Edgecomb juggling election season schedule due to coronavirus

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 8:45am

    Edgecomb selectmen are mulling when to reschedule the annual town meeting. Gov. Janet Mills’ continued “Stay Safer at Home” order bars groups of 50 or larger in gathering in public spaces until at least the end of May. This means Edgecomb’s May 16 town meeting is postponed, but on May 4, selectmen didn't really know what day to reschedule the municipal election and annual town meeting. The state Secretary of State’s office rescheduled the June Primary to July 14. Town officials are hoping to reschedule their local elections in August. Town Clerk Claudia Coffin recommended holding the town meeting prior to setting the commitment. “It would be nice to have it before you commit taxes. If you have the town meeting afterwards, this state of emergency goes only to Dec. 31. If you have it after commitment, the only place you can get money is surplus or a loan. You can’t have another supplemental commitment,” Coffin said.

    Selectmen decided to put off the town meeting as long as possible. In preparing for the state referendum election, Coffin reported a survey of 28 past election workers had surprising results. She contacted former workers with a majority indicating they could work the new Election Day. “I received responses from almost all of them, and only one  had a commitment and another one said no. I was really surprised by that,” Coffin said. 

    She also conducted a second survey on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office. Coffin surveyed municipal personal protective equipment needs for the new July 14 state referendum election. Coffin researched the municipal office’s needs for masks, plastic shields, gloves and hand sanitizer. “I don’t know where the state is going to get the money for this, but they told me I’d have it,” Coffin said. 

    The town meeting date’s uncertainty is also causing havoc with Edgecomb’s $2,000 ASK (Assistance with Specific Know-how) Grant from Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission. Edgecomb received the grant for funding architectural costs for studying the town hall’s future. The town is required to provide a $1,000 match, but without a town meeting, voters can’t authorize funding. Selectman Jack Sarmanian offered to contact LCRPC Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes for allowing an extension beyond the Dec. 31 deadline for spending the grant.

    Selectmen also decided to use a town hall picture on the front of the 2019-20 town report and dedicate it to the first responders who had worked so hard protecting the public from the coronavirus pandemic.

    In other action, Sarmanian reported resident James Schmal is interested in buying the remaining Lallis property parcels. For several years, Schmal has been interested in buying part of the Lallis property on McKay Road, but zoning restrictions prevented any substantive negotiations. The town recently sold a 3.3-acre parcel and heard another inquiry about another two- to three-acre tract. Selectmen decided to begin more formal discussions with Schmal about the possible sale. 

    Another casualty of the coronavirus is the Memorial Day parades around the state, but Charles E. Sherman Jr. American Legion Post No. 36 will still lay wreaths at cemeteries in Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport. And this year, the Legion will lay wreaths at an Edgecomb ceremony. Commander Dave Patch contacted Sarmanian about holding a ceremony with nine veterans who would lay a wreath on an Edgecomb veteran’s grave, play “Taps” and leave. Patch explained most of the veterans would stay in cars during the ceremony. Prior to Memorial Day, selectmen will receive volunteer assistance in placing American flags on veterans’ graves. In recent years, Edgecomb Eddy School sixth graders assisted selectmen, but the coronavirus prevented any student aid this spring. Selectman Mike Smith reported several residents volunteered to assist selectmen in placing flags. 

    Residents are now able to register boats online. Selectman Ted Hugger announced the town completed all the necessary state paperwork and the town’s website would link to the state government website. Hugger also had good news for Town Treasurer Deb Boucher. She had been working at home, but computer problems ensued. The town bought a new Dell laptop for $577. The computer was equipped with software this week and is now ready for Boucher. “We decided to purchase a small laptop so she could use it at home. When she returns back to the town office, it can be used as a back-up for our department heads,” he said. 

    David Nutt received unanimous approval to serve an unexpired term as assistant harbor master. The term ends June 30. Selectmen meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, May 18.