2018-03-09 / Community

News Briefs

EDUCATIONAL EXODUS — The third graders of RSU 21 are on the move. At its March 5 meeting, the school district’s board of directors voted unanimously to transfer Grade 3 from Kennebunk Elementary School (KES) to Sea Road Elementary School, starting with the 2018-2019 school year.

The move frees up space at KES to launch a new pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

At a Jan. 18 teacher forum, and a Feb. 8 community meeting attended by about 50 parents, it was agreed that the Grade 3 curriculum aligns better with grades 4 and 5 currently housed at Sea Road, that with grades 1 and 2 at KES, and that having students at Sea Road for three years instead of two, should result in “increased teacher collaboration (and) increased parental involvement,” as well as “more age- appropriate services, expectations, and opportunities.” However, Superintendent Katie Hawes said obstacles identified by the forms included concern the grade 3 students are “not mature enough,” to be included with the older students, along with “parking issues,” at Sea Road, “too little time to prepare kids,” for the change and fear that Sea Road will have a hard time to “maintain the small feel” as it grows.

“We all work to address all of the concerns raised as part of the process,” Hawes said.

DONATIONS — Tom’s of Maine, an all-natural personal care products company headquartered in Kennebunk — founded in Maine but a part of Colgate-Palmolive since 2006, has given $1,000 to the town in partnership with the United Way of York County. Selectmen accepted the funds, earmarked for heating fuel assistance targeted to senior citizens, at their Feb. 13 meeting.

The donation was augmented with another $200 for the fuel fund, given by the Kennebunk Rotary Club and accepted by selectmen at their Feb. 27 meeting.

According to General Assistance Director Karen Whitten, the town currently has $38,364 in its emergency fuel fund, with about 1½ months to go in the 2017-2018 heating season. So far, Whitten said in a March 4 email, the town has spend $10,022 this winter providing warmth to Kennebunk residents in need. That money helped 38 local households between Sept. 1 and Feb. 23, including 22 with children. In all 25 children benefited from the fund, Whitten said.

PAVING BID — Kennebunk selectmen have awarded a three-year paving bid through 2020 to Dayton Sand and Gravel Co., choosing the company over Gorham-based Shaw Brothers Construction. Dayton equaled or beat Shaw in each off 11 different bid categories, sometimes by significant amounts. For example, it offered sidewalk paving at $98 per ton, versus $160 requested by Shaw. Its hot mix asphalt ranged in price, depending on material size, from $60 to $62 per ton, compared to Shaw’s range of $84 to $90. Selectmen made the selection unanimously, offering no comment other than to confirm with Public Works Director Eric Labelle that only two companies submitted bids for the work.

EMERGENCY SHELTER — Following the approval of Arundel selectmen Feb. 26 of a tri-town emergency sheltering plan, Kennebunk selectmen followed suit Feb. 27. The RSU 21 Board of Directors approved the memorandum of understanding governing the agreement March 6, while Kennebunkport selectmen were slated to take up the plan March 8.

According to the agreement, the Dorothy E. Stevens Center in West Kennebunk — located at 80 Thompson Road, between the Middle School of the Kennebunks and West Kennebunk Fire Station, will serve as the front line shelter, housing up to 25 people in a declared emergency. If more people than that living in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, require sheltering, the middle school will be opened, with the Stevens Center used to house any pets brought by families.

Setting up the shelter will cost $3,345 in year one, and $2,496 per year for the next three years after that, to be divided equally between the three towns. The majority of the money will be used to buy cots, with 50 purchased each year until a supply of 200 is on hand. Year 1 costs also will include wiring to connect a power generator to the Stevens Center and an outdoor metal storage pod to be placed beside the West Kennebunk Fire Station, to warehouse the cots.

The York County Emergency Managment Agency is supplying 200 blankets free of charge to the towns, as well as pillows, towels, washcloths and a limited number of toiletry kits.

The shelter will be staffed primarily by volunteers, as well as emergency medical services personnel from the three towns. The towns agree, as part of the approved plan, to share equally the cost of operating the shelter during an incident, including reimbursing the school for any meals provided. The towns may recoup funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but agree to fund the center without that expectation, and to share costs equally regardless from how many, or how few, residents from each town make use of the site.

The memorandum of agreement also says each town “agrees to participate in meetings and drills related to disaster relief,” and that they “agree to furnish educational materials and appropriate training to dealing with citizens and animals in a disaster.”

APPOINTMENT — Kennebunk selectmen have appointed Hillside Drive Steve Hrehovcik to the town’s bicentennial committee through June 2019. Hrehovcik, who also sits on the town’s economic development committee, is a freelance writer and artist. The seven-member bicentennial committee, which also has a current opening for an alternate member, is in the midst of planning for Kennebunk’s 200th birthday party, on June 24, 2020. The committee meets at 3:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at town hall.

BOND ORDER — At their Feb. 13 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen agreed to issue $5.2 million in bonds approved by voters at annual town meetings in June 2016, and 2017. According to Finance Director Joel Downs, the town’s bond advisor, Boston-based Moors and Cabot, has recommended that bonds issued to fund approved capital projects and vehicle purchases go to market this April.

Not including in the $7.88 million borrowing package at this time, however, is $2.69 million that was earmarked for a plan to overhaul the public works facility on Sea Road. That project was pitched in large part as a safety precaution needed to separate resident traffic in and out of the transfer station from the town garage and heavy equipment used by the town. However, according to Town Manager Mike Pardue, plans for the entire site are currently on hold, pending “further evaluation and analysis.”

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

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