Police & Fire

Greenville Select Board updated on county developments

GREENVILLE — The select board learned more about several developments for Piscatquis County that will affect Greenville and the surrounding area as members met with District 3 Piscataquis County Commissioner Wayne Erkkinen on Sept. 21.

Erkkinen, who lives in neighboring Harford’s Point Township, said a new patrol officer will be based in the Moosehead Lake region. William Plume is a 12-year veteran of the New York Police Department and he will work as a patrol officer and investigator in Greenville.

Plume will cover “from here, northbound,” Erkkinen said. “If anything happened here, from Guilford it’s 20 minutes away, but he’s right here.”

Erkkinen said Plume is scheduled to start the following Monday. The officer, who has property in Greenville Junction and operates a cabin rental business locally, moved to the community to start his new job. He most recently worked as a detective in the New York Police Department emergency service unit.

The commissioner said the dispatch center was going to be moved to the new home of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office patrol and investigation division in Guilford, but instead it will move out of the jail and down the hall into what is now unused at the Dover-Foxcroft sheriff’s office.

“It will be out of the jail finally,” Erkkinen said.

The transition will require repair work on a portion of the building’s exterior that will cost an additional several thousand dollars. County officials have been working with Old Town-based architect Vicki Leavitt on the project, which will move the dispatch center from cramped quarters inside the jail into the administrative unit of the sheriff’s office on the first floor. 

The dispatch center relocation is part of a major project to upgrade radio communications for fire and police departments dealing with outdated infrastructure and Piscataquis County’s mountainous terrain. Water damage to the mortar on the exterior of the sheriff’s office could add $26,000-$30,000 to the cost.

Erkkinen said the county would be facing higher fuel and energy costs in the upcoming county and Unorganized Territory budgets. 

“Electric bills have gone up tremendously, so we’re going to have some hefty increases in our budget,” he said. “It’s going to cost the taxpayers, it’s a shame. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

The commissioner talked about a new program that aims to freeze property taxes for Maine seniors, with the state making up the difference to the municipalities seeing reduced tax payments. “Where is the money going to come from?,” Erkkinen said, saying he has signed up for the program.

Town Manager Michael Roy said the state is set to reimburse communities the difference between the freeze and actual tax bill, but this revenue would come in sometime in the following year.

“I think when it comes to the budget period, we need to keep a cushion for ourselves,” Selectperson Richard Peat said during a discussion later in the meeting on municipal tax bills. 

Roy said Greenville could weather a dip in revenue but the future is more uncertain. He said tax bills were mailed out the previous Friday, with about 75 percent of the 2,500 bills going out of the community.

“That’s a lot of property owners who don’t live in town,” Roy said.

Select Chairperson Geno Murray asked Erkkinen about the budget process, and the commissioner said this will begin early next month as the budget advisory committee starts its series of fall meetings. He said the meetings are open to the public and comments and feedback are welcome.

In his report, Roy touched upon several items.

He said from Sept. 6 to 12, leading up to and after the 48th annual International Seaplane Fly-in, about 4,200 gallons of fuel was purchased at the Greenville Municipal Airport for nearly $30,000. “Police and fire departments had no major issues over the weekend, everything went smooth here,” he said.

Roy said the contract with Sheridan Construction Corp. of Fairfield to serve as the contractor for the new Greenville Public Safety building has been signed and returned. He said the public safety committee will hold a workshop the next week to discuss plans and devise a maximum price for the project.

The Maine DEP reached out to Roy to say water would be collected from the closed landfill on the Dyer Road to be tested. Testing is also being done on sites off the KI Road.

The Piscataquis Observer’s Valerie Royzman contributed to this story.

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