund, where a $257,000 request for capital projects for the county building was sliced to $8,000, the amount budgeted in previous years.


Commissioners had no appetite in investing money to fix up the building if the board ultimately decides to vacate it for another facility, which is currently under discussion.

The individual projects cut from the budget include $20,000 for flooring, $75,000 for roofing, $30,000 to paint the stairwells, $35,000 to clean ductwork, $30,000 for the boilers, and $8,000 for exterior doors.

Commissioners debated keeping money for the floors, but ultimately rejected it.

The final $249,000 cut passed by a 4-2 vote with Poirier and Lewis voting against the cut.

Also cut was the entire $7,979 request by the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. Mason, who was the county’s representative on AVCOG, said the group is a town-based organization. He saw little benefit to the county. He added that the towns are paying twice for the same services if the county is also paying dues to AVCOG since county taxes are paid for by the towns.

Lewiston Commissioner Brian Ames’ proposal to increase the sheriff and chief deputy’s salary by $5,000 apiece was unanimously adopted by the commissioners.

Mason said he is still considering cutting funding for Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Extension Service and Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, though no decision was made Wednesday. He reiterated his dislike for the county funding organizations that should get money from the municipalities.

The budget goes to the 14-member Budget Committee, consisting mostly of municipal officials and a few citizens. Its first meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the courthouse in Auburn.

The budget will then return to the commissioners later this year for final approval.

Related Headlines

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.