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County commissioners sign 15-year contract with PERC

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Several years ago many Maine municipalities made a choice for waste disposal, with most opting to either remain with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) or go with the forthcoming Fiberight facility in Hampden. For the county facilities in Lily Bay and Orneville townships, county officials voted to continue the relationship with PERC.

During an April 17 commissioners’ meeting, County Manager Tom Lizotte said this decision was made in 2016 and at the present time the commissioners had a pair of proposals for waste disposal with PERC for Lily Bay and Orneville. The first agreement was for 15 years with a tipping fee of $84.36 per ton and the second was 10 years at $89.75 for each ton.

“84.36 was the fee given two years ago,” Lizotte said. “I don’t see any issue with the county signing a longer term agreement to get that lower price.”

“The current fee is $70 but with what little trash we send to that facility it shouldn’t be a big deal,” he said, saying around 160 tons is transported from the two county transfer stations annually.

In other business, Lizotte said he spoke with Rep. Norm Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft about the potential deorganization of Atkinson. A bill for this action was approved by the Legislature and then signed by Gov. LePage, paving the way for a town referendum in November. The referendum would need to pass by a two-thirds majority with at least 50 percent of voters casting ballots in the last gubernatorial election taking part.

“If they deorganize Atkinson could become part of the unorganized territory by July 1, 2019,” Lizotte said.

The county manager said the Atkinson municipal budget is around $300,000, so this could increase the unorganized territory budget by around 20 percent from $1.5 million to $1.8 million. Lizotte said he and others will be keeping this in mind as the spending plan is developed in the months to come.

He said there are 10 cemeteries in town which will need to be mowed, and contractors will need to be hired to plow the roads. Lizotte said a bridge on the McCorrison Road over Alder Stream, which is weight restricted and closed during the winter, would probably simply be closed and a salt/sand pile needing to be brought up to Department of Environmental Protection standards is not as in bad of condition as previously thought.

“Atkinson would have to vote in November,” Lizotte said. When asked what residents may decide, he mentioned a vote several years ago. In August 2016 a question on starting the deorganization process was approved via a count of 72-8 — 90 percent or well above the two-thirds threshold.

The commissioners also approved the drafting of a letter of support for a future Piscataquis Regional Food Center at the former home of Foxcroft Agway on North Street in Dover-Foxcroft. The center would serve various pantries across the region, working with the Good Shepherd Food Bank to have deliveries made in town and then going throughout the region.

George Barton of the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard said currently a large Good Shepherd Food Bank truck comes to the parking lot next to the Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church to drop items off for the food cupboard and Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “It generally creates something of a traffic jam, particularly for those coming out of the Mill apartments,” he said.

Instead, the Good Shepherd Food Bank could easily back into the Piscataquis Regional Food Center and make its delivery. From there the various county organization volunteers could make their pickups as needed “instead of everything happening twice a month,” Barton said. He added that the food center on North Street would also lessen or eliminate the need for volunteers to drive to the Good Shepherd Food Bank distribution center in Hampden themselves.

“The goal is to find additional funding for the Agway building so they could have insulation and refrigeration for more long-term storage,” said Good Shepherd Food Bank consultant Steven Levy. “It is a Dover-Foxcroft facility but it will be serving the needs of all of Piscataquis County.”

Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tom Capraro said Dirigo Engineering has drafted plans for a storage garage to consolidate the agency vehicles and equipment. “We are looking at putting it out to bid in another week,” Capraro said. “We plan on opening the bids at the May 15 meeting.

Capraro said he will present the project to the Dover-Foxcroft planning board either in May or June, and bids can still be opened if the garage does not go before the planning board until June. He said the bid will specify that the contractor needs to be done by Sept. 29.

The storage garage will feature three bays for the Piscataquis County EMA and a fourth bay for the county maintenance department. 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’s $16.500 engineering expenses.

Piscataquis County EMA has $58,000 in capital reserve and $10,000 proposed in the current budget for the garage, which was approved by the commissioners in 2016.

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.

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