Casco commits to media funding; building update

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO – Less than eight months ago, the Town of Casco did not televise its selectmen’s meetings.

Now, the meetings of the selectmen and the finance committee will be videotaped, rebroadcast on public access cable TV, and made available via computer — by using a link from the town’s website to LRTV’s web page.

The Casco Board of Selectmen on Tuesday chose LRTV to provide media services for $12,600 a year. The money was approved at the annual town meeting in June.

LRTV would cover meetings of the selectmen and the Casco Finance Committee as well as town meeting, and any special town meetings. That was how the motion was worded.

It had been a goal of the selectmen to provide ways to get meetings to a wider audience — such as homebound residents, people who don’t like to drive at night, and summer residents — all of whom would like to keep up on town government when they cannot attend meetings.

In addition, elected officials and residents wanted visual documentation of municipal meetings in their town.

In spring 2011, a Media Sharing Committee made some recommendations of ways to have meetings recorded and accessible to community members.

Although using the Town of Raymond’s broadcast center was among the options, Raymond staff responded saying LRTV could better provide the mobile services Casco needed. Raymond’s broadcast studio is not mobile, and Casco meetings would have to take place there. The letter from the Town of Raymond said costs for services could be provided — if Casco’s selectmen so desired that. It also stated that those expenses would likely be higher than the price for which LRTV could do the job.

The letter said LRTV was not only better equipped to videotape and download meetings, but also that was LRTV’s area of expertise.

Two weeks ago, the board heard a presentation from LRTV Station Manager John K. Likshis.

The camera and soundboard equipment have been showing up at selectmen meetings since late March and early April, when the town decided to test it out.

Along the lines of improving technology, Selectman Tracy Kimball brought up the idea of budgeting for a part-time town web designer.

She said it would be advantageous to hire someone specifically trained in the field, and able to dedicate time to the town’s website. At a past meeting, Kimball said town office employees are too busy with other duties to also take on updating and enhancing Casco’s website.

An improved website would increase communication between the town and its residents, and make it easier for community members to find information, she said.

“I am going to keep bringing this up,” Kimball said.

In other business, the board voted to hire Sebago Technics for the de-construction project at the Memorial School.

The job will cost $18,000, and will entail two employees cutting into various walls while another worker collects samples to determine the extent of water damage and any other issue that might come up during a remodel.

“They will be looking for structural stress, deterioration, and behind the walls to see if there are mold issues,” Town Manager Dave Morton said.

The engineering firm, Sebago Technics did not provide a time frame — or hours of labor — to complete job, Morton said.

Everyone agreed time was of the essence on this project.

“Can we get ourselves on top of their ‘honey-do’ list?” Selectman Kimball asked.

Morton responded, “I told them the board was looking for some sort of resolution soon.”

Selectman Paul Edes suggested the town offer more open houses at the Memorial School so community members could see the condition of the building firsthand.

The school is currently not heated so an open house would have to happen before winter weather arrives, Morton said.

The next step — deciding if remodeling or rebuilding is the best option for the town-owned school building — will follow Sebago Technics’ report on the structure’s condition.

Speaking of construction, the community kitchen is nearing completion.

“By end of the week, we will have a functioning kitchen,” Morton said.

“We don’t have any pots and pans,” he said, adding a local charitable donation was given to the town for the purchase of cooking and eating utensils.

“The range is in, the fridge is in, the overhead door in the gym has been repaired and the counter replaced. The exhaust hood has been installed, and the fire extinguishers have been installed,” Morton said.

“It’s almost done. They just need to turn on pilots to do leak testing,” he said.

The bills from the community kitchen job are still being tallied up, but rough estimates show the project cost less than the town budgeted, he said.

“We came in under-budget enough to buy some stainless steel cabinetry,” Morton said.

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