Selectmen’s meeting April 14th – The board approved a warrant of $64,038.33 and payroll warrant of $4524.55.
Chairman Alan Grant read a statement about the recent executive session regarding the Treasurer and the Recreation Committee finances. Todd Emerson made a motion regarding the findings of the executive session and it was approved 2/0. Jay Look questioned the motion and then abstained. (Unfortunately my recorder malfunctioned and my request for copies of these two items was not fulfilled by press time. A form has been posted here to assist Citizens of Columbia Falls in acquiring information about how our Town Officials have handled the Recreation Committee Passbook Account) The Board of Selectmen did not state either the reason(s) for their decision or the findings of fact to support their decision as required by Freedom of Access Act (FOAA).
It was reported that the town is 9th on the list for roadside clean-up by inmates. A quarterly payment for the Code Enforcement Officer was approved.
Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey reported that Wreaths Across America is expecting to have a conference call with their attorney soon and are close to having a second meeting with selectmen.
Ads for requesting lawn care bids have gone to the Downeast Coastal press and are expected to be published this week and next so bids could be opened at next selectmen’s meeting.
Selectmen authorized the purchase of steel shelving for the storage room at the cost of approximately $600.00. They asked Bailey to recommend the size of a safe to be purchased.
A fifty cent per hour pay increase for Eleanor Dewey, the town office cleaning lady was approved making her hourly rate $10.50.
New town letterhead is to be printed.
Selectman Todd Emerson asked how the $1000 CFHS alumni article which was inadvertently left off the town meeting warrant could be reinstated. Administrative assistant Bailey will check in to this.
Road commissioner Mike Bailey said that town snowplow contractor County Concrete has plowed for several years at the same contract price and suggested that the board offer them an increase to keep them for another year. An offer of $55,000 (an increase of about 2.5%) was approved and if not accepted the contract would go out for bids.
Driving through Columbia Falls village on Friday evening April 18th one certainly new something big was going on. There was barely room for a car to travel the one lane left between the rows of parked vehicles on either side of Main Street. The Downeast Salmon Federation was holding its annual smelt fry at the Columbia Falls Fire Station grounds. Over 250 people attended. The buffet included potato salad, green salads, whole chicken thighs, baked beans, moose meat chilly, rolls and blueberry buckle. The delicious deep fried to perfection smelts were delivered to your table. It was a delightful but chilly evening with conversation, socializing, and meeting new people for the adults and of course there was a bounce house and games for the children. The DSF fish house and hatchery were open to the public.
There was barely room for a car to travel the one lane left between the rows of parked vehicles on either side of Main Street Columbia Falls while the owners attended the Downeast Salmon Federation’s annual smelt fry on Friday evening April 18th.
Enjoying the fare at the Downeast Salmon Federation’s annual smelt fry on Friday evening April 18th are left to right Anna Hammond, her son Rufus of Columbia Falls, Norm Talbot of Franklin, Robert and Jewell Miller from Beals, and Lynn Hobsall of Eastbrook. Rufus bragged “I had chicken, chilly, smelts, and two blueberry buckles”. Robert Miller said he and Jewell come every year and this year brought their own mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce to “an event that could not be missed”.
Over 250 people attended the Downeast Salmon Federation’s annual smelt fry in Columbia Falls on Friday evening April 18th shown here under the tent
The bounce house was popular with children at the Downeast Salmon Federation’s annual smelt fry in Columbia Falls on Friday evening April 18th.
Fish FryDon’t forget the Annual Downeast Salmon Federation Fish Fry April 18th, 2014 5-9pm on the grounds of Columbia Falls fire department.
The ice went out of the basin below the falls during the rain storm on Tuesday April 8th, 2014.Congratulations to D.W. Merritt School on becoming a High Performance Reward School as noted in a letter from the commissioner of education.
Special Selectmen’s meeting on Thursday evening, April 10th the board members Alan Grant, Jay Look and Todd Emerson immediately went in to executive session with town treasurer Lenora (Emerson) Weaver “to discuss the recreation (committee) passbook savings account”. The session lasted approximately 40 minutes. When they returned Chairman Grant stated “We have resolved the issue at hand and as far as I am concerned there will be nothing further to come out of this”. Nancy Bailey said “are we allowed to ask about the account that supposedly existed?” Grant replied “at another time”. Chuck Hammond asked “will the public get to find out about the Machias Savings Bank findings?” Grant responded “at another time”. The meeting was adjourned. The board did not follow the Maine Municipal Association’s procedural rule for an executive session - No decision may be reached by the board. No motion may be made. No final decision may be made. Right to know law may not be defeated by an executive session. When the executive session ends and the board returns to the public meeting to make its decision(s) Right to Know Law states that when the board makes a decision it must set forth in writing the reasons for its decision and make findings of fact sufficient to appraise the individual concerned or the public of the basis for the decision. Once the motion is made on the above it becomes public record. So by not making a motion they defeated Right to Know which, as stated above, is illegal.
That document is hereby adopted by the board as its final written decision. (Once the motion is adopted it becomes public record).
When the board came back into regular session it was obvious they had made a decision while in executive session and if so it was illegal. The only motion made when they returned to regular session was to adjourn when they first should have discussed their findings and made a motion to adopt their findings and state these findings of fact that would support that decision.Some attendees thought that Todd Emerson should have recused himself since he and Lenora Emerson Weaver are cousins.
Selectmen’s meeting March 24th, 2014- The board approved a warrant of $19484.33 and payroll of $735.07. Alan Grant was again chosen as chairman. The Attorney Gilbert package pertaining to changes on the proposed contract to convey the municipal building have not been made public since newly elected selectman, Todd Emerson has not had the opportunity to review it. The town office has received its new copier and delivery personnel would not take the old one. Joanne Champney, secretary for the new Epping Volunteer Fire Department has requested a letter from the town stating that the voters have approved combining the fire department with Columbia. Citizen Grace Falzarano asked the board if there was any response from the Machias Savings Bank research on Rec. Committee finances. The board response was that they are still waiting on information from town auditor James Wadman and new selectman, Emerson has not had the chance to review it yet. Chuck Hammond asked “Do I take it that means something was found?” Grant responded “No comment”.
Other business discussed – April calendar was approved. Administrative assistant was given a 50 cent raise from $11.50 to $12.00 per hour. (This was in the approved budget). There was discussion on how to handle the lawn care bids since the municipal building ownership will be transferred, but no decision made. Washington County sheriff’s office has offered free roadside cleanup with inmates. An “Ice out” contest was suggested but no action taken.
Fire Chief Dave Perham reminded the board that the new Epping fire department will require three board members from the town, one selectman and two citizens. Retired board member will continue working until a decision is made.
Quality Construction’s bid of $17,200 (without cabinets) for final phase of inside construction on Union Hall was accepted. Pam Look asked “Are you working on this project Mr. Chairman? Chairman Grant replied “No.” Tony Santiago said that Union Halls funds available for improvements are $23,000 and estimates $44,000 is required to complete make the hall ready to hold functions. Applications for grants are being planned for submittal in 2014.
John Tibbetts submitted the following letter dated March 24th to selectmen prior to the meeting via the administrative assistant:
I concluded from Mr. Grant’s address to the citizens attending Town Meeting last week that he and at least some others of our town officers consider citizen’s requests for information, citizen’s concerns and citizen’s insistence in doing things legally to be a bother, an inconvenience and a totally unnecessary waste of time. Be that as it may be, as long as he is a selectman Mr. Grant and those who share his views may just have to be contented with serving those who elected them as the law requires them to do. Therefore I have two concerns for which I request answers. Consider this a FOAA (Freedom of Access Act) request or just a simple request for information from a taxpayer which ever suits you best.
I am requesting to know why the information on voting requirements from M.M.A. presented to the Selectmen’s meeting on March 10, 2014 by Mr. Look was not acted upon by the Registrar of Voters before the annual Town Meeting which was then a week away? This failure on the part of the Registrar allowed persons who are not residents of this town to vote in the before mentioned Town Meeting. I am sure the State of Maine officials who see that voting laws are adhered to will be willing to investigate this matter if you Selectmen are not. A blatant violation of the voting laws took place here and this must be rectified.
It is public record the Selectmen voted to have Machias Savings Bank search their archives for any and all accounts having belonged to or belonging to the Columbia Falls Recreation Committee. Therefore I request to know the results of the investigation (they found something / they didn’t find anything). And I further request to know exactly what action you Selectmen are taking to investigate any findings the bank may have brought forth. I am sure you realize your duty to protect the town’s interests and to investigate any evidence brought forth by the bank’s investigation.
Selectmen’s meeting March 10th, 2014-The board approved a warrant of $53224.08 and a payroll of 4758.12.
Bun Ward questioned why it took the administrative assistant 14 hours to answer the freedom of access act (FOAA) complaint. Nancy Bailey’s response was to see if the Rec Committee was actually a town committee, to see if there were any town bank statements and there were a lot of phone calls. The Attorney General’s office stated in a letter to the town and to the citizen that the town had complied with the request. Ward said that in a December 2012 meeting about the upcoming 150 celebration he remembers asking where are we going to get the money and he remembers Pete Doak suggesting that the Rec Committee had a lot of money on hand and couldn’t we use that. Bun was told “hands off and forget it”. At the last selectmen’s meeting as a result of the citizen’s inquiry it turns out there is no Rec Committee money. Ward asked “where did that money go?” A motion was made and approved by 2-0 (Grant did not vote) to have Machias Savings research all accounts with town of Columbia Falls. Rick Farnsworth asked “how far back should you go?” John Tibbetts said that while he was treasurer when previous administrative assistant, Muriel Smith was away he and Joyce Grant were sorting the mail. There was a Town of Columbia Falls Rec Committee statement from Machias Savings Bank with a number of 1000s of dollars, under $10,000 perhaps $9000 or $8000. He brought this to Smith’s attention and she snatched it out of his hand saying “it was none of his business”. The board decided to ask the bank to research archives back to the beginning of 2010. Read more about this subject on the internet at http://bangordailynews.com/2014/03/11/news/down-east/bank-account-revelation-fuels-spat-in-columbia-falls/?ref=latest.
Bailey asked how was the change from five planning board members to three going to be handled. It was decided to have an article in the town meeting warrant to decrease the number to three and if approved then next year the town could elect three members with staggered terms.
The town has received a new package from Attorney Gilbert concerning the building conveyance to Wreaths Across America. Bailey will make copies for the selectmen to read before it is released to the public. Ward reminded the board that the town will need renters insurance.
Other matters discussed:
The administrative assistant presented proposals for a copy machine. The board decided to lease a reconditioned copier that will also do booklets. The monthly rent is $57.00 and includes a 5 year warranty and toner.
The librarian’s stipend has been coming out of buildings and grounds next year it will come out of library budget.
Selectmen visited the Union Hall work in progress on Saturday (one at a time). The new bid package was approved and will go to the same contractors as before.
Nancy Bailey personally thanked Bun Ward for his 3 years of service as selectman. There was applause all around.
John Tibbetts stated that voting laws are important and Columbia Falls should follow them. Residency is required. A voter must live in town, temporary assignment excepted. Tibbetts requested that the voting list be checked. Registrar of voters, Nancy Bailey said she had spent hours and hours researching this, has looked at the list and believes everyone is OK except one man 79 years old. Anyone else would have to be challenged at the voting time/place. I will have to tell this man who has voted here all his life that now he can’t. Tibbetts said whenever anyone complains or questions elected officials it is always brought down that it hurts someone. It is always pointed out how someone will be hurt. The law is the law we should not be thinking of the person.
Selectmen’s meeting February 24th, 2014 – A warrant of $4471.62 and a payroll of $735.07 was approved. Four bids were received for the foreclosed property on Centerville Road. Wendell Rockwell’s high bid of $1700 was accepted. After reviewing a proposal submitted by Tony Santiago the board decided to renew the town’s membership in the Washington County Council of Governments and pay the annual dues of $362.00. Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey provided copies of the state statute on “Right to Know” policy for the board to review before next meeting. She also announced that a meeting has been scheduled on March 3rd by Karen Worcester of Wreaths Across America to meet with selectmen and attorneys to discuss the transfer of the municipal building. The Town March calendar was approved with town meeting scheduled for the 18th. Dick Paul from Addison is running for State Representative District 33 and presented a petition from East Machias selectmen to prevent the Maine Corrections Commission from taking over the County jail as proposed by Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
Warrant articles submitted by others for inclusion in the Town Meeting Warrant were discussed. 1. The board accepted and approved three articles about merging Columbia and Columbia Falls fire departments submitted by the committee. 2. An article for an ordinance of recall for elected officials was approved by a vote of two. (This is the 3rd year in a row that this ordinance has been presented to selectmen, finally the people will have the opportunity to decide on it at town meeting this year). 3. A planning board article was approved to change the bylaws of the five member board which will allow for electing members for staggered terms. 4. An article requiring all monetary transactions of town committees to be done through the treasury of the town was also approved. Two articles not approved were: 1. To see if the town will vote to require state law regarding applying for and expending of grant money to always be followed by any town committee or group when applying for or expending grant money. 2. To see if the town will vote to require all public meetings in the town of Columbia Falls to be held in a handicapped accessible public space; and further to require notice of such meetings to be posted in the town office 7 days in advance of the meeting date. This is to say no public meetings may be held in private homes because all citizens have a right to attend these meetings and should feel free to do so. This article is to take effect immediately if it is approved by the town meeting.
Tony Santiago, chairman of the Union Hall Restoration Committee requested that the committee volunteers be allowed to deliver the annual town reports at a cost to the town of $120.00. This money would go into the committee account. (This was done in the last two years by the 150 celebration steering committee.) Santiago also said they were willing to put the Maine Municipal Association’s booklet “A Citizen’s Guide to Town Meeting” in the town report. The board approved the Committee’s request to use town raised funds for the remainder of interior work. A phase II bid package was presented to the board for review.The Columbia Falls town budge committee met on Tuesday evening, February 25th and has agreed on two recommended budgets for 2014. If the people of towns of Columbia and Columbia Falls both vote to consolidate fire departments and form a new Epping Volunteer Fire Department the recommended budget will be $214,960, it will be slightly lower, $206,423 if fire departments are not combined. (These figures do not include county tax or SAD 37) Representatives from the fire department consolidation committee were present to answer questions. There are no significant changes from last year’s budget. Road commissioner, Michael Bailey presided over the meeting and moved it along rapidly with no nonsense.
Wreaths Across America will be joining the Support Military Foundation as its charity of choice, on their race car Number 93 during Speed week (February 15th to 23rd) at Daytona. Morgan Shepherd is driving the SupportMilitary.org Toyota.
Downeast Salmon Federation - spring is around the corner which means Smelt Fry! 2014 Annual Smelt Fry, Friday, April 18th, 5 – 9 on the grounds of the Columbia Falls Fire Department Main Street, Columbia Falls. The menu features many locally grown, regional foods and includes smelts, of course, deep fried to perfection, delicious dinner items and dessert! This is a wonderful celebration of DSF friends, families and supporters that turn out annually for this one of kind event. (There are now ten smelt fishing shacks on the Pleasant River Basin below the falls, the most I have seen in years.)
From Maine Municipal Association’s publication A Citizen’s Guide to Town Meeting: “If you ask why town meetings are so poorly attended, people will tell you they go if there’s something exciting on the warrant. They’ve been watching too much television. When it comes to doing your civic duty (which is the key to accountability in self-government) there’s no room for channel surfing. On town meeting day, town meeting is the only show in town.
“Or they’ll say town meeting is held at the wrong time, or that there are too many issues decided by secret ballot, or that the selectmen do what they want no matter what people say. Well, the way to get things changed (including town meeting scheduling and secret ballot votes) is to attend town meeting and put up a fuss. And it’s no wonder the selectmen and other officials take control of municipal affairs. Somebody has to….
“The purest form of democracy is participatory democracy, in which you put your butt in the chair at the meeting house or the high school gym and you have your say and you cast your vote on every last blessed item on the warrant…You might slip out for a coffee but you don’t slip out for the whole day. If you do, you’re part of the problem and somebody else is going to solve it….” The complete guide is available on the internet at http://www.memun.org/TrainingResources/LocalGovernment/AGuidetoTownMeeting.
In Columbia Falls there is a small group of involved citizens who attend selectmen’s meetings regularly and volunteer for everything.
Columbia Falls Republicans will caucus with Addison Republicans on February 19th 2014 at Mayhew Public Library Addison Maine beginning at 6 PM. The purpose of the caucus is to elect Delegates and Alternates to the State Convention, elect members to the Washington County Republican Committee, and organize for the upcoming elections. All Columbia Falls Republicans are urged to attend this event. The State Convention will be held in Bangor on April 25th and 26th at the Cross Convention Center. This is an excellent opportunity for local Republicans to meet and speak with those who are running for office.
Selectmen approved a warrant of $51,248.34 and a payroll warrant of $3825.48 at their meeting on February 10th, 2014. In other business matters: One of the two foreclosures advertised in the paper has been paid. Only one property is now being sold for unpaid taxes; the town has received a bill for annual dues in the amount of $362.00 from the Washington County Council of Government; Tony Santiago will prepare a statement by the next selectmen’s meeting to help them decide whether to continue membership or not; Administrative Assistant, Nancy Bailey said that the LHO position (Local Health Officer) still has not been filled. If no one is appointed then by state law this position falls to the chairman of the board. The position requires certification and training is available on the internet; Bailey said the C.F. “Right to Know Policy” last updated in 2010 is not up to date with state law. State changes include- requests’ for information may now be verbal, the hourly rate that towns may charge for research has been changed from $10.00 to $15.00, and elected officials are required to take training in the “Right to Know” law. Bailey will have more information for selectmen at the next meeting; road commissioner Mike Bailey suggested the selectmen might want an article in the Town Warrant to see if the voters want to build the sand salt shed now. Currently County Concrete has the snow plowing and sanding contract and they store C.F. sand at their facility. Should C.C.C. not get the contract in the future then C.F. would need to provide sand storage. The town has an approved site and preliminary engineered plans but no ground work has been started. As a minimum a platform would be required but a shed would allow any surplus sand to be held over for another year. Salt stored outside is spoiled by the elements. Bailey said there is no state money available for this project. He will prepare an article for selectmen to review at the next meeting; Tony Santiago, chairman of the Union Hall restoration committee said they have been invited to apply for the Morton-Kelly Grant, new subcommittees formed for water/sewer research, final interior construction bid pack preparation, and for planning future events. There are plans to have Downeast Correctional inmates back for shutter installation, painting and mounting the historic register plaque. Santiago said that he and Mary Lamoureux had both inspected the piano to be donated and are “pretty pleased” with it and decided that that they could save the town some money in that no professional inspection was needed but to have him just look at it to see if it needed a tune-up.
John Tibbetts addressed the selectmen with the following from a prepared paper:
1 - Voter eligibility – residency? I brought to your attention, at one of your previous meetings, the need to examine legal requirement for eligibility to vote in a Town Meeting and with our annual meeting weeks away I am wondering (1) what you have found out in that regard and (2) what plan you have to safeguard the voting in our upcoming town meeting to the legal voters. [Administrative assistant and registrar of voters Bailey responded: voters must be a citizen of the US, at least 18 years of age, have established and maintained a voting residence in that municipality, registered to vote in that municipality, and must be enrolled in a party in that municipality to vote in a caucus; a resident may register to vote regardless of whether he of she owns property; the registrar has the executive power to make the initial determination whether an applicant meets the qualifications required by law; Bailey has taken the required state courses to determine that; voters may register the same day as the election.] Tibbetts said “I would understand that residency is a basic requirement and live in this town.” Bailey replied “if they don’t live in this town – they have to have the intention of returning to this town”. Tibbetts questioned “so if they been away 40 years?” Bailey continues “yes as long as they intend to return to this town”. Tibbetts argues “I would question that period. I have read the law about residency and I think residency is the basic requirement but the law is very confusing. I would question a person living away and coming here to vote”. Bailey “The biggest thing is the state wants to make sure that the people vote in one place wherever they determine their residency to be. A challenge must be made at the time of voting. Residency for voting is not the same as residency for registering vehicles”.
2 - Post audit report must (as required by law) contain among other things the “auditor’s comments and suggestions for improving the financial administration”. I therefore request a copy of this report citing FOAA State & Federal once it has been received by the Town.
3 - Union Hall - I wish to clarify a possible misconception of what I said at the last selectmen’s meeting when I challenged the process for soliciting bids on work to be done in Union Hall. In the first place I was challenging the process and not the bid submitted by Mr. Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth has done excellent work for Bion and me in the past and I highly recommend him to anyone for similar work. And, I need also to say I am always happy to see restoration work being done at Union Hall. I have always been supportive of that. Questioning does not mean disliking or being against something. No one in the public arena is above questioning, that’s the beauty of a democracy.
My question tonight is simply to ask how much the current construction inside Union
Hall is diminishing the hall’s capacity regarding those attending functions there and to
ask if the current inside construction plan has been signed off by an historic architect such as Chris Glass who, I believe, made the original plan for inside construction, so that the current construction meets the secretary of the interior’s standards for this
construction? I also would like to know if the roadway from the street level to the level where the handicapped ramp is accessed has been certified to meet ADA standards?
[There was some discussion on whether the driveway needed to meet any ADA standards or not. The pitch is less than the 1 in 12 ADA requirement. The driveway would seem difficult for a handicapped person to traverse without help and yet the driveway may not be safe for vehicular traffic without a guard rail. There are plans to widen it and surface it with reclaimed tar. Tibbetts said “please just get it ADA inspected before spending more money on it.”]
Citizens wanting to bring up a topic for discussion at selectmen’s meetings are required to file a form with the administrative assistant by Thursday of the week before the scheduled selectmen’s meeting, however Columbia Falls’ selectmen conduct open meetings and allow citizens in attendance to speak on the subjects currently being discussed and it is appreciated. Many people will remember when Barbara Drisko was chairman of the selectmen. She welcomed citizens at each meeting, shook their hands and encouraged them to come often and participate in community affairs.
An appropriate quote for elected officials- Hillary Clinton told a packed auditorium of New York University students on Thursday February 13th that the most important tip she could offer women in public life was a lesson she took from one of her role models, Eleanor Roosevelt: “Grow skin like a rhinoceros.” Mrs. Clinton added “When you look at the challenges of being a change-maker and being willing to buck the establishment, it’s important to learn how to take criticism seriously but not personally, and to do that you have to be willing to hear what others who are your critics are saying and to evaluate where they are coming from.”
January 31st was the end of the 2013 fiscal year for the Town of Columbia Falls and what a great year it was. The town celebrated its sesquicentennial, 1863-2013.
(1) For the first time in years town meeting was held in the recently restored and historic Union Hall on March 25th.
(2) On April 6th there was a Grand Civil War costume Ball in Union Hall.
(3) The 150 celebration main event came on the last weekend in June. On the Friday the 28th Civil War historian, Charles Plummer gave us a great presentation of civil war life by impersonating General Joshua Chamberlain. On Saturday the 29th there was a multitude of events including a breakfast at the Faith United Methodist Church, a footrace, festival parade, Salmon Federation fish fry, car show, historic house tour, art show and auction, Union Hall historic display, horse drawn wagon rides, vendors, crafts and children’s activities. The Schools Memorabilia Room, Town Library, Wreaths Across America Museum, Salmon Federation hatchery and Columbia Falls Pottery were all open. There were blacksmith, weaving and sawmill demonstrations. In the evening dinner was served at the municipal center, magnificent fireworks over the river, and two dances. On Sunday the 30th events included Brunch served by the United Methodist Women, Church service at the United Methodist Church on the hill, a Service of Remembrance of Our Veterans at the bridge and an old fashioned 1863 period ice cream social.
(4) The Balsam Valley Amphitheater was finished in October.
(5) A Day of Honor & Remembrance Featuring Lee Greenwood on October 13th at Balsam Valley Amphitheater.
(6) The Schools Memorabilia Room was completed in November.
(7) At a special town meeting on December 3rd voters agreed to convey the municipal building to Wreaths Across America.
February 1st was the beginning of a new fiscal year for the Town of Columbia Falls. James Wadman, CPA is scheduled to audit the town’s books on February 10th. The town’s budget committee meeting will be on February 25th. This is a public meeting and committee “members” are basically everyone who attends. In the past this has been a well attended meeting moderated by the chairman of the board of selectmen. This is an opportunity for any reside nt to influence the budget to be presented to the people at the upcoming town meeting.
Maine Municipal Association (MMA) states on their website, http://www.memun.org that: “In general, municipalities in Maine are organized in one of two forms of government: (1) the direct, town meeting form of government where the legislative body of the community is the town meeting, or (2) the representational form of government where the legislative body of the community is the town or city council.”
Columbia Falls uses the town meeting form of government. Town meeting government is widely accepted as the purest form of democracy in action. MMA explains it this way “Municipal government in Maine enjoys a special authority called ‘home rule.’ This authority is given to the towns and cities of Maine in the state’s Constitution. Under ‘home rule,’ municipalities may govern themselves in any way that is not denied them by state or federal law. Home rule finds its origin in the state’s reliance on community, an historical tendency to devolve the power of government to its most local level, and a deep respect for the common sense and good judgment of Maine’s citizens. As its name implies, local government is run by and for its citizens. Whether as a selectmen, councilor, or school board member, people seek to be elected for municipal office out of a sense of civic duty and to make a positive difference for their community. This spirit of community volunteerism also applies to the people who agree to be appointed to the local planning board, appeals board, or the numerous other committees that collaboratively work together to make their local government what it is. From running for elected office to volunteering to assist in the publication of a municipal newsletter, there are numerous opportunities to serve local government”.
Columbia Falls’ town meeting will be on March 18th at 7PM in the Municipal Center. Offices up for election this year are: one selectman for a three year term; one tax assessor for a three year term; and one road commissioner for a three year term. Philip Worcester chairman of the planning board expects all five planning board positions will be up for election also with new staggered terms but no official decision has been made yet.
The Columbia Falls Record, http://www.columbiafallsmerecord.org has had over 18200 visits since it went online in September 2011.
A blown transformer in front of the municipal center
At about 9:30 or 10:00 Monday night Philip Worcester said he heard a very loud boom and a few homes on Main and Point Streets were left in the dark. It turned out to be a “blown” transformer. The heat went off in the municipal building and there were some other electrical problems as well. Selectman Jay Look said that no one notified him of the emergency.
