Sheriff’s patrol division preparing to move into new building
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Last month the previously anonymous identify of a benefactor — the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union in making the largest contribution in its 54-year history — providing the $145,000 to enable the county to purchase the former Key Bank building on Hudson Avenue in downtown Guilford to be the new home of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office patrol and investigation divisions was revealed during a presentation at the site.
At the time Sheriff Bob Young said the plan was to move in at the start of September, and the department is on track for the transition.
“The primary emphasis for us is getting into the new building,” Young said during an Aug. 18 county commissioners meeting. “I have given our notice at Community Fitness. We will be out of there on the 31st.”
He said officers have been giving of their off-duty time to help make sure the building is ready.
The approximate 7,200-square feet between the first floor and lower level will provide room for deputies to work, evidence processing and storage and expansion if need be. The structure has been maintained since the bank closed, being heated over the winter and having the lawn mowed regularly.
Late last year the commissioners authorized Young to sign a lease through mid-2020 for the patrol and investigation divisions to remain at the former Guilford Primary School through the middle of the year while a real estate transaction was pending. In November a sale closed on the building with Friends of Community Fitness purchasing the structure from owner Clark’s Enterprises.
The county also looked at the C.H. Lightbody Medical Center on Park Street, which now is the location of the Guilford municipal office. In the middle of the process the county learned about the Key Bank building availability — the business closed in 2019 — and the commissioners have said the town was very gracious in letting the county back out of the verbal agreement.
A question on the July 14 ballot was rendered moot thanks to the credit union. The question for county residents concerned a bond for the $145,000 property purchase price, which would have come with an additional $29,100 in interest to be paid over a decade. The ballot question was written and approved by the Secretary of State well before the donor came forward.
“The deed has been filed for the new building so that is great,” County Manager Michael Williams said during the commissioners meeting. He said plowing for the Guilford site will be going out to bid.
In other business, the commissioners reviewed a proposal to allow for flex scheduling should county employees need to leave for a short time to attend to school/busing issues related to the varying schedules in place for school districts in the new academic year. Among the changes made for some schools for health and safety reasons are a combination of in-person and hybrid learning, earlier release times for some grades, different starting times, staggered bus routes and more.
“They will still work their regular hours,” Williams said. “They move their hours a bit, an hour here, an hour there.”
Commissioners Chair Jim White said employees can work with their department heads to determine a schedule that works for them. “If this turns into a bigger issue we can discuss it at another date,” he said.
“Throughout this whole (COVID-19 pandemic) we have been very flexible and the department heads have handled it well,” White said.
In his report, Williams said he has begun work on the 2021 county budget and 2021-22 Unorganized Territory budget.
He said one expense he has already noticed is more money needed for gravel to place on unpaved roads, which lose one to two inches of the surface material each year. “That is a cost that we have to do without being, obviously, too costly,” Williams said.
The county manager also asked that each commissioner reach out to budget advisory committee members in their respective districts who have termed out to see if they are interested in being re-appointed during an upcoming meeting.