Police & Fire

Plans to construct county EMA storage garage moving forward

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — A storage garage to consolidate the vehicles and equipment for the Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in one location is being planned by county EMA Director Tom Capraro and the next step in the project was taken during a Nov. 7 commissioners meeting. The commissioners voted to accept a $16,500 proposal from Dirigo Engineering of Fairfield for planning work on the structure to be built on the county campus.

“When we started this project at the beginning of the year we were under the assumption we could use Hammond Lumber for the design and planning,” Capraro said. He said soon after the agency learned because the proposed storage garage is a commercial building then an engineering firm would be needed.

Capraro said he looked into engineering bids and in addition to the $16,500 proposal by Dirigo Engineering a sum of $23,200 was put forward by Midsouth Engineering — which has offices in Millinocket and Orono. The EMA director said the engineering bid will be for drawing up building plans, conducting site work, taking care of the construction bidding process and overseeing the job.

The storage garage will feature three bays for the Piscataquis County EMA and a fourth bay for the county maintenance department. “Basically it’s a 54- by 26-foot building with four doors,” Capraro said, as the maintenance portion of the structure will be separated from the rest of the building with its own entry. Storage space will be located upstairs for both departments.

The storage garage would be built on the county campus, near the edge of the property by School Street. The EMA structure would be placed away from East Main Street, leaving room for a potential new sheriff’s office.

With the storage garage being used for emergency management, Homeland Security funds through Maine EMA can reimburse the county engineering expenses. “So this basically won’t cost the county a dime,” Capraro said about the $16,500. “We pay and then we get reimbursed.”

Piscataquis County EMA has $58,000 in capital reserve and $10,000 proposed in next year’s budget for the garage. “I have money set aside for a generator for that building,” Capraro said.

“The commissioners had given approval last year to the project itself,” County Manager Tom Lizotte said.

Capraro said he has talked with the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society and gotten approval from the organization to build in accordance with zoning regulations.

Lizotte mentioned construction plans would need to be approved by the Dover-Foxcroft planning board.

The county currently leases space at a Dover-Foxcroft municipal garage for vehicle and equipment storage, and other EMA gear is housed at the bunker in Milo. The agency also utilizes the county parking lot and building.

“The last thing you want in an emergency is to run around to three locations for the materials you need,” Lizotte said.

“It probably won’t start until the spring, but we will have everything drawn up,” Capraro said about storage building construction.

In other business, Capraro discussed the recent windstorm. “As you know the storm last week raised havoc, mostly with trees and debris,” he said.

The EMA director said the county and four towns filled out the proper paperwork for state funds to cover damages and the combined early estimates are for $96,200 worth. “These numbers should qualify us if there’s money available,” Capraro said, if total damage around Maine equals a $1.93 million threshold.

“The only road damage we had was the Bodfish Valley Road in Elliottsville washed out,” Lizotte said. He said repairs were made the next day.

“We had scores of trees down along the county right of way,” he said. Lizotte removal of smaller debris was done by Road Agent Carl Henderson, CMP took care of trees against electrical lines and poles and contractors were needed to handle larger downed trees. An early estimate of storm damages is $18,400 in the unorganized territories.

“I think we were fortunate considering other parts of the state,” Capraro said, as the rainfall in Piscataquis County was not as heavy as in other locations. He said he visited his camp in western Maine over the weekend and with trees down on both sides of the road, Capraro said the damage looked like a tornado had passed through and some bridges had water going over the spans.

Lizotte also gave an update on the county and unorganized territory budgets.

“The budget process has come down to decision time,” he said, saying the budget advisory committee has met three times and was scheduled to have its last meeting two days later on Nov. 9. “That’s when they make decisions and recommendations for the commissioners.”

Lizotte said the commissioners can discuss the various budget proposals during their Tuesday, Nov. 21 meeting and the public will have the opportunity to weigh in during the Monday, Nov. 27 public hearing. This meeting start time has varied over the years and a time of 6:30 p.m. was agreed upon for later in the month.

The commissioners may formally approve both budgets at the Dec. 3 meeting, or move the decision back to Dec. 17.

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