New sheriff’s patrol building up and running
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Officers with the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office patrol and investigation divisions are now working out of a new building at the former Key Bank location on Hudson Avenue in Guilford.
“We are moved as of yesterday, we are out Community Fitness completely — the keys are turned over,” Sheriff Bob Young said during a Sept. 1 county commissioners meeting.
In July the previously anonymous identity of a benefactor — the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union — providing $145,000 to enable the county to purchase the former bank building in downtown Guilford to be the new home of the patrol and investigation divisions was revealed during a presentation at the site.
“I was really impressed with the guys who came in and donated their time,” Young said about efforts to get the facility ready. He said the former teller stands were removed and now there are “seven good-sized cubicles so everybody has a good place to work.”
“We are up and running and I think it’s going to work out well,” the sheriff said, mentioning work such as painting still needs to be done at the lower level of the building.
County Manager Michael Wiliams said he stopped by the week before. “It does look phenomenal in the building, they have done a fantastic job. You couldn’t hire professionals to make it look any better.”
“That shows that it’s more than just a job,” Commissioners Chair Jim White said about the pride the officers have taken in getting their new work space ready.
Young said an open house at the new building would likely be held in the fall.
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 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 donation. 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 commissioners approved a bid by Katahdin Property Services of Dover-Foxcroft for snow removal at the patrol and investigations property. The $4,250-bid was the lowest of three received, the other two were for $5,400 and $5,700.
In other business, Williams reported that no bids came in for plowing roads in Harfords Point, Moosehead Junction and Big Moose townships including the ski access road. He said the travelway to the ski area, which was open last season, is about 1.65 miles in length.
“Obviously we have to find someone to get the roads plowed in that part of the county,” Williams said.
“The only thing we can do is have (Road Agent Carl Henderson) make a list of everybody capable in that area and check and see if they want to take the opportunity to bid,” White said.
Commissioner Wayne Erkkinen said that Mike Theriault has taken care of the plowing west of Moosehead Lake for about two decades, and suggested contractors may have chosen not to bid because they did not realize that Theriault had gotten done.
The commissioners gave approval to Blanchard residents forming a volunteer cemetery committee.
Williams said Blanchard resident Steve Hobart approached him about bringing back a group that previously existed a decade and a half prior as since then stones have fallen into disrepair. “Citizens want to go in, reset the stones, use some epoxy because a few of the stones did fall over and break,” the county manager said.
The cemetery committee will be requesting some funds for its work, and the request will be included in discussions of the next Unorganized Territory budget.
In his report Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tom Capraro said, “I have a 2-page letter drafted up and I want (Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Todd Lyford and Dispatch Sgt. Gary Grant) to look at it. I have a meeting of the fire chiefs tomorrow night for them to look at it.”
Capraro’s letter is to seek out companies to conduct an emergency communications study of the region. During a commissioners meeting last month representatives of the county’s fire and police departments spoke on the need to find long-term solutions to communications issues, such as getting around the hilly terrain and upgrading or replacing antiquated equipment. Exactly how the problems will be remedied will be determined by a feasibility study.
The EMA director said he is aware of a half dozen companies, many are based in New Hampshire, and two others approached him after reading about the August meeting. “I think we have a good pool of people who want to get in on this,” Capraro said.
In his report Williams said, “Our county Facebook page is up and running as of this morning” under “Piscataquis County Commissioners.”
“I thank (Administrative Assistant Lori Adkins) for her work on that and administering that for us,” Williams said.