Paris may add more info to Town Meeting warrants

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PARIS — Paris Selectman Gary Vaughn raised the idea at the February 12 selectboard meeting of altering the way the questions that will appear on the ballot at Town Meeting in June.

“I would like to have the board give some thought and consideration, I’ve been thinking a lot about the annual town report and the way we word our warrant articles. Usually it reads that the budget committee recommends so many dollars and the selectboard recommends so many dollars.  I would like to maybe put fourth the idea that we add ‘by a vote of’ and include what the vote was.”

Vaughn says that unanimity of a board or committee or lack thereof may be pertinent to the voters’ decision.  “I think it lends transparency to how well that article was written and how well that recommendation is being portrayed.”

Vaughn continued, asking that if possible the increase or decrease in cost associated with a particular article be listed on the warrant as well.  “I presume its semantics to just have more information on that line, there’s nothing illegal or anything wrong with doing it that way should we choose to – correct?” Select board Chair Rusty Bartlett asked Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox who confirmed his presumption.

Knox explained that the final, “drop dead date,” to draft warrants is May 14.  “I think it’s a good idea,” Bartlett said to which the other board members concurred.  Further discussion on the presentation of the town warrants completed form including the vote is on the agenda for the board meeting on March 12.

The One Paris Hill Committee is applying for funding and is looking for the town’s assistance in doing so. Carol Rice, a member of the One Paris Hill Committee appeared before the board.

“We’ve looked at a number of foundations and other funding sources to get some money to start coming in to the One Paris Hill property,” she informed the board.  “There are some funding sources that we can’t access; but the Quimby [Family] Foundation is one that we can.  We’ve been in touch with them we have it in writing, their deadlines have moved up from last year so were kind of in a scramble.”

The Quimby Family Foundation’s president, Roxanne Quimby, is well-known for her and her husband’s business success in the skin care market under the name Burt’s Bees.

Rice continues, “there are two topics that Quimby is particularly interested in; one is movement and that is the category under which we would propose to apply.  That is particularly focused on outdoor spaces, getting people to those spaces, particularly the under-served populations, anything that builds a relationship between people and our planet; or at least One Paris Hill as part of the planet and gets people connecting with neighbors and nature.”

Rice purports that establishing better access to the property and a few other changes would be categorically included in QFF parameters.  The One Paris Hill Committee has been encouraged to write a letter to start the application process at Quimby.

“The letter has to be submitted by midnight on March 1,” said Rice. “There are six questions the QFF asks applicants to include in their correspondence.  After a six-week period of consideration, “we will be invited to apply or not, and then we have a month to apply.”

The committee would find if it was invited to apply April 15 and if so, would have until May 15 to do so. The town itself would be the applying organization said Rice.

The OPHC is looking to build an informational kiosk so that visitors are aware of what is offered, to improve the parking situation and include the construction of handicapped parking.

Rice asked the board that relevant bodies, such as the Parks and Recreation Department join with OPHC in partnership.  Finally, Rice offered the OPHC’s thanks to the Highway Department for debris removal and plowing services rendered.

“We are asking Quimby for some things that are outside of the purview of the town budget.”

Select board member Chris Summers asked, “what sort of oversight does Quimby usually have on this type of project?”  Rice responded that, “Hannah Quimby [QFF Director] does site visits, there is one recipient in the town of Norway who said the Quimby Foundation is pretty easy to work with; it’s the Allen Day Community Garden.”

According to Rice, Quimby toured the garden last summer and was, “very impressed with it.” The board passed a motion to encourage the continuance of OPHC’s efforts to work with the QFF.

In other news:

  • Selectboard member Scott Buffington raised a concern about payroll and the budget of the fire department and how it is impacted considering recent fires and equipment issues.  “We’ve had some equipment breakdowns, we recently had to pay $3,000 to fix a ladder truck recently,” said Hodgkins. “There’s still money in the budget but … it’s going in the wrong direction …  some soft weeks would have helped a lot.”
  • “For the last two years the board has nominated and voted on a citizen from the town to receive the Spirit of America Award, an award to salute volunteerism; somebody whose done something wonderful for the town,” said Town Manager Vic Hodgkins. He explained that anyone can nominate a Paris resident for the award; to whom a plaque will be presented at the annual town meeting.  Interested parties can do this by emailing Knox who will put a list together for the board’s consideration. Nominations are being accepted throughout the month of February.
  • Code Enforcement Officer Kingston Brown has completed his certification.  Hodgkins offered him congratulations, impressed that, “he has done every class and certification known to mankind in just under a year.”
  • There is a joint workshop between Norway, Oxford and Paris scheduled for February 21, at the Oxford Town Office to hear from Realterm Energy with regard to LED lighting.  The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

abrown@advertiserdemocrat.com