May 27, 2018
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Veazie council picks 5 as temporary school committee

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — Town councilors this week appointed five residents to the panel that will look out for the town’s education interests until the end of next June, when Veazie’s withdrawal from RSU 26 becomes official.

Tapped to serve on the newly formed Veazie School Board were Julia Hathaway, Travis Noyes, Christopher Dalton, Janine Raquet and Susan MacKay, Town Manager Joe Hayes said Wednesday.

Hathaway, Noyes and Dalton, who currently represent Veazie on the RSU 26 board of directors, will continue to do so until the end of next June, when a permanent school board is elected, Hayes said.

An attorney, Raquet was chairwoman of the town’s RSU 26 withdrawal committee. An entrepreneur, MacKay is president of Cerahelix, an Orono-based company working to develop a commercially viable ceramic nanofiltration system for use in water purification systems, according to news stories recently published by the Bangor Daily News.

In separate referendums on Nov. 6, residents of Glenburn and Veazie — two of the three towns that make up RSU 26 — voted to pull out of the school district they formed less than three years ago, leaving Orono the only member.

Heartburn about cost-sharing and a desire to regain control of over local education were cited as reasons for withdrawing by residents of both Veazie and Glenburn. They also balked at the regional school unit’s system of weighted votes.

On Wednesday, Hayes said that town officials have been notified that the Veazie School Board will have an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Veazie Community School. During that session, members will elect board officers and discuss matters related to the transition back to local control of educational matters.

Meanwhile, town councilors are seeking applicants for two other local panels.

One resident is needed to serve on the three-member Veazie Sewer District Board, which lost one of its three members last month when trustee and treasurer Gary Brown stepped down, citing philosophical differences with his fellow trustees.

The sewer district is experiencing a combination of budget and staffing problems that have led to many of its functions being turned over to consultants. In addition, the remaining trustees have commissioned wage and staffing surveys.

Chairman Rob Tomilson said earlier that the studies could help the board determine if the treatment plant can operate with fewer than the three- and-a-half positions it had until this summer, when former Superintendent Gary Brooks resigned, with one full-time employee and a half-time office manager recently following suit.

The other panel needing of members is the town’s new Board of Assessment Review. Ideally, the five-member board also would have two alternate members, Hayes said, adding that a call for members so far has not yielded any applicants.

The assessment review panel was created earlier this year at the recommendation of Tax Assessor Ben Birch. This spring, while preparing for the townwide revaluation now under way, Birch learned that property assessment appeals were being reviewed by the town’s Board of Appeals.

Noting that the appeals board is responsible for land use, zoning and similar matters, Birch thought it made sense to separate out the work of handling assessment questions and disputes and assigned it to separate body.

Hayes said the property owners who are still unsatisfied after their cases are reviewed by the town board then can seek redress in Penobscot county court.

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