Town Facebook page
All Financial Warrant Articles should be in to the Town Office no later than 4:00 p.m. Thursday, February 20, 2014. All Nonfinancial Warrant Articles should be in no later than 2:00 p.m. Monday, February 24, 2014. Please call the Town Office should you have questions.
Selectmen approved a warrant of $18161.99 and a payroll of $10827.15 at their meeting on January 27, 2014. Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey reported that Karen Worcester has received the first draft from the Wreaths Across America lawyer concerning transfer of the municipal building. She found issues with it and sent it back. Worcester wants to meet with selectmen before the next regular scheduled meeting on February 10th.
Rick Campbell told selectmen that he had received their letter concerning the problem of water pumped from his basement which floods the street and freezes. He has contacted the DOT and will be meeting with them soon to find a resolution.
Irving Pinkham who is interested in the code enforcement officer (CEO) position was present to answer questions. He has been the CEO for Beals Island for two years. He said that state officials know that he is not certified but they did not tell him to stop working. Pinkham will be taking the test and expects to be certified by spring. Selectmen approved hiring Pinkham at a flat rate of $1200 annually.
Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey stated that the last day of the fiscal year is Thursday, January 30th, 2014 and it was inadvertently left off the official calendar that the office would close at noontime so she could close out of Trio for 2013 and start the new year. She checked with Mr. Grant and posted the change a week in advance but this was found to be unacceptable. Chuck Hammond raised the issue that tax bills stated that taxes were due on Friday, January 31st but the town office is closed on Fridays. Will taxes be accepted on Monday, February 3rd? Bailey said only checks received in the mail with a postmark no later than the 31st would be accepted on time. John Tibbetts pointed out that there was a notice in the post office that said the town office would be closing at noon on January 30th but the approved calendar showed that it was open from 8am to 4pm. “Some taxpayers are likely to come Thursday afternoon and be disappointed they can not pay their taxes. To me the office ought to be open for the benefit of the taxpayers of the town. It would seem that there was ample time since there are ten days to next warrant to finish town books in order to make it convenient for the citizens of the town, the taxpayers.” Alan Grant said “I think we are cutting hairs myself, but whatever. I think if you’ve waited up to the last 20 minutes you are cutting it pretty close, but I suppose there are people that can do that”. Tibbetts responded “The point I was making Alan is that it was not officially announced in the paper, calendar or facebook.” Treasurer Lenora Weaver chimed in “those same people if we close on Thursday would whine if we close on Thursday and would whine if we are not here on Friday”. David Weaver adds “what’s the worst that’s going to happen? You get your name in the book with a star behind it.” Tibbetts said “Mr. Chairman my point was that it has not been advertised and I think people have the right to be upset. I wouldn’t call it whining. I think the taxpayers have the right to speak and be served well and I don’t think it is serving them well by closing the office without notifying them that they have to be here before noon on Thursday. Some people don’t necessarily have the money to come much earlier. The taxes are due on the 31st and we know as citizens of the town that the office is closed Fridays but we don’t know that it will be closed Thursday afternoon.” After some deliberation the selectmen authorized the administrative assistant and the treasurer to work on Friday January 31st at their overtime rate to do the end of year processing and keep the town office open all day on Thursday as scheduled. Checks received by mail after January 31st and post marked no later that January 31 would not be considered late.
There was further discussion that Bailey is the only one in the office that can do vehicle registrations, collect taxes and do computer work. It was suggested that the town have a policy or perhaps a deputy for lost time such as funerals, sickness and emergences.
There were five potential foreclosures due to unpaid taxes and now there are only three which will be put up for bid and sold.
The town has received James Wadman’s papers to be signed authorizing him to audit the books for 2013.
Three bid packages went out to local bidders as approved at the last selectmen’s meeting for interior walls of the Union Hall. Only one bid was received. The contract was awarded to Rick Farnsworth of Quality Construction in the amount of $4250. Farnsworth said there is about one week’s work and hopefully it will be finished before town meeting. John Tibbetts questioned the legality of only sending out three bid proposals and not advertising the work so anyone could bid. Nancy Bailey read the procedure aloud from the MMA manual and the selectmen were satisfied that they had acted properly. Pam Look asked Chairman Alan Grant if he works for Quality Construction and he said yes and then she suggested that this was a conflict of interest. Grant stated he was not going to work on this project.
Selectmen approved the February Calendar but changed the budget meeting date from March 3rd to Tuesday February 25th at 7PM.
Road commissioner Mike Bailey reported that the salt/sand volume was getting low and at some point soon a decision would need to be made whether to cut back on application or replenish the stock pile. New DOT village directional signs have been made and are expected to be put up before town meeting.
Calendar pictures wanted-Ronie Strout is looking for Civil War photos of people that served in the Civil War of the Pleasant River area (Addison, Centerville, Columbia and Columbia Falls) and their information on them for the next calendar for the Pleasant River Historical Society. 2015 is the last year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Call 483-4374.
Selectmen's meeting January 13th 2014
On January 13, 2014 Selectmen approved a warrant of $65322.98 and a payroll warrant of $1419.03. It was reported that Karen Worcester of Wreaths Across America has authorized her lawyers to go ahead in preparing the necessary documents for the town to convey the municipal building. She also has said that she was willing to meet with selectmen at anytime if wanted. It was noted that the town office has storage in one of the lockers off the gym and that WAA will need this space. Several ideas for new storage were discussed.
Administrative assistant Bailey has determined that a backup for General Assistance will be required to take a one day course.
The board approved Dan Kane’s use of the gym for his basketball program.
There are five property foreclosures due to unpaid taxes. Selectmen asked the administrative assistant to send one more letter to each owner before the town puts the properties up for sale.
Road Commissioner Mike Bailey said that there is an ongoing problem of water on the street apparently from a home owner pumping his basement. This is more of a concern during winter when it freezes. The street is a state road but this is a town issue. Bailey asked that a town letter be sent to the owner asking for and suggesting other possible solutions. A permit could be issued to terminate the drain into the state owned storm drain nearby. Bailey also reported that the snowplow has dislodged a stone from a wall on Church Hill Circle. This happened once before and it was fixed at town expense and suggested the town fix it again. The selectmen approved both of these items.
Dates have been set for: Financial Audit, February 10th; Budget Meeting, March 3rd; and Town Meeting, March 18th.
Tony Santiago presented the interior specifications for the Union Hall and suggested a bid list which was approved by selectmen.
A motion was made and approved that all meetings would be tape recorded.
Selectmen reviewed and signed the December financial report after the meeting.
The 150 Celebration Civil War style flags that were flown from utility poles this past summer may be picked up by the individuals who purchased them in memory of loved ones. Flags are worn and tattered as would be expected. Arrangements for pickup may be made by calling Grace Falzarano at 483-6647.
Combined Fire Department informational meeting- It all started when Columbia Falls’ selectmen got a notice from the insurance company that the fire station had some serious structural flaws. The design life has been reached. Chief Dave Perham started looking for alternative housing for the town’s equipment. The town of Columbia’s fire station had unused space. Out of talks between the two departments the idea arose that maybe there would be benefits to combining the two departments. Selectmen from both towns appointed representatives from the two towns to a committee to look into the matter.
After more than a year of meetings the committee presented it proposed Columbia/Columbia Falls Fire Department Merger Agreement, Draft 8, 1/13/2014 to the public on January 15, 2014 at the Columbia Town Hall. The new organization would be a nonprofit, quasi municipal, 501(c)3 Corporation called Epping Volunteer Fire Department (EVFD). The contract was based on the Pleasant River Ambulance Service contract with modifications and additions from others as necessary to suit this application. This separate entity will be recognized by the Maine Municipal Association (MMA). The shareholders of EVFD will be 50/50. Columbia Falls has more population but Columbia has more land area.
A list of assets will be kept for all equipment, gear and vehicles contributed by each town to EVFD. Columbia Falls will be contributing two fire trucks and Columbia will contribute four (two are forestry vehicles). All six vehicles are owned out right with no mortgage. Whatever was owned before the merger will be owned by respective towns afterwards if the corporation is ever dissolved. Equipment purchased by EVFD will be valued 50/50. Both fire departments have had equipment deficiencies, have been under funded and under trained. Lumping together should help. The fire station belongs to the town of Columbia and will be leased to EVFD for $1.00 per year. It was suggested that the committee look into how a lease agreement might affect any grant applications for future building improvements. There are no immediate plans for improvements to the fire station, however a heating system and paving have been talked about for the future. The lease agreement has not been written yet pending approval of the merger agreement by voters of both towns at their individual annual town meetings. There are many issues to be resolved after town approvals and before incorporation, but the committee is hopeful that the merger could be complete by June or July.
The merger will give the combined towns a better chance of getting grants. Many times towns are vying for the same grant and grantors like to award grants where it will benefit the most people.
The fire department can expect a break in the cost of its insurance.
The new merged fire department will still have the same opportunities to get surplus forest department trucks.
The new merger may force updates in mutual aid agreements with other towns.
The Columbia and Columbia Falls fire department consolidation committee presents its proposal to citizens of the two towns at an informational meeting on January 15th at Columbia Town Hall. Left to right moderator Mark Howe, Dave Perham, Jay Look, Courtney Hammond, Cecil Gray, Bun Ward, and JoAnn Champney.
On Friday, January 10th the after school EdGE program held a special combined outing for area schools; Cherryfield, Milbridge, Harrington, Columbia, Columbia Falls, and Addison. Children had a choice of ice skating on the rink or snow shoeing the trails. EdGE (Ed Greaves Education) is an innovative youth development program of the Maine Sea Coast Mission for students in grades 4-8 in coastal Washington County, Maine. For more information on the internet go to: http://www.seacoastmission.org/edge.
Selectmen’s meeting December 30th 2013:
Financials; Chairman Grant opened the meeting by reading aloud the financials from the previous meeting on December 9th which showed a balance of $2181.34. He said “the town was darn near broke”. He was concerned that nobody mentioned it and there was nothing in the newspaper either. (There was no discussion on this at all and it is well known that the town has a line of credit for a tax anticipation loan when necessary).
At this meeting a warrant of $17,314.87 and payroll of $2,286.41 was approved leaving a balance this time of $34,312.71 since taxes are coming in.
Municipal Building Transfer; Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey read a summary of her conversation with Michael Stultz, attorney with Maine Municipal Association (MMA) about the legality of the warrant article conveying the municipal building to Wreaths Across America recently approved by the town at the special town meeting. Stultz said that since the people had voted on it there was nothing that could be done unless someone felt strongly enough to take it to court. It should have been discussed at the meeting not after the fact. Once the people have voted the decision was made. The land issue and the question about the selectmen doing the negotiation was discussed. Stultz said his interpretation of the article was to convey the building and the people clearly gave the selectmen permission to take care of details and legal issues. Even if the article was not worded perfectly the intent was there, nothing illegal about the wording. Stultz asked Bailey if she thought the people understood the intent and if there was a public meeting. She told him that there were two public meetings and both times there were great discussions about the transfer.
The board decided that Alan Grant should ask WAA’s Karen Worcester for a written proposal for the transfer of the municipal building.
In other business; The town has no code enforcement officer and there is a problem with raw sewage at a trailer on Tibbettstown Road. The board is considering an officer that is now working with the Town of Beals Island.
The administrative assistant was authorized to attend a training session sponsored by the Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife.
The administrative assistant will look into the requirements for a General Assistant backup individual.
Road Commissioner, Mike Bailey said there had been a few snowplowing complaints about intersections downtown. The town is still having the complete parking lot plowed at the fire station/old community building as if it were still being used as a community building. Also the Town Landing Road is not being completely plowed. Bailey will resolve these issues.
Tony Santiago talked about the Union Hall. The Belvedeer Grant was declined. The sewage holding system and water system is being studied, possibly drilling a well. The new National Register of Historic Places bronze plaque has been received. John Porter has offered a piano. The board authorized expenses for a professional to check it out. A motion was approved to solicit bids for interior work.
Peter Doak said it was a shame that the Christmas Tree in the park by the fish hatchery was not lit this year. The tree was planted many years ago by the rec committee and was lighted every year until this year.
Professional photographer Francis Smith visited Columbia and Columbia Falls December 17th to 20th gathering information and photos for his project “America by another Name”. Fire chief Dave Perham showed him around the area on a four hour long tour. Smith visited with Roberta and I at our home for a couple of hours on Thursday evening which we enjoyed very much. Smith also attended a C.F planning board meeting and had impromptu conversations with Vance Pineo jr., Philip Worcester, John Porter and Chris Rackliff. Smith plans to return next year in August to photograph the blueberry harvest. You can follow his progress on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericaByAnotherName. Francis Smith photographs homes and art in the Washington DC area for three art magazines: American Art Collector, Western Art Collector and American Fine Art Magazine.
The power outage caused by the great 2013 ice storm affected the village for only about 12 hours on Sunday, December 22nd. Other areas were not so fortunate. Local people shopped in reduced light at Elmer’s Discount and Four Corners Supermarket as they were being powered by their own generators.
Some folks were enjoying the ice as evident by the two smelt shacks which have recently arrived on the ice in the basin below the falls.
Friends from Las Vegas sent us a newspaper clipping from the Las Vegas Review about Wreaths Across America. The complete article may be read below.
Town of Columbia Falls Facebook page- “December 23rd- The Town Office is closed for the remainder of the day. When I arrived this morning, there was no heat, no phone and no internet. The power then kept flickering and the computer went off and on. I am not a techy, but I am guessing this isn't good for it. It is raining and 29 degrees....I am not a meteorologist but I am predicting a bad situation out there on the roads. Therefore, I made the executive decision to close the office. The office will be closed until Monday, December 30th. See you then. Stay safe out there today. Have a very Merry Christmas!”
Also you can get the administrative assistant’s corrected version of my selectmen meeting reports on this Facebook page “I want to take a moment to add a weekly section to this web page. It has been brought to my attention that often times, in The Columbia Falls news section of the Downeast Coastal Press and on The Record, there are somewhat different interpretations of the Selectmen's Meetings printed than some citizens seem to remember; it also often differs from the approved minutes taken by the Administrative Assistant.”
Making the most of the ice storm: 7PM Sunday, December 22nd, 2013; 78 degrees in a candle lit kitchen warmed by a wood fire in a Kalamazoo cast iron cook stove; WERU playing vintage Argentine music on the battery powered radio; a glass of wine and a good book.
Selectmen’s meeting December 9th, 2013 – The board approved a warrant of $43,285.88 and a payroll of $4122.11. The minutes of the last meeting of the proposed fire department merger were reviewed. Fire Chief Dave Perham said the proposed name is Epping Volunteer Fire Department. The Epping Road runs through both Columbia and Columbia Falls. It was felt by the committee that this name was meaningful and brief. The next meeting will be December 18th. A combined town informational meeting will be held at Columbia Town Hall on January 15th. The proposal is expected to be voted on by each town at their individual annual town meetings.
Selectman Bun Ward said the town is a member of Washington County Council of Governments and he and Tony Santiago have been attending the meetings. Ward questioned whether the town needed this as the dues are $250 per year and may go up. No decision made.
Administrative assistant, Nancy Bailey said she had been blamed recently in public for not providing information to selectmen and she believes that it is because selectmen do not regularly check their boxes at the town office. Selectmen approved a motion to have her send their mail to their homes once per week by US Postal service.
In a previous meeting the board had decided to review monthly financial reports at the first meeting of the following month as was suggested by the town’s auditor, James Wadman. Selectmen paid over $900.00 of town’s funds to have Wadman come recently to a selectmen’s meeting and explain the needed reports. Tonight’s meeting is the second month since the decision was made and it was not on the agenda. Chuck Hammond brought this to their attention and they did review financials which the administrative assistant had prepared, but they did not sign them as they did last month.
Bun Ward stated that the special town meeting warrant “To see if the Town will vote to convey ownership of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America and to authorize the selectmen to manage all negotiations and legal matters involved with the transfer” approved by the voters authorized the selectmen to convey the municipal building to WAA. Ward said this gave the building away, negotiating is all done. Dick Bedard agrees “Voters gave the store away – took negotiation away”. Bedard inquired who wrote this article? Was the town’s attorney and MMA consulted? These questions were not answered. Selectman Alan Grant said he expects that WAA will submit a written proposal to be reviewed by the selectmen and details to be negotiated. Rick Farnsworth said he believes that Karen Worcester feels the same way based on her announcement at the truck driver’s dinner on Saturday evening December 7th. Bedard said he thinks Philip Worcester at town meeting tried to get a motion passed that would have the details resolved before the public voted. The building is what is to be conveyed per the warrant. This is personal property and not real estate, perhaps the town still has some leverage if negotiations do not go as expected. John Tibbetts said he believes two people voted at town meeting that have not lived in Columbia Falls for a long time. The law on voting and citizenship should be investigated.
The board authorized Fire Chief Perham to have the state fire inspector look at Union Hall and the proposed plans sometime in January.
Tony Santiago asked if the board members had looked at the proposed plans for the new kitchen and toilet in the Union Hall that he had presented at the last meeting. Selectman Jay Look suggested that the committee should be looking into the ground work for getting water and sewer service first. There is all ready a bag sand filter system on the Union Hall property that serves a neighbor’s home. How are we going to get a water line and a new sewer system around this? John Tibbetts said no one has contacted the water company yet either
John Porter stated that the possible free fire truck that was mentioned in a previous selectman’s meeting is off the table for now.
John Tibbetts presented a news clipping from the Downeast Coastal Press November 12-18, 2013 about the proposed transfer of a cemetery in Jonesport to the town of Jonesport. It outlines the legal aspect of such a transfer as researched by Jonesport’s administrative assistant, Sondra Alley, working with the town’s attorney and the president of the cemetery society. By law the town must have a public vote. Tibbetts said “I bring this to you tonight in case you might want to reconsider and change the way the cemetery on the Tibbettstown Road was accepted by our town.” The selectmen agreed to contact Maine Municipal Association for advice.
Tibbetts stated that the information the town’s auditor, James Wadman requested for the 150 committee’s finances is available and requested that the selectmen authorize him and Grace Falzarano to meet with the auditor to explain. This was approved and costs to come out of 150 celebration surplus funds.
Grace Falzarano asked the board if the town was keeping the same auditor for this year’s audit. (James Wadman has been the town’s auditor for over 20 years) Chairman Grant said yes we keeping the same auditor.
Tibbetts asked who paid for the new directional sign at the intersection of Tibbettstown Road and Montegail Road. Town road commissioner, Mike Bailey who is also the state sign coordinator for the DOT said that the Tibbettstown Road is a state aid road and the new sign is part of a sign project he is working on for the state to fix areas with confusing intersections. It is a state sign erected with state money, our money coming from fuel tax. Santiago suggested that a new similar sign should be erected at the crossroads of US Route One and Tibbettstown Road. Bailey said that could be done if authorized by the selectmen. The board took no action on this.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Friends, old and new, gathered in Columbia Falls on Sunday Dec 8th for the Ruggles House annual Christmas Tea. President Larry Smith greeted visitors at the door and invited them in for a bit of holiday cheer. Visitors were treated to the house decorated in period style. Greenery and ribbon decked the halls, mantles, doorways, and balsam garland wound up the elegant flying staircase.
Thank you to the members of the Pleasant River Garden Club for their hard work and decorating talent; to Charlie Herr for collecting much of the greenery; and Worcester Wreath Company, who donated the garland and window wreaths.
Guests were served tea by Peter & Kathy Winham of Teas of Cherryfield; nibbled on cookies, cake and other goodies made by the volunteers and toured the house at their leisure.
The music of Susan and Stephen Sanfilippo added to the festive atmosphere. The duo performed seasonal songs and music from the early American period.
Attendance was excellent. It was most enjoyable to connect with long-time supporters as well as meet first-time visitors to the Ruggles House. The Christmas Tea put a holiday bow on the season and now begins the planning and scheduling for next year, starting with the plant sale in May. By Leslie McSorley
Columbia Falls votes to Convey Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America. At 6pm on Tuesday, December 3rd there was a well attended informational hearing on the possible transferring of the town’s municipal building to WAA. The meeting was moderated by Courtney Hammond. Karen Worcester fielded most of the questions for WAA. She said “I don’t have a master plan. There is no point of us being here if it is not good for the community. We want to work with the community.” If WAA owns the building they intend to put a new main entrance to the gym on the back so attendees at functions do not have to come through town offices. They would also install a fire escape in the office so that passing through the schools memorabilia room will not be an issue. WAA would leverage the building and borrow money to fix the immediate concerns of the roof and heating system.
Clarence Tabbutt asked if a bank had been contacted for the figures in the informational “letter to Taxpayers” in which $200,000 was suggested as necessary for the town to make immediate repairs to the roof and heating system. Selectman Alan Grant said that Machias Savings had been contacted and the figures were their best estimate of what it would cost to borrow this amount.
Mike Bailey suggested the town could save $12,000 annually by giving the property to WAA and it could cost the town $34,000 more if the town still owns the building and WAA moves out at the end of the present lease.
Pam Look asked if the building would come back to the town or would WAA be allowed to sell it? WAA wants full ownership. If WAA were to sell the building the rent free space occupied by the town would still be in place and passed on by deed to the new owners. If the town vacates the office building the space would revert back to the WAA or whoever else owned the building at the time. If WAA, a nonprofit organization should dissolve then the building would revert back to the town. If WAA sold the building it could go to anyone. If WAA outgrows the present leased space they would occupy the Worcester Resources space first. If they should outgrow this space also then they could sell and move or possibly expand the building. If the town keeps the building and the rent goes up to much when the lease is renegotiated in a couple of years WAA must consider a possible move. They have been offered another building in the area. Shelby Greene “we don’t want to loose our building or our tenants”.
Shelby Greene asked “What is the value of the building?” Selectman Grant responded that the insured value was in the neighborhood of 1.4 to 1.6 million.
Pam Look noted that the playground is in the deed and wondered if this restriction would be transferred with a new deed. Selectman Grant said it may be for the courts to decide. John Tibbetts stated that the town’s attorney told the building options committee that the playground could be moved. Peter Doak said the playground is unsafe and suggested it be moved to the area behind the fire station. Worcester does not care if the playground stays or moves she just wants it to be safe. Shelby Greene has a young family and wants an outdoor playground. She says the town should expend “more effort in fostering youth”.
Over 90 people attended the special town meeting at 7PM. Courtney Hammond was elected moderator. There was a motion to accept article 2 “To see if the Town will vote to convey ownership of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America and to authorize the selectmen to manage all negotiations and legal matters involved with the transfer” which was quickly seconded. Dick Bedard addressed the townspeople on whether it was worth it stressing that once the building is conveyed the town loses control of it. There was more discussion from various individuals. Philip Worcester made a motion to delay the vote until the annual town meeting and requiring the selectmen or an appointed committee to have all the details ironed out so the town would know exactly what the terms are before they voted to convey the building. This motion was seconded but voted down.
Residents cast their ballots on Article 2. There were 51 yes votes and 32 no votes. The Columbia Falls Municipal Building will be conveyed to Wreaths Across America.
Statue of Liberty Wreath- On Wednesday, December 11th, for the first time, Wreaths Across America will be presenting and placing a wreath at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The ‘Freedom Wreath’ is an extension of the Wreaths Across America program whose mission to Remember, Honor and Teach has been carried out partly each year through the placing remembrance wreaths on the headstones of fallen soldiers for more than 20 years. This first Freedom Wreath (measuring 7ft) will be placed at the Statue of Liberty in a simple ceremony on Wednesday - veterans, Gold Star mothers and volunteers from Wreaths Across America will be present.
Selectmen’s meeting Monday, December 30th 2013 at 7 p.m., in the municipal center.
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Columbia Falls residents at special town meeting on December 3rd queuing up for voting on whether to convey the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America.
Back to, Courtney Hammond moderator stands by while Karen Worcester responds to questions from Columbia Falls’ residents at the informational hearing before the special town meeting on December 3rd to determine whether the town should convey the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America.
At the selectmen’s meeting on November 25 the board approved: a warrant of $34,527.02; a payroll warrant of $961.85; the wording of the warrant article for the upcoming special town meeting on December 3rd, “To see if the Town will vote to convey ownership of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America and to authorize the selectmen to manage all negotiations and legal matters involved with the transfer”; the December calendar, changed the date of the second selectmen’s meeting from Monday the 23rd to Monday the 30th; and voted “to send out pertinent information regarding the proposed conveyance of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America. Due to the magnitude of this decision, which could mean either a significant property tax increase or decrease”. This letter may be seen in its entirety on the internet at www.ColumbiaFallsMeRecord.org. Also at the meeting Administrative assistant, Nancy Bailey stated that Trio is offering a credit/debit card acceptance system with their program. Tony Santiago presented phase 1. “rough in” plans for interior of the Union Hall’s cloak room/ticket booth, kitchen and rest room.
High winds and a fallen tree on Wednesday, November 27th caused a downed power line on Great Hill by Sally and Erland Thompson’s house. The road was blocked while Bangor Hydro restored the electricity.
Excellent Christmas gift idea - A HISTORY OF COLUMBIA FALLS by Gloria Hayward, 2nd edition @ $30 per copy / $35 if mailed. Send your order to: History book P.O. Box 133 – Columbia Falls, ME 04623. Include your check for books ordered, delivery instructions & your phone number. More info 207-483-2245
The Facebook page “The Town of Columbia Falls through the eyes of the administrative assistant” has been changed to “The Town of Columbia Falls-maintained by the Administrative Assistant”.
Wreaths Across America- December 8th the 2013 Escort of the wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery will begin its annual trek down the eastern seaboard. Each year the wreaths, escorted by Patriot Guard Riders, veterans, Gold Star families, and many other supporting groups rally at schools, veterans homes, and community events along the way.
A new addition this year will be the inclusion of the National Chair of Honor program, started by Rolling Thunder and supported by Hussey Seating. Through the hard work of Joe D’Entremont and the MA chapter of Rolling Thunder, the practice of reserving a unoccupied seat at events in honor of the over 91,000 POW/MIA is becoming a new and cherished tradition by groups dedicated to our veterans and their families. See more on the internet at: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/chair-of-honor-to-travel-with-escort/#sthash.mkdVuOuW.dpuf
Special town meeting on December 3rd at 7PM in the municipal building, informational meeting preceding at 6PM.
