PARIS — Oxford County commissioners approved a $30,000 energy study Thursday to determine expected energy consumption at the planned public safety building during a workshop.

Efficiency Maine plans to cover half of the cost after the study is completed, Tony Carter, supervisor of the Oxford County Regional Airport in Oxford and the unorganized territories, told the commissioners.

“I think it’s a prudent thing to do,” Commissioner Steven Merrill of Norway said.

“The Efficiency Maine Trust is the independent, quasi-state agency established to plan and implement energy efficiency programs in Maine,” according to its website.

The program will also help with costs for energy-efficient or renewable energy appliances for the new building — like LED lighting, heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and solar power, Carter said.

“That will give us the road map to move forward on additional design for what systems we think are energy efficient,” he said.

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The new public safety facility is expected to open in 2026. It is to be built on Western Avenue next to Oxford County Superior Court and be named the Donald L. Durrah Public Safety Building, in honor of former Oxford County Administrator Donald Durrah, who died unexpectedly last November. It is to house the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, the Oxford County Regional Communications Center, and the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency.

On Thursday, commissioners also approved $85,308.36 in legal fees related to litigation dealing with the attempted removal of Sheriff Christopher Wainwright from office. According to Maine law, only the governor can remove a sheriff from office. Earlier this month, Gov. Janet Mills declined the Oxford County Commission’s request to do so.

“This is the total involving all the investigations, the pre-hearing, all that stuff, and also includes a bill that we’re about to receive. It should be the last one,” Executive Assistant Abby Shanor said.

Newly hired Oxford County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Dana Thompson introduces himself Thursday to Oxford County commissioners during a workshop. Evan W. Houk/Advertiser Democrat

Under the regular budget line item for legal fees, the commission still has $65,000 available, as well as $100,000 in its legal reserve account, to cover the costs, Shanor said.

“I think we had really good representation, I’ll put it that way,” Commission Chair David Duguay of Byron said. “The outcome wasn’t a result of our attorney’s efforts.”

The commission accepted the sudden resignation, not in good standing, of full-time Public Safety Dispatcher Kaleb Bays, effective May 31. Bays apparently did not fully understand his contract and left after only a few months of training. The commissioners also discussed ways to approach staff shortages with Communications Director Geffrey Inman.

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Inman said he has four openings currently at the Oxford County Regional Communications Center, with three people still in training.

“Basically I have seven spots,” he said.

Shanor said that after negotiation with the union in a few weeks, the county will be able to post higher wages that may attract new candidates.

However, Inman said, it is more the stress of the day-to-day operations and the rigidity and sometimes irregular hours of a dispatcher’s schedule that leads some people to decide the work is not right for them.

“It’s a tough job,” Inman said. “They get the brunt of a lot of stuff that isn’t really intended to them, but they get it. And nobody calls up and says ‘Merry Christmas’ very often.”

He said he has been bringing in applicants to the communications center to see how they will like working there before hiring them, so as not to waste time down the road.

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“For the right person, I think it can be pretty exhilarating and fulfilling,” Duguay said.

Also on Thursday, commissioners welcomed newly hired Maj. Dana Thompson to the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, who started at the beginning of May.

Thompson began his career as a reserve police officer for Westbrook in 1989. He served nearly two years as an officer for the Lisbon Police Department from 1992-94 before joining the Gorham Police Department, where he worked his way up the ranks for the past 30 years. He was most recently the department’s patrol commander and lieutenant, a position he held since 2020.

Commissioners held two executive sessions, which lasted about an hour, during their workshop. One session was held to discuss a grievance and another to discuss union contract negotiations.

The commissioners plan to meet next at its offices at Oxford County Superior Court at 9 a.m. June 18.

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