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APRIL 26, 2018

Routine stop leads to arrest of sex predator

ENFIELD - A routine traffic stop by state police last Thursday netted more than a traffic violation, as the passenger of the vehicle was a man wanted on a warrant from Virginia.  The NEWS reported a story last week that Christopher Chretien, 39, had been living in the Lincoln area and had not registered as a sex offender in the state of Maine, despite a 1999 conviction for Felonious Sexual Assault that would have required him to do so. Chretien also had an extraditable warrant from Virginia for failing to register in that state as well, a warrant that described him as a “violent sexual predator.”

Mattawamkeag bridge replacement will have a major impact

MATTAWAMKEAG - With the town's aging bridge scheduled to be replaced, residents last Thursday night heard from representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOT) who hosted a preliminary public hearing on the project.  Mike Wight, Senior Project Manager of the Bridge Program, spoke to over 25 interested parties at the municipal building and answered any questions they had.  In his remarks as he explained the process, Wight agreed that the "unique" project would not be without some issues.  "Somebody is going to be impacted," he told the group as he explained several options that might be possible.

Enfield board to set aside money for capital needs

ENFIELD – While still unsure of the need to immediately purchase a new backhoe for the town's public works department, selectmen opted Monday to set some money aside in the proposed 2018-2019 budget for future needs. The town's recent practice, Town Manager Theresa Thurlow said on Monday, is to include $75,000 in the town's equipment reserve account to help offset the future costs of items such as the backhoe.

Howland board grants two personal property tax abatements

HOWLAND – A pair of requested personal property tax abatements were granted on Monday night, while the board deadlocked on a third such request. The town has also hired a new assessor's agent for the next three years by selectmen at Monday's meeting. Howland selectmen, who are also the town's board of assessors, have been wrestling the assessment and collection of personal property taxes for years. Town Manager David Wilson has met with town tax collection officials to help the town develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the issue, which included a public workshop with state officials.

Lee Academy to host forum to discuss regional education opportunities

LEE – Lee Academy's board of trustees is inviting people from area towns to a Thursday forum to hear about potential educational opportunities for the region. A community/parent forum has been scheduled by the LA trustees for Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the schools Dingley Auditorium. According to trustees, the meeting is open to LA parents, students and community members; members of the School Administrative District 30; and regional partners are all invited to attend. Lee Academy officials have met with state educational officials to help the semi-private high school achieve a sustainable future, while also working with area and regional school districts.

Lowell department, chief, honored by state

LOWELL - Last month, residents of this small Maine town voted to fund the purchase of an ambulance and pursue a transport service, a business that both East Millinocket and Howland already are participating in. Last week, the growing fire and ambulance department received praise from the state, in the form of the 2018 EMS Excellence Award. “I am definitely honored,” Fire Chief Rick Smart said. Smart is also an instructor for Region III in Lincoln, a job training future paramedics and other emergency personnel. Smart also teaches CPR and other related courses to both his department and others.

Proposed Howland '18-'19 budget shows decrease

HOWLAND – A second straight reduced municipal budget, along with the continued success of the town's ambulance service, could lead to a tax rate decrease, Town Manager David Wilson told selectmen Monday night. The first draft of the town's proposed fiscal year 2019 budget was presented to the board at Monday's meeting. According to a copy of the budget, the overall town budget is $810,792, a decrease of about $31,000 compared to last year. An increase in revenue, led by receipts from the ambulance department, means that taxpayers will be asked to fund $344,826 of the town budget, a sharp decrease from the $588,670 from the previous year.

Winn Selectmen move weekly board meetings to Tuesday nights

WINN - With the arrival of spring, many projects conceived during the winter months are moving forward. The town plans on doing some road work on the Phillips Road and the Old Military Road.  Selectmen have planned on doing the work since late fall and at the annual town meeting said that repairs would be scheduled this spring as conditions allowed.  With the snow finally receding, activity should begin in the near future.   Some work had already been done last year.