The Ruggles House, 146 Main St. Columbia Falls will present their annual Christmas Tea Sunday, December 8th from 1-4 p.m.
December 8th the 2013 Escort of the wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery will begin
Selectmen’s meeting Monday, December 9th 2013 at 7 p.m., in the municipal center.
Email your local news items or history snippets to email@example.com
The Craft/Food Sale at the Columbia Falls municipal building community room on Saturday, November 16th went very well. There was a good selection of crafters and a constant flow of shoppers.
The Columbia Falls assessors website http://columbiafallsassessors.info has been abandoned and is for sale according to GoDaddy.com.
Facebook pages: C.F. Administrative Assistant “Just a quick reminder that dog tags are in. You can license your dog anytime from here on out - but try to remember to do it by the end of the year as there is a $30 late fee that will be attached to the cost!
Our animal control officer is out and about doing his job and just so you are aware, I do get copies of rabies shots here in the office from local vets. Therefore, we know there are pups out there that are not licensed. It is the law - not just a Columbia Falls rule. The price for a fixed dog is $6 and $10 for a non spayed or neutered pet. It is a smaller price than the fine. If your mutt is more than 6 months old, stop by and get your tags today!!!! Your pet, the animal control officer and your Town thanks you”;
Pastor Jan Lynn Rhenow “fell from the steps trying to go to a meeting in Bangor and broke my leg. Waiting to go to the hospital.” “Here for the second night at the hospital in Ellsworth. They probably will keep me one more night before sending me to rehab. Bad break for the bone kept disintegrating as the doctor put in the plate and screws on both sides. I'm afraid I'm in for a fairly long recovery”;
and Wreaths Across America “We will be teaming up with our friends from
Truckload Carriers Association and Pilot Flying J to launch the trucking industry's first annual rolling tribute, Trucking's Patriot Pair. This event will be held at the Pilot Travel Center in Milford, Connecticut on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. For more information on this event, copy this link.
The Ruggles House, 146 Main St. Columbia Falls will present their annual Christmas Tea Sunday, December 8th from 1-4 p.m. Enjoy tea, mulled cider and homemade baked goods along with live music and holiday cheer as you tour one of Maine's best examples of classic Federal architecture. The house, including the famous flying staircase, is never lovelier than when it is decorated in period style for the holidays. Find unique gifts for friends and family, including the "Ruggles House" book in the gift shop. Tea will be served by Teas of Cherryfield and live music will be provided by Cole Creek. Admission is $3.00 For more information contact Leslie McSorley at RugglesHouse@gmail.com or visit www.RugglesHouse.org
Union Hall: Nancy Herr will be picking up the new Historical Register Plaque while in Pennsylvania.
The committee is looking into a 25' flag pole. Pam Look is getting a firm price for a white fiberglass pole with a gold colored ball and external works (rope & pulley system). The Committee is going to look into a approximately 9" x 7" bronze plaque commemorating the 150th celebration. Roberta/Chuck Hammond are tasked with coming up with wording that this committee could review. Tony Santiago will speak to the monument folks in Milbridge about a piece of granite to hold the plaque. If anyone knows of a nice piece of granite or a nice stone that may be available in town please let the committee know.
Robin Grant has stated he will provide service to upgrade our handicap ramp next spring as we have discussed in past meetings.
There was some discussion on forming a sub-committee to work on planning and setting up events for the Hall.
The Campbells have graciously offered their piano to the town.
The Informational Hearing ad placed by the Town in the Downeast Coastal Press issue November 19-25 in my opinion does not satisfy the legal requirement for public notice of a special town meeting. Having seen no other ad I am assuming that this ad is the notice of the Special Town Meeting. The title of the ad is “Town of Columbia Falls Informational Hearing”. It states that “a special town meeting will follow at 7pm”. I also believe that there is a requirement to post the wording of the warrant to be voted on. This ad simply says “The issue to be discussed: Should the Town of Columbia Falls relinquish ownership of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America?”
Selectmen’s meeting on November 12th. CPA James Wadman’s bill for confirming that the 150 committee finances and the town records actually agreed, explaining the treasurer’s monthly reports and coming to the last selectmen’s meeting was $907.75.
The board accepted Jonathon McCloud’s bid of $2825 for snowplowing of town building driveways and parking areas.
The town has received a quote of $38,000 from Maine Controls/Mechanical services for installing digital controls and valves to the municipal buildings heating system and an estimate of $116,000 from Richard Poirier for a complete new roof. This information is needed to help residents determine whether to keep and maintain the municipal building or give it to Wreaths Across America and let them maintain it. Dawn Robins asked if the town could borrow this money and pay it back over 5 to 10 years and the selectmen agreed they could. A special town meeting has been set for December 3rd at 7PM with an informational meeting before hand at 6PM to determine whether the town wants to pursue negotiations with WAA or keep the building.
The controversial petition presented by Richard Farnsworth at last selectmen’s meeting to move the Schools Memorabilia room was discussed. Richard Farnsworth read a letter he had received from Jessica Potts who had signed the petition and was questioned by Pam Look and John Porter about why she had signed the petition. (The complete letter is available at the town office.) Charley Robins looking straight at me and seemingly very angry said he resented being associated with a hate group – obviously he was referring to my editorial in the Columbia Falls Record, www.columbiafallsmerecord.org. Bun Ward reread the petition. The last sentence reads “We feel if this public room can not be open for public events, it should be removed”. John Tibbetts pointed out that the selectmen at their last meeting approved a policy recommended by the Schools Memorabilia room committee which provided for the room to be open for public events. Several citizens present objected to the requirement that public events not sponsored by Columbia Falls’ residents would require that the room be staffed. Charley Herr suggested “change the rules not the room”. Selectmen approved a motion to make the room open at all public events. There were a surprising number of compliments made about the room: Rick Farnsworth said “I will be the first to admit the committee did a fine job on that room”; Dawn Robins “I think it is a lovely room too, I do”; Lenora Weaver “They did do a great job”; Nancy Bailey “It is a lovely room, a lot of time and energy has been put into it”; and Charley Robins “I think the collection is really nice”. It is unfortunate that none of the volunteers were present to hear these comments.
Paper Talks Magazine will feature C.F. on the front page in its next issue. Selectmen approved an ad for $204.00 to be run simultaneously.
Fire Chief Dave Farnham said that it was the goal of Columbia and Columbia Falls fire departments to have warrants in the respective town meetings for citizen approval of combining the fire departments.
Tony Santiago reported that the Union Hall Restoration committee netted $613 for the yard sale and $492 for the quilt show after expenses. The Libra grant was denied- still waiting on the Belvedere grant. Selectmen approved purchasing a National Register bronze plaque for $307 using restoration funds. Dick Grant has donated a vintage original play poster to be hung in the Union Hall.
Voting results Columbia Falls and Centerville:
Bond Issue #1 - Maine Army National Guard 44 Yes, 41 No
Bond Issue #2 - University of Maine System 32 Yes, 52 No
Bond Issue #3 - Transportation Bond 53 Yes, 37 No
Bond Issue #4 - Maine Maritime Academy 28 Yes, 57 No
Bond Issue #5 - Maine Community College 38 Yes, 47 No
Condolences to the family of Branden Look who was struck by a vehicle and killed while lying in the road in Kenduskeag, Maine on November 2nd. Branden was the grandson of Douglas Look who was raised in Columbia Falls and graduated from Columbia Falls High School. Douglas’ parents were Horace and Annie (Huntley) Look.
Homes for sale
There are approximately twelve homes for sale in C.F., four of them are in the village and two more in the village that were previously for sale, still vacant and with no “For Sale” sign.
Town Auditor Speaks at Selectmen’s Meeting
Selectmen’s meeting October 28th, 2013 – Selectmen had invited the town’s auditor James Wadman, CPA to the meeting Monday night to explain the monthly reports that he had recommended the town treasurer provide for selectmen review each month. There was a large turnout of townspeople to hear what the auditor had to say. Selectman Bun Ward had on several previous occasions asked the treasurer and administrative assistant for the monthly reports that the auditor had recommended in his annual audit report. Ward said that after the last selectmens’ meeting he received a packet in the mail from the administrative assistant of monthly reports dating back to the beginning of the fiscal year (February – September). These reports were (1) General Ledger Detail Report for Accounts G 1-100-00-G 1-100-00 (2) the General Ledger Detail Report - All Accounts and (3) a balance sheet of the checking account to the General Ledger for the Checking Account. Wadman did not mention any problems with these reports and suggested that two more reports be provided to the selectmen each month – a revenue summary report (budget vs actual) and an expense report for a total of five reports. Administrative assistant Bailey said this is not a new development; this has been required for at least 3 years. Courtney Hammond stated that he thought it was the responsibility of the selectmen and had a motion ever been made to request these reports. The answer was no, but a motion was made and approved to require these five reports for review at the first meeting each month.
Wadman had also been requested by Selectman Bun Ward to do an audit of the 150 committee finances. Mr. Wadman found that the 150 committee final report and town records agreed. He had not been furnished the backup receipts for the several petty cash accounts that the 150 committee had used and the cash withheld at some events to pay out of pocket expenses. He suggested these receipts should be made available when the next annual town audit is done.
Free Fire Truck
John Porter suggested that there was a very real possibility for the town to receive a free 1997 fire truck from southern New England with free delivery to C.F. The truck would have to be insured for the trip and a donation to the generous donor fire department would be appreciated. The truck is loaded with goodies – air pacs, jaws of life, thermo imaging camera, etc. A motion was approved to accept this gift and write an acceptance letter.
Wreaths Across America requested permission verbally to convert one of the bathrooms into a storage room at WAA expense. Selectmen postponed pending receipt of a written request.
Harris Computer Company has offered data backup service for their Treo program at over $900 per year. This proposal was not accepted since Bailey backs up her work daily on memory sticks and takes them home at night.
John Tibbetts suggested a motion that all committees be treated the same since the 150 committee has been scrutinized in greater detail than any other town committee. Charlene Hammond suggested that the board set up a procedures policy that all committees would follow. Pete Doak recommended a policy for all committees – a standard operating procedure. The board took no action.
The November calendar was approved and the selectmen’s meeting date that fell on Veterans Day was moved to the 12th.
Schools Memorabilia Room Controversy
Selectmen Ward read a proposal from the Schools Memorabilia Room Committee suggesting the open viewing hours of the newly completed Columbia Falls Schools Memorabilia Room. A motion was made to accept and it was approved. The complete recommendation may be seen here.
Jolene Farnsworth read a long dissertation reprimanding the selectmen for allowing the Schools Memorabilia Room to be closed on Sunday the 13th during the WAA luncheon.
Roberta Hammond responded to the anonymous post on the Schools Memorabilia Room door “THIS HALLWAY HAS BEEN CLOSED TO VETERANS AND ALL LOCAL TRAFFIC BY ROBERTA MORRIS HAMMOND ONLY. IT WAS ALLOWED BY THE SELECTMEN BUT IT DOES NOT REFLECT THE OPINION OF ANY OTHER CITIZENS OF THE TOWN OF COLUMBIA FALLS. WE ALL WELCOME YOU AND HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR VISIT AND YOUR MEAL!” “This statement was aimed solely at me, insinuating that I was against Veterans. Not True! I had asked at a selectmen’s meeting on the Thursday before the event, could I close the doors to the Memorabilia room and put up a sign, this was approved, and since at that time there was still no lock on the doors, may I place a table in front of the doors, also approved. This had been done before on one other occasion. My asking for the room to be closed off had to do with a large group of people coming into the building that day – nothing to do with Veterans. Since such a large Event was new to everyone we didn’t know if 100 or 500 people would be at the Town Municipal Building for Lunch.
I would like to add, that many irreplaceable artifacts have been donated by Family members of Columbia Falls Schools Students and High School Alumni, knowing that the Selectmen had authorized the doors to be locked. My intentions and words have been deliberately misconstrued. Veterans are most welcome to the Columbia Falls Schools Memorabilia Room. Last year I put a large display of items at the Wreath Across America Museum in Honor of my two Uncles [Brothers] who were killed in World War II. My Father-in-law, now deceased, went into Normandy, D-Day + 6. I had a Great Great Grandfather who served in the Civil War and several ancestors who served in the American Revolution. My husband served as a Merchant Marine Officer during the Vietnam War, delivering ammunition by ship up the Saigon River to Saigon. I have been an active member of The Daughters of the American Revolution for the last 32 years, holding both state and local chapter offices. I am also a member of the Mayflower Society, 11th generation from Miles Standish. DO NOT QUESTION MY HONOR TO VETERANS OR TO MY COUNTRY!” Roberta’s complete response may be read here.
Petition to Remove Schools Memorabilia Room
Richard Farnsworth presented a petition signed by over 40 citizens titled “Petition to have the Memorabilia Room removed from the municipal building”. Our selectmen appeared to be shocked. Courtney Hammond suggested that the board did not have to act on this petition immediately and they didn’t. I am shocked that anyone would want to destroy this lovely museum of photos, artifacts and displays for all the schools that ever existed in Columbia and Columbia Falls. Most of the petition signers attended schools in Columbia Falls. This was a laborious three year volunteer effort by Roberta Hammond, Hilary Pineo, Sally Peterson Cooper, Julia Worcester and many other part time volunteers. The complete petition with signatures as well as pictures of this great room may be viewed here.
Wreaths Across America
Another response about the Veterans Forever Lighted Tree: THANK YOU for doing what Bar Harbor wouldn’t! Accepting the CHRISTMAS tree for vets was a wonderful thing to do. Why Bar Harbor wouldn’t allow it to remain in their fare town any longer is beyond me! You have earned my respect as well as that of many other patriotic Americans, I’m sure! Sincerely, Elaine Logan
In the Ruggles House Society fall newsletter Ellen Tenan remarks “The town of Columbia Falls did a super job of celebrating their 150th anniversary in June. If you have not seen the new ‘History of Columbia Falls’ by Gloria Allen Hayward, which was published for the event, then you have missed a very enjoyable book. Gloria and her committee are to be congratulated for such an asset to the town”.
By Chuck Hammond--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Re: A Recommendation from the Memorabilia Room Committee
Date: October 28, 2013
This is a recommendation to the Selectmen as to the open viewing hours of the newly completed Columbia Falls Schools Memorabilia Room. This recommendation is prepared for you with consideration for preserving the artifacts and history of our schools for generation to come. Many people have donated their time, energy, money and artifacts to this three year project.
We recommend the Memorabilia Room be open as follows:
The Memorabilia Room should be closed and locked when other event are held at the Municipal Building.
At the request of a party holding an event the Memorabilia Room can be open if a volunteer is available to supervise it for a reasonable amount viewing time (no more than two hours). If a volunteer is not available it will not be open.
Respectfully submitted by:
Roberta Harriet Morris Hammond, Project Head & Coordinator, Class of ‘65
(Mrs. Charles Henry Hammond)
and Committee Members: Julia Worcester, Class of ‘49
Sally Peterson Cooper, Class of ‘61
It seems that the public has all become quite aware of bullying, whether it is by Social Media, threatening phone calls or letters in the mail, of course always unsigned. The bullying goes on I encountered such unkind childish aggression and it’s not being done by children. On Sunday Oct. 13 2013 at a public Luncheon held at the Columbia Falls Municipal Building in coordination with “The Day of Honor & Remembrance” for Veterans to be held at the new “Balsam Valley Amphitheater” in Columbia Falls a sign appeared inside the Municipal Building on the double entrance doors to the new Columbia Falls Schools Memorabilia Room. This is how it read in bold black uppercase letters on bright yellow paper “THIS HALLWAY HAS BEEN CLOSED TO VETERANS AND ALL LOCAL TRAFFIC BY ROBERTA MORRIS HAMMOND ONLY. IT WAS ALLOWED BY THE SELECTMEN BUT IT DOES NOT REFLECT THE OPINION OF ANY OTHER CITIZENS OF THE TOWN OF COLUMBIA FALLS. WE ALL WELCOME YOU AND HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR VISIT AND YOUR MEAL!”
This statement was aimed solely at me, insinuating that, I Roberta Morris Hammond, was against Veterans. Not True! I had asked at a selectmen’s meeting on the Thursday before the event, could I close the doors to the Memorabilia room and put up a sign, this was approved, and since at that time there was still no lock on the doors, may I place a table in front of the doors, also approved. This had been done before on one other occasion. (Over two years ago in January of 2011 the Selectmen had approved a motion that the double doors to the Memorabilia Room be locked.) I barely got the words out, when the Town Treasurer protested, why would I not want the Veterans coming through there. My asking for the room to be closed off had to do with a large group of people coming into the building that day – nothing to do with Veterans. Others chimed in, wasn’t it a Public Space? I was caught off guard. The Town Library is a Public Space, but they didn’t ask for that to be open. That is locked when no one is there. Karen Worcester of WAA understands the work that has gone into that C.F.S.M. room.She does not plan to use it as a hallway. This building has double handicap accessible doors. I have had this conversation with her myself.
Since such a large Event was new to everyone we didn’t know if 100 or 500 people would be at the Town Municipal Building for Lunch.
I would like to add, that many irreplaceable artifacts have been donated by Family members of Columbia Falls Schools Students and High School Alumni, knowing that the Selectmen had authorized the doors to be locked. Still no Lock!
Now back to the sign in Bold Black Letters! I was the only one given approval to put up a sign on the double doors to the Memorabilia Room. So who would take it upon themselves to put up such a cowardly despicable message? The other interesting fact is that both the Administrative Assistant and her Mother, the Town Treasurer where there that day. Personally, I would have thought that, with two employees of the Town on hand, that one of them would have seen it fit to remove such a distasteful piece of paper work.
Of course if this document had materialized within that office, they would have no reason to think that it should be removed. This seems to be quite a mystery! The lengths people will go to to defile a person’s name, this was again unsigned. I had been told that the Town Treasurer had posted on her personal face book page, that I did not support the Veterans! My intentions and words have been deliberately misconstrued.
Veterans are most welcome to the Columbia Falls Schools Memorabilia Room, come any day the Town Office is open, right now the hours are Monday through Thursday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. My family is full of Veterans; last year I put a large display of items at the Wreath Across America Museum in Honor of my two Uncles [Brothers] who were killed in World War II. My Father-in-law, now deceased, went into Normandy, D-Day + 6. I had a Great Great Grandfather who served in the Civil War and several ancestors who served in the American Revolution. My husband served as a Merchant Marine Officer during the Vietnam War, delivering ammunition by ship up the Saigon River to Saigon. I have been an active member of The Daughters of the American Revolution for the last 32 years, holding both state and local chapter offices. I am also a member of the Mayflower Society, 11th generation from Miles Standish. DO NOT QUESTION MY HONOR TO VETERANS OR TO MY COUNTRY!
Yes, this is a free Country and we can have free press, also freedom of speech. We have freedom of political views and the right to vote! It is a shame that Social Media can’t be used as it was intended. A friend of a friend puts up a derogatory remark and another face book friend seems to think this is the truth. Look at Dale Smith’s Youtube video (alias John Truth), you will see that I never once mentioned the word Veterans. If this poster was created or put up by any employee of this town, personally I think the selectmen should ask this person or persons to resign.
I am saddened to think that I have had to write this in defense of my actions and my good name!
The Day of Honor & Remembrance to our Veterans at the new Balsam Valley Amphitheater was a wonderful event. I was there!
Roberta Morris Hammond Columbia Falls Me. Tel. 483-4120
The Bill O’Rielly show’s Watters’s World on Monday evening October 21st made the Bar Harbor city council look pretty foolish for voting to remove Wreaths Across America’s “Perpetually Lighted Christmas Tree” honoring Veterans for “The Christmas They Never Had” during WWII. Waters actually went to a city council meeting. I especially liked the ending of the video. O’Rielly said “where is Columbia Falls?” Waters replied “It’s just a town where they celebrate Christmas and respect Veterans”. The video is on the internet and may be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxa8eG0pWjA.
Messages of appreciation: The town office received a call from a lady in Georgia. She wanted to share her appreciation to the town of Columbia Falls for taking the tree Bar Harbor did not want.
Emails received by the Columbia Falls Record: “Thank you for the wreath tree for the vets. Mike from Chicago. You are true Americans. I have been to your town about 30 years ago and am happy to say so. Please pass it on”. Mike W. Chiodo; “Thank you for taking in the memorial Bar Harbor shunned. You are Patriots!” Victoria Tucker, San Francisco, CA
Special Town meeting: About 16 individuals showed up at the special town meeting on October 22nd and unanimously approved taking $90,000 from Excise Tax and applying it towards Snow removal, salt and sand.
Septic System Replacement Grants: The town office has been notified that the DEP has grant assistance available through the Small Community Grant Program (SCG) for low and moderate income property owners to correct malfunctioning septic systems which pollute water bodies or cause a public nuisance. The program can pay 25% to 100% of the cost to abate qualifying problems dependent on property owner’s income. The selectmen voted not to participate but state law requires that municipal officers act to insure all malfunctioning systems are corrected regardless of funding availability.
Wreaths Across America escort to Arlington- Starts December 8, 2013 in Harrington Maine, finishes at Arlington National Cemetery on December 14, 2013, National Wreaths Across America Day.
History of Columbia Falls book: Gloria Hayward is having a limited second edition of her HISTORY OF COLUMBIA FALLS printed to be ready by the first of December. Due to increased printing cost the price will be $30.00 and you can reserve copies by sending a check in the amount of the book(s) you want made out to Gloria Hayward and mailed to: HISTORY BOOK, P.O. BOX 133, COLUMBIA FALLS, ME 04623. Include your phone number so we can call you when the books are available. Please add five dollars for each book to be mailed to you and your address. Book(s) will be reserved when payment is received. Reserve right away if you want one as already many books have been spoken for and only fifty are being printed for the second edition.
Union Hall Restoration: The Downeast Correctional inmates have returned all the completed window shutters that could be restored. There should be enough to do the east side. Installation will be the first job on the list for 2014 inmate work request.
Town Facebook page: 2015 dog tags are available. The fee is $6 for a neutered/spayed dog or $11 for a "non fixed" pet. Dog owners must present a current copy of the animal's rabies shot or have it on file at the Town Office. For more information call Town office 483-4067.
The town office was observed open on Sunday October 13th.
A day of Honor and Remembrance on Sunday October 13th was certainly a day for us to remember. Roberta and I and our grandson Rufie went with Roberta’s brother Benjamin Morris (a veteran) and his wife Anita. I have never been to an event that inspired the spirit of patriotism in everyone as much as this one did. We met and talked with the people sitting around us. There were so many stories and many moments when tears welled up in our eyes. The music was great. Lee Greenwood was fabulous. Miniature United States flags were passed out. Everyone was chanting USA, USA, USA in unison and waving the flags. The tree lighting was momentous and the fire works awesome. Invest in property on Route 1 in Columbia Falls because Balsam Valley Amphitheater is going to be big!
New Facebook page Balsam Valley Amphitheater
Off limits to Veterans? On Sunday there was a public lunch at the municipal building sponsored by Wreaths Across America and catered by the United Methodist Women. Roberta Hammond had authorization from selectmen to post a note at the entrance to the Schools Memorabilia Room asking people not to enter and to set a table there as a further deterrent since the lock that the selectmen had authorized way back in January 2011 still had not been installed. It was not possible for her to staff the room that day and there are many irreplaceable, priceless artifacts on loan and donated from many individuals. Someone posted an anonymous (again), unauthorized, unscrupulous note on the doors (next to Roberta's) in bold upper case letters on bright yellow paper “This hallway has been closed to veterans and all local traffic by Roberta Morris Hammond only. It was allowed by the selectmen but it does not reflect the opinion of any other citizens of the town of Columbia Falls. We all welcome you and hope you enjoy your visit and your meal!” Obviously the sole purpose of this note was to incite anger in the veterans and Mrs. Hammond. I know that some deceitful individuals feel that upsetting Roberta (unfairly) is a way to retaliate against me for writing C.F. news, but why would anyone want to upset the veterans? The most disconcerting thing to me is that many of Roberta’s friends (and church members) were there and apparently so intimidated by these unsavory people that they wouldn’t take it down or speak up in her behalf. On the other hand we are so pleased that townspeople are beginning to see who these individuals are and how malicious they can be. I was not there to see for myself who posted this malicious note, but Roberta and I have been told by several people who were there that it was Lenora Weaver, the town treasurer.
This is the unauthorized post that insinuates that Roberta Hammond does not support our veterans. Roberta has a large exhibit in the Wreaths Across America museum about her two uncles that were killed in WWII. I have some items also displayed there about my father who went ashore in Normandy on D-Day plus 6. Both of us have always supported the veterans. I myself made two trips on government charted ships to Vietnam. One trip we were were loaded with ammunition and went up the Saigon River as far as possible to Saigon. We have many veterans in our families. In the summer we fly a very large American flag in front of our home. Roberta has been a member of the Daughters of American Revolution for 32 years and held both state and local offices. I have written several articles about our veterans for the Downeast Coastal Press.
Condolences to the family of Audrey Look Luce (86) who passed away on Saturday, October 12th in Winthrop, Maine. She was the youngest and the last surviving child of Lester and Lillian Look from C.F. She graduated from CFHS class of 1945. She was a resident of Readfield. Audrey was predeceased by her husband, Rex Luce. She is survived by three children and three grandchildren.
Resident eagles, Sam and Samantha are keeping a wary eye on the new osprey nesting pole erected next to the DSF hatchery by perching on different trees closer to the pole.
C.F. 150 Celebration Tee shirts. The town still has some celebration Tee shirts for sale at $8.00 each. They were turned over to the Union Hall Restoration committee. Call Roberta Hammond 483-4120
Town Office Facebook page: Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, October 22 at 7 p.m. to see if the Town will take $90,000 from excise tax to apply it to sand, salt and plowing. This item was inadvertently omitted from the Town Meeting Warrant this year. Dog tags for 2014 will be available on October 15th. The price for documents sent to the Registry of Deeds has increased from $13 to $19. This fee increase will be automatically added to liened account(s). Call the Town Office (483-4067) for more information.
Selectmen’s meeting October 10th: The board approved a warrant of $45,074.42, payroll warrants of $1965.63 and $723.53 and the wording of the warrant for the upcoming special town meeting on October 22nd “to see if the Town will take $90,000 from excise tax to apply it to sand, salt and plowing”.
