Sheriff’s office awaiting installation of radio system

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Last fall the Piscataquis County Commissioners approved a financing package to upgrade the radio system for the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office to replace antiquated dispatch equipment with components dating to the 1980s. The commissioners agreed to a lease purchase proposal from Gorham Savings Bank for a total of a little more than $127,000 to be paid over five years and now the department is awaiting delivery of the radio system.

“The large radio reorganization is in California, the equipment is in California,” Dispatch Sgt. Gary Grant said during an April 9 commissioners meeting. Grant said the equipment will go Whitten’s 2-Way Service, Inc. of Brewer — which has worked with the sheriff’s department for more than two decades — to be programmed for installation.

“They have wired from downstairs to the control room to some other rooms where backups are going to be,” Grant said.

County Manager Tom Lizotte reminded the commissioners how in September they approved the $145,000-plus equipment purchase. For several years Grant has been working to upgrade the telecommunications division of the sheriff’s department through grants and funding sources outside the county budget, totaling about $72,000 to bring the project cost down to $145,383.

Lizotte looked at various capital reserve accounts and was able to find about $28,000 to reduce the $145,000-plus cost to $117,112. With about a $1,000 difference in interest payments, the commissioners opted to go with Gorham Savings Bank over Androscoggin Savings Bank — an approximate $10,000 to $11,000 difference with the initial payments part of the 2019 county budget.

In other business Lizotte mentioned how he has announced his retirement, as of early July when ideally his successor will start.

“I have been here five years and my intention is to separate July 5,” said Lizotte, who will be turning 67 in June and plans to continue to reside in Dover-Foxcroft with his wife Leslie.

“I think the job will be attractive to someone in public administration,” he said, as the position is currently being advertised.

“I have very much enjoyed working for the county commissioners, and with the many talented department heads in Piscataquis County government, over the past five years,” Lizotte said in a statement announcing his decision. “Given the stability of county operations and our healthy financial position, now seems an opportune moment for me to transition into the next phase of my life and to enjoy having the time to pursue my personal interests.”

With snow and ice remaining in the second week of April, county officials heard an update from Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tom Capraro on the potential for flooding.

“We have been in really good shape, the melting’s going pretty good,” Capraro said before a few more inches of snow fell on the region. He said an ice jam on the Piscataquis River across West Main Street from Foxcroft Academy is breaking up but the blockage on the Pleasant River in Milo may not happen in time to prevent some flooding for a few adjacent properties.

“We are doing pretty well considering the ice we have had,” he said, saying state EMA officials are keeping a very close eye on Aroostook County’s waterways with the heavy snowpack remaining in northern Maine. “All in all I think we are in pretty good shape for the county, we have had warm days and cool nights.”

Lizotte said the awarding of bids for the rehabilitation of the Jackson Brook bridge on the Shirley Road in Blanchard has been postponed.

“They are looking at a more direct approach which would hopefully be less expensive,” he said about conversations with the engineer. “So they are reworking the bids, we will advertise this month and hope to open bids next month.”

The county manager said the overpass poses no danger to travelers and construction could still be carried out from mid-July through early October.

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