Lovell annual town meeting

MARKING HER OWN TOWN MEETING WARRANT — was two-year-old Mona Louise Wilson, sitting on her grandmother Sandra Masse’s lap, at Saturday morning’s annual town meeting in Lovell. Ron Masse, Mona Louise’s grandfather, is seated to Sandra’s left. (Ackley Photo)

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

LOVELL — Approximately 75 townspeople attended Saturday morning’s annual town meeting, moderated by Jon Bliss, and took up a total of 103 warrant articles in just over 3 hours time.

Selectman Steve Goldsmith was re-elected to another three-year term on that board, and Robert Steller was elected from the town meeting floor to a three-year seat on the School Administrative District 72 Board of Directors, replacing Martha Armington who has submitted her resignation.

There were 49 written ballots cast for Steller for the three-year term as a SAD 72 director and 17 ballots cast for Jane Williams, the only other nominee.

Moments later, Williams was elected to fill the one-year alternate position on the SAD 72 school board. Steller had most recently served as the alternate SAD 72 board member.

Sherry Bois was re-elected Town Clerk and Treasurer.

Ronald McAllister was re-appointed as code enforcement officer, after the town meeting body voted to recommend that the selectmen do just that.

When all was said and done, voters stayed under the LD 1 limit mandated by the state by just $262.85, for a total raised of $1,016,437.05.

Elected town employees won’t become appointed

Selectman Goldsmith announced that the board had been asked to take a poll as to whether elected municipal employees should become appointed instead.

Resident Eric Gulbrandsen made a resolution to have the municipal positions of tax collector, excise tax collector, town clerk, treasurer, public works commissioner and code enforcement officer become appointed.

Kathy Vachowski spoke against Gulbrandsen’s resolution, stating, “I feel it takes away our rights, as citizens, to elect people we feel would do a great job in those positions.”

The majority of those who raised their hands were opposed to Gulbrandsen’s resolution, with only about a half dozen in favor.

Article 31 was the cause of a great deal of discussion, both pro and con. It stated: “To see if the town will vote to allocate up to the first $5,000 of funds received from penalties assessed on properties removed from Tree Growth or Open Space status and then 50% over that to a Town Conservation Account for use in the purchase of conservation lands, promotion of conservation education, and conservation projects by the town independently or in partnership with conservation organizations.” The balance forward is $65,793.14.”

Larry Fox asked, “Might we be able to use some of those funds (in the Town Conservation Account) to fix up this building (the Town Hall)?”

“This amount has been the same for the last several years,” stated Bill McCormick. “We haven’t seen this account move one penny…You’re spending the interest and not putting anything into this account…Sooner or later, there won’t be enough left to buy coffee for this meeting.”

“This account is for conservation projects, not preservation projects,” said Gulbrandsen, a Conservation Commission member.

Catherine Stone said, “I believe this account has expanded over the years to include other projects, including education. This building (the Town Hall) really needs some work, and $10,000 isn’t going to do it.” Stone, who is president of the Lovell Historical Society, said the Town Hall has served the town well since 1796, “and it happens to be the basis for our New England form of town government.”

“The word ‘conservation’ refers to natural resources,” McCormick stated.

Selectman Goldsmith said the selectmen have obtained estimates “every year for the last three years” as to what would be required “to totally fix up this building” and it totals $110,000.

“The Eastman Hill Trust Fund has also written $25,000 toward a matching fund, and any potential grants received,” said Goldsmith.

Goldsmith then asked the town meeting body if they “would agree, in principle, to perhaps use some of those funds in conjunction with the other matching funds?”

“It’s semantics,” said Goldsmith, “but it is money that’s sitting there.”

At this point, Gulbrandsen made a resolution “that voters do not take from this fund for preservation of the Town Hall.”

Gulbrandsen’s resolution to not use the Town Conservation Account funds for preservation of the Town Hall carried, by a show of hands, with 42 in favor of not taking funds from the Town Conservation Account, and 25 opposed, or who were in favor of using the conservation funds. The main motion on Article 31 passed, as well, with only a half dozen people opposed. Later on in the annual town meeting, Article 97, which asked, “To see what sum of money the town will vote to raise and/or appropriate for the restoration of the Lovell Town Hall (the requested amount of $10,000 was unanimously recommended by both the selectmen and Budget Committee) passed with a majority vote.

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