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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes February 18, 2020 2274
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn12°
Approval of Minutes -
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve February 4 and February 11, 2020 meeting minutes. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Public Comment –
Rick Bronson, citizen of Bangor, Lincoln Town Manager and member of the Building Committee. Mr. Bronson feels he would be amiss if he didn’t say why he’s opposed to what is being proposed for a new facility.
When he was on the Building Committee, the last he heard was the jail was going down in the back of the current jail and it was going to be a five story structure. Rick states that he has a vested interest in the size and position of the proposed jail since he lives close by as well as owns two houses on Ohio Street.
Rick understands the necessity of a new jail and certainly does not dismiss that fact. What he is opposed to is the size and location of this concrete monolith (jail). Rick feels that the jail should continue to be housed in Bangor to be close to fire, EMS, hospital, courthouse, etc. Rick spoke about the traffic that comes through to see a famous peony garden on Ohio Street owned by Ken Liberty who for many years was Boy Scout Executive for Katahdin Area Council.
Commissioner Cushing responded by saying he grew up on Hudson Street in Bangor and respects where Rick is coming from. He wanted Rick to know that we have been six years in discussion for a new jail facility, so there has been a fair amount of consideration and planning for the surrounding area and community. Commissioner Cushing appreciates his feedback and hopes that he stays engaged.
Mr. Bronson asked if this project is set in stone or still fluid enough to change. Rick is hopeful that the County and the City of Bangor will work together to be creative and make all parties involved comfortable with a proposal more fitting to suit the needs of everyone involved.
Commissioner Baldacci stated that since the Bangor Daily News published article and media attention with the City Hall workshop that we attended. We started out by purchasing the old Y Building in hopes it would be suitable to remodel and make into a jail; unfortunately, the building was unsalvageable with the strict codes. Then we looked at building in the back parking lot of the current jail; we heard from competing architectural firms that this would be a nightmare with traffic. We are still looking at perimeters and processes. We are looking at final numbers to see I the tax payers of Penobscot County will be able to digest the costs. We are planning to talk amongst ourselves knowingly that something has to be done. We are currently boarding out a significant amount of inmates in order to keep our numbers in-house at 157.
Miles Theeman, Bangor, was here not to speak for or against the new jail. He was, however, here to speak to an eight story building being built downtown. Miles strongly encourages the Commissioners to be absolutely transparent to the community; such has cost for Penobscot County taxpayers, where it will be located, what will be done with the current jail facilities, what will be the most cost effective solution for the taxpayers, etc.
Eric Mahan, owner of the Wine and Cheese Company (across the street from this building) and member of the Board of Bangor Partnership. Eric has received a lot of feedback since he was quoted in the BDN after the City of Bangor meeting. Eric shares the sentiments of the previous two speakers. He hates to see empty buildings in Bangor and would like to see existing buildings filled with businesses to a growing downtown. He is encouraging members of the Bangor City Council to work with you to this to make sense for the Community of Bangor.
Joshua Gass, Bangor, came to share this sentiment. In the media the dominating story line speaks to the overcrowding of the jail facility. Joshua is requesting that you add to that story what this body and others are doing to attack this problem from a different angle; which is reducing the jail population that Joshua feels is paramount to fixing this problem. Joshua states that this is never part of the story line publicized and he feels it necessary to keep the community informed.
Commissioner Baldacci expounded that Sheriff has been working with the DA’s office, and Maine Pre-Trial in diverting people into programs to keep them out of jail. Unfortunately, the media has not reported the efforts that are keeping anywhere between 70-90 inmates out of the jail a day.
Doug Dunbar, Hermon, feels that there are more things to be down in State and County levels. There is a bill LD 1421 taking place in Augusta today on bail reform. Doug states that crime has fallen over 50% in the State of Maine; but not in Penobscot County, there are more arrests being made. Doug states that when he was in inmate, there were many people coming back in to the jail. There needs to be more resources for these inmates.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff Morton stated that today’s jail population is 254; 89 boarded out to other county jails, no federal inmates, no county swaps and 92 inmates in Pre-Trial Services.
Sheriff reported on the challenges he faces and reports every week at these meetings. These challenges are not new; they have been with us over a decade. Unfortunately, media doesn’t cover the over crowdedness taking place; that isn’t exciting enough. There are people in the jail that struggle, and we’ve been one of the biggest advocates trying to make changes in the process. i.e. pre-trial services, connections in the court, and other programs in order to stabilize our population.
Sheriff reported on the Board of Visitor’s that Mr. Dunbar requested. Sheriff states that they are active and have held two meetings. These meetings have included mandatory trainings and orientations that must adhere to in order to come into the facility during the first meeting; the second meeting was putting together a mission statement and bylaw. The bylaws state that the quarterly meetings will be open to the public.
