Lydia Goetze, chairman of the Southwest Harbor Board of Selectmen. Goetze was the first to object to appointments to the town's water and sewer board because the positions had not been advertised. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Water, sewer trustee seats vacant for now

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Consideration of applicants for two seats on the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District Board of Trustees is on hold after selectmen agreed Tuesday that the openings had not been properly advertised.

The Maine Legislature recently approved an amendment to the charter for the quasi-municipal water and sewer district increasing the number of trustees from three to five, effective Nov. 1. During the regular selectmen’s meeting that followed the vote on the Hook property, selectmen were to consider two applicants: Lee Worcester and Ralph Dunbar Jr.

Chairman Lydia Goetze was first to object to appointing Worcester and Dunbar, not because of any concerns about their qualifications, but because the openings weren’t publicized.

“I know there are other people interested in serving that did not know this was coming up,” Goetze said.

Interim Town Manager Marilyn Lowell pointed out the district charter doesn’t require trustee openings to be advertised; it only states selectmen are to appoint the trustees.

The process needs to be transparent and open to all despite what is required in the charter, Goetze said.

Selectmen learned they would be considering the two applicants only after seeing the agenda for the meeting. In response to their question, Worcester said that Town Manager Don Lagrange had first contacted them about the openings “over a period of several months.”

Lagrange is one of the trustees. Selectman Chad Terry voiced his concern that Lagrange, as such, should not be soliciting potential trustees.

Selectmen voted to table the appointments and discussed how best to get qualified applicants.

Highway Foreman Scott Alley reminded selectmen of the importance of the trustees’ job. They are responsible for making decisions about millions of dollars in improvements to the water and sewer infrastructure.

“This isn’t just another committee,” Alley told selectmen. “It’s as important a job as you guys have.”

Selectman Dan Norwood suggested the Goetze and Lowell “glean from the charter the responsibilities of the trustees and advertise for that.”

Norwood’s suggestion was agreed upon by consensus. Selectmen are to review a draft of the advertisement and vote on it at their next meeting.

Selectmen also discussed having a police presence at the Main Street crosswalk at the Pemetic Elementary School in the morning and afternoon to help students cross safely.

Chief Alan Brown said he couldn’t guarantee coverage. Last week, he explained, an officer was at the crosswalk and saw a violation. He had to leave his location to deal with the violator. Just this week, there was a serious motor vehicle accident around the time school was opening.

One issue is that the flashing lights giving notice that the speed limit has been lowered to 15 mph for the start and end of the school day is not working. Despite attempts to get the lights repaired, the company has not done so.

A crossing guard – “somebody with a vest” – was suggested as a solution. Brown said he could help in finding some volunteers.

Terry asked if the speed trailers that flash a vehicle’s speed could be set up near the school. Brown said that is a possibility.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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