Police & Fire

Dexter to use nearly $196K in ARPA funds for improvement projects, resource center

DEXTER, — Dexter councilors decided Thursday to allocate the remainder of the town’s first round of American Rescue Act Plan funds to improvement projects and a local organization that will serve as a food pantry and resource center.

Dexter had previously allocated $32,000, paired with a $50,000 grant, to complete the Spectrum cable project along Zions Hill Road, Town Manager Trampas King said. That left $163,706 remaining from the first round of funding.

After several months of deliberation, town councilors voted unanimously at a meeting Thursday to approve the funds for eight other projects. Most of the projects are focused on renovations and improvements to make facilities more accessible and enjoyable to the community, such as paving along Sunrise Avenue and restorations at Dexter Town Hall. 

ARPA funds will be spent on walking trails around town, estimated at $5,000; lights at Bud Ellms Field, $10,000; adding sand to the beachfront, $10,000; fencing at Crosby Park, $15,000; the Heart of Maine Resource Center, $15,000; paving Sunrise Avenue, $25,000; renovating the interior and exterior of town hall, $25,000; tearing down and building a new bathhouse, $58,500.

Observer photo/Valerie Royzman
REPLACEMENT DISCUSSION — Dexter councilor Chuck Ellms, left, talks about the benefits of replacing the town’s grader, which has reached nearly 11,000 hours and has been problematic over the years, during a meeting Thursday.

Dexter will receive $195,706, its second round of funding, in August or September.

The Heart of Maine Resource Center, in partnership with the Piscataquis Regional Food Center, provides free food to those in need each month. In January, the organization’s board of directors asked town councilors for ARPA funds to help get the space at 6 Main St. off the ground.

The building is under renovation and would be used to store and distribute food to community members. The hope is that those struggling with food insecurity, mental health and other issues would eventually be able to visit for services, Carol Sherburne, who serves on the board of directors, told the council last month.

Town Council Chairperson Andrew Bermudez abstained from the vote Thursday because he also serves as president of the resource center.

The council also considered purchasing a grader to replace its machine from 1995 that has nearly 11,000 hours on it. During an ice storm in the late 1990s, the center wheel broke and has been problematic over the years, even after being fixed, King said.

“Usually right around 10,000 [hours], you start seeing issues,” he said. “The motor, transmission and stuff. It’s not that we were out looking for a grader, but we had an opportunity to pick up a grader that’s 13 years younger and it’s got about 4,500 hours on it.”

The newer grader would cost $95,000, but the town could trade in its current machine for about $35,000 to lower the amount, King said. The town will have a chance to try out the grader before committing to the purchase.

The Dexter Fire Department is looking into the cost and timeline for a new pumper fire truck, which the town would use a reserve account to purchase. Town councilors were supportive, though they will vote on specifics next month.

King urged councilors to move quickly with a decision because prices are climbing about 8 percent every year, he said. It would take a year and a half for the manufacturer to build the truck.

The council also accepted more than $15,700 from the Totally Teen Club. The organization dissolved in the late 1990s and the funds have been sitting in an unused account since then, King said. The group agreed to transfer the funds over to the town, and they’ll be used to enhance recreation programs for the youth and families, he said.

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