All county offices open to public

Thu, 06/04/2020 - 1:00pm

    On June 1, the doors to all county government offices  re-opened to public access. Lincoln County Administrator Carrie Kipfer reported offices are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Kipfer told county commissioners June 2 that despite the open doors, there haven’t been many courthouse visitors. “We’ve had a couple surveyors in deeds, and a couple folks needing help in probate, but other than that, not a lot of visitors except for courts,” she said. “There are people in each department. Some are fully staffed, and others are partially staffed, and some offices are still taking turns working remotely. So far, there haven’t been any problems.”

    Despite the open courthouse, commissioners held their first June bi-monthly meeting by conference call, but that may change next month. County officials plan on conducting their July and August meetings in public. Commissioners are considering holding those meetings at the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission office at 297 Bath Road in Wiscasset.

    In other action, the commissioners approved a sheriff’s department request not to seek increased animal control officer fees from towns in 2020. Chief Deputy Rand Maker represented the department and urged commissioners not to seek an increase, as municipal contracts for animal control expire July 1. “We are asking for no changes. We received an increase last year, and with an unknown situation, this is not the right time to ask for more money,” Maker said. 

    But there will be at least one change in county animal control for 2020. Commissioners approved hiring a full-time animal control officer. Commissioners hired Candace Wall, who currently works as a dispatcher in the county communications center. She previously worked part-time in animal control. The animal control officer was recently made a full-time position, and commissioners also bumped compensation from $17.50 to $18 per hour. “We’ve had enough challenges in animal control so this will help stabilize what we’re doing with the towns,” Kipfer said. Wall’s departure results in the communication center needing to fill her job. Commissioners authorized Communications Center Director Tom Nelson to advertise for Wall’s replacement.

    There is a new face in the county Emergency Management Agency. Director Casey Stevens announced Alex Slagle is replacing Brendan Parker. The recycling center wasn’t as fortunate in finding a replacement worker. Kipfer reported the center was close to a hire until receiving a negative background report. Kipfer received permission to re-advertise after the county didn’t receive a large applicant pool for the vacant recycling driving job. At that point, a man wanted to discuss Kipfer’s decision. “I’m extremely disappointed with the decision over what is basically a speeding ticket,” he said. Kipfer offered to discuss the matter with him either after the meeting or during a regularly scheduled executive session held later in the meeting. The man chose to discuss it during the executive session. Following the executive session, Kipfer reported the commissioners took no action.

    A three-year digital radio conversion project continues. In 2017, the county received a Homeland Security grant which still has $8,020.09 remaining. The conversion still needs to switch equipment and an antenna system in Nobleboro. The county is using remaining funds from the federal  grant to pay for the conversion with another $3,082.52 taken from the communication reserve account. 

    A federal grant is also helping the county deal with hazardous waste material. The county received $9,278.54 for assisting with its Local Emergency Planning Committee. Stevens reported half of the funds cover clerk Ken Desmond’s five-hour per week job and the rest is for additional “hazmat” training.

    Commissioners finalized details for their $3.5 million tax anticipation note. Last month, commissioners approved accepting Bath Savings Bank’s 0.94% rate. The sealed bid didn’t include whether or not fees were charged for each withdrawal. Following the meeting, Bath Savings Bank officials acknowledged that transfer fees were waived for the note.

    Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 16 by conference call.