2017-05-19 / Community

News Briefs

RESCUE ROUSER — According to Kennebunk Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe, town rescue crews will be on hand at the Waterhouse Center on Main Street from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 in celebration of EMS Week.

Similar to the annual Fire Prevention Week in October, EMS Week gives the department a chance to show off emergency medical services equipment purchased by taxpayers, and for residents to meet the men and woman on the crew. This is the second year Kennebunk has participated in the national event.

One person who won’t be there, at least in uniform, is Dana Ingham, former district chief of the West Kennebunk hose company. At the May 9 selectmen’s meeting, Rowe announced Ingham had retired following 32 years of service to the town.

FIRE DONATIONS — At their May 9 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen accepted $625 in donations to the fire department, given in memory of Willis “Willie” Wilson, who died March 24 at age 87. Wilson was a 51- year active member of the fire department’s Washington Hose Company, located in Lower Village. A longtime owner of landscaping and snowplowing businesses and an avid outdoorsman, Wilson also was known for maintaining flower beds at Kennebunk Beach. Giving in Wilson’s memory were Blue Roof LLC ($500), Douglas and Sarah Baird ($100) and Lynda Bryan ($25).

Selectmen also accepted a $250 donation to the fire department from BREX Corp., given for use of the West Kennebunk Fire Station training room for a company meeting held in April.

POT PANNED — What may be the first official request to ban the retail sale of marijuana in Kennebunk has been logged. At the May 9 board of selectmen meeting, RSU 21 school board member Lionel Menard asked the town’s municipal officers to put the question before voters in November.

“The commercialization of recreational marijuana just does not seem to be what I believe is in the common good of this town,” Menard said.

Selectboard chairman Dick Morin said he and his peers expect to sponsor a public forum “soon,” similar to the May 1 summit attended by RSU 21 board members and selectmen from Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel.

“I don’t think the public has had a chance to see and hear all of the information surrounding this, and we would like to repeat part of what was said that evening, and then expand on that and seek some feedback from the residents of the municipality, and maybe bring in a couple of other experts, and really try to uncover as much of this information as we possibly can,” Morin said.

Kennebunk currently has a moratorium in place on accepting site-plan reviews, or issuing permits, for the retail sale, cultivation, manufacture, and testing of marijuana and marijuana-based products. That temporary ban is due to expire Oct. 6. Town Clerk Merton Brown said the Kennebunk planning board is currently working on an ordinance to govern retail marijuana operations, with plans to get it on the November ballot.

The state legislature earlier this year adopted a moratorium of its own, with state licensing standards now expected to go into effect in February 2018.

CANDIDATE CANCELLATION — Given that only two people are running for two open spots on the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, the town has cancelled a candidate’s night debate planned for May 17. According to Town Clerk Merton Brown, May 17 is still an important date, however, as that’s the day absentee ballots for the June 13 vote became available from town hall. In person absentee voting is now underway at town hall, Brown said.

The two candidates are incumbent Christopher Cluff and former selectman William Ward. Lone incumbents also were the only candidates to file for seats on the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District and Kennebunk Sewer District boards of trustees, with Robert Emmons and John Price Sr., respectively, expecting a return to office.

There is, however, a competitive race for the Kennebunk Light and Power District board of trustees, with incumbent Wayne Berry challenged by retired Coast Guard engineer and former legislative candidate Bradley Scott Ducharme for a five-year term.

But the big contest for Kennebunk voters will be the four-way race for two three-year terms on the RSU 21 Board of Directors.

Joining incumbents Jeffrey Cole and Lionel Menard on the ballot will be former selectman Rachel Phipps and Tanya Alsberg, co-owner of Kennebunkport knitwear shop JAK Designs.

And given the relative bounty of candidates, a public debate for school board candidates is still on tap. According to Superintendent Katie Hawes, candidates will gather at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 5, in the school board meeting room at Kennebunk Elementary School.

