Police & Fire

Commissioners broaden EMA deputy director capabilities

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Should a disaster strike the region when Piscataquis County Emergency Agency Director Tom Capraro is out of town and/or on vacation, the response may not be delayed as Deputy Director Debra Hamlin can now step up and fill in.


The Piscataquis County Commissioners formally approved  a revised job description for the deputy director position during a Feb. 4 meeting after several months of planning.


“I just want to thank you for this because, again, Deb’s done a lot of training in the last three and a half years,” Capraro said. He said previously some decisions could only be made by the EMA director and should there be a situation where timing is critical, having the deputy director be able to act can hasten the response.


“So that clears up a lot of things if I’m out of town,” Capraro said.


“It certainly makes us less vulnerable,” Commissioners Chair James White said.


The EMA director also gave an update on an agency four-bay storage garage for vehicles and equipment on the county’s East Main Street campus.


“The garage is pretty much finished with the building,” Capraro said. He mentioned there will be cleanup left, such as items placed outside that have since been covered by snow as well as materials remaining in the structure, “The average building construction stuff.”


Capraro said interior work, being done by other contractors, continues with the plumbing nearly finished and the electrical installation on-going. The heating system will be installed in the future.


Last year Capraro said he worked with the project engineer to modify the building design in order to reduce construction costs such as the facility going from two stories to one. In July 2018 the commissioners passed a motion to waive the competitive bid process and authorize Capraro to negotiate with a contractor at a rate capped at $120,000.


Knights Siding & Roofing of Detroit bid $132,000 for the project. Capraro had said this amount was a bit over budget but department funds helped make up the difference.


The Knights Siding & Roofing bid did not include electrical, plumbing, heating and paving but Capraro said contractors already working with the county could be used for this work.


During their previous meeting last month, the commissioners took action on an executive order of enhancing state and local involvement in refugee resettlement. They directed County Manager Michael Williams to draft a letter saying the region does not have the resources, such as adequate housing and social services, to allow refugees to settle in the county and the area is likely not an ideal location as a result of the cold climate.


The commissioners formally approved a letter with an amendment proposed by Commissioner Jim Annis.


Annis asked the words, following an explanation of Piscataquis County being one of the poorest counties in Maine, “‘and a population of less than 17,000, many being retirees living on a fixed income” be added. 


“And I’m one of those retirees,”’ Annis said. He explained the commissioners do want any resettled refugees to become a tax burden to area residents.


“I think it would be barbaric to bring someone and dump them into this physical and financial climate,” White said last month. He mentioned news footage of refugees getting off the bus in Portland, wearing shorts and flip flops.


“It isn’t right to bring in people who aren’t familiar with the climate and dump them into Maine,” the chair said.


“Without the resources to house them safely I don’t think we should be accepting anyone,” White said. “That could change, if someone were to come to us and say we have got a plan with all the resources in place then I would say go ahead.”

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