The check to the town historian Gloria Hayward approved at the September 9th meeting is in the warrant approved above.
John Tibbetts presented a Columbia Falls 150th Celebration financial report updated 9/12/13 that resolves the $60.00 discrepancy and agrees with the report received from the town office showing a surplus of $5359.94. The selectmen voted to accept this report (two in favor, one opposed). Tibbetts asked the chairman why he was opposed. Mr. Grant said “well, I could have made a $60.00 correction to it at any time. That is why I’m opposed. I don’t disagree with it but I am opposed”.
Selectmen approved including the new report in the annual town report instead of the one presented on September 9th. Snow plowing bid requests for town properties (not roads) will go out and will be opened on the first meeting in November.
Selectman, Bun Ward read a paragraph from the town auditor’s letter dated March 15th in which Jim Wadman recommended “that the Board of Selectmen perform a review of the financial transactions on a consistent basis. We recommend that monthly financial reports and bank statement reconciliations be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen to identify financial fluctuations of an unusual nature”. [This is the letter to the Selectmen which lists serious “Material Weaknesses” in internal control and makes corrective recommendations]. Ward says all he has received is a ledger each month. Administrative Assistant Nancy Bailey said that is all she was ever asked to provide. Ward replied that he asked for the reports that were specified in the auditor’s letter. Ward said “why are you responding to this? Why isn’t it our treasurer? Does our treasurer know what she is supposed to be doing?” Town treasurer, Lenora Weaver replied “evidently not”. Bun Ward looking at Weaver said “do you know the meaning of this statement?” Weaver replied “I’ve read it, it was a recommendation not an order”. Ward stated that it’s been more than six months since receipt of the auditor’s letter and he hadn’t seen any of the required reports. The other selectmen concurred and approved a motion to have Jim Wadman come and explain his recommendations at the selectmen’s meeting on October 28th. Also a motion was approved to review these financial reports at a selectmen’s meeting once a month.
Roberta Hammond’s request to paint a sign above the double doors to the schools memorabilia room was approved. She asked about the installation of the door lock that had been previously approved by selectmen and still hasn’t been installed. Bailey said the locksmith had offered to come on Friday a couple of times but the office is closed. Bun Ward and Roberta Hammond both offered to meet the locksmith on a Friday.
DSF has erected a pole and platform on the east side of the hatchery building in anticipation of occupancy by a nesting osprey family. Installation equipment and men provided courtesy of Bangor Hydro Company. A “starter nest” of twigs was installed by Dennis Smith.
The Annual Harvest Quilt Show was held at Union Hall on Saturday, October 5th, 2013. There were 27 quilts on display. In addition there were many craft vendors and refreshments by the United Methodist Women.
This 96” by 96” quilt “Not So Lone Star” is by Carmen Weeks of Bartlett House Quilts from Corea and NH. It is a Kaffe Fassett design. The piecing is incredible. The diamonds are each hand cut. The quilt is machine pieced and quilted. It was on display at the annual Harvest Quilt Show on Saturday October 5th in Columbia Falls.
A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on October 4th, 2013 at the entrance to the new Balsam Valley Amphitheater just off Route One in eastern Columbia Falls. The amphitheater was built in just four weeks and is owned by Worcester Wreath Co. It will be the venue for the upcoming Day of Honor & Remembrance Featuring Musical guest Lee Greenwood and a variety of local musical performers on October 13th at 2:30pm (gates open at 1:00). It is free to veterans, Public - $15.00, Students -$10.00, Under 5-free.
October 4th, 2013 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the entrance to Balsam Valley Amphitheater built in just four weeks and owned by Worcester Wreath Co. Morrill Worcester and his granddaughter Lola cut the ribbon. Lola is the daughter of Mike and Renee’ Worcester.
Left to right David Burns, Kevin Raye, Morrill and Karen Worcester, and Pete Doak with the Balsam Valley Amphitheater in the background.
Morrill Worcester being interviewed by WABI TV
More than Just Salmon The Downeast Salmon Federation has a lot going on according to executive director Dwayne Shaw. The DSF is currently advertising for clerical/office help and a biologist/natural resource specialist for their outreach and education program. DSF has only two fulltime employees and one intern at the East Machias Aquatic Research Center hatchery, EMARC and just two fulltime employees at the Columbia Falls facility but there are dozens of volunteer students, interns and graduate students. Presently children from the Rose Gaffney Elementary School in Machias are marking fish. It is a huge task, 90000 juvenile salmon parr will have their adipose fin clipped. These fish raised from eggs in East Machias river water at the hatchery are temporarily “knocked out” by a chemical added to the water for the snipping process and after a few days of recovery will be stocked this fall in the East Machias River and tributaries above Crawford Lake. This past summer volunteers inspected every culvert in the East Machias watershed to see how well fish could move through. They found some culverts that were too high, some completely washed out and others that had been naturally bypassed completely by Mother Nature.
A future gene bank is planned for the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in East Orland to separate the salmon families from each of the following rivers: Machias, East Machias, Dennys, Pleasant, Penobscot and Sheepscot.
Alewives are in serious decline; however the St. Croix River is one again open to alewife runs since the state shut off the fish ways in 1995. Shaw credits Peter Doak as being an influential advocate in favor of this. In Columbia Falls the Pleasant River has been closed to alewife harvesting for several years now. The river is colder than the other rivers and the natural season is to near the closing of the state legal season to make it profitable. In order to reopen the river to harvesting data must be collected from harvested alewives. The town has asked the DSF for help and a management plan has been established with the state to harvest 25 alewives per week and record lengths, sex and take scale samples which the state analyzes for ages. Data must show substantial numbers, age variance and constant reproduction before the river can be reopened.
An osprey nest will be erected next to the hatchery building in C.F.
The Pleasant River Community Forest is maintained by the DSF and its volunteers. My grandson, Rufus (10) and I walked the 2 mile loop of connecting trails; Little River Rd, Otter Falls, River Trail, A.P. Smith Rd, and Highland Trail on Friday after school in about 2 hours. Rufus said “Grampy hold my walking stick, I want to run for awhile”. Rufie collects a new walking stick from the woods of every hike we do.
Rufus Hammond (10) standing by the Otter Falls in Little River within the Pleasant River Community Forest, Columbia Falls owned and maintained by the Downeast Salmon Federation. The DSF encourages public use of this wilderness. Rufie is the son of Chad and Anna Hammond.
Town Office Facebook page: “Thought I (Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant) would pass along an e-mail I received from the State yesterday pertaining to sales tax. If you make the purchase of a second hand vehicle, four wheeler, boat, etc., and do not register this vehicle until AFTER the sales tax rate change, you will still be charged 5%. Kind of nice to know. No need to rush right in a register if you are not quite ready”.
Selectmen meeting September 23rd, 2013 approved a warrant of $8091.13 and a payroll of $1106.53. Selectman Bun Ward said the $60 difference between the town’s bookkeeping and the 150 committee final report has not been resolved. A motion was approved to authorize $650 for Mechanical Services to analyze the municipal building heating controls and quote costs for repairs. Local contractor Rick Poirier will quote a new roof. The board authorized a building “walk through” with a plumber and to fix any obvious leaks. A special town meeting date was set for October 22nd to authorize the appropriation of funds for the snow plow contract. It was noted that the lease agreement with Wreaths Across America has a fuel surcharge which has not been billed to them. The lease also required the town to build a driveway on the west side of the building in the event the court did not resolve the “Right of Way” issue in favor of the town. This has not been done either. Fire chief Dave Perham requested a few minutes at the special town meeting to make an informal presentation about the possibility of combining fire departments with Columbia. (Approved) Perham also asked about the application for a forestry department surplus tanker which he had presented to selectmen at a previous meeting. A motion was made and approved. A motion was approved to sign the MMA grant application for fire department air packs. The town received a $6000 donation for playground improvements from the Lafayette Family. The October town office calendar was approved. Selectmen’s meeting was moved from Columbus Day the 14th to Thursday October 10th. Travel expenses for librarian, Loyce Worcester were approved at $3.00 per day, two days per week starting in January 2014. Road commissioner Mike Bailey said roadside mowing and clearing contractors have started. A motion was approved for some road repairs. Two signs will be erected on Epping Road advising ATV travelers to stay on the pavement. The town dog catcher requested citizens taking pictures of stray dogs to use a time stamp.
Lawyer’s response to Conveyance Options Committee questions
COC member John Tibbetts submitted a summary of the information received from the Town’s attorney, Charles Gilbert, in response to questions posed to him by members of the Conveyance Options Committee in their attempt to clarify the Town’s position and ability to deal with issues surrounding a possible conveyance of the Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America. The information is contained in a series of emails on file at the town office between Charles Gilbert and Selectman Jay Look: (A) The 2010 deed from RSU 37 to the Town contains on parcel one a restriction regarding the “Allen Memorial Field”. There is some question as to whether it is still valid after all these years, but even if it is, it would not restrict the building in any way. If the Town were to convey the land and buildings to Wreaths Across America, the restriction regarding the use of Allen Field would be noted on the deed, as would any language we might come up with to preserve the town’s use of a portion of the building. In theory, these deed restrictions are not self-enforcing, in the sense that someone has to step up and make a complaint, so it is possible that even a violation of the restrictions could pass for years with no action (not to suggest conscious disregard of the restrictions, only pointing out what sometimes happens in reality). There is nothing in the deed to the town which would prohibit conveyance of the property subject to the Allen Field restrictions, and a new owner would then be on notice of the restriction, but if they chose to ignore it, it is not self-enforcing. (B) Mr. Gilbert would attend a public meeting and try to divide travel time up amongst several matters so he can cut the cost to the Town. (C) Conveyance options; (1) the property could be conveyed using the same description by which the Town received the property from the RSU; using the historical description is done all the time; (2) we could try to improve the historic description by tinkering with it, particularly the right-of-way language, which caused some problems as evidenced by the Johnstone dispute; (3) the town could divide the property in some fashion breaking off the building from the Allen Field, although that would have to be studied to see if it is feasible since there would have to be access to the back, and quite possibly no frontage. On balance, Mr. Gilbert would favor option #2, but ultimately it would be the Town which would have to decide. (D) It is possible to divide this parcel up. It would require a survey, and would require that the division comply with any local ordinances. It would also require resolution of any access issues. Dividing the building is also possible. That is typically done through a condominium type of arrangement. (E) The obligation that Allen Field be maintained as a public playground could but doesn’t have to stay with the Town. If, for example, the entire parcel transferred to WAA, it would become their responsibility to comply with the Allen directive. (F) The access issue (to the back of the property) is important to both parties, and I suspect we will need to discuss that further in light of the court’s ruling. (G) It is unusual, although probably not unheard of (since, in the law, there is almost always an exception to the general rule) to require a purchaser to maintain the property to a certain standard. If the town is going to occupy a portion of the building under a “lease”, it might make sense to insert any conditions like that into the lease since in a typical commercial lease the land lord maintains the skeleton of the building. (H) Reverter clauses are still legal, but have fallen out of favor since they are so draconian [to rigorous or severe]. Also, a strict reverter has been held not to last truly forever, as in a famous church property case in Bangor. There may be a milder form of recovery which would work. Additionally, some language would need to be added either in the deed or some other instrument which puts the world on notice of whatever the condition [a reverter or the like] might be. Buyers generally resist this, first because it restricts their ability to sell and second, it restricts their ability to mortgage the property. (I) The conditions of transfer have to be spelled out clearly as do the conditions of “lease” of the town’s space in the building. The two are separate and both need consideration.
Union Hall - There are still a few openings for vendors at the Harvest Quilt & craft show Oct 5. in Columbia Falls. And there is also space for a few more quilts.
Call 483-2131 if you want to participate.
Conveyance Options Committee recommendations were presented to the Selectmen in a public workshop meeting on September 19th with 16 townspeople present. Everyone seemed to agree that there are five municipal building issues needing attention whether Wreaths Across America or the Town owns the building (1) have consistent and controlled heat in winter, (2) stop the roof from leaking, (3) stop heating pipes from leaking, (4) repair a nonfunctioning bathroom, and (5) create an entrance to the rear parking lot that does not present a danger to children using the playground. Karen Worcester, CEO of WAA has suggested in her proposal to the town that if WAA owned the building it could get grants to make necessary repairs.
The committee suggests that there are two questions before the town:
It was agreed that the voters would need the following information in order to make an informed decision at a town meeting:
Dick Bedard said “it all comes down to taxes” and suggested that the people also be informed how much their taxes could be affected. He thought it would be a good idea to mail a one page summary “not an anonymous letter” to all Columbia Falls residents.
The Columbia Falls Conveyance Options Committee recommendations concerning Wreaths Across America’s proposal to assume ownership of the Municipal Building were presented to the Selectmen in a public workshop meeting on September 19th with 16 townspeople present. Selectmen left to right at the head of the table are: Bun Ward, Alan Grant, and Jay Look.
Columbia Market has reopened.
Perpetually Lit Tree
On September 3, 2013 Wreaths Across America was informed by the Bar Harbor Maine city council that the lease on the perpetually lit tree that pays tribute to all veterans whose service keeps them from their families during the holiday would no longer be renewed. The reasons giving by the council were that the “Christmas they never had” tree could be offensive to some and it was later reported that they hoped to preserve separation of Church and State. On October 13th the lights will be transferred from the tree in Bar Harbor to a tree on land in Columbia Falls that has been gifted to Wreaths Across America for a future veterans park. There will be a concert at 2:30 staring Country Music artist Lee Greenwood. At Dusk-Lee Greenwood sings God Bless the USA – and the new tree receives the lights with a 45 minute fireworks display following.
On September 9th the board approved a warrant of $14,197.18 and a payroll of $719.41. Roadside mowing contract was awarded to The By Us Company for $3795. Roadside clearing was awarded to Shawn Hartford for $3000. Snow plowing was awarded to County Concrete and heating fuel was awarded to Hammond Oil for the same rates as last year. The 150 Celebration final financial report was presented to selectmen. The committee raised $19,763.29 and the Town appropriations were $7500 which made a total of $27,263.29. Expenses were $21,843.35 creating a surplus of $5,419.94 which was turned over to the town. The complete financial report may be reviewed on the 150 Celebration Page. Selectmen thanked the committee for producing a great celebration. Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey said there is a $60.00 discrepancy between the town figures and the committee figures. Selectmen approved a motion to include the report in the annual town report. Left-over T-shirts, banners and school desks will be turned over to the Union Hall restoration committee. The utility pole flags will be taken down by volunteers on September 28th. A motion was approved to turn the history book proceeds of $775.95 over to the author, Gloria Hayward. It was suggested that some of the surplus money be used to purchase a new flag pole for Union Hall to fly both the Federal and State flags and a plaque about the 150 celebration. A motion was made and approved to dissolve the 150 Celebration Committee. HURRAH!
Municipal Conveyance Options Committee
There were 13 people in attendance at the meeting on September 9th including several townspeople and representatives for Wreaths Across America. Executive Director Karen Worcester affirmed that WAA wants to remain in the Town of Columbia Falls. Dick Bedard asked if something happened in the future that would prevent her from running the organization how could we be certain that WAA would not move to Washington. Karen does not foresee WAA ever moving away from Columbia Falls even if she is no longer the CEO. Stephen Smith asked why we were even considering giving the municipal building away. Karen replied that the thought was stimulated after Columbia Falls’ town meeting this year as a result of Warrant Article 45 which proposed that the town sell the building and use the proceeds to construct a new building (Article 45 was indefinitely postponed). This prompted the opening paragraph of WAA’s draft proposal to take over the municipal center “….WAA has been made aware of the Town’s desire to be relieved of the expense and responsibility associated with owning and managing the property known as the former Columbia Falls Elementary School”. Karen stated that the main reason for the WAA proposal to own the building is so it could use its resources to make necessary repairs which could only be done if it is the owner. She was only trying to suggest a solution that might be good for WAA and the Town. Issues known to town officials since the town took possession of the property were discussed and include (1) the malfunctioning heat distribution system, (2) the non-functioning bathrooms (3) the leaking roof and (4) a safe access to the parking area at the rear of the building where children are playing. Karen said WAA is not particularly interested in owning the building if repairs are made. Next meeting will be a workshop meeting with selectmen on Thursday September 19th at 7pm it is open to the public and citizens are urged to attend.
Town of Columbia Falls…Through the eyes of the Administrative Assistant Facebook post on September 9th - "One brief word of clarification for this morning. It is my understanding that I am once again found newsworthy as I have not taken down the Town facebook page. Oh, but I have. This is not an OFFICIAL Town of Columbia Falls page. This is a personal page which is managed by the Administrative Assistant. It is intended to keep residents informed and to stay in touch with those who no longer live in this little town of ours. It shall remain light and hopefully informative. Thank you. Have a wonderful day." Since this post has been pushed down by other more recent posts one could easily mistake the “personal” page to be an “OFFICIAL” town page sanctioned by the selectmen.
Summer reading program at the library sponsored by Tuscan Lodge awarded two new bicycles and helmets. The girl’s bike went to Justice Eternal and the boy’s bike was won by Kevin Alley. Children got an entry ticket for each book they read throughout the summer. The more books they read the more chances to win. This program was a spin-off from the programs Tuscan Lodge sponsors at the Harrington and D.W. Merritt elementary schools each spring in which 36 bicycles and helmets are awarded.
About the removal of the perpetually lit tree in Bar Harbor, Maine
On September 3, 2013Wreaths Across America was informed by the Bar Harbor Maine city council that the lease on the perpetually lit tree that pays tribute to all veterans whose service keeps them from their families during the holiday would no longer be renewed. The reasons giving by the council were that the “Christmas they never had” tree could be offensive to some and it was later reported that they hoped to preserve separation of Church and State.
Wreaths Across America pursued the project in 2011 at the urging of Battle of the Bulge/POW Survivor Sir Stanley Wojtusik, whose story of being captured on Christmas Eve 1944 punctuated the sacrifices made by our service men and women and their families which seems more painful during the holiday season when families usually spend time together. Historically 1944 is known as “The Christmas They Never Had” because of the large number of young men and women from all over the world who were involved in WWII.
The monument that rests beneath the tree reads “The Christmas They Never Had. Wreaths Across America dedicates this perpetually lit tree in honor of those men and women who in service to our Country, were separated from loved ones during the holiday season. Regardless of religious beliefs or creed their sacrifice must always be remembered. July 9, 2011.” It was the hope of Wreaths Across America that families who were drawn to the tree by the colored lights would read the plaque and take the opportunity to teach their children from their own point of view about the sacrifices of war and the cost of freedom.
As Wreaths Across America Executive Director Karen Worcester explained, “We don’t see this as a religious issue, as we worked with George Fisher of the Jewish War Veterans, when the monument was installed in 2011. The tree represents a period of time that is part of our history- and no amount of political correctness will ever erase the sacrifices that were made, and continue to be made, to protect our freedoms.”
While Wreaths Across America was initially disappointed to lose the teaching opportunity in such a visible location but disappointment often brings opportunity. Plans are in the making to move the lights to Columbia Falls to land that has been gifted to Wreaths Across America for a future veterans park. Enthusiasm has grown and Sunday October 13, 2013 will be another opportunity for us to honor the sacrifice of these men, women and their families and celebrate the gift of freedom they have given.
So here is an agenda for Oct 13th in Columbia Falls Maine.
10 am.Families of fallen from Maine to gather at museum for coffee and instruction on tagging their loved ones trees.http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/tag/jeremy-moorhead/
11am.Tree tagging and monument reveal (life size carving, done by chainsaw, of Founder’s Award)
1 pm =lunch at the museum school for families of the fallen.
2:30 pm music begins at the Outdoor Amphitheater –headliner: Lee Greenwood
Dusk-Lee Greenwood sings God Bless the USA – new tree receives the lights—45 minute fireworks display.
** Exciting fact is that all ATV‘s can come in on the DownEastSunrise Trail
**Concert is free for all Veterans- all others $15 adult, $10 student.
Anonymous letter “To the Townspeople of Columbia Falls” -
On Tuesday September 3rd many residents received an undated anonymous letter “To the Townspeople of Columbia Falls” concerning the transfer of the municipal building to Wreaths Across America. For the most part the letter was well written and factual. The letter mentioned the areas that the town would still have control over but failed to mention the school memorabilia room. The letter states that it cost the town “just shy of $53,000” to operate the building last year but omits the offsetting rental income of over $30,000 paid by the tenants. The letter goes on to state “There has already been a committee formed to prevent this trade”. This is not the case. The committee was appointed by the selectmen. There are many issues to consider in the transfer of this property. The selectmen felt they needed help in gathering information to be well prepared for answering townspeople’s questions at the upcoming public hearing and special town meeting and asked the committee to recommend a counter proposal. I attended the first meeting of the Municipal Conveyance Options Committee and heard no remarks opposing the conveyance of the property. The last paragraph of the letter says “Do not let anything, including this letter, influence you on this very important decision that could impact your town, your taxes, and your future. Please get involved. This is your decision, do NOT let someone else make it for you!” In response to this last paragraph no one else but the townspeople can make this decision and it will be done by voting in a town meeting. It is unfortunate that the writer of this letter did not have the fortitude to sign it. The complete unsigned letter may be read here.
Unofficial Town facebook page -
“Welcome to the "Unofficial" Facebook page for the Town of Columbia Falls. It might resemble the previous page but is no way endorsed or affiliated with ANY of the Selectmen or Administrative Assistant. You will be able to find out about meetings, events, town news by coming here....please note that any comments or questions for the Town Office staff will not be answered by them.” The administrator of this facebook page is not identified.
YouTube channel -
There is also a YouTube channel where C.F. Selectmen Meetings and other public meetings/events are uploaded. The web address is: http://www.youtube.com/user/CF04623Truth. It is administered by Jon Truth. I Googled “Jon Truth” and there doesn’t seem to be anyone with that name in the whole world wide web.
Chuck Hammond is my name. I live at 182 Main St. Columbia Falls and I am the writer of this column and the editor of the “The Columbia Falls Record” a local internet new service and I sign everything I write.
Town of Columbia Falls Facebook page has not been removed as the administrative assistant said she would do the day after the selectmen’s meeting on August 26th. Instead the title of the page has been changed to Town of Columbia Falls..through the eyes of the Administrative Assistant.
Run For The Fallen
On Sunday August 25th the Worcester family (Morrill, Karen, Mike and Renee) participated in the Run For The Fallen. Karen Worcester’s notes on the experience are posted on the internet at http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/run-for-the-fallen.
Wreaths Across America
On August 28th, WAA was presented the 2013 Americanism Award by the Air Force Sergeants Association at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Previous recipients of the award include the Fisher House Foundation, and the USO.
Graffiti on the Columbia Falls village bridge -
On August 26th, 2013 Selectmen approved a warrant of $1795.58 and a payroll warrant of $462.52. A public hearing for the Wreaths Across America proposal to take over the municipal building was tabled again. After a lot of discussion on whether a committee was necessary or not the board approved a committee of four citizens to make a counter proposal to WAA. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27th at 7PM in the municipal center. A special town meeting for accepting WAA proposal and correcting the salt/shed financial issue was also tabled again.
Approval of the Town of Columbia Falls Facebook page account which had been set up by Nancy Bailey, the administrative assistant and tabled for the two previous meetings was discussed. The selectmen made no decision but Bailey said she would take it down tomorrow.
State Bond Issue Septic System Replacement Grant (tabled from August 12th meeting) provides 25% to 100% of replacement costs for individual malfunctioning systems. Administration of this program must be done by the town office. The board voted to not get involved.
Bailey has been notified that her probationary period for licensing big trucks is over. The town subscribes to Trio’s car value “Blue Book”, adding the truck blue book would cost the town $350. No decision made.
Several complaints have come into the town office of residents on Tibbettstown Road and in the village burning trash in stoves. Apparently there is a state law that prevents incinerating trash outdoors but not indoors.
The September Calendar was approved.
The PRSWDD has sent a letter for a one year extension of the existing contract.
Selectman Ward says some signs on Cross Road have disappeared. Road Commissioner Mike Bailey will replace them.
Fire Chief Dave Perham reports that Maine Municipal Association’s punch list work is on going with some items resolved.
There has been some minor paint vandalism on the back door of the gym and on the village bridge. Perham volunteered to repaint the door.
Municipal Conveyance Options Committee met on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013. Members appointed by the selectmen are: Jay Look, Philip Worcester, Sally Thompson, and Vance Pineo Jr. (absent). Citizens present were: Dale Smith, David Weaver and Chuck Hammond. The committee developed a large list of concerns which Look will send to the Town’s attorney for legal advice.
Condolences to Tony and Robin Santiago on the loss of their infant grandson and to the family of Priscilla Worcester.
The Downeast Correctional Facility crew finished up the painting project and will complete the repair of park benches soon as new bolts had to be ordered for that. Nancy Herr did a special lobster roll lunch for the crew (3 of them) with french fries, cole slaw and blueberry pie, paid out of the fund-raising account (approx $58.)
Vincent (Vince) Simon and his wife Sarah are Harvest Supervisors for Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co. On August 14th Chuck Hammond had the opportunity to spend an hour with them together with their son, Sheldon and Vince’s sister, Margaret Ann Milliea in their fifth wheel RV. It was 8PM and suppertime for Vince and Sarah and they both would be going back out in the fields after they ate. Their day begins around 5AM and can last until midnight.
The Simons run one of four company blueberry harvest camp sites. This one is called appropriately, Simon Camp (in TWP 19) which is a New Brunswick, Canada group. There are several tents, a few trailers and 23 company provided camps. Vince says “Simon Camp is a whole different community that comes together for 2 weeks every year”. I could sense the pride in his voice as he spoke of the community. When I arrived at his door there were two women bringing fresh strawberry shortcake for the Simon’s dessert. Later Sheldon went out to borrow some milk. It’s a big community of 160 to 170 Native Americans 150 of which are registered rakers. Harvesters come from places such as Bouctouche, Nova Scotia, Eskasoni, Prince Edward Island, and Whycogomah, Canada. They have dual citizenship. There is a core group that comes every blueberry season. Most of the people are here on vacation and have other full time jobs at home. Some come for the whole two weeks but others can only get one week’s vacation. Work always begins on a Monday.
