Wiscasset selectmen to weigh all ambulance options

Cohen tells board Wiscasset ‘not business-friendly’
Posted:  Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 7:30am

With a dozen EMS employees in attendance Tuesday night, Wiscasset selectmen decided to look at all options for Wiscasset Ambulance Service, including leaving it alone, contracting with another service, or allowing the employees to form their own 501 (c) 3 corporation and contracting with it. Whatever decision the select board reaches will go to voters in November.

Town Manager Marian Anderson said in addition to CLC, another service telephoned on Tuesday to make a bid for the possible contract. Anderson said after discussion with CLC, she could guarantee patients could go to Mid Coast Hospital if that is their wish, a concern for many, and said the ambulance that served Wiscasset would be housed in Wiscasset, not Damariscotta. She also said that according to CLC, those currently working for the ambulance service could apply for jobs with CLC, and pointed out that many EMTs already work for multiple organizations, including CLC.

Also Tuesday night, Al Cohen of Big Al’s and Big Al’s Fireworks, spoke on two issues. The first was the question of what should be on the application for a fireworks license, which is in the town’s ordinance, but which Cohen had never been asked to apply for. Cohen said most of the issues the selectmen had – whether the fire marshal inspected the facility, whether the company carried insurance, and whether the property conformed to the requirements of the town codes – were covered by the fact he had obtained both federal and state licenses, which required all these things. Cohen is required, for instance, to carry a $2 million liability insurance policy, and the state fire marshal inspects the properties where Cohen does business annually, checking on the fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and burglar alarms. Chair Judy Colby said, given that information, it would be useful to have a state license number to put on the town license, so everyone would know all of those items had been taken care of.

Anderson had drafted a fireworks license, but said she would amend it with suggestions from the selectmen. The board did not discuss a dollar amount to charge for a town license, but directed Anderson to look to other area towns that sell fireworks to decide what the fee should be.

Tom Bryant, who took Cohen to court all the way up to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, twice, ultimately losing to Cohen, read a prepared statement about issues he would like selectmen to consider when approving such an application. Most, as Cohen pointed out, were questions Bryant brought before the courts.

Cohen had also asked to speak to the board about what he called Wiscasset’s business-unfriendly atmosphere, citing difficulties with trying to open a third business in town, and finding difficulty with incomplete and changing applications, and the lack of a planner or codes enforcement officer to assist businesses with the process. Cohen, who serves on the planning board, said the volunteers who serve on Wiscasset’s boards and committees are being asked to do a great deal of work they are not being paid for, because there is no real support at the administrative level.  When the town had a planner, the person shepherded startup businesses from the beginning of the process through codes enforcement and the planning board, Cohen said.

Anderson said she is considering hiring a more full-time code enforcement officer who could take on some of the planner’s duties, and acknowledged that new businesses, as well as town committees, boards and commissions, are often finding it difficult to navigate the system.

Colby provided an update on The Minesweeper, the ship that sank near Mason Station in January. The vessel's owner Chris Morrison has said he cannot afford to salvage the vessel, and the Coast Guard said it cannot interfere unless the ship is menacing shipping in marked shipping channels. “That means we're stuck with it,” Colby said.

Police Chief Jeff Lange, whose last day in the job is July 19, said he and the Maine Marine Patrol visited Morrison and will be issuing a citation, but the town will have to decide how to proceed, since Morrison said he cannot afford to raise the ship.

Selectmen opened bids for the transfer trailer and the public works truck, which Anderson said is properly known as a “patrol truck," and voted to authorize her and the heads of the departments to review and accept the lowest qualified bid.