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Effort to replace police officer as second resigns
RUMFORD -- Police Chief Stacy Carter told the Board of Selectmen Thursday that he's been taking applications to fill the post of Ptl. Michael Belanger, who resigned recently.
At the Oct. 11 meeting, he said, "We hope we'll be able to attract an academy training officer. There's a lot of openings in the state; a lot of competition."
He said he is hoping to bring forth a name to recommend at the next Board of Selectmen's meeting on Dec. 20. Carter then informed selectmen that a second police officer has resigned. That officer, Joe Sage, will be returning to the Livermore Falls Police Department.
Under department reports, Rumford General Assistance Director Thelma Giberson said she started with a budget of $93,302.71, took in $47,702.82 (including a reimbursement of $36,813.62 from Dept. of Human Services), making her total budget at $45,599.80.
She noted that she's seeing an increase in applications. "I had 57 people one week. I used to get 29 to 40 people a week. It's very tough times. People need to budget better and look at their situations."
She also updated the board on decreased funding from the state despite increasing need. Giberson said she had 53 cases in November and December. Of those, 10 people lost their TANF or are about to lose it, while 20 cases involved people trying to get disability and another 20 who want to keep disability. Additionally, she said 13 of the 53 people who came into her office she didn't need to help at all.
Giberson also said that Maine's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program heating oil funding has yet to arrive. That, she said, usually starts coming in by the end of December. She said she also can't provide 50 gallons of oil to qualified people, because dealers don't want to provide that without charging extra money to deliver it.
In a related matter, Selectman Jolene Lovejoy noted that Giberson's office is open four days a week, and this includes clients from Mexico, which pays her $5,000 a year to handle their general assistance. She questioned why the $5,000 goes into Rumford general fund instead of the Rumford General Assistance office, noting that money could go toward keeping her office open five days a week.
Selectman Jeff Sterling said the new speed signs entering Rumford Point from each side were installed Monday by the Maine Dept. of Transportation.
"It's a big change, a needed change," he said, adding that people traveling through there need to be aware as this is a "tremendous difference."
The speed reductions are required for an impending MDOT project to build a new Route 232 bridge over the Androscoggin River, which will relocate the bridge and road about 600 feet upriver from the current Martin Memorial Bridge location.
In the village, the miles per hour has been reduced from 50 down to 40, then down to 30 mph. The speed limit is reduced to 30 mph just before the curve approaching the intersection with Route 5. The current 35 mph zone is reduced to 30 mph, and the 50 mph zone, where drivers can pick up speed after getting out of area, is now located farther out.
Political signs were also discussed between selectmen and Code Enforcement Officer Rick Kent on a town ordinance regulating signs.
At issue are restrictions on where signs can be and how long they can remain up, said Town Manager Carlo Puiia.
Kent said that when he looks at the Political and Yard Sales Signs and Advertisement Banners Ordinance, it is broken down into each of the categories. However, he said he's received phone calls from a confused public trying to determine just what size signs are allowed and where.
"It needs to be fine-tuned so that it's a little more clear so people don't think they can put signs in front of businesses," he said, adding that in another section, "looks like you're telling people that all signs are restricted to a certain size."
Puiia responded, "I believe that size was actually an error. It was supposed to be larger than that. It was probably for temporary signs, such as yard sales."
Puiia said the ordinance will come before selectmen for review in April, which is why he asked Kent to share his concerns.
He then said that people are not supposed to place yard sale signs on utility poles, but they do.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina recognized the continued need to educate residents about the ordinance.
Sterling also had an issue with certain sizes of signs, suggesting that three square feet be used instead and that the ordinance limit the number of signs that people seeking political or municipal office can place at any one location.
Lovejoy said she doesn't think that selectmen "should make ordinances we don't intend to enforce."
Carter noted the time for issuing warnings for those violating the town's winter parking ban, which started Dec. 1, have now passed.
The department has now started issuing tickets for winter parking ban violations.
The parking ban takes place from 11 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, if there is no storm, vehicles are permitted to park on the street no more than two hours during this time. Vehicles violating this parking ban during a snowstorm will be ticketed and towed.
Carter announced that the department has been awarded a $9,900 grant from the Bureau of Highway Safety for extra patrols targeted towards enforcement against impairing driving.
Throughout the year, the department receives grants to fund extra patrols in order to combat impaired driving. But this new grant is different. "Generally, those grants are for a short period, but this is a year-long grant, so hopefully, we can best utilize it to keep the roads safe for our citizens," he said.
The board rejected a written request by a film maker to close a few side streets from Dec. 14-20 for filming.
Gavin Peretti was not present to provide the board with details. He sent the town an email on Nov. 26, saying his crew would be shooting the film "all over the area from Rangeley to Jackman" and wanted permission to close a few streets for a day in Rumford.
Approved was the high bid of $38,585 from DDG Trucking of Rumford to timber harvest on a town-owned parcel. Approved was a bid of $594 to have Park Street Press of South Paris to print the annual town report. Puiia noted the cost is less than last year.