Idea to tuition SAD 30 seventh, eighth grade students could be costly

LEE – A draft budget distributed Tuesday night where seventh and eighth grade students do not remain in School Administrative District 30 could be costly to taxpayers in Lee, Winn, Springfield and Webster Plantation. The scenario was one of three prepared by Superintendent William Braun as part of the board's regular monthly meeting at Mt Jefferson Junior High School. The district is considering a range of scenarios for the 2018-2019 school year. The leading ones include moving students to the Lee-Winn Elementary School by either housing MJJHS students in portable classrooms placed on the Lee-Winn site  or building a permanent addition to the school.

Garland shooting suspect arrested at Medway motel

MEDWAY—A man wanted in connection with a shooting in the Penobscot County town of Garland was arrested hours after the incident when he was located at a Medway motel. Abimelec Castanon, also known as Neftali Colon, Jr., of Hartford, Conn. was taken into custody without incident by authorities Thursday evening at the River’s Edge Motel on Route 157 in Medway. Castanon is currently being held at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor on $200,000 cash bail after making an initial court appearance on Monday. He is charged with multiple counts of elevated aggravated assault involving a firearm.

Police probing burglaries at former Millinocket mill site

MILLINOCKET—The Millinocket Police Department is investigating a pair of burglaries reported last week at the former Great Northern Paper mill site now owned by Our Katahdin when $1,500 worth of tools were stolen from a maintenance building. The incidents were reported Thursday and Friday, according to information from Millinocket Deputy Police Chief Janet Theriault.

MDOT holds public meeting on green bridge

MILLINOCKET—A preliminary public meeting was held on Monday, April 23 at the Millinocket Municipal Building in the Charles Sanders Town Council Chamber Room with the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to discuss future improvements to the West Branch Bridge in T3 Indian Purchase Township on Route 11. The project proposal is coming out a few years earlier than anticipated due to a TIGER grant that was announced earlier in March by Senator Susan Collins. Collins also serves on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. “I’m delighted to announce that the State of Maine will receive more than $10.8 million investment to help replace three structurally deficient bridges in Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties through the TIGER grant program,” Collins said in an earlier press release.

Audit review highlights school funds

MEDWAY – Medway Superintendent Dawn Pray, a couple of her school board members and the Medway Board of Selectmen, met with representatives from Brantner, Thibodeau and Associates to review the town/school 2017 audit. Selectmen didn’t ask any questions during the meeting but the school’s growing fund balance was the subject of much discussion. State law states that a school can’t keep more than three percent of its budget in an undesignated fund and Medway’s balance of over $800,000 appears to be in violation.

Board agrees to town reval, bids to be sent out soon

MEDWAY – As budget reviews wind down Administrative Assistant Kathy Lee said she needed selectmen to know that the town lost taxable value during the last year. When Board Chairman Bruce Jones asked Kathy Lee when Code Enforcement Officer Mike Noble would be letting selectmen know about new (taxable) pick-ups and losses, she said he was still working on them but did want them to know that there has been significant loss this year.

Councilman Madore goes to Washington

MILLINOCKET AND WASHINGTON, D.C.—Town Councilman Michael Madore is in Washington. Madore went down to meet with congressional leaders and to attend a two-day conference for Smart Growth America. Madore was in the nation’s capitol as part of the First and Main Coalition with other local government officials from across the country to speak on behalf of small towns and to emphasize the need for funding of programs from the federal government that have helped energize local economies are essential to each locale’s success and continued improvement in the economy. “We’re here to send a clear message to our federal elected officials,” Madore remarked in a release via e-mail. “We expect your continued support for the proven federal programs that drive growth opportunities and prosperity in our local communities.”

Expired vehicle registration leads to women wanted on warrants

MILLINOCKET—A traffic stop of a vehicle with an expired registration led to the arrest of two Northern Penobscot County women wanted on failure to appear warrants. Gwendolyn Parsons, 20, and Autumn Burley, 21, both of Patten, were each taken into custody Saturday evening on a failure to appear warrant issued out of Aroostook County after Parson’s vehicle was stopped in Millinocket for having an expired registration.

Thrive Penobscot hears issues on food insecurity

MILLINOCKET—Food insecurity. It’s been around for nearly as long as humans have inhabited the earth. Early man began to address some of those issues by being a food gatherer and eventually turned to farming to put food on the table. The twenty-first century societal families for the most part has moved away from the family farm and rely on what can be purchased at a grocery store. Also, small rural communities have older citizens who are on limited incomes that further stress the need for assistance with food insecurity.