2015-09-11 / Community

News Briefs

New principal for Consolidated School

KENNEBUNKPORT — Just as the new school year was about to get underway, word came of a change in the top job at Kennebunkport Consolidated School.

According to a Sept. 2 memo to parents from Superintendent Katie Hawes, Principal Dave Crandall would not be present when doors opened Sept. 8.

After five years at Consolidated, Crandall has accepted a job in northern Maine, where he grew up, as principal of Indian Township Elementary School, located near Calais.

“Dave has chosen to embark on a new journey. We wish him all the best,” Hawes said. “Given the timing of this news, I have appointed Wayne Dorr as interim principal while we conduct a full search for the next leader of Kennebunkport Consolidated School.”

Most recently the interim superintendent of the Wiscasset school system, where he was the full-time educational leader from 1998 to 2000, Dorr, who lives in Bowdoinham, is no stranger to local parents and teachers.

He served as interim superintendent of SAD 71, then serving Kennebunk and Kennebunkport during the 2009-2010 school year, just prior to the merger with Arundel to form RSU 21.

“Mr. Dorr has been a principal at all levels, a director of special education, assistant superintendent and superintendent,” Hawes said.

Hawes said community members are invited to contact Consolidated School at 967-5998 to schedule a time to meet Dorr, who spent Tuesday making the rounds with each grade level.

Hawes said she hopes to have a permanent principal in place by Jan. 1.

School summit planned for Sept. 16

A special “dine and discuss” session has been set so selectmen from Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport can brainstorm ideas with the RSU 21 board of directors.

Originally slated to take place at the Nonantum in Kennebunkport, the meeting will now take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Kennebunk Elementary School.

The venue was changed at the request of Kennebunk selectmen to better facilitate public attendance, as the event will not be recorded for broadcast on community access television, or online.

The meeting’s agenda will focus discussion on potential joint purchasing, shared resources, collaboration and communication between the towns and the school district.

However, the discussion could go beyond school issues. At the Aug. 11 meeting of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, former selectman Al Searles urged his board to broach the topic of merging emergency services and public works across the three towns, a proposal some on the board readily agreed to.

Speed limit lowered on Route 1 in Arundel

The speed limit on a 1.34-mile stretch of Route 1 in Arundel has been lowered from 50 to 40 mph.

Arundel selectmen asked for a review of the speed limit along the main drag at the Biddeford town line and, following a review that included a survey of traffic patterns and crash reports, as well as test runs, the Maine Department of Transpor- tation agreed to lower the limit to match the speed set for Route 1 in Biddeford.

The new 40 mph zone extends from Grayson Street in Biddeford to Old Post Road in Arundel.

The speed limit from Old Post Road to a spot 7/10 mile south of the intersection of Log Cabin and Campground Roads will remain 50 mph.

Arundel adopts billing policy

Arundel selectmen have signed a new policy governing how the town will address unpaid bills for ambulance services. The policy, adopted unanimously Aug. 10 and signed at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting, states the town will consider writing off unpaid bills only if the person files an application claiming financial hardship.

Those applications, to be considered twice a year, in January and June, will only be approved if the applicant would qualify for general assistance.

“Our intent is to try and work with people as opposed to sending it right to collections, where, if they ignore the collections letter they are going to have some issues on their credit report,” Town Manager Keith Trefethen said.

COMSTAR, the company that handles billing for Arundel’s ambulance service, will refer to a collections agency the delinquent bills owed by those who do not qualify for aid under the state guidelines for general assistance.

School bond plan is ditched

A bill submitted by local legislators designed to help RSU 21 taxpayers with the costs associated with a $56.5 million school renovation project isn’t going to help after all.

The bill would have let regional school districts structure bond payments similar to a home mortgage, with a level payment throughout the life of the loan, as opposed to the current method, which piles on interest for higher initial payments that decrease over time.

The bill was passed by both houses of the Legislature in late May, but then vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage on June 12. That veto was overridden by the House three days later in a 143-2 vote.

However, according to an Aug. 20 letter to RSU residents authored by Superintendent Katie Hawes, the final bill did not quite match the one that won initial approval.

