Orono eliminates one voting ward

Posted March 10, 2014, at 9:41 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Town Councilor Judy Sullivan said Monday that she has heard from a number of constituents who live in outlying voting Ward 2 — located basically west of Stillwater Avenue — about how they “might lose their identity” if the voting district was eliminated.

However, none showed up to speak at Monday’s public hearing, held just before councilors voted to go forward with the change to align the town’s voting wards with new House District boundary lines.

“I’ve been surprised by the feedback I’ve received,” said Sullivan, who herself lived in the now eliminated voting Ward 2, which was absorbed by Ward 1, Precinct 3.

Some of her neighbors told Sullivan that they feel like they are being erased. Since all ballots from Orono go into one pot, there is little difference in what voting ward people belong, Town Manager Sophie Wilson said.

Now, everybody in town is under Ward 1, which is split into three precincts — one for Orono residents who live on the north side of the Stillwater River, one for those who live south and west of the river, and one for the University of Maine.

Each of the town precincts have approximately 2,600 registered voters each, Wilson said.

“They’re equal and that was important to us to create some balance,” the town manager said.

During the meeting, councilors also:

— Set the public hearing on the 2014-15 budget for 7 p.m. April 14.

— Appointed Jason Bolton to a five-year term on the Orono-Veazie Water District and appointed Paul Smith to fill a vacancy that expires in December 2015.

— Authorized the purchase of a wheel loader for the Public Works department for an amount not to exceed $77,500, and another $42,000 to drill a well and conduct technical testing for a geothermal heating source for the new Public Works garage.

— Hired Richard Ranaghan of Gorham Savings Bank to work on refinancing bonds and financing for the public works garage in an effort to save approximately $60,000, according to the town manager.

— Heard that residents can now drop off brush and bagged leaves at the landfill for free, if they have the required new town permit.

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