Chief Stillman introduces new Bridgton police officer to selectmen

New BPD Officer Sophia Swiatek

New BPD Officer Sophia Swiatek

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

At first, Sophia Swiatek didn’t apply for the Bridgton Police Department police officer position.

She had been working at BPD as an intern as part of her Southern Maine Community College criminal justice course requirement.

“She did not originally apply due to her age,” Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman said. “However, we discovered that as long as she has 60 college credits, she could apply and then she did.”

There were 27 applicants, and Swiatek landed the job. She was introduced by Chief Stillman to the Bridgton selectmen Tuesday night.

Swiatek had been in the Police Explorer program in Portland during high school, and was hired as a public safety dispatcher right after graduation. She worked as a dispatcher for two years, but “always wanted to be a police officer.”

“She has been doing everything she could to become a police officer,” Chief Stillman said. “Her qualifications and enthusiasm stand out.”

In other selectmen meeting news:

Giving idea a chance. Hearing Chamber of Commerce vice president Dan Harden explain how an ice bar would be handled at the Feb. 18 Winter Carnival, selectmen warmed up to the idea.

Looking to add new events and ideas to freshen up the annual winter celebration, the Chamber plans to include ice sculpting at Highland Lake Beach as part of the all-day festivities that include the Freezing for a Reason ice dip, Unc’L Lunker’s youth fishing derby, games for kids and plenty of hot food for attendees.

And, add a “signature” drink like a shot of Bailey’s to supercharge a hot chocolate or the choice of a couple of beers on tap.

“It’s not going to be a full-blown bar and party all day,” Harden told selectmen after officials gave an icy reception to the concept at a previous board meeting.

The ice bar (about 5 feet long and 4 feet high) will be positioned inside a large tent, which will be limited to those 21 years of age and older. Harden said IDs would be checked at the tent’s open entrance and signs would be placed indicating that consumption would be restricted to inside the tent — much like how the Chamber operates the annual Brew Fest at Point Sebago in Casco.

The ice bar will be open from 1:30 to about 6 p.m. — closing once the fireworks display ends.

Campfire Grille would cater the event — oversee the ice bar. (Later in the meeting, selectmen voted 4-1 to approve a catering permit from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. for Campfire Grille.)

Board Chairman Greg Watkins, who voted against the catering permit, voiced concerns regarding alcohol consumption being allowed in an area where events such as the ice dip and possible Radar Runs by the local snowmobile club will be held. He also wondered who would monitor snowmobilers, who might partake in a drink or two?

Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman said enforcement of operating a snowmobile and the use of alcohol falls under the Maine Warden Service’s jurisdiction.

When asked his opinion regarding making alcohol available at the Winter Carnival, Chief Stillman wrote to Town Manager Robert Peabody, “Generally, I am opposed to serving alcohol at events such as this as it is a large event with families and sends the wrong message about alcohol use. If the Select Board is inclined to approve it, I would ask that the area where alcohol is served be completely separate from the main event, access be restricted to persons over 21 and that no alcohol be allowed outside of this restricted area (no Solo cups).”

Harden pointed out that alcohol has been allowed at other events held on town-owned property. He cited the beer garden offered at the Village Folk Festival, held on the grounds of the Bridgton Community Center, as well as the former Winter Carnival Dance, which allowed BYOB at the Town Hall on North High Street.

Harden said the tent’s location could either be closer to the boat ramp area or possibly in the small parking area across from the beach. Due to the limited amount of parking in that area and the large crowd expected, Selectmen suggested the tent be placed near the dam area.

“I hope, I know, that the Chamber will do an outstanding job handling the situation there,” Selectman Bob McHatton said as selectmen approved the Chamber’s request, which McHatton called a “pilot program” with the future of other ice bars hinging upon how it fares this February.

The Winter Carnival is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Compromise reached. Lake Region Adult Ed will continue to share meeting space with the Town of Bridgton.

Following a productive meeting between Adult Ed Director Madelyn Litz, Deputy Town Manager Georgiann Fleck and Rec Director Gary Colello, a new Memorandum of Understanding regarding use of the lower level meeting area has been reached.

Selectmen approved the new agreement Tuesday night 4-1 (Bernie King opposed).

Town Manager Bob Peabody said the two big changes was the length of the agreement — from a year to six months (Jan. 1, 2017 to July 1, 2017) — and hours of facility usage — 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., compared to the previous time slot of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Permit approved. A special amusement permit for the Noble House Inn was approved 5-0.

Town office closed on Monday, Jan. 2.

Tree work planned. Central Maine Power has informed town officials that their contractors may be conducting tree work here. They use a limited amount of federally-approved herbicides to prevent growth. Application is by hand directly to the tree needing to be controlled.

Landowners who object to use of herbicides on transmission corridors abutting their property may request a Landowner Maintenance Agreement. The forms, as well as additional information, may be obtained by writing to CMP Vegetation Management, 83 Edison Drive, Augusta, ME 04336 or calling Nicholas Hahn at 207-621-3942.

There is an informational poster in the Town Office lobby.

Grass or not? What is the town’s next step to addressing the “green” areas along Depot Street? If the town decides to replant grass, Public Works Director Jim Kidder believes the areas will need time to take root and grow before allowing people onto them. Or, the town could consider changing from grass to another surface.

Voters this fall supported allowing the Farmers’ Market back onto the “greens.” Selectmen will discuss this issue at their Jan. 10 board meeting (5 p.m.).

Upcoming meetings include: a workshop with the Recycling Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m.; and regular board meetings on Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.

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