“When our attorney and bond counsel began to develop our bond resolution schedule, they found that the newly enacted payment structure statute was amended to apply only if it results in lower costs,” Hawes wrote. “Specifically, for RSUs, a level debt payment structure may be used, ‘only if the payment structure results in lower costs for the regional school unit throughout the life of the issue of the bonds.’ On a 20-year bond, this appears to make the legislation virtually unusable.

“At this point, we are being advised to move forward with the traditional-style payment schedule so we can capture interest rates that remain at historic lows,” Hawes wrote.

How the new bond repayment structure might affect local tax bills is not yet known. However, Kennebunk selectmen have said they already anticipate a $1.30 hike in their town’s mil rate, currently set at $15.30 per $1,000 of real estate valuation, in 2018, when the first bond payments come due.

Kennebunkport preps for winter

Despite soliciting all five vendors who bid last year to supply Kennebunkport with winter sand, the town got just one offer.

The bad news/good news is that while the contract approved by selectmen at their Aug. 27 meeting is 50 cents per cubic yard more than the town paid last year, that new price is still lower than what was offered last year by all four bidders who bowed out this season.

Kennebunkport has agreed to pay Dayton Sand and Gravel $8 per cubic yard for screened sand delivered to the town garage. Public Works Director Michael Claus estimates the town will go through 1,500 cubic yards of sand worth about $12,000 by April 20.

Claus said Kennebunkport will again join the regional purchase by the Greater Portland Council of Governments for road salt, for which the low bid was submitted by Morton Salt Inc. at $61.50 per ton. Last year’s price was $54.47 per ton.

Town asks resort to correct violations

A consent agreement with Hidden Pond, a luxury resort located at 354 Goose Rocks Road, was considered by Kennebunkport Selectmen at a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8, when a host of health and safety violations were discussed.

That meeting took place after the deadline for this week’s issue of the Post.

The move followed an hour-long executive session prior to the Aug. 27 meeting of the board of selectmen.

Upon entering public session, selectmen gave Hidden Pond until Sept. 4 to correct what Selectman Stuart Barwise called, “several violations of code.” Otherwise, he said, selectmen would on Sept. 8 suspend the resort’s victualer’s license, ending its ability to serve food and beverages.

As of Tuesday morning, the consent agreement to be signed was not available on the town website.

Port schedules public hearing

Kennebunkport selectmen will send a do-over of the town’s recently enacted animal control ordinance to voters. A local referendum has been scheduled for Nov. 3, timed to take place alongside state voting. A public hearing on the changes will be held on Oct. 22.

The changes clarify restrictions on dogs at the West End Plover Protection Area of Goose Rocks Beach, while also giving selectmen the power to limit access by dogs in other areas, either on a seasonal basis, or permanently, depending on the changing habits of the endangered shorebird.

“That provision is in there because they (plovers) don’t always nest just at the west end,” said Paul Hogan, a member of the town’s beach advisory committee. “This year there were two other locations.”

Meanwhile, selectmen have punted to June a proposal to regulate the rules under which homeowners can rent out rooms.

“This is a work in progress,” Selectman Patrick Briggs said. “It needs to be further clarified, specified, quantified, or whatever term you like, but it’s not ready to be on a warrant.”

Members of the Kennebunk Residents Association said through a representative that they support the delay.

“We agree there is a need to address the issue, but there seems to be no urgency to rush this proposal to voters,” KRA spokesman David James said. “We are not for or against the pending proposal right now,” James said. “What we are asking is that the town take the time to fully investigate and evaluate all the consequences of its actions before presenting a (land use ordinance) amendment to the voters.”

Permanent ozone unit approved

Kennebunkport selectmen have given their blessing to the placement of a permanent ozone monitoring station on town-owned land.

The new unit, designed to resemble a garden shed, will replace the seasonal trailer now maintained by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) beside St. Ann’s Church, on Ocean Avenue.

According to Catherine Demers, with the DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality, the trailer will be removed by October.

Pending approval of the new 8-footsquare shelter, under rules of the Natural Resource Protection Act, the permanent monitoring station could be in place “before the snow flies,” Demers wrote in an Aug. 17 letter to selectmen.

Data provided by the Kennebunkport station is used to compile DEP’s Maine Air Quality Forecasting report, as well as the AIRNow mapping program of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Those forecasts are available online at www.maine.gov/dep/air/ozone.

–– Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington.

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