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McFalls concerned about background checks
MECHANIC FALLS – The recent arrest of a recreation committee member for gross sexual assault, amongst other charges dating back as far as 2006, prompted a discussion by the Mechanic Falls Board of Selectmen at its November 1 meeting.
Town manager John Hawley told the council members that, in speaking with other towns about their policies, he discovered that there is a free website specifically for municipalities to be able to do background criminal and sex offender checks. The website is located under www.maine.gov and is called infoME. It makes doing background checks on potential employees much more practical for towns with tight budgets.
"In this particular case," councilman Dan Blanchard pointed out, "a background check would not have shown anything."
Councilman Robert Small said that those who work with kids should perhaps have training on what to look for.
"How to spot someone who is singling out kids, or other red flags that would prevent something like this from happening."
Recreation committee member Jim Marston asked "how far down the ladder do we go in doing background checks?" The council voted that background checks should be done on anyone who is employed or appointed by the town. Marston also agreed that training on what red flags to look for would be a good idea.
Hawley will rewrite the applications to include signed permission to do criminal and background checks on any new applicants to the town.
An energy audit was recently done on the town office building, and it was found to be very poorly insulated, and in need of air circulators. The town received a grant in order to conduct this audit, and also to improve the energy efficiency of the town hall. This will now be looked at by the energy committee to make recommendations as to which improvements will have the best financial benefit to the town.
There is now an ordinance in place for mobile and event vendors in the town. The applications will go through the town office. The ordinance, along with a listing of fees and the process of obtaining a permit are available at the town office.
The water main river crossing was recently completed for a fraction of what the engineers estimated it would be. It was thought that the job would cost about $228,000 to complete but the water department was able to successfully do the job for under $40,000. The line is now in service.
The new Bobcat will be used for snow-blowing the sidewalks, and will now sand the sidewalks as well. Rather than paying three men to snow-blow, and then come behind in a dump truck to sand the sidewalks, the Bobcat will be able to do the whole job at once.
"A sander for the Bobcat cost only $3,400 and will more than pay for itself just in man hours saved," Hawley stated.
The last item on the agenda involved a bill from the sanitary district. The town pays $7,500 quarterly to the district for the cleaning of the catch basins and other sewer and drainage under the streets. However, even when the sanitary district does updates, and separates the sewer lines and the catch basins, as was done 6 or 7 years ago on Maple Street, the bill to the town does not go down.
Now, there are more updates being done, but no savings to the town seems to be in sight.
Council member Small said that if this were a bill he had received at home he would ask for a itemized bill, and if the bill did not seem fair at all, then he would want to take it to an appeal to find the fairness of the bill.
The council members discussed asking for a itemized bill from the trustees to see how much exactly of the $30,000 a year pays for the catch basins and how much covers other sewer costs the town incurs.
Also of interest was the fact that the State Road 121 (known as the Lewiston Rd) also has catch basins, which the district cleans on a regular basis, but the state is not billed for. Therefore, the town people carry the weight of that cost in their own bill.
It was decided to hold on to the bill for now, to ask for the itemized bill, and to request that the sanitary district lower the bill for the town as the number of catch basins decrease when the current work being done in the center of town is completed.