Dexter council elects chairman, sets four public hearings

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, at 1:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 16, 2014, at 10:19 p.m.
Three new Dexter Town Councilors were sworn in Jan.9 by Town Clerk Kim Hughes. Pictured, from left, are Mark Robichaud, Sharon Grant, Ron Apel and Hughes.
Mike Lange | Piscataquis Observer
Three new Dexter Town Councilors were sworn in Jan.9 by Town Clerk Kim Hughes. Pictured, from left, are Mark Robichaud, Sharon Grant, Ron Apel and Hughes.

DEXTER, Maine — A new chairman presided over the Dexter Town Council meeting on Jan. 9 for the first time in several years, as Fred Banks accepted the position with unanimous support of his colleagues. Banks succeeds longtime former chairman Peter Haskell, who was defeated for re-election in November. Michael Blake was unanimously chosen as vice chairman.

Three new Dexter town councilors were also sworn in by Town Clerk Kim Hughes: Mark Robichaud, Sharon Grant and Ron Apel.

Banks moved the session along quickly as the council approved four appointments and set five ordinances to a public hearing next month.

The fifth proposed ordinance that would have adjusted the pay of the councilors was shelved when Blake, who introduced the resolution, said he’d prefer to keep the compensation as it is: $10 per meeting.

“We’ve slashed [the budgets of] every other department, and I can’t think of a soul that’s here for the money,” Blake said. After a quick poll of the other councilors, who said they agreed with Blake, Banks said a public hearing wasn’t necessary.

Other public hearings set for the Feb. 13 council meeting would adjust the town office operating hours from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; disband the Dexter Municipal Golf Course board of directors due to inactivity; increase the cost of cemetery lots, burial rates and perpetual care; and authorize a transfer of funds into the cemetery department head wages account and the animal control account from undesignated funds.

Staff hours at the town office are currently 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, but it’s only open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Apel’s resolution would permit public access during all hours.

Banks’ resolution would increase the cost of grave lots from $100 to $200 for residents and from $150 to $400 for nonresidents, and raise burial rates for caskets and cremated remains along with perpetual care. Banks said that the rates haven’t increased “in about 20 years.”

Town Manager Shelley Watson reported that the warming hut at the ice skating rink is almost ready, but the Fecreation Department could use some volunteers “so we can keep it open after school, on weekends and during February vacation.”

The town’s website — www.dextermaine.org — is “up and running again,” Watson said, “but it’s still a work in progress. … We’ve now given passwords to some of the department heads so they can update their own information.”

Watson also announced that Marlene Desmond is the new assistant town clerk and finance officer, succeeding Hughes, who was promoted to town clerk after Watson was hired as town manager.

Watson also asked the council to volunteer to scrutinize the current lease for the public campground, since the Dexter Fish and Game Association is no longer interested in the venture. “Gerry Marshall’s brother is interested in leasing it, and there were things about [the last] lease I didn’t find acceptable,” she said.

New appointees approved by the council are Dalton Mullis as alternate plumbing inspector; Michael Stevens and Alan Wintle to the Dexter Utility District board of trustees, and Susan Page to the Human Resources/CDBG Committee.

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