Milo researches police coverage options

Posted June 03, 2009, at 9:45 p.m.

MILO, Maine — Selectmen have agreed to review all the options available for police coverage in the wake of the departure of Michael Poulin, the former police chief.

Town Manager Jeff Gahagan told selectmen Tuesday that the town is basically looking at three options: contracting with the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, consolidating with Brownville for police coverage, or continuing with the town’s own police force.

To fully explore all the options, the town solicited candidates for police chief and received 34 applications, which will be screened by a selection committee.

“There’s a lot of good applicants there,” Gahagan said. The field of candidates will be narrowed down and interviews will be conducted with the top five or six people, he said.

Gahagan said he would meet with Brownville Town Manager Sophia Wilson this week to discuss the possibility of consolidation. If Brownville is interested, that meeting would be followed by a work session between Milo and Brownville selectmen, he said.

Although Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin has submitted a proposed contract to the town for his department’s services, Selectman Robert Hussey recommended, and the board agreed, to meet with Goggin to further discuss the proposal.

Some of the town’s options may be limited because of declining revenues, according to Selectman Jerry Brown. He said he believed the town will be hurting for revenues next year because of the economy.

Once all the options have been researched, town officials plan to present them to residents for action at a special town meeting.

“It will be a very emotional thing,” Brown predicted.

Two issues concerning the town’s industrial park property also were discussed by selectmen Tuesday. Selectmen granted a request from Lumbra Hardwoods to rent the former potato storage building located on the industrial park property for the storage of kiln-dried lumber. A rental fee has not yet been negotiated.

In addition, selectmen received a petition signed by about 117 residents — whose signatures had not been verified as of Tuesday — which asked that the former residence on the park property not be burned. Firefighters have been using the building for training and had planned to burn it later this month.

One resident in the audience suggested there was interest in the use of the building for retail space, and that may have been the reason for the petition. None of the petition signers attended the meeting.

Brown said the acreage and buildings were purchased for an industrial park, and as such, there are no provisions that would allow the use of the building for a retail business.

While Hussey said he had a special attachment to the building simply because of his association with the former owners, he recognized that the building is in bad shape. “I believe burning it is the right thing,” he said.

Toward that end, selectmen voted to allow firefighters to burn the building.

Town officials have been promoting the sale of some of the 155 acres in the industrial park for the development of a private jail. Officials from a private company are expected to meet with local officials later this month to discuss the proposal further.

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