Police & Fire

Milo Fire Department looking to replace ladder truck

MILO — A more than 40-year-old Milo Fire Department ladder truck is in need of replacement. Department officials have been given the formal go-ahead by town officials to start looking for a different vehicle and the $200,000 estimated purchase price will be included in the upcoming budget process.

During a Nov. 14 select board meeting Fire Chief Matt Demers said insurance won’t cover the needed $20,000 repairs on the approximately 42-year-old platform aerial truck. He said the original purchase price was $95,000 and on his own has begun looking around at potential replacement vehicles. 

“For no more than $200,000 I think we can get a truck that will serve this community well,” Demers said. 

With the new station coming we’ve discussed it and we’re better off looking for a truck that will fit the new station, not isolate it to the truck that fits this station. That will open the doors a lot more on options,” he said.

“We’ve been dumping good money over good money into that truck ever since we’ve had it, and it’s not going to stop,” the chief said. “We’re already seeing rust issues that are going to have to be addressed right off as well as mechanical things that keep going wrong with that truck.”

When asked, he said the vehicle would be good for parts and the fire department has had trouble finding components in the past.

Town Manager Robert Canney said the public safety building is at least 24 months away from opening, as the project is several months away from going out to bid with an environmental assessment on the proposed Park Street site still pending. 

The town is currently in the early planning stages of a new building to house the fire, police, and public works departments. The community can spend up to $6,375,000 in USDA funds for the public safety building, which is being planned for near the business park and across the road from the Milo Water District office less than a mile up the street from the 100-year-old town hall where the fire and police departments are currently located.

Demers said a few residents have offered to house a new truck in the meantime as it may not fit within the current station below the town hall.

He said a truck purchase has not been included in the current and previous municipal budgets so a loan would be needed. Preparations for the 2024-25 finances will begin next month and truck costs can be included.

Canney said the select board would make a decision to include a related article on the March annual town meeting warrant. “The ladder truck, you definitely need it,” he said.

Demers said a call earlier in the day put the department at 325 calls for 2023. “280 was the most calls we ever had in a year and that was last year,” the chief said, saying the fire department is still within budget. He said there was a structure fire the previous weekend and two others last month.

The chief thanked his crew for the good turnout as well as surrounding communities for mutual aid coverage. “It’s how we fight fires in Piscataquis County now, relying heavily on mutual aid,” he said.

In other business, Code Enforcement Officer Steve Quist said he has been working on property maintenance with 33 active cases and two in the court system at the present time. He said notices have been given to some property owners in violation of town codes and if replies are not made then fines of up to $100 a day can be given.

“I’ve gotten some response and there is some action being taken on their own,” Quist said.

He said the “Friends of Milo” ad hoc economic development group has been meeting on Tuesdays.

The group has spoken with Canadian Pacific Railway representatives about the company selling or leasing land adjacent to the Derby Shops for industrial development. 

“Hopefully we can provide an opportunity for someone to come in and develop that land that they’re not using,” Quist said. “It would be off their tax rolls and onto someone else’s tax rolls. It would be good for the town because we have no industrial area.”

He said the former Katahdin Country Club is another area in town that could be reopened or redeveloped.

“They don’t really speak for the town, they speak for the small group,” Canny said about the Friends of Milo. He suggested the select board set up a committee to operate under their auspices. The town would work with the Maine Municipal Association to ensure the formation has been done properly.

The town manager said this would help the group, mentioning they could be authorized by the select board to seek grant funding.

“You have a group of volunteers who want to help market the town and bring businesses in and our staff, we just don’t have the time to devote to it,” Canny said. 

Canney said he had a certificate from the town to present to Bissell Brothers Brewing, Three Rivers recognizing the establishment as the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce 2023 Business of the Year. 

No one from Bissell Brothers was at the Nov. 14 meeting so Canney will drop the certificate off.

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