Sheldon says it is tradition to have lunch in the fields together in groups. Everyone makes his own table of stacked blueberry boxes bottom up and they arrange the tables so they are facing each other in a circle. There are two “special” traditional social events that everyone looks forward to each year. The first Thursday evening the whole community comes together for a pot luck supper. On the Sunday of the only weekend they have together there is a much anticipated “slow pitch” baseball game played against Nova Scotia’s Googoo harvest camp (supervisors John and Brenda). Simon says this is all in fun but the game is “seriously” fun. Simon Camp has won seven years in a row. The trophy is a decorated blueberry box. The winners get to parade it around and tease the losers. Monday, its back to work.
There are on average about 120 pickers each day due to some registered rakers having only one week to work. Most of them work 12 hour days and rake 60 to 80 boxes per day. The company sends trailer trucks to haul the 7000 to 10,000 half bushel boxes of blueberries away for processing. The young “loaders” work 60-70 hours per week and their day starts at 5AM and may go to 11-12PM.
There are 3 generations of the Simon family here this year. Vince (62) originally from Big Cove, NB started coming to Maine about 30 years ago. At first he worked in Sedgwick and later for Hillman Foss of Harrington. Vince always wore a straw hat and everyone identified him by it. This year when he arrived he could not find the hat anywhere. The mystery was solved however when he received an email from his daughter Germaine showing a smiling grandson Connor wearing it back home. Vince and Sarah live in Thunder Bay, Ontario where they both work for an addiction treatment center. Vince has a Masters Degree in Social work and is the Executive Director. The couple raised five children and has ten grandchildren. This is their vacation. They travel through Canada on their way out here so they can visit relatives and friends in New Brunswick. The return trip will be through the States with a few days stay at Paul Bunyan Campground in Bangor. At home they set up the RV trailer on a lake and commute to it weekends where they like to fish. “Nothing like fresh caught pickerel with Sarah’s fresh baked bannock”.
In an email on August 18th Vince writes “We finished our harvest on Thursday, got paid on Friday and most of the rakers were gone by Saturday. Some stayed to find jobs with other growers. My two aunts, who are in their seventies, look forward to this every year. They have been providing housekeeping services for all that time that I have been the supervisor, (23 years). Rakers have come and gone, some passed on. One was so fond of the tradition that the barrens provided, that her last wish was to have her ashes spread in the blueberry barrens of Passamaquoddy Wild. This beautiful ceremony was carried out in 2011."
"It is the hope of many Native people, that this tradition of coming to Maine to rake blueberries, live together, laugh together and work together for a couple of weeks each year, will continue for a long time.”
Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company “loaders” work 60-70 hours per week and their day starts at 5AM and may go to 11-12PM. They load 7000 to 10,000 half bushel boxes of blueberries daily from Simon Camp during the two week harvest season.
Vince Simon proudly displays the trophy which Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Company rakers from Simon Camp won over Googoo Camp while playing the annual baseball game on Sunday August 11th, 2013
Jay Look presided over the selectmen’s meeting Monday evening August 12th in Alan Grant’s absence. Also absent was Nancy Bailey the administrative assistant. Selectmen approved a warrant of $52,266.64 and a payroll of $872.58. Bun Ward made a motion as was suggested by Dick Bedard’s letter to the editor in the Downeast Coastal Press week of August 6-12 2013 to appoint a committee to make suggestions to the selectmen in regards to a counter proposal to Karen Worcester’s proposal for Wreaths Across America to take over the municipal building. This motion was approved and Jay Look said he would contact the individuals on the list suggested by Mr. Ward. The setting of a public hearing date and special town meeting date on the matter was postponed.
The Town of Columbia Falls Facebook account tabled from previous selectmen’s meeting was also postponed.
A letter from the Union Hall Restoration committee chairman, Tony Santiago was read by Pam Look stating that the Downeast Correctional group had finished painting the outside west wall, and the stage ceiling. The stage floor has been repaired but not painted. The windows are being restored now. Wood material for the park benches has been purchased. The Union Hall yard sale on Saturday, August 10th netted over $600.00. The committee requested selectmen approval for a special appreciation lobster roll luncheon for the inmates next week which was approved, funds to come from the yard sale proceeds. The Lebra Foundation grant application has been submitted.
Tax assessor, Dale Smith has recently attended a tax training session. Funds for this were taken from the assessor’s budget.
Fire chief, Dave Perham reported that the FEMA grant for firemen safety and survival gear had been declined. The Town received a reimbursement check in the amount of $285.97 from Maine Municipal Association for “October 2012 Safety Grant” Perham had submitted for traffic safety vests and lockout/tagout. Chief Perham is looking into other grants: Stephan King; Maine Forestry Department; and Maine Municipal Association. Perham presented the Maine Forest service Firefighting Program Cooperative Agreement to the selectmen for consideration and signatures. The fire department is also considering applying for a 5 ton surplus tanker. The vehicle would be free but requires some update, painting etc to be used in a civilian fire department. Perham will propose a budget. Research is ongoing for the possibility of combining fire departments with Columbia.
Bun Ward said the law firm of Rudman and Winchell without explanation had requested copies of a lot of documents from the town office which the administrative assistant has provided to them.
Clifford Grant of Columbia is home from the hospital.
The Migrant Rakers Center in Columbia is now open for the blueberry season. Mechanical harvesters can be seen on the barrens 24-7 raking berries.
On Saturday, August 3rd members of Alcyone Chapter #71 catered the meal for forty four Winter Harbor High School Alumni in Winter Harbor.
Dawn Stubbs, Administrative Secretary, Narraguagus High School has been appointed the Adult Education Coordinator for the coming year. She is currently working on the Fall Adult Education course offerings. Stubbs is specifically looking for an English teacher for the diploma program, but is also looking for a variety of different enrichment courses. Anyone who has a craft, skill, hobby or trade to share with others is encouraged to contact her at Narraguagus High School.
The Town of Columbia Falls is taking bids for the road side mowing of approximately 18 miles of town roads. All roads are to be cut two cuts where possible. Bids should be submitted in one, all inclusive amount. They should be in a sealed envelope with MOWING BID written on the outside. These bids will be accepted until Monday, September 9, 2013 and will be opened that night at the selectmen's meeting, 7:00 p.m. For more information or for questions, please call either the Town Office (483-4067) or the Road Commissioner, Mike Bailey (592-1429).
The Town of Columbia Falls is taking bids for the cutting and chipping of brush and trees on approximately 1.5 miles of town roads (Epping Road). All brush and trees are to be removed 15 feet from the edge of the pavement. Bids are to be submitted in one, all inclusive dollar amount. Bids will be accepted until Monday, September 9, 2013 and will be opened that night at the selectmen's meeting, 7:00 p.m. For more information or for questions, please call either the Town Office (483-4067) or the Road Commissioner, Mike Bailey (592-1429).
A bathtub scam – Recently I listed a cast iron claw footed bathtub for sale on the Maine Market Place. Within a few hours I got an email response from Dan Miller in New Jersey with questions and wanting more photos. I responded with the information. He decided to buy the tub at my full price of $400.00. He could not pay with cash because he was having his freight company pick up the tub and a whole variety of other reasons. He would have his wife send me a “certified bank check” in the amount of $2850.00. I was to cash the check immediately, keep $400 plus $50 for my troubles and immediately wire transfer the rest to his shipping company (and then be out $2850 when the check finally bounced). I decided since the C.F. 150 celebration was over and I have all this new extra free time on my hands that I would string him along. There were many emails back and forth for a week. Lots of inconsistencies, he was moving to California, needed the tub shipped to Japan, the shipping company was in Chicago. The check finally came after about two weeks via UPS express from Jeffrey Anderson in Aurora, Colorado. It was a very official looking check from Fidelity Investments, Cincinnati, OH drawn on JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (no address) made out to me in the amount of $2850. I had planned to deposit it and see what kind of pressure Mr. Miller would put on me because I didn’t cash it immediately per his instructions. Then I got another idea, I Googled “jp morgan chase bank routing number 004930073” as shown on the check and got no results. I then Googled “jp morgan chase bank routing numbers” and got their complete list of bank routing numbers. Of course number 004930073 was not on the list. I Googled one of their routing numbers and the results showed the correct bank. As another test I Googled my local bank’s routing number and the result was in fact my bank. I emailed Dan (by now we were on first name basis) and told him the routing number was fake. He said it was a good check and I should go immediately to a bank or other check cashing place and cash it. I called the Washington County Sheriff’s office and was referred to the state police. One officer did return my call but he said no crime had been committed at this point. My wife, Roberta took all this collected information to our local bank. They confirmed it was a fake check, copied all the material and would alert their local branches.
For downeast genealogy and history buffs there is a rare collectible original copy of the 1881 Washington County Atlas by George N. Colby & Co. on eBay.
The Columbia Fire Department will be having a yard sale on August 10 & 11 at the fire house on Route 1. If you have something that you want to donate contact Mary Beth Ward at 483-9756 or JoAnne Champney at 483-2023.
The selectmen met on July 22nd, 2013. Alan Grant was absent. They approved a warrant of $18765.45 and payroll of $839.40. Selectman Jay Look said he would be meeting with Attorney Charles Gilbert on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 to discuss the proposed transfer of Municipal Building to WAA and the issues of the Crandon Shipyard right-of-way and playground. John Tibbetts suggested that Gilbert be asked what portion of the land can be conveyed and how does he recommend it should be conveyed. Look will ask Karen Worcester to get her attorney started also. Grace Falzarano asked if there would be another public hearing. (Yes). John Tibbetts said that the next public hearing should be advertised properly as previous selectmen a number of years ago had voted to post meeting notices at Abs, in the post office, at the town office, in the Machias Valley Observer and in the Down East Coastal Press which most of the people in Columbia Falls read. Administrative assistant Bailey said she was not aware of that but the last meeting “was publicized in a paper for two weeks (the Machias Valley Observer, issues July 3rd and July 10th). John Tibbetts said “I am not arguing with you that you did wrong, but I’m just saying that if you know that the majority of our citizens read a particular paper, the idea of posting it is not just to cover the legal issue. It is to let the people in the town know so they can come here and hear what is going on.” Chuck Hammond added that a free posting could also be made on the Columbia Falls Record website (ColumbiaFallsMeRecord.org) which over 600 people read every month.
Selectmen signed a quit claim deed conveying the tax acquired property to Joseph J. Tibbetts of Addison.
Todd Emerson asked if the finances of the 150 celebration had been finalized yet and how much it had cost the town. John Tibbetts replied that not all bills had been received yet and therefore not paid, once the town shows that all bills are paid then the finances will be finalized. Tibbetts anticipates that a surplus of a few thousand dollars will be turned over to the town. The petty cash account has not yet been turned in.
The August calendar was approved with two date changes to town office open days due to blueberry harvesting.
Selectmen Look asked the administrative assistant about the new “Town of Columbia Falls” facebook page which had been prepared and posted without approval of selectmen. Nancy Bailey apologized for not asking permission and said she would take it down if necessary. Selectmen tabled this issue until next selectmen’s meeting when all three selectmen could be present. Bailey would be allowed to continue the facebook page as a trial period in the interim.
Pam look spoke about the progress the Downeast Correctional inmates have made on the Union Hall. They are painting the west exterior wall, the stage ceiling and repairing the stage floor. She said Dick Grant had donated two more antique posters to the Union Hall and requested $300.00 to be taken from Union Hall account to have them framed. (approved) Look pointed out that they 4 public benches around the village were in disrepair and that the inmates were willing to fix them if the town provided new material. Selectmen approved up to $300.00 from the buildings and grounds account.
Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America made a presentation to the town of Columbia Falls at a public hearing on Thursday evening, July 18th, 2013. There were 28 people in attendance including Wayne Hanson, WAA Chairman/Board of Directors. Selectman Chair, Alan Grant opened the meeting. Worcester proposed that the town transfer the municipal building, the former elementary school to WAA. This would relieve the town of the expense and responsibility associated with owning and managing the property. Karen stressed that even though WAA has grown to be a world wide organization the home office will remain in Columbia Falls. WAA plans to take over the space now occupied by Worcester Holdings when their current lease is up.
The property would be conveyed to WAA, a non-profit organization through a no-cost transfer of a deed that contains the following obligations: Free office space to the town in the area currently used for municipal offices. Free space for the library and school memorabilia room in the spaces that they currently occupy. A permanent Agreement for Payment in Lieu of Taxes will be incorporated, wherein taxes will not be collected on the land or buildings, in exchange for the free space provided to the town.
Worcester had three main concerns; 1. Playground safety, unsupervised children are often darting about the parking lot near the playground. “We don’t want anyone to get run over”. She suggests forming a playground committee. 2. More parking is needed as well as parking for tour busses. 3. The driveway is to close to the building. Drivers can not see into the back parking lot by the playground before entering it. The Crandon Shipyard Road right of way may need to be utilized.
Karen suggested that a new main door may be installed at the back of the gym so that the entrance through town offices could be locked.
Vance Pineo asked if the playground might be moved. Karen stated that if the ROW is activated the swing set would have to move. She again suggested a playground committee might study the whole issue. She even suggested that WAA sources may have grant money available that could improve the whole playground with some new equipment, possibly some military related stuff. She said that it is not only children using the playground. Adults are often seen sitting near the building with computers taking advantage of the free Wi Fi.
Vance Pineo asked who will do the plowing. That will be WAA responsibility and the same areas will be plowed as they are now.
John Tibbetts said he hoped the playground was never moved from this property. It needs to be considered carefully. (The deed is quite specific about the playground.)
Tibbetts suggested the town needs a lawyer and Worcester agreed.
Dave Perham asked if they would be adding storage space for records and artifacts. Worcester said maybe later. She does want the gym shower rooms operational. (Presently used for storage).
Nancy Herr asked if the United Methodist Women would still be allowed to keep their things in the kitchen. Karen said everything would be as it is now and WAA would also want to use the kitchen.
Pete Doak asked where do we go from here. What is the next step? How can we move this along? Alan Grant answered that details had to be ironed out and approved at a town meeting.
Philip Worcester asked if the playground could be fenced. This is an issue that a committee might consider.
Roberta Hammond asked if there was lighting outback for parking and playground. Karen said no.
Grace Falzarno stated that the town had received a grant for the new boilers and that there may be a stipulation that the building can not transferred for a certain period of time.
Roberta Hammond “I see lots and lots of money going to lawyers on both sides”.
Vance Pineo asked if WAA was confident in getting grants to update the building. She said yes but they would probably borrow against the building first to get needed repairs done right away. Diane Tilton is the grant writer.
The next move must come from the Selectmen.
Selectmen on July 8th, 2013 approved a warrant of $53506.64 and a payroll of $1995.84. A public hearing will be held on Thursday July 18th at 6PM in the municipal center about the possible transfer of the municipal building to Wreaths Across America. Joseph J. Tibbetts’ bid of $1529.00 was accepted for the Town’s tax acquired property. New Appendices from the State DHS for the General Assistance Ordinance were accepted. Chairman Alan Grant on the 150 celebration stated “I’d like to say that I - from my perspective - that we had a good celebration, I was happy, turned out very well.” Selectmen approved taking $25,000 from Revenue Sharing account to put towards tax commitment. Mike Bailey, road commissioner recommended putting brush cutting for the Epping Road out for bid and also town road side mowing. (Both items approved). Bailey also presented preliminary drawings for the salt and sand shed buildings and plot plan designed by CES at a cost of $7000.00. These drawings are available for public review at the town office.
Public Hearing on possible transfer of Municipal Building to Wreaths Across America Thursday, July 18th in municipal center at 6PM
Columbia Falls celebrated its 150th anniversary last weekend. On Friday June 28th Charles Plummer’s living history presentation of Maine’s Civil War General Joshua Chamberlain was a huge hit with a very attentive audience of about 150. On Saturday, June 29th the celebration started with a hearty breakfast at the Faith United Methodist Church in Columbia. The foggy weather dampened the attendance at the parade, but the spirit of participants and observers was alive and well. Selectman Alan Grant recognized the Town’s oldest citizen, Wilbur Grant Jr. (87) at the opening ceremony and State Representative, Peter Doak presented the Town a Proclamation from the House of Representatives. Main Street was closed to vehicular traffic, but individuals could ride a wagon drawn by two English Shire draft horses which shuttled back and forth all day. The Downeast Salmon Federation had their famous deep fried smelts on sale at the old community center behind the fire station. Those who gathered for the car show at the 40 Main Street parking lot had a surprise bonus exhibit of antique engines, tractors and model T Ford cars. Also at the west end of Main Street the largest American flag in Washington County was held aloft by a huge crane. Historic Union Hall was the hub of all activities. The first printing of Gloria Hayward’s book, History of Columbia Falls sold out quickly. There was a great display of local antiques and artifacts. Wet paintings from artists participating in “paint Columbia Falls day” were exhibited as they were finished. The hall was crowded as the paintings were auctioned off at 5pm. Jan Rossi served a seafood chowder and baked bean supper at the municipal center. Many Columbia Falls high school alumni chose to attend the annual alumni meeting and dinner at the Columbia town hall. The evening was damp and gray but the fireworks were splendid. By this time the streets were open to traffic and people could watch from the dry comfort of their cars. There were two dance bands, one, Orange River Band playing jazz in the municipal center and a very popular group, Stillwaters playing outside under a tent at the fire station. Sunday June 30th was a lovely sunny day. The United Methodist Woman catered a brunch of assorted fruit and pastries at the municipal center. Pastor Janice L. Rhenow and the Columbia Falls United Methodist Church celebrated the 150th anniversary of the town with a special service. Pam Sawyer and guest musician, Erwin Zimmerman played special music on the antique piano. An insert in the church program listed Columbia and Columbia Falls Civil War veterans and provided some interesting Civil War notes. At noon there was a service of remembrance of our veterans at the bridge. Pastor Rhenow said a prayer, Courtney and Aiden Hammond played Taps, local VFW volunteers provided a gun salute and Richard Bailey tossed a decorated cedar wreath into Pleasant River. The only glitch in the whole weekend of events was a frantic search for the key to open the chest freezer where the ice cream was stored for the Ice Cream Social. Jay Look “picked” the lock and then the key was found. Ben and Anita Morris with helpers, Cassandra LaPlant and Erica Cyr served over 140 helpings of ice cream. One little five year old girl had four servings.
Union Hall-Downeast Correctional inmates have started work on Union Hall. They will finish painting the exterior, and paint the stage ceiling, floor, and repair a floor board on the inside. Volunteers are providing lunch.
Selectmen’s meeting Monday, June 24th- Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America presented a Draft of a proposal to relieve the Town of the expense and responsibility associated with the property known as the former Columbia Falls Elementary School (the Municipal Center). “This proposal is in first draft form and intended only to begin discussion for possible fulfillment of the project.” The property would be conveyed to WAA, a nonprofit organization through a no-cost transfer of a deed that contains the following obligations: 1. Free office space to the Town in the area currently used for municipal offices; 2. Free space to the library in the area currently used as a library and the school memorabilia room; 3. Taxes would not be collected on the land or buildings in exchange for the free space provided to the town. A separate agreement would be executed that describes the responsibilities of the WAA and the permanent tenants, including: Use of gymnasium; insurance; WAA would be responsible for building maintenance, plowing and sanding, parking lot repairs and improvements and other general maintenance; heat and lights would be included in the free lease; WAA would transfer the property back to the town in the event of dissolution. Areas for further discussion include: Use of the Crandon Shipyard Road right of way; Fuel tank issue; and playground safety and parking. Chairman Alan Grant said a public hearing would be needed and later a special town meeting would be required for the Town to accept or reject the proposal.
Other business: MMA needs documentation on the status of discrepancies that was found at the inspection of fire station, Union Hall, Town Office and playground; Dawn Robins has closed out the Greenwood Cemetery accounts and turned the checks over to the town. Money to be accounted separately; July calendar was approved, Office to be closed July 4th and 11th, Selectmens meetings the 8th and 27th; A request for a yard sale in the gym was approved; Selectmen approved Rite Aid’s request to allow prescription drop-off/pickup at the town office; A last minute snag in the 150 celebration dance scheduled for June 29th in the gym required an inspection by State Fire Marshall’s office and a license fee of $127.00; Signing of the warrant was postponed until the following day so two more checks required for the 150 celebration could be added.
Rite Aid Pharmacy will begin prescription deliveries to the Columbia Falls Town Office Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. The first delivery date will be Monday, July 15th. When you call in a refill or your doctor prescribes meds, notify Rite Aid and they will have it brought over to the town office. Any schedule changes or non-delivery dates will be posted in advance at the Columbia Falls Town Office. Your RX will not, under any circumstances, be left at the Town Office. If you cannot pick up your prescription, you will need to make other arrangements.
Join the Ruggles House for an old-fashioned ice cream social Sunday July 7 from 1-3 pm. Enjoying ice cream cones on the lawn and tours of the house are a great way to spend a summer afternoon. Held rain or shine. The Ruggles House, located at 146 Main St. Columbia Falls, is open Monday to Saturday 9:30 to 4:30 and Sunday 12-4:30 June 1 to October 15. Closed July 4 and Labor Day. Visit the website www.RugglesHouse.org keep up with events on the blog http://TheRugglesHouse.blogspot.com and find The Ruggles House on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheRugglesHouse
Bangor Savings bank denied the Grant request due to the high number of requests that they have received this year. Peter Rioux has tuned up the Town Clock and stated that the clock is in very good working order and gets even better with every tune up. This should be accomplished one time every year. A new lock has been procured for the front doors with six keys. Downeast Correctional will be painting the outside of the building (remaining portion) this summer. Next meeting for the 11th of July at Dick grants.
Columbia Falls 150th Anniversary Celebration Weekend, June 29th and 30th in the village.
Columbia Falls 150 Birthday Celebration
Notice: Parking and Free Transportation June 29
Parking, staffed by volunteers, on the west side of town is in Columbia at the Quanset Hut Bargain
Shop and across Route 1 at the Columbia Fire Station. Parking, staffed by volunteers, on the east
side of town is just east of Ab’s Country Store (off pavement) on Route 1 in Columbia Falls.
Free transportation from these lots
is provided by busses, running all day,
8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., to and from the village.
Once in the village,
transportation is provided by a
professionally driven horse and wagon.
Crandon Shipyard road- Volunteers have cleared the fallen tree from the road and mowed the grass. There are two muddy areas, but with some sunshine these areas should dry up by the celebration weekend. The Crandon Shipyard Road is a town right of way which runs from near the municipal center to the river and provides another vista of the village and the falls.
Selectmen’s meeting June 10th: The board reviewed two estimates for material to reshingle one half of the gym roof. Labor would be provided free by the Down East Correctional Facility inmates. This item was postponed pending further negotiations with
Wreaths Across America who may be taking over the municipal building.
The board has accepted Greenwood Cemetery association’s request that the town be responsible for the care and upkeep of the Greenwood Cemetery. The association’s money will be turned over to the town.
Acadia Lock has been contacted to add a lock to the school memorabilia room museum.
One tax acquired property will be put up for bids. The minimum bid will be $1000.00.
An outline of the proposed 150 Celebration opening ceremony on June 29th at 11AM was approved. The C.F. History book printing is behind schedule do to some issues with printing machinery at the printers. There was some discussion about what to do with the book sales proceeds after printing costs are covered. A determination will be made after the celebration when the final accounting is done.
Chuck Hammond stated that at the recent Harrington Alumni meeting on Saturday evening that there was no lighting at the rear of the municipal building. He also suggested a sign be erected on the front of the building stating “additional parking in the rear” since parking is no longer allowed across the street from the municipal center. (No action taken).
Tony Santiago was authorized to purchase a lock with 6 keys for the Union Hall.
Town Treasurer, Lenora Weaver indicated she still has issues with the 150 committee finances, provided some information on laws that she has researched and asked for more information without getting specific. Roberta Hammond said “you were at the 150 meeting when finances were presented (to selectman Grant) and never asked any questions for 2 hours”. Further discussion on this topic was tabled until June 24th.
John Tibbetts asked if the warrant included the checks needed for the celebration weekend. The treasurer said it didn’t. The 150 committee gave the disbursement requests to the town office during the week of May 5th to the 10th so checks could be approved at the May 13th selectmen’s meeting. The treasurer purposely left these off the warrant for three consecutive selectmen’s meetings. (On Monday June 3rd at the 150 meeting the treasurer and selectman Alan Grant assured the committee that the disbursement requests would be in the warrant for June 10th). John Tibbetts said “It seems readily apparent from all the reading and research I have done that the selectmen are the fiscal agents of the town who are responsible for carrying out the will of the people, as voted in Town Meeting, in expending the town's money. The town's treasurer, as determined by Maine's Supreme Judicial Court, is charged with receiving all monies belonging to the town, keeping that money safe and expending it on a warrant legally signed by the selectmen in public meeting. I realize this is a simplistic view of the job of both; but it points out and makes clear the level of responsibility of the selectmen and the treasurer regarding the Town's finances”.
Weaver insisted on a motion “do we want to do it legally or illegally” apparently meaning handling 150 committee finances. A motion was passed to do it “legally”. Treasurer Weaver said that a petty cash account is not allowed by a committee of the town. It was decided that the 150 committee would turn the petty cash and receipts back to the town treasurer as soon as possible. The treasurer now agreed to add the disbursements to the warrant. A new warrant would be available on Tuesday for selectmen signatures. (It was and checks were written).
Selectmen and steering committee members wearing “Columbia Falls Celebrates 150 Years 1863-2013” tee shirts at the selectmen’s meeting Monday evening June 10th. Tee shirts will be on sale at the big celebration weekend June 28, 29, and 30.
The 150 Celebration is set for the weekend of June 28th, 29th and 30th. Main Street and Point Street will be closed to vehicular traffic except for residents on those streets, some cars with special permits and emergency vehicles. Free parking will be available at the following Route One locations: East end; Gulf Station (Ab’s), west end; the Columbia Fire station and the Discount Hut. Free bus transportation will run continuously from parking lots to the village all day.
Columbia Falls Art and Artifacts- Saturday on June 29th Union Hall will be the art and artifacts center with free admission. Artists will be painting around Columbia Falls all day. Their artwork will be on display and auctioned off at 4PM. Local artifacts, Civil War relics and area antiques will be on display all day.
