Piscataquis County commissioners stick with development council

Posted Oct. 05, 2010, at 1:09 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:37 a.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council will continue to provide economic development services next year for the county.

Rather than farm the service out to Eastern Maine Development Corp., which made a pitch in August for a contract, the Piscataquis County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to stay with the council.

The commissioners had considered two options: pay the council to develop a strategy, hire an economic development director and oversee the position, or contract with EMDC and have the council continue to

do just the strategy work.

“This would give you the green light to go ahead and begin the hiring process for the economic development specialist,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte told council president Sophia Wilson, who was in the audience Tuesday.

“That’s the plan,” Wilson replied. She said the council will engage with Combined Management Inc. of Lewiston to help with the hiring process and the human resources end of the operation.

Wilson, who is Brownville’s town manager, and other town officials urged the commissioners last month to stay with the local grass roots organization at a cost of $80,000 even though EMDC’s proposal was

$5,000 less.

The council also had asked that a commissioner serve on the council’s executive committee, but Lizotte said Tuesday any such participation would have to be ex-officio.

“It’s awkward if we are voting members of that considering that we are intimately involved in developing the budget,” Lizotte said.

The council will work with a budget of $128,150, of which $8,000 will be raised from a corporate campaign. In addition, a grant of $39,650 was secured to help offset expenses. That budget will allow the council to fund two nearly full-time positions and to contract with a management firm for payroll and accounting services. The latter move will free up the council’s time so it can focus more on groundwork and use more of the expertise of the 45-member council.

In other action Tuesday, the commissioners took not action on a request — a petition signed by 10 people — to direct Shirley town officials to repair the Blanchard-Shirley Road. The residents are

looking for summer maintenance improvements, but Commissioner Eric Ward and County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte both said Tuesday that the gravel road was passable. It is no different from other gravel roads in the county, Ward said. “I’d be very uncomfortable to force them into doing anything,” he remarked.

On another road matter involving the same town, the commissioners were advised that Shirley residents recently voted not to plow a short section of the Blanchard Road as requested by a resident who petitioned the county for help.

Tourtelotte said the resident can pursue further action by presenting the commissioners with a petition signed by seven Shirley residents within 30 days of a recent special town meeting vote. That move would

force a public hearing and a decision from the commissioners on the request.

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