Commissioners averse to changing 198 years of history

Thu, 08/04/2022 - 8:45am
Lincoln County is involved in an on-going conversation with the Maine Judicial Branch about air quality in Wiscasset Superior Court. The state judicial branch has proposed installing an ultra-violet, germicidal irradiation unit in the building, but county commissioners oppose the proposal in favor of preserving the 198-year-old building’s historical look.
Under the state’s proposal, the device would be installed close to the ceiling. The device would emit an ultra-violet blue light working in conjunction with the building’s air exchange unit. On Aug. 2, County Administrator Carrie Kipfer told commissioners about the judicial branch’s proposal. “We prefer portable units which would do the same job,” she said. “They would be rolled into court and kill viruses, and rolled out when the court adjourns.”
Commissioners will further discuss the judicial branch’s concern at a future meeting with a state official. The Maine Judicial Branch made a second request regarding the courtroom. Kipfer reported the branch wants to display a judicial seal similar to one recently added to York County Courthouse. She added the seal isn’t the state of  Maine’s official seal. Instead, it’s one of three designed for the Maine Judicial Branch.
Kipfer told commissioners the Maine Judicial Branch didn’t need permission to place their seal in the York County Courthouse because it was built by the state. Lincoln County owns the courthouse in Wiscasset. The judicial branch is a county tenant, but state law prohibits them paying rent. Commissioners William Blodgett and Mary Trescot said they didn’t like the judicial branch seal’s design. Commissioner Hamilton Meserve didn’t offer an opinion on its look. Kipfer recommended commissioners discuss the seal when a judicial branch representative speaks to them about the courthouse’s air quality. 
In other action, County Emergency Management Agency Director Casey Stevens reported a dramatic reduction in the Fiscal Year 22 Emergency Management Preparedness Grant. The Department of Homeland Security sends funds to assist states, local communities and tribal governments in developing emergency preparedness. County EMA Director Casey Stevens reported this year’s grant was reduced from $113,777 to $68,692. “That’s a $45,000 drop,” Stevens said. “Maine is receiving the same amount from Homeland Security. The difference is how funds are distributed. They (Homeland Security) didn’t like how Maine did it.”
In previous years, Maine’s 16 counties received EMPG funds through a formula advantageous to Lincoln. Stevens reported all 16 counties received an equal amount resulting in Lincoln receiving almost their half their annual budget from the grant. The new formula provides $30,000 to each county and the rest is based on population. 
Commissioners unanimously authorized a new telephone system for county departments. The board authorized $6,260 to begin transitioning to Business Communications of Maine in Manchester. Kipfer sought the change because the county used multiple providers for the various departments. “If a problem occurred, it often resulted in shutting down the entire system. By consolidating into one system, it solves the problem of whom to call,” she said. “Some providers are out-of-state. Now we can make one call and have someone here the next day.”
Kipfer reported the telephone system switch will begin in the courthouse and sheriff’s department then extend to the communication’s building, EMA and recycling center. 
Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16 in the county courthouse.