May 27, 2020
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Police grant, coverage dominate agenda of Piscataquis County commissioners

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The possibility of Piscataquis County funding the local share for Greenville’s Cop Fast grant was dashed Tuesday when it was learned that the federal government does not permit the sharing of grants unless specified in the application.

The extremely competitive grants provide funding for an additional police officer for three years with a fourth year funded locally.

Greenville’s $206,000 application was one of the few in Maine accepted for funding, but voters turned down the grant in March. So town officials had hoped the county would pick up the approximately $60,000 tab, especially since Greenville police respond to complaints in the Unorganized Territory, a service subsidized by Greenville residents.

The proposal was for the county to fund the fourth year costs in exchange for Greenville’s response to complaints north in East Outlet and Kokadjo. After the fourth year, the service would be revisited.

“At the end of the day, this is to help the people around us,” Greenville Police Chief Jeff Pomerleau said Tuesday. Since December, the Greenville department has responded 32 times to assist in the Unorganized Territory, he said.

Chief Deputy Dale Clukey told the commissioners Tuesday that Sheriff John Goggin had asked federal officials if such a move would be permissible and was told it would not be. The sheriff’s department also had applied for the grant, but was not selected for the funding.

“The competition for these grants is so fierce there is no incentive for the federal government to strike a deal with anyone,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte said. If the grant had stipulated it would be a cooperative effort between the county and Greenville, it would have been different, he said.

If the county were to fund the fourth-year costs for Greenville’s grant, Lizotte said in fairness, the county also would have to look at funding the same for Milo, which received an earlier Cops Fast grant. He said if Greenville could produce something in writing from the federal government that allowed the sharing of the grants, the commissioners would consider the request.

“Clearly from an ethical standpoint and from an equity standpoint, we’d have to do that, I think,” Lizotte said. “I mean what’s good for Greenville is also good for Milo.”

Commissioner Fred Trask of Milo agreed. He said Milo and Brownville had been on the “short end” of county law enforcement over the years. He distributed charts based on a 2009-2010 summary furnished by the sheriff’s department which he said supported his point. He said Milo and Brownville police departments respond to the calls in the surrounding Unorganized Territory. The two towns spend about $350,000 for local police protection, yet Guilford spends about $25,000 for its own department and all the deputies live in that region, he said. The deputies should live throughout the county, not just in the Guilford-Sangerville area, Trask said.

Clukey said his department had been responding to more complaints in Milo over the past few years when the Milo Police Department was in transition. He said the county can’t dictate where deputies live, but when the deputies are on duty, they respond to those outlying communities.

The commissioners also signed an amended contract with Mike Theriault Construction of Greenville for winter maintenance on the county-owned access road to Big Squaw Mountain Resort and Ski area. The commissioners voted last month to cease winter maintenance on the road because the privately owned ski area has been closed. Theriault already had been awarded a three-year contract before that vote. Theriault agreed to reduce his contract amount in half each of the three years, Lizotte said.

A certified letter sent to resort owner James Confalone of Florida regarding the move was returned to the county as undeliverable a month and four days after it was mailed to his last known address in Florida, according to County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte.

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