Bridgton snippets: Assistant Fire Chief Tim Cook retires

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Tim Cook retires

The Bridgton Fire Department’s #2 man, Assistant Fire Chief Tim Cook, has retired, leaving a big hole in the top ranks of the 60-member department.

Fire Chief Glen Garland said he plans to meet this week with the three district chiefs to discuss a possible restructuring of administrative responsibilities, which may involve having fewer chiefs. Any changes in the leadership structure would need to be voted on by the entire department, he said.

In his manager’s notes at Tuesday’s selectmen meeting, Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said Cook “notified the town that he has decided to retire.” He and Garland accepted Cook’s decision effective Feb. 1.

Big bad tree, bad for business

It looks like Bridgton House of Pizza Manager Spyro Hronarakis will get his wish: the sidewalk tree in front of his 256 Main Street restaurant will be cut down, the board unanimously agreed Tuesday. But he’ll have to wait until May, when the work can be done as part of downtown improvements planned for the Depot Street area. Hronarakis wrote Board Chairman Paul Hoyt, saying the tree blocks his signage from upper Main Street and “serves as a competitive disadvantage.” Public Works Director Jim Kidder said he has money in his tree removal budget (It will cost around $200, plus stump removal), and that the 256 Main Street tree is starting to die anyway. Another tree, also in decline, had to be removed in front of Ricky’s Diner, Kidder said, adding, “All the trees will eventually have to be replaced. Board member Bob McHatton said of the trees, planted decades ago as part of downtown sidewalk renovations, “They should never have been put in, in the first place.” Safety issues are created from underground power lines, the narrowness of the sidewalks and maneuvering difficulties for sidewalk snow plowing. Kidder said a removable planter could be installed in place of the tree.

$40,000 CDBG windfall

Anne Krieg, director of planning, economic and community development, said she discovered around $40,000 in unspent Community Development Block Grant Funds in going over allotments from prior years. She said she’ll need to talk to CDBG officials for specifics on how the money will be able to be used by the town. Grant applications are due this Friday, Feb. 15, from local organizations, nonprofits and businesses seeking around $100,000 in CDBG grant funds for various downtown improvements. A citizen committee will again be reconvened to review applications. She also gave an update on her grant pursuits, saying she met with the Northeast Director of the Economic Development Administration to talk about grant funds available to expand the town’s sewer system. It’s important to identify a probable user for an expanded system in order for Bridgton to be competitive in the grant process, she said. “There is a lot of staff time being dedicated to grants,” she said.

Thanks, but no thanks, for the raise

After Selectman Doug Taft discovered last month that, unbeknownst to him, he’d been given a raise in his selectman’s stipend — he’s receiving $1,000 a year instead of $500 — he brought it to the board’s attention. It turned out that all of the board members received an extra $500, but no one, not even on the Budget Committee, was aware of it — buried as it was in the so-called “Big Book” or master budget that serves as the only source for identifying each individual expenditure. Since it seemed to Taft and the other board members that a board raise should have been listed as a separate warrant item, the board voted to return the money. “It belongs on the ballot,” Taft said.


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