Casco repatches furnace at vacant grange hall

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Whether the preservation or demolition of the Casco Grange Hall becomes a hot topic in this community remains something to be played out at Town Meeting.

That is months away.

Right now, as winter sits on the doorsteps, keeping the building heated is on the front burner, according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

Money allocated for a new furnace at last year’s town meeting has yet to be spent. Depending on the outcome of the 2017 town meeting, those funds may not go toward a new furnace, or the Grange Hall could be much more costly than the replacement of its heating system.

Currently, the Town of Casco is throwing dollars at patching the heating system until there is a final verdict for the Grange Hall, Morton told the Casco Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

In January, a professional company that tests for lead paint contamination discovered lead levels on the front porch of the building.

Those health concerns caused Casco Head Start to discontinue its preschool program, which was set up on the ground floor of the Grange.

So, the building stands vacant. Meanwhile, the Head Start employees are still in the process of removing items owned by the agency.

“The Head Start program: The students aren’t there, but the staff is moving materials,” Morton said. “I believe the kitchen appliances are theirs.”

Head Start is working on getting the nonprofit’s belongings out of the building. The town has not given Head Start a deadline to remove those items and is not likely to do so, Morton said.

The bigger problem is keeping the building warm while it is unoccupied, he said.

“We are heating it because of the water pipes,” he said.

“We had a furnace issue. I have not redone the heating system. We have been repatching and repatching” the furnace, he said.

“It makes no sense to put a heating system in the building until we know” what residents decide during the town meeting, Morton said.

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