Wiscasset selectmen

Officials pumped at ARPA funds’ use for sewer generators

Wed, 10/06/2021 - 12:00pm

Automatic generators are coming for some of Wiscasset’s sewer pump stations, freeing staff from starting them during storms and freeing the sewer department’s portable ones for use at other pump stations. Town Manager Dennis Simmons’ proposal to use $123,500 of the town’s first $198,716 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds got selectmen’s full support Oct. 5. Department Superintendent Robert Lalli said the four generators will be a blessing, protecting the public from overflows and protecting staff from having to fire up portable ones at the most key stations in dangerous weather.

The automatic ones will go to those, and staff can set up the portable ones at other important stations ahead of the storm and take one portable around to the lower flow ones that can go a day without pumping, Lalli said.

“I’m so thrilled that Dennis brought this up, and I’m so pleased” at their response, he told selectmen in the Zoom meeting. Simmons has been “a momentum maker” on it, he added.

Simmons said the funds could go to a lot of other things, but this is an important project the town has had to keep putting off when bids came in over budget. In July, the board told Simmons to negotiate with Machinery Service of Wiscasset, the last, $298,500 bidder on a project budgeted for $175,000. The $123,500 from ARPA funds the rest. The bidder has let the offer stand despite rising costs for generator projects, Simmons said.

Supporting the spending, Selectman Kim Andersson said, “It’s kind of harrowing when you think about what might happen” if the workers did not stay up all night and the pump stations went down, she said. She thanked Simmons for suggesting the ARPA funds’ use.

It’s a terrific use, Selectman Pam Dunning said. She voted, “Absolutely yes.” The four auto generators will bring the department to five auto ones and three portables, Lalli said. Having auto generators for all 18 pump stations is the pipe dream, he said.

As for the rest of the first ARPA check, the board set a 6 p.m. Oct. 28 workshop to mull possible uses including upping wages at Wiscasset Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Zoom or in-person and, if so, where, will be announced.

The board agreed to take Maine Yankee up on its offer of a $5,000 donation for EMS to have a fly car for a paramedic to take to join an ambulance crew on scene or en route. Officials said $2,000 will cover the used Lincoln County cruiser, $1,500 a new siren and light bar, and the rest, any other costs. Selectman Terry Heller told EMS Director Erin Bean, who worked with the county and Maine Yankee on the plan, “You’re something else. Thank you.”

“Good job,” Dunning said.

The board set the public hearing on the local Nov. 2 ballot questions for Oct. 19 at Wiscasset Community Center, as part of that night’s board meeting; named Debra Pooler to the schools future committee and Robert Jones to the budget committee; approved a business license for Village Handcraft, LLC, 52 Water St.; nodded the yearly special amusement permit for Wiscasset Speedway and an Oct. 9 one for Taste of Orient to have a live band from 5 to 10 p.m. at a benefit for Matthew Bruce; and approved First Congregational Church and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church’s use of the common for the Blessing of the Animals at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17.