The Town Treasurer Lenora Weaver and Selectmen Alan Grant came to the 150 committee meeting on Monday, June 3rd in response to committee treasurer Pam Look’s invitation to discuss details of the financial information needed by the town office. A four page report “Account Transactions Columbia Falls 150th Anniversary Celebration” was provided to everyone present. It lists transactions from February 24th, 2012 to May 30th, 2013 with an account balance of $8918.19 and Petty Cash of $670.20, Total Balance of $9588.39. The Committee also provided a two page report “Columbia Falls 150th Celebration Budget” with a total budget of $18219.78, Account Balance of $9588.39 and unencumbered funds as of June 2nd, 2013 of $3429.76. Both reports were discussed and no further information was requested by the town officials.
Wreaths Across America gets serious about the Town donating Municipal Building
Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, May 28th, 2013. Selectman Bun Ward requested an Executive Session to discuss personnel issues. This lasted about a half hour.
Columbia Falls’ PRSWDD representative, Ed VanDam discussed the contract addendum extending the term to 2018 which would coincide with the termination of PERK. VanDam states that the town still has the same option it has always had to withdraw at any time. So far two of the seven towns have signed the extension. PRSWDD has $384,000 of equity in PERK and having a contract with all seven towns ensures that PRSWDD will still be operating at the time PERK dissolves and makes negotiation easier for whatever happens afterward. (No decision was made).
The Town has received correspondence from Wreaths Across America who are currently renting a substantial portion of the Municipal Building. The idea of the Town donating the municipal building to WAA was presented informally to selectmen weeks earlier and it stirred some interest. This letter asks for some detail information to help pull a proposal together for the WAA board and the community. The letter states “Areas for discussion would include free lease to town of Town Office and Library as well as gym for public events and insurance for playground and public events”. Roberta Hammond points out that the letter does not mention the School Memorabilia Room Museum which has taken three years of volunteer labor to complete. This room must also be considered in any negotiation.
Selectman Ward brought up three items of “Old Business” 1. Memorabilia room lock. Selectmen approved installing a lock and requested Acadia Lock Co be consulted. 2. He thanked Jay Look and others for putting up the celebration 34 star Civil War era flags throughout the village and recommended purchasing poles for 12 more flags that the 150 committee planned to purchase. (Selectmen approved 6 more poles, cost to come from Buildings and Grounds account) 3. He suggested that C.F. selectmen and fire Chief Dave Perham meet with Columbia selectmen to prepare a coordinated emergency procedure. (Perham will set this up).
Administrative Assistant, Nancy Bailey stated that according to Maine Municipal Association every town has to have a Public Access Officer. The board appointed Bailey to this position with no additional salary.
The Town has received a statement from American Funds which manages the money for the Grace Allen school scholarship fund. There are several accounts totaling about $11500. John Tibbetts recommended the town contact Maine Community Foundation to see if they might have a better rate. Selectmen will contact both firms to get more information.
The Town owns four tax acquired properties. There was discussion about what to do with them. One property is under foreclosure and one other has complicated issues. No decisions made.
I received an email from Nancy Bailey, the administrative assistant to the C.F. selectmen pointing out several “inaccuracies” in my report of the selectmen’s meeting in the May 21-27 issue of Downeast Coastal Press. I try to report selectmen’s meetings as accurately as possible, but I know that when several people take notes at a meeting and then write about it there will be several different versions of it. These “inaccuracies” that Bailey pointed out do not change the outcome of the meeting nor any decisions made by selectmen. One “inaccuracy” she stated is that I said I gave Selectmen Alan Grant a “complete” financial report from the 150 steering committee. I will retract the word “complete” because apparently there is a misunderstanding of what financial information the selectmen are asking for and what the steering committee is to provide. Mr. Grant will be attending the 150 meeting on Monday, June 3rd, 2013 and we will be resolving this matter at that time. My reporting of selectmen meetings is for information only and is not intended to be the meeting minutes. The official minutes of all selectmen’s meetings are public records and copies are available at the town office at a cost of 25 cents per page.- Chuck Hammond
Memorial Day has many meanings and expectations such as family gatherings, camps being opened and readied for the summer season, visits to the cemeteries and some folks attend Memorial Day Services.
For six friends in Columbia Falls, the day before Memorial Day had a different meaning. They took it upon themselves to prepare and hang flags throughout the village area of Columbia Falls.
The flags that are hung are in honor of the Town’s 150th year Celebration and were purchased by folks In Memory of or In Honor of their loved ones. There was no cost to the Town.
This Flag design was one of several patterns that were used in 1863 during the Civil War at the same time as the incorporation of the Town of Columbia Falls. Special permission to fly this flag was given by Frank Norwood of the Maine Color Guard and authorized by selectmen. .
Memorial Day Weekend May 2013
Memorial Day has many meanings and expectations such as family gatherings, camps being opened and readied for the summer season, visits to the cemeteries and some folks attend Memorial Day Services.
For six friends in Columbia Falls, the day before Memorial Day had a different meaning. They took it upon themselves to prepare and hang flags throughout the village area of Columbia Falls.
The flags that are hung are in honor of the Town’s 150th year Celebration and were purchased by folks In Memory of or In Honor of their loved ones.
This Flag design was one of several patterns that were used in 1863 during the Civil War at the same time as the incorporation of the Town of Columbia Falls. Special permission to fly this flag was given by Frank Norwood of the Maine Color Guard. Submitted by Grace Falzarano.
There is still time for Crafters and Vendors to sign up for space at the Columbia Falls’ 150th Celebration on June 29th, 2013. For more information call Dawn Bragg at 483-4751.
Volunteers are needed to help with the 150th celebration on June 28th, 29th and 30th. If you have a few minutes or an hour or two and want to help please call Roberta Hammond at 483-4120.
Children’s Parade Scheduled
A children’s parade will precede the festival parade on Saturday June 29th. Bikes, trikes, peddle cars, big wheels, battery powered ride-on vehicles, doll carriages, and leashed or caged pets are welcome. Children with adult supervision should meet at the municipal building. The parade will run from Vance and Hillary Pineo’s on Point Street to Union Hall on Main Street. Line up starts at 9AM, parade starts at 10AM.
Roadsides are cleaner!
Volunteers met at the fire station at 7AM on Saturday May 18th for the annual roadside cleanup. The project was all completed by 10:30AM. Thanks to everyone the roadsides were found to be much less littered than in past years.
Ronald (Bun) Ramsey, Superintendent of SAD 37 addressed about 20 C.F. residents at the selectmen’s meeting on Monday, May 13th, 2013 to explain the factors that effect the proposed school budget for the coming year. He passed out a 16 page booklet of the District’s financial history for the past 28 years. In 1986-87 the state subsidy was $2,059,766 (68% of the total budget) and the amount has not changed much over the 28 years and is still only $2,082,130 in 2013-14 (25% of the anticipated 2013-14 budget). Now consider that the cost of living has doubled, local contribution has gone from $702,228 to $4,936,944 (2012-13), base teacher salary has gone from $12,000 to $30,573, the school budget has gone from $3,009,503 to $7,920,155 (2012-13) and yet enrollment has dropped from 1004 to 729 (28%). The combined town’s valuation went from a low of $82,250,000 in 1987 to a high of $612,100,000 in 2013 an increase by a factor of 7.4 times! In 2013-14 the state subsidy is expected to be $219,000 less than last year and 1.4 million less if Cherryfield leaves.
The selectmen approved a warrant of $60,222.41 and a payroll warrant of $2531.93. Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant said that Maine Controls has visited the municipal building and found that some heating controls were disconnected since they were maintaining the heating system years ago. Maine Controls will need a day to examine the controls in order to make a recommendation. They will provide a quote for the cost of this examination.
PRSWDD has sent an addendum to the town extending the waste disposal contract to 2018. Before signing this selectmen requested that the town’s representative, Ed Van Dam come to the next selectmen’s meeting.
Monthly financial reports are now available and the treasurer gave copies to each selectman to be signed.
Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant requested clarification on the municipal building usage by nonprofit parties. Selectmen agreed that it had to be handled case by case as it is now.
Auditor James Wadman’s bill included $83.00 for selectmen Jay Look and Bun Ward. Look and Ward agreed to pay this personally as Treasurer Weaver and Nancy Bailey had paid theirs.
Bun Ward said volunteer, Rich Poirier has repaired the baseball field dugout as required by insurance inspector and he donated $200.00 for new bases. Also he inquired about the possibility of adding electricity for vendors. No decision made.
Jay Look said that a permit to burn slash and brush had been issued for a location on the Centerville Road and the party had also burned an abandoned mobile home on the property. He asked if they could be made to clean it up. Fire Chief, Dave Perham suggested checking with the DEP.
Treasurer Weaver said the warrant included a lot of checks for the 150 celebration which is not until June 29th so she did not print them. Also she verified that the $15,000 required for salt shed engineering is to come out of salt shed account.
Selectman Bun Ward read a letter from Dawn Robins requesting that the Greenwood Cemetery Society disband and care of the cemetery be turned over to the town. Rick Farnsworth, president of the Great Hill cemetery said last year they had been asked to take over the Greenwood Cemetery. No decision made.
Mike Bailey, road commissioner presented a quote of $12,000 by County Concrete for paving 700 feet on Church Hill Circle. This was approved and is to come out of the road assistance account.
Fire Chief, Dave Perham reported on the fire department consolidation meeting between Columbia and Columbia Falls. Two major capital improvements would be required by C.F. to the existing Columbia fire station in order for C.F. to move in and occupy about 1/3 of the building- paving and interior work.
Selectman Grant requested financial information from the 150 committee on the celebration. A complete report was provided by Chuck Hammond. (It should be noted that all 150 finances go through the town office and financial reports are available from the treasurer). Hammond also reported other 150 news: Gloria Hayward’s new history book was at the printer; The salmon Federation fish fry would be at the Pleasant River Hatchery and not at the fire station; Celebration tee shirts are on sale now; Nancy Bailey had received an email from Governor LePage’s office stating that he and the First Lady would not be at the 150 celebration. They did offer to send a celebratory letter.
Nancy Bailey said the finial balls on the flag staffs used on utility poles ought to be painted. Chuck Hammond will look into this.
Grace Falzarno reminded selectmen that Articles #28 and #30 needed to be corrected at a special town meeting since Auditor Wadman had misinterpreted what the people voted on. She also suggested that in the future the auditor might send selectmen a draft audit to be reviewed before the final one to catch misunderstandings like this.
Roberta Hammond requested approval to purchase about $100.00 worth of material to make some shelves and finish the School Memorabilia room. (Approved). She also needs a volunteer carpenter to make the shelves.
David Weaver made a “political” statement at the end of the selectmen’s meeting. The following is an accurate transcript of his entire narrative taken from a recording at the meeting, brackets are added for clarification:
“First thing I would like to say is that this was a very productive meeting tonight for a change, I’m impressed. This is my own opinion and my own observation that I have made over the years, I’m sorry it has come to this, but I have sat on my hands and bit my tongue long enough, I wrote this after the last selectmen’s meeting. I have sat on these bleachers and other locations for the last four to five years listening to a small group of little people trying their best to cause hate and discontent to this town. This small group of people is so full of hate and jealousy because they can’t get their own way it’s pathic. They have caused the town to spend an untold amount of money probably in the thousands of dollars to find there is nothing wrong with the money accounts in the town. If you think I’m standing here defending my wife [Lenora Weaver, Town Treasurer] I am. But I’m also defending all of the town officers. They are trying to do the best they can about carrying out the business of the town under a microscope. They shouldn’t have to put up with that crap and you all know it. These people have been elected by the voters of this town to carry out the town’s business not to defend every move they make by a small bunch of head hunters. How many special town meetings and special audits do we have to have to satisfy this small group of [cough unintelligible]. You can’t hold a special town meeting without incurring cost to the town and you can’t visit or have the auditor come here without showing a cost. Bun spoke about that cost tonight. I’m going to say this group requested that the town have our auditor present for the last Selectmen’s meeting so they could question him at length about irrelevant facts which I thought he answered truthfully as he could. They didn’t like his answers because he didn’t immediately throw Lenny under the bus. So rather than listening to the answers they were trying to figure out a way to ask him the same question from a different direction. He didn’t pay attention.
You talk about transparency but what you are really talking about is transparency for some but not for others. How come the financial results for the cost of the costume ball have never been presented at an open meeting? Why weren’t these financials handled thru the town? The way they were supposed to be. The answer, because we wanted to, should not be acceptable. It would not be accepted from anyone else. How come from the committee. How can one selectman who is a big advocate for the celebration committee be impartial when a vote comes to the board about anything pertaining to the celebration committee. How can one selectman abstain from a vote and when that vote doesn’t go the way he wants it, he changes his vote so it carries his way. How can the steering committee justify spending $1800.00 for a four hour horse and buggy ride. How much money has this celebration committee actual raised in the last two years? I think the horse and buggy bill will probably use up most of it. If you attend the selectmen’s meeting and then read Chuck’s column sometimes you would think you’ve been at two different meetings. Chuck [Hammond] puts his own twist on the way he interprets the meeting. He never misses an opportunity to bad mouth my wife or my daughter. But he almost fails to mention anything negative about anyone else. Is this by design Chuck? This little group of little people made my wife’s job at town treasurer so unbearable with their snide remarks and vicious innuendos and accusations a couple of years ago that it forced her to resign her job cause either that would drive her foolish always living under a cloud of unwarranted suspicion. After she got done John Tibbetts tried it for a couple of months and he came to a conclusion real quick that the job involved way to much work for the amount of money paid and he realized that he was not qualified for the job. The town then hired Sara Decker Wilson to do the job. John Tibbetts praised her up one side and down the other. Great job she was doing all the while for the time she got hired. He never did mention the fact that she never balanced the check book all the while she was the treasurer. Where were the head Hunters then? This was a real problem.
When Lenny was asked to come back to straighten out the mess that Sara had left, I told her she was nuts. It’s just goes to show you how much influence I have on her. She took it anyways. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many hours it took to finally get all of the accounts straighten out and recorded properly. But she did it with no praise just vocal criticism till she had it completed. For the time it took to accomplish this project, she received very little compensation because only so much money was raised for the treasurer’s position and Sara had drawn most of it. She had not much more got the accounts straighten out when it was decided to change the computer program and go with the Trio program. This was a whole completely different program that she and Nancy was not use to and was quite a learning curve to learn and understand it and be able to work it. It is still not one hundred percent perfect because as a time goes on it takes a little tweaking to have all the information entered to where it needs to be and in the right account. Again they have put in a lot of uncompensated time to accomplish this and listening to this little group of assassins tear them apart makes you wonder why I come in here day after day and why they are sometimes not happy to see some of you axe grinders come in to the office for some of the information that they know they will have to defend at some point in time. With the exception of the town administrator, who does not get paid enough, no one takes a town job for the money. They do it because they want to give back to the town and help where they can. For anyone to sit up front of you people and get insulted, ridiculed and criticized and to be called everything but a thief is ridiculous. They should not have to put up with the degree of harassment and bulling with the people they are trying to help. In bringing this to conclusion I want to inform you that Lenny and I have seen a lawyer and we have submitted to him as many articles that we could find where you were literally slandering and accusing and insinuating that my wife was not honest and that money accounts were not being properly administered to. From now on we will be recording all conversations and submitting them to our lawyer. This does not only mean you Chuck [Hammond], but also John [Tibbetts] and Sally [Thompson]. One more point I would like to make that in a small town it’s next to impossible not to be related and have dealings with one town official. Where you head hunters have to accept Lenny and Nancy [Bailey], were elected by the majority of the voters at the last town meeting and I’m sure they knew they are mother and daughter. That’s something you rotten guys got to live with. Thank you.”
Dale Smith has posted portions of selectmen’s meetings on youtube.com to see these videos go to http://www.youtube.com/user/CF04623Truth
Get your garden started right, or add to your existing landscape at the annual Ruggles House Plant Sale Saturday May 25 from 9:00 am until noon. The parking lot at the House (146 Main St Columbia Falls) will be loaded with homegrown annuals, perennials, vegetable plants and seedlings all available for sale. There will even be a few of the Ruggles roses available.
If your thumb was greener than usual or your garden is already full and you have “plants with out places”, we are happy to take donations to add to our sale.
For more information contact:
Volunteers needed for annual roadside cleanup on Saturday May 18th, Volunteers meet at the fire station at 7 a.m. For information call Pam Look at 483-4338.
Crafters and Vendors wanted
Crafters and Vendors wanted for Columbia Falls’ 150th Celebration on June 29th, 2013. For more information call Dawn Bragg at 483-4751.
Historic area artifacts wanted
Historic area artifacts, old photos and antiques wanted for display in Union Hall on June 30th during the C.F. 150 celebration. For more information call Roberta Hammond at 483-4120.
Columbia Falls United Methodist Church
Lay Speaker Nancy Heallen provided a wonderful service on Sunday, May 5th at the Columbia Falls United Methodist Church. She is a Kindergarten teacher at Machias Valley Christian School. Lay Leaders have been providing the message each Sunday while Pastor Jan Rhenow is recovering from surgery.
UNDER THE DOME
Narraguagus High School
Spring Concert, featuring NHS Band, NHS Chorus & SAD #37 Junior Band, will be held at NHS on May 15th at 7:00 p.m. Support music in our schools.
Annual Memorial Day program will be held on Friday, May 24th, at 9:00 a.m. Community members are welcomed to attend.
Graduation Ball will be held on Saturday, June 1st, from 7:00-10:00 p.m. Semi-formal attire is required.
Baccalaureate services will held at NHS on Sunday, June 2nd, at 7:00 p.m.
Class Night at NHS on Thursday, June 6th, at 7:00 p.m.
Graduation at NHS on Friday, June 7th, at 2:00 p.m.
“History of Columbia Falls”, Gloria Hayward’s new book is at the printers for the first printing of 125 books. Sixty two books have been pre-sold. Call Roberta Hammond at 483-4120 to purchase a book, cost is $20.00 each.
Crafters and Vendors wanted for Columbia Falls’ 150th Celebration on June 29th, 2013. For more information call Dawn Bragg at 483-4751.
Zumba for Kids and a Tug of War for adults will be added to the list of events for the C.F. 150th celebration on June 30th. Organizer Joe Bragg is looking for 8 area town, 10 person tug of war teams. Brackets will be drawn randomly. Single elimination. Call 944-1713 for information or to register.
Celebration Tee shirts are in and cost only $8.00 any size. See any steering committee member to purchase one.
Street walkers wanted for roadside cleanup on Saturday May 18th. Meet at the fire station at 7AM. For information call Pam Look at 483-4338.
Love Birds- I was taking pictures of an old 1953 Nash Rambler in a junk yard recently. It was a beautiful sunny morning, very quiet and still. Suddenly there was a sound like a slap. I thought maybe there was another person around but I didn’t see anyone. Then I heard it again and then again. I searched for the source. What I found was a robin inside of a pickup truck flying around and hitting the windows trying to escape. Her mate was hopping up and down on the roof and looking at me. There is no doubt in my mind that those two mates had communicated with each other to make a noise which would attract my attention so I could set her free.
Glen Textor on April 29th was the first person in the village to mow a lawn, followed closely by Tony Santiago and Charlie Herr. Thank you very much guys for initiating this chore that will have to be repeated some 15 times this season.
The Congregation of the Columbia Falls United Methodist Church were pleased to have a sermon by guest minister Reverend Pat MacHugh, the district superintendant for United Methodist Churches of Northern Maine on Sunday on April, 28th.
Columbia Falls’ auditor James Wadman’s Management letter to the Columbia Falls Selectmen dated March 15th (copy to Maine Department of Audit) lists three “Material Weaknesses” in internal control, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the town’s financial statements will not be prevented or detected and corrected on a timely basis. 2013-1 Segregation of Duties
Criteria: Segregation of duties involves the assignment of responsibilities in such a way that different employees handle different parts of the same transaction. Appropriate segregation of duties helps to detect errors in a timely manner and helps deter improper activities.
Condition: Because of the experience level and size of the town’s staff, ideal segregation of duties is not always possible and is likely cost prohibitive. Certain functions, ideally performed by separate individuals, cannot be accomplished and therefore, accounting controls are not as strong as they might otherwise be. (Additionally at the public meeting Wadman stated that C.F. has two people performing the same duty and they are related (mother and daughter))
Effect: Anyone who records transactions and/or has access to assets ordinarily is in a position to perpetrate errors or irregularities.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Board of Selectmen perform a review of the financial transactions on a consistent basis. We recommend that monthly financial reports and bank statement reconciliations be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen to identify financial fluctuations of an unusual nature.
Management’s response; Management concurs with the recommendation.
2013-02 Reconciliation of Checking Account to General Ledger
Criteria: Checking account should be reconciled on a monthly basis to the TRIO general ledger account for checking to ensure accuracy of revenues and expenditures.
Cause: A reconciliation was completed each month, however it was not understood that this needed to be compared to the TRIO general ledger account for the checking account.
Effect: The auditor spent extra helping to reconcile cash and investments. Revenues and expenditures were misstated because of unrecorded and double recorded transactions.
Recommendation: We recommend that all cash accounts be reconciled to the general ledger on a monthly basis. We further recommend that reconciliation reports be submitted to the Board of Selectmen for approval on a monthly basis.
Management’s response; Management concurs with the recommendation.
(No monthly reports were made available for selectmen or interested individuals for the whole year. Deputy Treasurer, Nancy Bailey stating that the report was 400 pages long)
2013-3 Financial Statement Preparation
Criteria: Based on auditing standards, inadequate design of internal control over the preparation of the financial statements being audited is deemed to be a material weakness in the internal control structure.
Condition: Due to financial and time constraints to effectively prepare and evaluate the audited financial statements and detect material misstatements in those financial statements, the board and management approved the auditors to prepare the financial statements.
Effect: The auditor prepared financial statements are deemed to be a material weakness.
Recommendation; The board and management understood and take responsibility for the financial statements.
Management’s response; Management concurs with the finding.
According to Mary Gingrow-Shaw CPA, Deputy Auditor of Maine Department of Audit Material Weakness is the most serious deficiency of the three categories being: Material Weakness, Significant Deficiency; and Deficiency. Columbia Falls has three Material Weaknesses and none of the less serious ones! Two of the same Material Weaknesses were included in Wadman’s letters for three previous years. There was no improvement in four years and in 2012 the financial situation got worse by adding a third Material Weakness.
The selectmen’s meeting on April 22nd was started at 6PM, an hour earlier than scheduled so that the people could discuss town finances with the auditor, James Wadman. In spite of the limited posting of the time change there was a larger than usual attendance of about 30 people. Mr. Wadman is the auditor for about 60 municipalities. He said he has been the auditor for C.F. for 15-20 years. Wadman had prepared a presentation for his audit of the town’s financial statements and passed out an outline of it. His explanation had hardly begun when it became clear that folks just wanted answers to their questions. Possibly the most confusing and misunderstood issue in the town report was the apparent overspending of budgets. Since 2004 municipalities must list their fixed assets like businesses do. These assets are depreciable and the depreciation appears on financial statements as losses. It is an accounting entry only and not cash outlets. Examples of these assets are: buildings; roads and bridges; the ball field; and fire protection. Unfortunately depreciation does not show up on all pages of the financial report and the layman going from page to page may find this confusing. Grace Falzarano asked about the Municipal Building Maintenance Reserve Fund– 2011 Town meeting Article #28 reads as follows: “To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for Municipal Building Maintenance Reserve Fund. Selectmen Recommend: $5,000; Budget Committee Recommends: $10,000” The Town voted to raise and appropriate $10,000 for this article. Why is the money going into and then out of this account? Answer from Auditor, Wadman, The Town Meeting Minutes show that this was voted as a Municipal Building Maintenance Repair. (This is contradictory to notes taken by many town meeting attendees) Falzarano also asked about Trio Assessment Computer Program – 2011 Article #30 which reads as follows: “To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for an update from the current Assessor’s computer program to the Trio Assessment Computer Program. Recommended: $15,000 Town voted to raise and appropriate $15,000 for this article – there is no mention of this being a roll-over account. Assessing – roll-over account 2011 Exhibit A-1 indicates a remaining balance of $2,576. Why was this account rolled into the remaining balance of the Trio Assessment Computer Program? After further discussion and explanation auditor, Wadman suggested this be corrected and brought to the attention of the selectmen. Pam Look asked the town’s auditor to explain as to why the balances for the sand and salt shed capital project on exhibit A-1 were different than the amounts that were secured in the monetary instruments (CD & Money market accounts exhibit A-4). Mr. Wadman explained that the balance in exhibit A-1 is showing any transactions that pertained to this project such as the land purchase ($28,520). Look asked why the revenue source was from the project’s capital vs. surplus (undesignated funds). She referred back to Article number 22 of the 2011 of annual report which stated “To see if the town will vote to transfer $24,000.00 from surplus to the Sand and Salt shed reserve account.” Mr. Wadman said he would have to refer back to the minutes of last year’s town meeting to confirm the revenue source. Look also inquired on article # 20 “ To see if the town will vote to take $15,000.00 from the sand and salt shed account and apply it to the proposed site” The town officials confirmed there were no expenditures for that appropriation for the last fiscal year. Other questions Look asked included: (1) Are overdrafts in any account supposed to be ratified at town meeting? Wadman stated that all overdrafts must be ratified by the people. This is contrary to what Selectman Alan Grant stated at the selectmen’s meeting on April 8th “we never ratify overdrafts”. (2) Does the auditor recommend an amount of surplus (undesignated fund balance) that may be used? Wadman stated that it is common for towns to use surplus for cash flow instead of borrowing until taxes come in but he does not recommend any amount. This is contrary to previous selectmen, Todd Emerson’s statements at town meeting “our auditor recommends we take $50,000 from surplus, undesignated fund balance”.
There are three documents that the auditor has to file with the State Department of Audit: (1) Communication of those charged with governing which includes; any disagreement between the auditor and the selectmen, estimate of depreciation, any significant changes, an estimate of bills still owed after the closing of the books; (2) Management letter which lists material weaknesses, significant deficiencies and deficiencies of town government; (3) Government Procedural Report –an audit check list.
