Greetings family, friends, and community members!
2021 was another remarkably busy year for your Board of Selectmen! The new building project consumed much of our time, as it did in 2020. The project was due to be finished in January, although it was not complete enough to move in until March. The initial plan after moving the town office, was to move the historical items to storage and then follow with getting the fire department transitioned. The need for storage was due to the one-year warranty on the building. Fine print accounted for voiding the warranty on contents if we put holes in any walls, or altered things etc. David Dill, Chair of the Historical Committee, and member of the church next door felt strongly that we should move the Fire Department first. We did so with acknowledgement of the inability to place any items on display at that time.
Historical items are currently still in storage at the Vestry with a rental agreement through March 2022. The Board has requested a cataloged list of town specific historical items so that we can determine a budget for display cases utilizing Rescue Fund monies, if approved at the Annual Town Meeting. Special display cases will protect, preserve and enhance the Town’s ability to showcase these items for years to come! There are likely some vintage items which are not directly tied to New Sharon but should be preserved, and possibly offered for display at the Farmington Fairgrounds; similar to the old Chaise carriage stored in the former Fire Department building in 2021.
The original idea for a stand-alone historical room was removed during the building process of the new Town Office/Fire Station due to received bids coming in over voter approved funds. The engineer negotiated with the contractor to reduce the bid by $100,000. Thus, positioning us to continue as planned with the current blueprint. The increase we saw in bids was due to the hike in building materials and labor from the time voters approved the building, until the bidding process.
After working through the remaining issues on the punch list and moving into the new space, we settled on the final disbursement due to Blaine Casey Building Contractors through mediation in Portland. After mediation, the manufacturer’s warranty resumed, but the contractors did not allow us to start hanging things in the building. The New Sharon Alumni approached the Board about hanging the photos from previous graduating classes in the hall. This was approved unanimously and is about 75% complete.
The Board saw an opportunity to generate more revenue through the sale of two town owned properties this year via auction. We sold two parcels: one on the Kimball Pond Road and the other being the former Fire Station building. The funds from the station were authorized by voters for use in completing the new building complex. Lights for the flagpole with two additional outlets near the monument and tree were added from these funds. Part of the initial building cuts allowed for the conduit to be run but had redacted the electrical wire and electrician costs.
The town applied for and received a grant from the Healthy Community Coalition resulting in free signage for the town office complex’s Tobacco Free Policy. We are still awaiting signposts; signage will be installed on all Town owned property.
Last year’s Annual Town Meeting voter turnout for referendum voting far exceeded the previous year’s numbers. Due to the ongoing pandemic we have found ourselves in the same position this year. Based on community input, current numbers in our county, and the school’s stance on utilization of their facilities, the board elected to use the referendum voting method again this year. The board has received some feedback from snowbirds and military members of the community expressing how nice it is to participate via referendum –a choice not afforded to them in the past.
Plans for 2022 include an open house of the new facility and a family day/picnic to bring the New Sharon community together out-of-doors. The health and safety of residents is our top priority. Covid variants continue to dictate much of how we are able to meet and interact with one another. Our greatest hope is that it will be behind us soon. We would be remiss if we did not recognize the dedication and challenging work of all elected, appointed and volunteer officials for the Town. Each has worked tirelessly to ensure services to residents continue without interruption, all while dealing with guidance from State and Federal agencies for the safety of each of you. Please take a moment to thank them personally if you have the opportunity. This year’s budget represents a 0.93% overall decrease in what the Board is recommending - no small feat in the financial climate we find ourselves.
In closing, we would like to thank each of you for your continued support and patience. If you have any questions or concerns the board can address, please reach out directly or submit an inquiry under the contact section of this website.
Lorna Nichols, Chair
Travis Pond, Selectman
Paula Nason, Selectperson
New Sharon Board of Selectmen