May 27, 2018
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Machias Selectmen set special town meeting to deal with paving costs

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — Machias selectmen agreed Wednesday night to set a special town meeting to deal with the costs of paving projects.

Bids were opened this week and in order to complete all nine paving projects, money needs to be moved from one project to another, which requires voter approval.

County Concrete Construction Co. of Columbia Falls was selected to do all the paving work for a total of $358,710, which represents $85 per ton for paving and $19,000 for extra shim on County Road.

The only other bidder was Lane Construction Company of Washington which bid a total of $415,570 for the nine projects.

At first blush, selectmen thought they may have to remove some planned paving projects from their list. But Town Manager Chris Loughlin explained that the County Concrete bid for Centre Street work came in lower than expected. Voters will be asked to shift some of those funds to cover the extra cost of the County Road project.

No date for the special meeting was set.

In other business, the selectmen debated at length over a $1,087 sewer bill levied on Shekinah House, a sanctuary for women and children in abusive situations owned by Life Spring Chapel.

Doug Watermolen of Life Spring told the selectmen that an electrical worker recently discovered that the wiring connecting the interior water meter to the exterior meter had been disconnected years ago. Watermolen said that the sanctuary has been paying the minimum bill of $16 since they purchased the building in 2009.

Town records indicated that previous owners also paid the minimum so there was no way for the board or Watermolen to determine when the meter was disconnected. When it was recently reconnected, the meter automatically updated itself and billed Shekinah House for $1,087.

Watermolen argued that the meter had been disconnected, based on the minimum billings, around February 2008. Life Spring Chapel didn’t take possession of the sprawling complex, formerly Marshall Manor Nursing Home, until December 2009. “We’ve only owned it half the time,” Watermolen said. He also said that just two people live in the building and use only the bathroom, not shower facilities.

Aubrey “Skip” Carter told Watermolen that the board understood his dilemma but it also had to be fair to all other users. After a lengthy discussion, the board agreed to forgive half of the bill and gave Life Spring Chapel 60 days to pay the bill in full before interest would begin accruing.

The board also agreed to send an ambulance member and the wastewater treatment plant director to separate training workshops, advertise for a part-time wastewater treatment plant worker and be the agent for a $100,000 grant the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking for restoration of the vintage train depot.

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