After the meeting with Mr. Wadman the Selectmen approved a warrant of $45,176.97 and a payroll warrant of $5333.36. School Board Director Sally Thompson stated that Superintendant Bun Ramsey would meet with the selectmen and town residents at the next selectmen’s meeting to present the new SAD 37 budget which is likely to have significant changes if Cherryfield pulls out. Bun Ward spoke for Dan Kane about the insurance issue concerning the ball diamond dugout. The doors face home plate exposing the occupants to an unsafe condition. Rich Poirier volunteered labor to fix this for the kids at cost of materials only. The May calendar was approved and the second selectmen’s meeting night was moved from May 27th, Memorial Day to the 28th. Nancy Bailey said that the municipal building’s alarm repeatedly went off during recent high winds. She had called Eagle Security and they have apparently fixed the problem. However while they were here they discovered that the fire alarm was not connected to the telephone system and therefore no one outside the building would know about the alarm. Eagle Security offered a quote of $616 to hook this system up and add two more sensors. There would be an annual service charge of $308. Selectmen requested Bailey to get other quotes. Rich Poirier provided an estimate of $108,000 to repair the settling and leaning fire station. This would include raising the building and installing a new foundation. Costs to move the fire station to Columbia’s building is not available yet for comparison. The board approved the use of the gym by Sarah Wilson for a girl scout pizza party on April 25th. Tony Santiago reported that Rick Farnsworth has finished the work on the Union Hall columns.
The following items were discussed at our April 11th meeting: 1) The rear access door hardware is now installed and complete.2) The landscaped portion of the handicap ramp needs to have new surfacing (reclaimed tar/hot top) and widened just a bit. 3) The interior modified drawing is ongoing with Nancy Herr and Dick Grant overseeing Gary Williams drawing requirements. 4) Electrician has installed the ground light timer set for 7:30 to 10:30. Bill to follow. 5) Scott Alley has been notified that we will still need him to finish the flooring at the appropriate time frame. 6) Rick Farnsworth has been working on the exterior columns this past week. 7) The Clock tune up has been approved by the selectmen. Now awaiting a date that P. Rioux can schedule this in. 8) At the last Selectmens meeting the selectmen were notified that Nancy Bailey and Lenora Weaver should be the bank transaction signature trail. They all agreed to it and it has been approved. R. Campbell will be removed from the signature list as discussed at the meeting (4/11).
It was a warm sunny evening for the Downeast Salmon Federation Smelt Fry, and as always it was a great success. This year you could purchase your tickets early then move about and socialize without waiting in that long line until the gate opened. There was no line and yet quite likely the largest turnout ever when the final tally is done. Upon entering one proceeded on either side of a long buffet table lined with vegetables, baked beans, many different salads and chicken drumsticks. The next table had moose meat stew. The fried smelts were delivered to your table time after time. There were hot dogs cooking on grills outside and popcorn available. Dessert was blueberry cobbler. The main tent was filled to capacity and when people were finished there were others that sat down immediately to take their place. There was additional seating in the old community room behind the fire station and it also was filled to capacity. The weather outside was lovely and many chose to sit in the sun at the café tables and others sat on the lawn. Children were seen running gleefully everywhere and the bounce house was as popular as ever. Vehicles observed “from away” included Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland and Wisconsin. For those who missed this wonderful feast and social event the DSF will have another one on June 30th to celebrate Columbia Falls’ 150th anniversary.
Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director of the Downeast Salmon Federation supervises the popular bounce house at the Annual Smelt Fry on Friday April 26, 2013
Left to right Charlie Robins (Columbia Falls), Ariel Harris-Porada, The Dickson-Smith family; Alan, Susan (Mom), Teddy, and Jeremy (Dad) all from Gouldsboro enjoying a family outing in the warm sun at the Downeast Salmon Federation Annual Smelt Fry on Friday April 26, 2013. Susan said “I used to live in Columbia Falls, we come to the fish fry every year”.
The 150 Committee and Dan Kane’s Intramural Athletics co-sponsored a 4th grade coed Pee Wee basketball tournament on April 13th and 14th at the D.W. Merritt gym. Volunteers for the athletic program sold Chinese auction tickets and 150 committee volunteers manned the concessions and sold admission and raffle tickets. Fourth grader Eben Strout won the fishing equipment raffle and Rhonda Schoppee won the 50/50 raffle and donated it back to the 150 committee. There were six teams from area towns; Harrington, Jonesport, Jonesboro, Milbridge, Cherryfield and Addison. As in the past the event was well attended by families of the players. The “hot shot” contest in which a single player races against the clock to shoot 8 baskets was very popular.
On Thursday April 11th, selectmen approved a warrant of $39,287.69 and a payroll warrant/quarterly tax of $4339.71. Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant requested more paid holidays for herself. The board approved adding Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving to the existing paid holidays of New Years, July 4th and Christmas for a total of six. Bailey has contacted Maine Controls to do an evaluation of the municipal building heating system. The ByUs company will do the street sweeping for the same cost as last year. Bailey also requested some clarification on the Union Hall accounts- restoration vs buildings and grounds. She was advised to use the buildings and grounds account for general maintenance and the restoration account for restoration. Ultimately the board would have final decision. Selectmen Bun Ward and Jay Look understood that they were to go to the town’s auditor with the administrative assistant and treasurer on Monday, April 1st but then found out that the treasurer and administrative went on Thursday, March 28th the day Ward and Look were in Augusta for the 150 recognition by State Representatives. Ward and Look went to the auditor’s office on April 1st anyway. Selectmen approved a motion to have the auditor come to the next selectmen’s meeting on April 22nd. Bailey announced that Dan Kane has requested use of the ball diamond for a little league type baseball season. (Approved) Kane’s insurance company has inspected the field and requires changes to the dugout – doors need changing. (Postponed until next meeting) Bailey stated that the computer in the treasure’s office is old, slow and cumbersome and suggested that a new one is needed. (board approved the purchase of a new computer) Bailey requested that she be allowed to attend the Vital Statistics Workshop in Augusta on May 5th, 2013 to keep up on new laws on same sex marriages and online registration of births and deaths. (Approved) Dave Perham has offered to try and speed up the performance of internet speed on town computers. Tony Santiago (1) presented a quote to have the Union Hall clock serviced for $450.00. (approved use funds from buildings and grounds account) (2) There is covered ornate woodwork on each side of the stage he would like to get quotes to have this covering removed to expose the original woodwork. (approved, funds would come from the restoration account) (3) A timer is now installed on the exterior lights. (4) U.H committee wants the administrative assistant and treasurer names on the bank account. Bailey said there had been no disbursement requests for the Civil War Ball and wondered why? MMA requires that all funds for appointed committees be run through the town. Pam Look the 150 committee treasurer reported that expenses were paid out of ticket sales. A full accounting report will be made available. John Tibbetts said he would like to see where MMA states that money must go through the town. Richard Poirier questioned the status of the fire station. The building is leaning and settling. The town’s insurance no longer covers replacement value. He also noted the town welcome signs are not equally landscaped and suggested that the west sign be landscaped to appear as nice as the east sign.
John Tibbetts responded to Treasurer Weaver’s comments at the last selectmen’s meeting (for a full transcript of Weaver’s statement go www.columbiafallsmerecord.org). In a prepared statement Tibbetts read “I come before you tonight not to castigate any one person, as may be thought by some. I come to you tonight to point out to you the need for change, change in attitude change in action and change in performance. We have a truly wonderful historic town but there is blight afoot in our town and it is of that blight I wish to speak tonight and the need for change. Nancy saw the need for change when she started her job as your administrative assistant. On her own time she created a truly professional office space in which to carry on the town’s business. She greets everyone with the utmost courtesy and efficiently fulfills their needs. She sets an example of the kind of change we need in this town. Let’s be sure nothing interferes with that and let us be sure we give her the support to continue what she has set out to do.
I am not here to have a conversation or discussion tonight. I am here to speak to the selectmen to whom I asked to speak and to whom I address these comments and to answer any questions they have.
I believe, in light of what was said publicly in the Selectmen’s Meeting on March 27, 2013, by the treasurer, it is time for the citizens of Columbia Falls to speak up and to say they are tired and sick of the mean-spirited attitude of certain town officers. We believe it is time to put officers of this town who publicly demean and put down efforts of other citizens for the betterment of the town on notice that we are sick of it and we are not going to put up with it anymore. And, might I remind certain officers that Facebook is not private – we know what you are saying there even though you may be deluded in thinking we don’t see or hear about it. And I would also say that we are tired of being put down or made to look foolish when we ask questions – questioning is our right and if we are questioning you, and it is your actions or report we are questioning, don’t turn it around to look like we are the problem. That has been going on far too long in this town as a way to excuse or explain disruptive actions such as resignations by town officers and we have had enough!!! If you can’t or don’t want to do your job then resign but don’t put the blame on others for exercising their right to ask questions! It is your fault if you if you signed up for a job you can’t or don’t want to do. I mentioned the treasurer a few moments ago but these comments are addressed to any officers, and there is more than one who exhibit the chacteristics of which I speak.
The citizens of a democracy have the right to petition the government when they feel they are mistreated by that government or when they perceive things are not right with that government. These rights are given to us by the Constitution of the United States. In addition there is also federal and State of Maine law which defines citizen’s right to question their government – called right to know legislation. So for anyone to imply Mrs. Thompson had no business questioning the treasurer’s report and the auditor’s report at town meeting is ridiculous. In fact Mrs. Thompson was given permission to speak by the chairman of the Board of Selectmen. The treasurer is absolutely wrong when she said, “Mrs. Thompson loudly (she was using a microphone) and publicly (it was Town Meeting) berated all of us for what we have done, and how little we know, all that.” That was wrong because Mrs. Thompson was questioning the financial records of the town which are solely the responsibility of the Town Treasurer. The Treasurer should not have used the words “us” and “we”, she should have used “me” and “I” because as Harry Truman would say, “the buck stops with her”.
To say the Selectmen are elected to “run the town” is not really correct and misleading at best. The selectmen are elected to manage the affairs of the town, to be the town administrators, actually, following the will of the people as the people directed things be done in the town meeting and most importantly, accountable to the people. It is the town meeting – the people - that is the legislative branch of town government. The town meeting basically votes on what the people want and the selectmen must tailor their actions to follow the will of the people.
Questioning was categorized with micromanaging – not the case at all – it is, in fact, questioning the managing of town affairs and wanting answers. The treasurer also stated, “we have to decide we trust or not trust people we elect.” Obviously, in electing someone to office we put our trust in that person but as a town officer that person’s performance is open for judgment and “by your actions shall you be known”. If the records are not correct step up to the plate and take responsibility. Don’t use the “us” and “we” excuse when it rightly is “me” and “I”. Don’t try to blame someone else!
The treasurer also defined the functioning of town government as “…raise your money, tax bills go out, pay your bills and surplus and the job is done.” This is hardly a definition of town government in the year 2013! Last year in her report in the 2011 Annual Town Report this same person said when speaking of the auditor, and I quote, “We live to make him happy!” This is a surely a misguided vision of the treasurer’s job if I ever heard one. If the job is done right the auditor will issue a good report. It is the happiness of every citizen of this town which should be of the utmost concern to the treasurer!
Why are citizens questioning town reports and town officials? Could it be because they see errors in those reports? Is it because when they ask questions are met with suspicion and nasty comments and nasty looks? As Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “yon Cassius has a mean and hungry look!”
It was said at your last meeting, “…the town of Columbia Falls is getting to be a joke.” Now, I ask you, who is making the town a joke? Could it be the person who resigned not long after she was elected in 2010 planning to take with her the administrative assistant/tax collector/town clerk and thereby shut down the town’s ability to transact any business? Could it be that same administrative assistant / tax collector / town clerk who stayed on then and resigned two years later leaving the town office closed for most of the summer and citing the reason as questioning that took place two years earlier? Ridiculous! Could it be some of the town officers of this town who are bad-mouthing every thing the Selectmen appointed 150 Celebration Steering Committee is doing to make a fine celebration of our 150th birthday as an independent town? Certainly, as a town officer, one does not have to personally agree with everything that is done in the town but to bad-mouth every effort and try to make it fail – I think this may just be why we look like a joke – because some of town officers act the way they do. Are we thought to be so stupid we don’t know what is going on? Didn’t one of our officers say on Facebook before our Town Meeting last year, that she wanted Alan Grant to win because she could influence him – tell him what to do and how to think? …And people think our town is a joke…. Well, why wouldn’t they?
At the end of her remarks at your last meeting, the treasurer said, “Chuck, I look forward to your spin on that in the paper. Your column is always good for a laugh, thank you for that.” Chuck Hammond writes a column for the Downeast Coastal Press and his writing contains nothing but factual information, and not his opinion about anything. He doesn’t put a spin on anything – just the facts. This is a good example of what I have just been speaking about – high-handed, mean-spirited treatment of citizens by certain officers of this town – the people who make this town a laughing stock if it is one. Isn’t it time we, the citizens of Columbia Falls, say we are absolutely sick of this kind of vitriolic hate that is spewing out and we want it to cease now and forever! Chuck’s articles are showcasing our town – putting it on the map – showing that things are happening here. Don’t we want that?
The day has come when a lot of the people of this town are saying “we have had enough”, “we want these people out of office”, “we want our town business carried on with the kind of dignity our forefathers carried it on in times when this town worked together for the common good of all”.
I have some suggestions:
(1) It is time to fire Jim Wadman as the town’s auditor. He has far too cozy a relationship with some in this town
(2) It is time to have a forensic audit of the town’s financial records by an independent firm totally unfamiliar with the town records and its officers. This audit to include at least the last 4 years.
(3) We want total transparency in our town government with all town business being conducted in public session at the table where the selectmen sit this evening and the ability to see and questions the financial transactions of the town. I believe in view of the recent election we have a hope of that happening now.
Gentlemen, we need careful listening on your part and we need answers to our questions, we have a right to know and we are going to know. And, listening is not enough, that is done all too easily with a nod of the head and concerned look and nothing happens. We want and expect action on your part to rectify wrongs that have waited far too long to be righted. (If you want an example of what I’m talking about you will get up from your table, after the meeting is finished, and walk over and look in the two room to the left of the stage and see there the old records of the town, which I have mentioned on numerous occasions, left lying there in unlocked room for anyone to help themselves to them. This is an example of how citizen’s concerns have been treated in the past even in defiance of state law. A nod and a concerned look….and that’s it. We won’t put up with that anymore.
If any officer can’t do his or her elected job give it up and go home. Don’t stay on doing nothing and using the we and us excuse or putting innocent people in the middle to take the blame. Get out before we have to put you out – the law does provide for that you know.
Thank you gentlemen for listening to me tonight. I appreciate it. And, I have hope now, hope that things are going to change for the better in this town. We have waited long and you gentlemen have much to do but I believe you will do it. Please listen to the citizens of the town. Please bring about total transparency in government. Because it was done that way in the past is no excuse for continuing to do it that way. Change is coming – listen – take action – we have faith in you - now it’s up to you.”
Sally Thompson raised questions/problems with the treasurer’s report in the 2012 annual town report. The miscellaneous category under 150 celebration has a figure of $2690 what is in this? The 150 committee will provide a detail report. The auditor’s report states that pages 3 through 6 and 19 be presented to supplement the basic financial statements. Pages 3 through 6 were not presented in the annual report. Why? Such information is required by Government Accounting Standards Board as stated in the auditor’s report. Thompson had to go to the town office to get them. “The town finances need help and truthfulness”. Last year the annual report (2011) did not even have a treasurer’s report or audit report. (The audit report was made available separately at town meeting) “For two years no treasurer’s report and now that we have one it doesn’t match any of our accounts, all kinds of things are wrong with that report”. Page 5 of the Auditor’s report (one of the missing pages) shows overspending for the last 5 years. In 2011 expenses exceeded income by $163,630, in 2012 by $133,845! Several other categories exceeded income. Legal fees not accounted for. Thompson believes that the public should have been informed before spending all that money on the legal issue. Computer software transition – no accounting. In Highways and Bridges category $110,000 was budgeted, $170,288 was spent. Mike Bailey, road commissioner said the difference was paid by state revenue sharing. This information was not in the treasurer’s report. She mentioned a rumor that town officials might use the same auditor as the town. In response each elected official stated who their accountant was and none of them used Wadman. At one point when the administrative assistant attempted to answer one of her financial questions Thompson said “I shouldn’t be talking to you, I should be talking to the treasurer, are you the treasurer Nancy”. Nancy Bailey said “I am the deputy treasurer”. Lenora Weaver, the treasurer was present at the meeting but most responses to financial questions as in the past are answered by her daughter the deputy treasurer.
Thompson also presented a preliminary proposed SAD 37 budget proposal which showed that only two towns have increases in State Evaluations (which will affect local contributions), Columbia and Columbia Falls. She tried to generate some interest in fighting this increase.
The long awaited and much anticipated Columbia Falls Grand Civil War Ball took place Saturday evening at the historic Union Hall in celebration of this town’s incorporation during the Civil War in 1863. The walkway leading to the hall was lighted on both sides by antique kerosene barn lanterns hung on shepherd’s hooks. The party goers started arriving around 6:30. Inside the hall folks were greeted by Charlie Herr. The tickets were old fashioned dance cards listing the order of dances. A little pencil was attached so one could write in each dance partner. The hall was decorated with civil war recruiting posters, bunting and an original civil war flag made by the Martha Washington Society and presented to the Co. D volunteers from Harrington by the citizens of the town. At the fall of Port Hudson the 22nd Maine was one of the first regiments to enter the works and the Harrington flag was the only national flag there. All other regiments carried state flags so it was given the honor of replacing the Confederate banner and announcing the victory. After a short period of socializing the first dance was a grand march led by Robert and Helen Hammond. The parade was long and took up the whole floor. It was cleverly ended facing the musicians on the stage in groups of four. The dance caller was Alba Briggs and he quickly seized the opportunity to have these ready made groups began the first “square” dance. There were five musicians led by Lynn Brubaker. Bottled water, punch and coffee were available all evening, but the table of refreshments was not uncovered until the intermission. Many folks came dressed in the fashion of the day, circa 1863: long dresses with hoop skirts for the ladies; white shirts, black string ties, dark pants, vests and even stovepipe hats for the men. Danielle Nelson had set up a photographic studio in a back room so revelers could have a professional portrait taken on the occasion. Dances were a mixture of contra, squares and waltzes. Briggs was very patient with the novices as he explained the moves of each dance. The music was lovely and many folks were quite satisfied simply listening to the music and watching the dancers. One comment often heard was “we have to do this again next year!”
Please email your ball pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email your ball pictures to email@example.com
34 star Union Flag
The town of Columbia Falls will be displaying a 34 star Union Flag on utility poles this summer in celebration of the 150th anniversary of incorporation in 1863. This flag with its stars arranged in a circle was popular in the Civil War. These display flags maybe purchased by individuals in honor of or in memory of someone special. The cost is $20.00 per flag and checks should be made out to: Town of Columbia Falls, Attn: Union Flag Order and mailed P.O. Box 100, Columbia Falls, Maine 04623. The deadline to order the 34 Union Star Flag is April 24th. Anyone from any town
may order flags. Forms are available on the website http://www.columbiafallsmerecord.org and at the town office.
Narraguagus High School
The Winter Sports Banquet was held on Tuesday, March 12th. Athletes were recognized for their contributions to the cheering squad, girls’ basketball team and boys’ basketball team. Individual plaques were awarded to the following athletes:
Kathryn Mathews--Most Dedicated
Maddison Peterson & Sandra Anthony—Most Improved
GIRLS’ VARSITY BASKETBALL
Carolyn DeSchiffart—Coach’s Award
Caryl Ann Young—Most Improved
BOYS’ VARSITY BASKETBALL
Jordan Perry—Coach’s Award
Caleb Dublin—Most Improved
BOYS’ JV BASKETBALL
Zachary Look—Most Improved
Nevin Dorr—Coach’s Award
The Student Government, along with Mrs. Tenney & Ms. Holub, assisted the American Red Cross with a Blood Drive on March 13. Approximately 50 pints of blood were donated.
Junior & Seniors, along with parents were invited to the 7th Annual P.I.E. Night on March 14th. This is a night dedicated to Promoting an Individual’s Education. The evening started with a “meet & greet”, a chance to eat PIE and to sign up for prize drawings. Students & parents attended two sessions of their choice. Session choices included:
A panel of former NHS students discuss things you need to know now before you start college in the fall
Janie Small & Dan Molinski of the Machias Career Center discuss a scenario of getting Downeast Dan ready for college by teaming together and helping him get everything completed.
SFC Walter Cummings of the Maine Army National Guard was on hand to show students how the military can help you pay for your education and other options.
Shelbie Ross, Admissions Counselor at UMM, discussed what students need to complete successful college interviews, essays and applications.
Mila Tappin of the Finance Authority of Maine discussed financial aid plans with juniors.
The Downeast Athletic Conference recognizes the following athletes as DAC All-Stars.
Cheering: Jennifer Mathews & Bayley Ray Smith
Melanie Omlor-Fox was named Coach of the Year for Cheering
Girls’ Basketball: Anna Ramsay, Kelli Kennedy & Lauren Ramsay
The girls’ varsity basketball team received the DAC Sportsmanship Award
Boys’ Basketball: Spencer Thompson
The boys’ varsity basketball team received the DAC Sportsmanship Award
Congratulations to Kelli Kennedy on her selection to the Bangor Daily News All-Tournament Team for Girls Class C.
Each year, students in the art classes enter the Downeast Salmon Federation Art Contest. The following NHS students were chosen as winners: Desiree Grant—1st place and Ridge Osgood—Honorable Mention.
The Annual Academic Awards night was held on March 21. Students are recognized for the number of times they have been on the honor roll during their high school career.
Academic pins for those making the honor roll 6 quarters were awarded to: Jennifer Batson, Thania Centeno Hernandez, Amber Davis, Jonella Esposito, Joshua Goston, Kayli Gray, Brooke Hachey, Brynn Jellison, Nicholas Kennedy, Chelsi Libby, Jennifer Mathews, Ridge Osgood, Cristina Perez, Maddison Peterson, Danielle Robinson, Wendy Ruiz Lopez, Blake Wright & Caryl Ann Young.
Academic Letters for those making the honor roll 10 quarters were awarded to: Francesca Couture, Carolyn DeSchiffart, Caleb Dublin, Samuel Duenas, Anna Ramsay, Bayley Ray-Smith, Monica Spatafore & M. Fabiola Zamora,
The elite prize of a Golden Apple for making the honor roll for 14 quarters were awarded to: Lindsey Collora, Katlyn Dow, Kathryn Mathews, Lidia Ortiz & Lauren Ramsay.
On April 3, the NHS students, along with students from the elementary schools, were entertained by The University of Maine Symphonic Band at a special concert assembly arranged by our music director, Danielle Sullivan. The University of Maine Symphonic Band is a group of 45-60 aspiring instrumentalists chosen from students of all disciplines. Membership to this fine organization is determined each fall by a rigorous audition. The band, under the direction of Christopher G. White, is currently on tour throughout Maine from April 3-6. Our school was fortunate enough to be the opening concert for this tour, which includes 10 concert sites. Students were shown the different instruments included in this year’s band….piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, French horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, string bass, percussion, electric guitar & piano. This was a great cultural experience for many of the students in MSAD #37.
2013 Golden Apple Recipients
(L to R) Lidia Ortiz, Katlyn Dow, Lauren Ramsay,
Lindsey Collora and Kathryn Mathews
Columbia Falls’ town meeting supper on Monday, March 25th, 2013 in the municipal center catered by the United Methodist Women.
Columbia Falls held its Annual Town Meeting on March 25th, 2013 in historic Union Hall on the anniversary date of its incorporation in 1863.
ARTICLE 1 To elect a Moderator to preside at said meeting. Courtney Hammond was elected moderator and he appointed ballot clerks Joyce Grant, Lenora Weaver and Mary Lamoureux (alternate)
ARTICLE 2 To hear from a citizen regarding the 150th birthday of the Town of Columbia Falls. John Tibbetts spoke briefly about this being the 217th time that the citizens of this area have met for a town meeting from the incorporation of Columbia in 1796 to the separation and incorporation of Columbia Falls in 1863 and now the 150th anniversary in 2013. He explained that the title of the historic Union Church was transferred to the town in 1902 and that one of the 5 conditions of the transfer was that it be named Union Hall. Tibbetts gave credit to the individuals who have been instrumental in the successful restoration of Union Hall.
ARTICLE 3 To hear a report from the Chairman of the Selectmen. Allen Grant gave a brief report about the accomplishments of the past year and suddenly turned the microphone over to Sally Thompson. Mrs. Thompson said she has held just about every office in the town at one time or another and was very complementary about this year’s town report saying “probably the best town report I have seen in twelve years”. She went on saying that she found many errors in the treasurer’s report and cited some examples. She also found it confusing. Thompson said “I am not here to criticize, but this town needs help. I am willing to help straighten out the town’s bookkeeping”. She said the financials need auditing and she made a motion to postpone the meeting until it was finished. The motion was defeated.
ARTICLE 4 To elect a citizen to serve as the Administrative Assistant for a three year term. Nancy Bailey was reelected.
ARTICLE 5 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for wages of the Administrative Assistant. (Wages include the consideration of the Town Office being open 4 days a week.) Recommended: $20,000.00. Approved
ARTICLE 6 To elect a citizen to serve as Selectman for a three year term. Jay look was elected by one vote over incumbent Todd Emerson.
ARTICLE 7 To elect a citizen to serve as Assessor for a three year term. Dale Smith was reelected.
ARTICLE 8 To elect a citizen to serve as Treasurer for a three year term. Lenora Weaver was narrowly reelected by one vote over challenger Grace Falzarano.
ARTICLE 9 To elect a citizen to serve as Road Commissioner for a one year term. Michael Bailey was reelected.
ARTICLE 10 To elect a citizen to serve as S.A.D. #37 Director for a three year term. Sally Thompson was reelected
ARTICLE 11 To see if the Town will vote to fix the Compensation for the Municipal Officers and Officials of the Town for the 2013 fiscal year.
Chair $3,100.00 Chair $2,050.00
Members $2,000.00 Members $1,650.00
Code Enforcement 1,200.00
Fire Chief 950.00
Animal Control 600.00
General Assistance 400.00
Chair $27.00 per meeting
Members 22.00 per meeting
Recommend: $19,900.00 Approved.