APPOINTMENTS — Kennebunk Selectmen have increased the size of the town’s energy efficiency advisory committee to 10, voting unanimously at their May 9 meeting to do so by adding a youth representative. The board also voted 7-0 to appoint Kennebunk High School sophomore Willy Jones to that post, with a term to expire June 30. Onyear youth slots on Kennebunk’s festival committee, recreation committee, and ad-hoc skate park committee all expire June 30 and selectmen will consider Jones’ potential reappointment to a fulyear term, to June 30, 2018, at its June 13 session.

The energy committee currently has two vacancies among its nine adult positions, and chairman Sharon Staz said the group is working to find candidates for those spots.

DEPARTMENT OVERVIEWS, PART I — At their May 9 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen heard overviews from three department heads of “significant accomplishments over the past quarter,” along with identification of “select goals and objectives they will be striving to obtain during the next three to six months.” First up was Police Chief Robert MacKenzie, who touted the town’s recent ranking as the seventh safest town in Maine, based on 2015 crime reports submitted to the FBI. The department recently graduated 11 new graduates of its Volunteers in Police Services program.

VIPS certified residents assist in traffic control, data gathering, and building checks, along with assistance on “other police initiatives,” he said. Sine January, VIPS members have clocked more than 450 volunteer hours on behalf of the department. Two VIPS members recently secured the donation to the town of a pet ID chip scanner, to help with returning lost animals to their owners.

MacKenzie said the department has launched an initiative “to improve customer service” related to traffic complaints. “Our officers will work with citizen to get to the root of the problem,” he said. To that end, the town has secured three state grants to help pay for beefed up patrol hours for speed enforcement, as well as to nab impaired and distracted drivers.

MacKenzie also has worked to establish a peer support crisis intervention team for police officers.

In April, 34 officers from across York and Cumberland counties attended a session on post-traumatic stress management, including two from Kennebunk.

Mackanzie said KPD also has instituted a program to try and steer juvenile offenders out of the criminal justice system by mediating restitution between offenders and victims “to the mutual satisfaction of each.”

“This ‘restorative justice’ approach is much more impactful and reduces the likelihood the juvenile will re-offend,” he said, noting that five members of the Kennebunk Rotary Club have been trained to act as youth mentors.

DEPARTMENT OVERVIEWS, PART II — Next up for quarterly department reviews May 9 was Recreation Director Tasha Pinkham. This past winter, the town opened the teen center on six school snow days, she said. “That was successful and I think it will continue to grow.”

The department has 105 separate programs, not including individual event break-downs, such as the 19 different swimming lessons. During 2016, the rec department offered 651 individual activities, serving 7,244 residents, not counting concerts and other events that do not require registration, Pinkham said. All programs have been entered into a new catalog, resulting in summer program sign-ups for residents May 2 that brought in $43,000 in activity fees.

About a dozen different camps for kids ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 are planned for this summer, she said. The department now runs numbers on each program and will not run a program unless there are enough participants to cover costs.

“We are absolutely paying for ourselves,” Pinkham said.

“At the end of the rainbow at some point in time,” the rec department will be entirely self-sustaining, she predicted, responding to a question from Ed Karytko, the selectboard’s resident fiscal hawk.

The department’s new buses are in and being lettered for use, Pinkham said, noting that two employees recently became licensed to drive the vehicles.

DEPARTMENT OVERVIEWS, PART III — Last to bat for department overviews May 9 was Library Director Jill LeMay. She listed the many cultural and educational programs offered by the library, noting that it is not uncommon to overflow existing spaces. Library fundraising efforts are running 25 percent ahead of 2016, year-to-date, she said.

The library’s 20th annual road race, July 14, has already drawn more than 100 registrants, she said.

At the selectboard’s May 23 meting, Finance Director Joel Downs is scheduled to report on the town books, as well as tax collections and the IT department, while Town Manager Michael Pardue will report on the executive department, as well as human resources, assessing, general assistance, and communications.

Compiled by Staff Writer Wm. Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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