Dexter councilors hear complaints about cannon noise near Lake Wassookeag

By Bill Pearson, Piscataquis Observer
Posted May 23, 2013, at 10:12 a.m.

DEXTER, Maine — A resident complained that the peace and tranquility which once abounded around Lake Wassookeag is no more, as the blast of cannon fire has disrupted those formerly peaceful nights. The town council heard several residents complain on May 9 how cannon fire had interrupted their evenings.

Resident Dave Bailey recalled how he was spending a quiet night with his wife and dog when he heard the cannon blast.

“It served absolutely no purpose except to accomplish what it accomplished: to scare the hell out of anyone not expecting it,” Bailey said.

He contacted the Dexter Police Department about the incident, but discovered the cannon blast was permissible according to the recent fireworks law passed in 2010 and guidelines set by the town’s own noise ordinance. Sgt. Alan Grinnell contacted the state fire marshal and attorney’s general office on how to handle complaints about cannon fire. State law prohibits a cannon from firing a ball, but fireworks, such as gunpowder in a cannon, may be set off by private individuals.

The town councilors indicated a desire to create an ordinance to deal with the complaints. Town officials plan on gathering more information about how other communities handle similar noise problems.

In other action, the town council voted 6-1 to hold a public hearing in June to consider enacting a six-month moratorium against the construction of privately paved highways, pipelines, and high-tension transmission lines. The effort is being led by residents calling themselves the “Concerned Citizens of Dexter.”

The group supports a moratorium because they believe the proposal still has too many unanswered questions. They also believe the East-West Highway possibility of foreign ownership is a potential problem.

Fred Sherburne is a CDC member and former town council chairman. He urged the councilors to adopt the moratorium in order to give the town time to avoid mistakes made in the past.

“Two generations ago, the river was either purple or yellow depending upon what color dye was dropped into it,” Sherburne said. “It took us another two generations to clean it up. This moratorium will give us a chance to make the right decision by having enough information when the time comes.”

The only councilor who voted against holding a public hearing was Alan Wintle. He wasn’t convinced a moratorium would provide any additional useful information about the highway.

“I don’t know what we could learn in a 180 days that we don’t already know now,” Wintle said.

The council has authorized the formation of cemetery committee consisting of historical society, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars members to prepare a list of repairs to maintain and preserve the historical nature of town cemeteries. The town has four cemeteries with the Mt. Pleasant site being in the best condition.

Resident Donald Clukey described the other three cemeteries as being in disrepair.

“We have a great history here in town,” Clukey said. “We have three Revolutionary War veterans in town, but nobody knows where they are buried. We have other unmarked veterans’ graves which don’t have flags. Our recommendation is to have an advisory committee which drafts a list of needed maintenance.”

The new committee would create a list of repairs which includes repairing gravestones, erecting a fence with a gate, and signage. Clukey and his other volunteers want the town to use funds from the cemetery’s perpetual care account to fund the project.

The council approved the formation of a cemetery committee with five to seven members. The new committee will be appointed by the council during a future meeting.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/23/news/penobscot/dexter-councilors-hear-complaints-about-cannon-noise-near-lake-wassookeag/ printed on September 23, 2014