ARTICLE 12 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the operation of the Town for the 2013 fiscal year (advertising, computer services, deeds, dues, office supplies, postage, elections, audit, insurance, training sessions, Municipal Officers’ compensation, technical support, etc.) Recommended: $60,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 13 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for Payroll Taxes. Recommended: $4,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 14 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for Streetlights. Recommended: $8,000.00 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
ARTICLE 15 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Pleasant River Solid Waste Disposal District. Recommended: $16,518.43 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
ARTICLE 16 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for General Assistance. Recommended: $1.00 Approved
ARTICLE 17 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Columbia Falls Alumni Association. Recommended: $1,000.00 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
ARTICLE 18 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the maintenance of Town Buildings and Grounds. Recommend: $10,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 19 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the operation and care of the Municipal Building and Grounds. Recommended: $12,500.00 Approved
To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the care of the Town Cemetery. Recommended: $500.00 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the care of the Ruggle’s and Great Hill Cemeteries. Recommended: $500.00 Approved
ARTICLE 22 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Pleasant River Ambulance Service. Recommended: $11,872.00 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
ARTICLE 23 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for maintenance of Town Roads and Bridges. Recommended: $20,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 24 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Assessors. Recommended: $5,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 25 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Washington-Hancock County Community Agency. Recommended: $2,092.00 Approved
ARTICLE 26 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Eastern Agency on Aging. Recommended: $500.00 Approved
ARTICLE 27 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Fire Department. Recommended: $14,000.00 Approved (take from undesignated surplus fund balance)
ARTICLE 28 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Fire Truck Fund. Recommended: $5,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 29 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for Municipal Building Maintenance Reserve Fund. Recommend: $5,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 30 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for Town Hall Repair. Recommended: $5,000.00 Approved with modification to name the fund Union Hall Restoration Fund
ARTICLE 31 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the Legal Account. Recommended: $3,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 32 To see what sum of money the Town will raise and appropriate for the 150th Birthday Celebration Committee. Recommended: $5,000.00 Approved
ARTICLE 33 To see if the Town will vote to transfer all snowmobile registration reimbursements for the State to the Narraguagus Snowmobile Club to be used to establish and maintain existing trails for the use and recreation of all citizens. Approved
ARTICLE 34 To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen to issues Town Warrants to pay employees and State Reports, from the closing of the 2013-2014 Town Books on January 31, 2013, until the Annual Town Meeting on March 18, 2014. Approved
ARTICLE 35 To see if the Town will vote to increase the property tax levy limit of $301,588.00 established for Columbia Falls by state law in the event that the municipal budget approved under the preceding articles will result in the tax commitment that is greater than the property tax limit. Approved
ARTICLE 36 To see if the Town vote to set State Wage to be paid to laborers and for equipment and to set State Scale for travel and required training for Town Officials for the ensuing year. Approved
ARTICLE 37 To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen and Treasurer to borrow money in anticipation of taxes, the sum not to exceed $75,000.00. Approved
ARTICLE 38 To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate $1,500.00 to cover the costs of borrowing $75,000.00. Approved
ARTICLE 39 To see if the Town will set a date for the Tax Collector to settle with the Town and set a rate of interest to be charged on all unpaid taxes after that date. Recommended: February 1, 2014, at a State Interest Rate of 7% Approved
ARTICLE 40 To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen to take action on all Tax Liens in which the redemption period has expired and sell by sealed bids with no less than three weeks notice by posting to all citizens. The Selectmen being authorized to execute Quitclaim Deeds. Approved
ARTICLE 41 To see if the Town will vote to accept an ordinance amendment to reflect the role of the Division of Forestry in the administration of Timber Harvesting Standards as depicted in Section 15, part (N) in the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, Municipality of Columbia Falls. (Residents may review a copy of the ordinance changes at the Town Office.) Approved
ARTICLE 42 To see if the Town will vote to accept a change in the title of “Town of Columbia Falls Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Siting Ordinance” to include Wind Tower Facilities. Approved
ARTICLE 43 To see if the Town will vote to instruct the Selectmen to add to any future Town Meeting Warrants, wherein there are articles to elect any Town Officials, the requirement that the Ballot Clerks be elected to serve before that meeting only. The number of Ballot Clerks should be determined by the Town Clerk. Ballot clerks may not be currently officers of this town or running for office in this town. The purpose of this article is to have independent Ballot Clerks, chosen by the Town Meeting, and thereby prevent any question of conflict of interest. Defeated
ARTICLE 44 To see if the citizens of Columbia Falls want their building, commonly known as the “Town Hall” to continue with that name, or do they want to refer to it as the “Union Hall”. Indefinitely Postponed
ARTICLE 45 To see if the Town will vote to give the selectmen approval to sell the Municipal Building (formerly the grammar school) for fair market value or better. If being sold, to hold the option to lease such building for up to one year after the sale so to have time to build a new office. The new building is to be purchased with money from old building. Indefinitely postponed
ARTICLE 46 To see if the Town will vote to elect the Road Commissioner for a three year term instead of the current one year term. This term change would take effect at next year’s Town Meeting. Approved
ARTICLE 47 To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen and Treasurer to accept and expend on behalf of the Town all Federal and State Funds which may be received from the following: Municipal Revenue Sharing – Local Road Assistance – State Aid to Education (including Federal pass through funds and property tax relief) – Public State Aid per Capita – Civil Fund-Emergency Management Assistance – Snowmobile Registration – Tree Growth Reimbursement – General Assistance Reimbursement – Veteran Exemption Reimbursement – Homestead Exemption Reimbursement – State Grants and other funds to include funds not received from the state that are not included in items listed above – Any and All Grants Received. Approved
Photos courtesy Ronie Strout
Selectmen at their meeting on March 27th, 2013 approved a warrant of $3137.33 and a payroll warrant of 1327.33. Treasurer Lenora Weaver stated that the light bill for the Union Hall was much higher than usual. Tony Santiago, Chairman of the Union Hall Restoration Committee explained that he thought that it was due to the new outside lights which as yet do not have the timer installed. Weaver went on to say she had cleaned out her office on Monday and did not expect to be here today “however when I got to town meeting and Mrs. Thompson loudly and publicly berated all of us for what we have done, how little we know, all that. Decided I would stay another term if I was elected and try to at least clear my name and whatever. Another thing I would really like to say – to me, in my opinion we elect three selectmen to run our town. Its been done that way for 145 years, last five years it has been micromanaged so we have to decide we trust or not trust people we elect. Obviously we don’t, but hopefully we can put it behind us and start over. To me you raise your money, tax bills go out, pay your bills and surplus and the job is done. I don’t know what, I think selectmen, you need to find out what exactly it is expected that we’re obviously not and not just one of us but none of us are doing a good job. You know every single article, every single financial thing is questioned then there is something seriously wrong with some of us or all of us and I think for another year if this continues I don’t know what the answer is- I just don’t know what the question is and something has to be changed or fixed or whatever, but it continues meeting after meeting and town meeting after town meeting. I mean the town of Columbia Falls is getting to be a joke. It’s a sad, sad thing. This is what I needed to get off my chest. Chuck (Hammond), I look forward to your spin on that in the paper. Your column is always good for a laugh, thank you for that.” Santiago presented a bill for $633.00 from Rick Farnsworth for hardware installation on the Union Hall doors. Santiago has contacted Down East Correctional and they will work on our building this summer but do not have a schedule as of yet. He has contacted Peter Rioux, the clock man, in regards to a "tune-up". Rioux will get a price and schedule to be discussed at next meeting. Having the Town hall meeting gave us a good idea of just how many chairs/tables fit in the space available. Robin Santiago is working on a plan for the next meeting to help make a decision on how many tables and chairs are needed to buy.
Rick Farnsworth has put new hardware on the Handicap door. He will be working on the columns when the weather permits.
Tracey Gamache is working on the Bangor Savings Grant with Nancy Herr providing information from our records. Dick Grant, Nancy Herr and Santiago will meet next week to start looking over the Interior drawing with Gary Williams for the purpose of modifying the drawing to meet the intentions for "Phase 1" interior work. The next meeting will be April 11th 6PM at Dick Grants house.
The Selectmen chose Alan Grant to be their chairman. Temperature control of the heating system throughout the municipal building has been a constant problem. Selectmen directed administrative assistant, Nancy Bailey to contact Maine Controls (Bangor) for a recommendation and an estimate to fix the problem. Chairman Grant and previous selectman, Todd Emerson met recently with Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America. Chairman Grant reported on their meeting. Karen had stated that WAA can not get funds for maintenance of a building they do not own. She has proposed that the town give WAA the municipal building. They would then be responsible for all maintenance, heating and utilities. The town office space, memorabilia room, library and gym would remain as they are with no rent and the town would have no building expenses. The playground would have to be moved and WAA would want to use the town right of way to access the back parking lot. If and when they were done with the building it would revert back to the town. There was a lot of discussion on this proposal between the elected officials and the interested citizens present. Selectmen decided to have a public meeting with Mrs. Worcester and the townspeople soon.
John Tibbetts requested to be on the agenda for the April 8th selectmens meeting so he could respond to Treasurer Weaver’s remarks made this evening.
March 27th in the municipal center Columbia Falls’ first selectmen’s meeting after the annual town meeting. Left to right Administrative Assistant Nancy Bailey reelected, selectman Alan Grant, new selectman Jay Look and selectman Bun Ward
Twelve Columbia Falls residents including the three selectmen traveled to the state capitol on Thursday, March 28th in response to Representative Peter Doak’s invitation to be recognized by the House of Representatives for the 2013 Sesquicentennial. Mr. Doak greeted the group at the café and introduced us to Dan Fournier, who gave the group a guide tour of the Capitol Building and seated them in the gallery of the House of Representatives. The House Calendar - The Advance Journal and Calendar of the House of Representatives for the One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Maine Legislature for 26th Legislative Day Thursday, March 28, 2013 on page 17 read as follows: “The Town of Columbia Falls, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of its incorporation as a town. Formerly part of the Town of Columbia, the Town of Columbia Falls was incorporated on March 25, 1863. Situated on the falls of Pleasant River at the head of the tide, the town was well-placed to provide power for early saw and grist mills. We extend our congratulations and best wishes to the good citizens of the Town of Columbia Falls on the sesquicentennial of their town; Presented by Representative DOAK of Columbia Falls. Cosponsored by Senator BURNS of Washington.” The Speaker of the House spoke briefly about the history of Columbia Falls and called on Mr. Doak who also spoke about the history of Columbia Falls and invited all members of the house to the celebration weekend event scheduled for June 28, 29 and 30, 2013. The Speaker requested that the group stand to accept greetings of the House. The House Members also stood, turned around to face the gallery and applauded. The party of twelve all had lunch together at Slate’s restaurant in Hallowell.
Twelve Columbia Falls residents including the three selectmen traveled to the state capitol on Thursday, March 28th in response to Representative Peter Doak’s invitation. The town of Columbia Falls was recognized by the House of Representatives on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of its incorporation as a town. Left to right back row: Grace Falzarano, Philip Worcester, Brenda and Bun Ward; middle row Robin Santiago, Jay Look, Chuck Hammond, Allen Grant; front row Tony Santiago, Pam Look, Roberta Hammond, Richard Grant and Representative Peter Doak
Shoreland Zoning and Telecommunications Tower ordinance public hearing held on February 12 (see Downeast Coastal Press February 19 – 25) was not properly advertised so a second public hearing was held on Tuesday March 19th at the regularly scheduled planning board meeting. There were no additional interested individuals present. The planning board approved two applications and issued building permits to: Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co. for a 40 foot by 60 foot out-building behind the garage; and Stephen Tibbetts for a 10 foot by 16 foot addition to a mobile home. The town reports are out, very business-like and yet the design is fitting for a town celebrating its 150th birthday. Administrative assistant Nancy Bailey and the selectmen are to be complemented for a very professional report. Volunteers for the 150 Steering Committee delivered the town reports house to house on Wednesday, March 20th and the usual cost of $125.00 will go toward the celebration.
History Book Presale- Columbia Falls History in Pictures & Writing by Town Historian, Gloria Allen Hayward are being presold at $20.00 per copy to raise money for the printing. This book has the history, builders and owners of over 90 homes, buildings and businesses in Columbia Falls with many pictures. To reserve a copy call Roberta Hammond at 483-4120 or Grace Falzarano at 483-6647. Copies are expected to be available by June 1st, 2013 in time for the big 150th Celebration weekend.
Selectmen approved a warrant of $47,500.75 and a payroll warrant of $862.30 at the meeting on March 11, 2013. Other business included: Tony Santiago spoke about the Union Hall Restoration Committee meeting of March 7th. A handicap Porta Potti will be rented before town meeting on march 25th and picked up after the April 6th Civil War Ball. The committee met with grant writer Tracy Gamache. She will write 6 grants for a flat fee of $2500 plus expenses which includes research and follow-up. Gamache is going to donate 50% of the costs to the town, so the total will be only $1250. A 50% deposit of $625 is required before starting. Selectmen approved this expenditure from Union Hall Committee raised funds. Dick Grant donated a 1904 4th of July poster to Union Hall. The committee had it framed and requested approval of the $148 expense. (approved). Santiago requested professional maintenance and a tune-up of the tower clock. (approved) The committee would like to hire Gary Williams to modify the 2005 plan for the interior Union Hall to suit some desired changes. This will make a level playing field for the contractor bids. Williams would be making design changes only and will not be bidding on the actual construction. Selectmen requested an estimate of Williams design services. Chuck Hammond stated that Representative, Peter Doak has invited the Selectmen, all other elected officials and residents of the town to Augusta at 10:00AM on March 28th to hear and receive a Proclamation concerning the Sesquicentennial Celebration from the Speaker of the House of Representatives. There would be an opportunity to tour the Capitol and possibly a photo with the Governor. Mr. Doak said he would be happy to personally deliver an invitation from the selectmen to the Governor to attend our celebration on June 29th. Selectmen directed that an invitation be written and to be signed by the selectmen and delivered to Mr. Doak. Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant has been approved by the state to register trucks. Bailey also stated that she has saved two copies of old annual town reports for permanent town records and advised that there are still two boxes full of extra copies which could be given away if the selectmen desired. It was decided to make them available to residents at this year’s town meeting. Bailey pointed out the internet service was slow since the library has been reopened. Selectmen approved closing Main Street from 8AM to 4PM and Point Street from 8AM to 11:30AM to regular vehicular traffic for the celebration on Saturday, June 29th. Local traffic for residents on those streets, post office business and emergency vehicles are excepted. Selectmen approved the purchase of four more tables for the community center. Fifteen aluminum flag holders will be purchased for the cemeteries to replace old plastic ones. Lita Bagley has resigned from the Pleasant River Ambulance board. Volunteers interested in this position should contact the town office. Treasurer, Lenora Weaver and Nancy Bailey attended a property lien workshop recently.
Town Library hours starting April 4th are Wednesday and Saturday, 11:00 to 4:00 as noted on a sign on the front door of the municipal center. Also a sign that says Easter Egg hunt at the library on March 30 at 2PM.
Local News The ice went out of the falls basin on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Amanda McLaughlin will be doing Civil War Era Hair Styles for the Civil War Ball. Complete your costume with a period hair style. Call 598-8204 to reserve an appointment for Saturday April 6th. Welcome to 16 year old Kylie Lenfestey the new Downeast Coastal Press correspondent for Addison.
Annual town meeting supper Monday March 25, 5:00 PM in municipal center.
Annual town meeting Monday, March 25, 7 PM in Union Hall (Old Town Hall)
Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 7 PM, in the municipal center.
Columbia Falls Sesquicentennial Proclamation 10AM at the Maine House of Representatives, 2 State House Station, Augusta.
The Columbia Falls United Methodist Church Palm Service, 11:00, March 24
Christian Seder Meal, 7:00 p.m., March 28 at the Municipal building
Good Friday Service, 2:00 p.m., March 29 at the church
Easter Sunrise Service, 6:00 a.m., March 31, behind the fire station
Traditional Easter Worship Celebration, 11:00, March 31
Sesquicentennial Celebration Proclamation
District 33 Representative Peter Doak has invited Columbia Falls’ residents, Selectmen, 150 celebration steering committee members and elementary and high school students to the Capitol in Augusta on Thursday, March 28th when the Maine House of Representatives issues a Proclamation honoring the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Town of Columbia Falls. The Speaker of the House will address the group at 10:00AM. A head count is required for reserved seating so call Chuck or Roberta Hammond at 483-4120 if you plan to go.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
At Selectmen’s meeting on February 25th, 2013 a warrant of $17473.07 and a payroll warrant of $717.38 was approved. Tony Santiago, Union Hall restoration committee chair, stated (1) that there was still $35.00 left in the Davis Grant and needed to be used or forfeited. He requested selectmen authorization to use this money and the balance from town buildings fund to modify the back door so it can be opened from the outside. Approved. (2) A handicap portable toilet is required for the town meeting and the Civil War Ball to be held in Union Hall. Approved- money to be taken from the 150 funds. (3) 100 chairs will be borrowed for both of the above events. Michael Bailey, road commissioner (1) asked if any decisions had been made on the CES proposal for salt/sand shed. Phase 1 of the proposal approved. (2) He has investigated the complaint that large rocks in the road sand have ruined tires. He interviewed the complainant and County Concrete. He also got sand samples. His investigation was inconclusive. Selectmen approved the March calendar after moving the 2nd selectmens meeting date to Wednesday March 27th and adding the planning board meetings. It was agreed to quit Glacial Energy co. for electricity since there have been no savings of electricity costs. Selectmen authorized the 150 committee to deliver town reports at a cost of $125.00.
The Selectmen met with the Budget Committee on February 26th. Nancy Bailey, administrative assistant had prepared a spreadsheet of accounts in columns showing 2012 town meeting “appropriations”, “beginning balance”, “income”, “spent 2012”, and “balance”. The treasurer, Lenora Weaver was absent; however Bailey answered all financial questions as proficiently as if she had done the town’s bookkeeping herself. The committee and the selectmen came to agreement on every line of the proposed budget of $261,620 to be presented to town meeting on March 25th as follows: Administrative Assistant pay- 20,000; Town Office/Administration- 60,000; Payroll Taxes- 4,000; PRSWDD- 16,518; General Assistance- 1; Columbia Falls Alumni awards- 1,000; Town Buildings and Grounds- 10,000; Municipal Buildings and Grounds- 12,500; Town Cemetery- 500; Ruggle's/Great Hill Cemeteries- 500; Roads and Bridges- 20,000; WHCA- 2,092; Eastern Agency on Aging- 500; Fire Truck Fund- 2,500; Municipal Maintenance Reserve- 5,000; Town Hall Repair- 5,000; Assessors- 5,000; Legal Account- 3,000; 150th Celebration- 5,000; Streetlights- 8,000; Fire Department- 14,000; Pleasant River Ambulance- 11,872; SAD #37- (not received yet); and County Tax- 54,637. Here is more information including a comparison with the 2012 Town meeting appropriation and expenditures.
|Account||2012 Approp.||Beg Balance||Income||Spent 2012||Balance||Request|
|Columbia Falls Alumni||$1,000.00||$1,000.00||$0.00||$1,000.00|
|Town Buildings and Grounds||$15,000.00||$9,659.40||$0.00||$10,000.00|
|Municipal buildings & grounds||$12,500.00|
|Ruggle's/Great Hill Cemeteries||$500.00||$500.00||$0.00||$500.00|
|Roads and Bridges||$20,000.00||$80,333.00||$20,366.00||$91,210.00||$29,489.00||$20,000.00|
|Eastern Agency on Aging||$500.00||$500.00||$0.00||$500.00|
|Fire Truck Fund||$5,000.00||$69,646.00||$0.00||$69,646.00||$2,500.00|
|Municipal Maintenance Reserve||$10,000.00||$10,000.00||$10,000.00||$5,000.00|
|Town Hall Repair||$5,000.00||$10,219.00||$395.00||$14,824.00||$5,000.00|
|Trio Assessment Package||$15,000.00||$11,749.15||$0.00||$0.00|
|150th Celebration Fireworks||$2,500.00||$10,963.37||$5,577.05||$7,886.32||$5,000.00|
|Pleasant River Ambulance||$9,072.00||$9,072.00||$0.00||$11,872.00|
|SAD #37||$269,230.45||- - - -||not in yet|
Shoreland Zoning Ordinance
A public hearing was held on February 12th at the municipal center to review proposed changes to the Columbia Falls Shoreland Zoning Ordinance which will be voted on at this year’s town meeting. Individuals present were: Planning Board members - Philip Worcester (chairman), Jay Look, and Chris Rackliff; Selectmen - Bun Ward and Alan Grant; Maine Forest Ranger- Courtney Hammond; Administrative Assistant- Nancy Bailey; and interested residents – Tony Santiago, Chuck Hammond, Roberta Hammond, John Tibbetts, Grace Falzarano, and Pam Look. The State is updating shoreland zoning to be current with DEP laws and is working toward a statewide standards program for shoreland zoning that will have less restrictions to (1) make it easier for landowners to build or harvest on shoreland, (2) make it easier for officials to enforce and (3) simplify the permitting process. Ranger Hammond suggests letting the Forest Service handle the permitting process and enforcement because they have new authority which allows quick response and resolution to infractions without the long legal process of the past. There are three options for the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance open to the Town: (1) maintain the present ordinance and do all the permitting and enforcing locally by the Code Enforcement Officer (2) Adopt the State guidelines and let the Forest Service handle the permitting process and enforcement or (3) Make these state suggested and planning board recommended changes to the present C.F. shoreland ordinance and let the Forest Service handle the permitting process and enforcement. Copies of the proposed ordinance will be available at town meeting and may be reviewed at the town office. The proposed changes affect the following paragraphs: 12.C. Non-conforming Structures (C.F. has few known non-conforming structures, only the fish shacks on the east side of the river below the falls); and 13.A. Resource Protection District. There is a small revision to the Shoreland Zoning map which changes some of the Indian River wetlands from Resource Protection District to Limited Residential District.
The Telecommunication Towers Ordinance is being revised to include wind towers. The present rules for location and height of telecommunication towers will also apply to wind towers. This ordinance will be up for vote at the town meeting.
Selectmens meeting February 12th, 2013: Selectmen Alan Grant and Bun Ward were present, Todd Emerson was absent. The warrant was $39954.60 and payroll warrant was $1121.72. Tony Santiago reported to the Selectmen that the Union Hall Restoration Committee met on February 7, and discussed purchasing chairs and tables to be used for future events in the Hall. The committee is busy compiling information for the new grant writer, Tracey Gamche. The Committee is also working on developing a plan for the interior which will consist of a kitchen area, a bathroom and storage area. The next Union Hall Restoration committee meeting will be February 21st, 6PM at Dick Grants home. All are invited to attend. The Union Hall Committee is always looking for volunteers to help out with our restoration effort. Any interested persons may contact 546-5464 if interested in volunteering. Administrative assistant, Nancy Bailey spoke for Mike Bailey, road commissioner and asked if the selectmen had reviewed the CES quote on the salt/sand shed? Postponed until next meeting. Chuck Hammond stated that the flag previously chosen for display on the utility poles on this 150th anniversary year is in fact the same flag used by the 20th Maine Regiment in the Civil War. Grace Falzarano stated that she had spoken to Frank Norwood of the Maine Honor Guard and he approved our use of this flag for display during our celebration summer season.
John Tibbetts spoke to the selectmen about three items of concern to himself and other taxpayers in the town. They are: this year’s town report; the upcoming annual town meeting; and the care of town records. Tibbetts said “Since before last year’s town meeting some of my fellow taxpayers began speaking to me about these items I am asking you to address tonight and the conversations have continued until now – so I am not speaking just for myself tonight but reflecting the thoughts of other taxpayers too. Please understand I am not here tonight to embarrass anyone – my intent is to point out changes that need to be made not to criticize. That we have ‘always done it that way’ is no reason to continue to do things the wrong way. I am giving a copy of what I wish to bring up to the selectmen to read themselves while I am here to answer any questions. I have already stated why I am not reading it to them. I would ask that what I am giving the selectmen be made a part of the minutes of this meeting and I have a copy here to give Nancy (Bailey, administrative assistant) for that purpose when I finish with it. Verification of what I have said in the paper I am giving you can be obtained from the attorney General’s office or from M.M.A. (Maine Municipal Association).”
The selectmen each read the document silently and expressed agreement after reading it but there was no motion to accept or carry out whatever was written.
I caught up with John Tibbetts after the selectmens meeting and asked him what was in the document that he had passed to each selectman. He provided me with the following statement: “I cautioned the selectmen, who are responsible for the annual Town Report, that it should not be used by any town officer to express what could be considered political views or opinions. It is a factual report to the taxpayers and paid for with tax money.
I reminded the selectmen that the Warrant governs what may come before the annual Town Meeting and speeches, which could be considered political, are not an appropriate way to begin the meeting. I suggested the Warrant contain an article to elect ballot clerks, such as other towns do to avoid a possibility of conflict of interest. In the past our treasurer and town clerk have served as ballot clerks. I also suggested a warrant article that would set the rules of governance of the town meeting as being the Maine Moderators Manual.
I asked the selectmen to see to protecting the old records of the town. They are required by law to do so and yet many of these records are not in a safe place nor have they been for some time now.”
There was discussion about the election of planning board members because all 5 members were elected at the same time for the same term of 3 years. No decisions were made. Selectman Ward had recently attended a meeting of the Washington County Council of Governments and he said Judy East mentioned that she was still watching for a grant opportunity for insulating the C. F. municipal building. Ward asked East and Betsy Fitzgerald who were discussing auditors how often the WCCG changed auditors and they responded every three years. Ward suggested that this was something C.F. should consider for next year.
Work on the Columbia Falls School memorabilia room at the municipal center is progressing. Selectmen authorized installation of the rug that was purchased with donations from four Columbia Falls’ alumni. Peter Buck will be installing it on February 26th. Julia Worcester, Sally Peterson Cooper, Hillary Pineo and Roberta Morris Hammond are meeting weekly to add memorabilia for Columbia Falls Elementary School, Central District School, Hamlin Primary and Tibbettstown. The project is expected to be finished in time for the 150 celebration weekend, June 28, 29 and 30, 2013. Columbia Falls High School and Longfellow Grammar School were finished last year before the annual C.F.H.S. alumni meeting and banquet.