Sheriff highly encourages those that spoke today to stay engaged. Sheriff invited them to take a tour of the current jail facility, so that there is a better understanding of the challenges that we face.
Sheriff reported that one of his patrol corporals was recently injured by responding to an incident on Valentine’s Day. The Corporal was pushed off a deck, and the suspect attempted to attack him; his ankle was broken.
Our Hermon deputies with the new contract are up and running. One of our new deputies arrested two males who were stealing catalytic converts off vehicles at the Central Maine Auto Auction in Hermon.
Sheriff spoke to the request from Larry Dansinger regarding programs in the jail. Sheriff met with Chief Saufley and others recently and there are plans to put together more programming in the jails. It isn’t fair to release inmates without proper programs in place for them to succeed. We need to make sure we connect them with services when they leave to continue on their path.
Sheriff has heard back from one of the three counties for longer term housing arraignments. Sheriff was able to secure the same costs as the other facilities contracts. However, the challenge remains that there’s no guaranteed beds.
Sheriff states that transport officers are frustrated. They are running 24-7 not only moving inmates to other facilities - it is to court, hospital, medical appointments, etc.
Sheriff provided three tours last week with council members from different communities.
UT Update –
Director Shaw Weeks requested permission to approve a draft for a new contract for the Town of Milford’s Animal Control needs.
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve payment to the Town of Chester for $2,000 from the contingency account. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0.
Finance Update –
Finance Director Judy Alexander provided the Commissioners with an updated capital reserve and undesignated fund balances lists.
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve estimates for projects in the amount of $262,870:
o Table/Chair Upgrade (Great Room) $10,000
o Contingency Increase $25,000
o Financial Software Replacement $57,870
o PRCC Infrastructure
o Rental Property A/C Units $20,000
Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0.
Opening of Cargo Van Transport Vehicle and Certified Police Vehicle Bids
Commissioner Baldacci opened four bids that were submitted for one (1) cargo van vehicle. These bids were received by the date and time requested.
o Varney’s – 2020 GMC Savana 3500 Cargo Van for $29,547
o Darling’s Auto Group – 2020 Chevy Express 3500 Cargo Van for $29,286
o O’Connor Auto Park – 2020 Chevy Express Cargo Van for $28,745
o Quirk Auto Group – 2020 Chevy Express Cargo Van for $28,990
Commissioner Sanborn moved that we will take the bids under advisement. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion moved 3-0.
Commissioner Baldacci opened five bids that were submitted for up to nine (9) police vehicles. These bids were received by the date and time requested.
o Varney Buick GMC of Bangor – Certified Police Vehicle 2020 Chevy Tahoe Police Interceptor at $37,220 per vehicle
o Darling’s Auto Group of Bangor – Certified Police Vehicle 2020 Dodge Durango Pursuit AWD at $33,839 per vehicle for a total of $304,551
o Darling’s Ford of Bangor – Certified Police Vehicle 2020 Ford Utility Police Interceptor (Gas engine) $36,225 per vehicle for a total of $326,025
o Quirk Auto Group – Certified Police Vehicle 2020 Dodge Durango AWD at $31,750 per vehicle for a total of $285,750
o Quirk Auto Group – Certified Police Vehicle 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid at $39,386.14 per vehicle for a total of $354,475.26
Commissioner Sanborn moved that we will take the bids under advisement. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion moved 3-0.
Administration Update –
Administrator Bill Collins reported that last Wednesday Commissioner Baldacci and I travelled to Augusta for the MCCA meeting.
Last Wednesday Bill met with Brewer City Council and staff during their tour of the jail. They clearly understood what goes on in the jail and are sympathetic to our needs. It was strongly suggested that if we don’t write a letter to the Governor and federal staff asking for funding to build a jail.
Bill met with Shaw and Judy briefly to meet the new UT fiscal administrator Shayne White.
Bill reported that the young women that was killed in the Sebago area is the daughter of Beth McCarthy. Beth is one of the vendors from Fairpoint that attends our conventions.
Bill spoke to Julie Flynn from the Secretary of State and this conversation will be discussed during the executive session.
Commissioner Baldacci and Bill met with the CO Supervisors last Thursday to discuss the jail.
There is a TIF meeting scheduled on February 26th to review the OTELCO broadband request for the Argyle area.
Mr. Lockman’s request for minutes and notes on refugee resettlement were sent to him
Cathy Conlow of Bangor requested a copy of the resolution that was passed.
Sheriff Morton has provided an invitation to the MSA Convention that is going to be held March 25 and March 26
Grievances are going to be heard at the March 17th Commissioner Meeting
There will be no meeting next Tuesday, March 3rd
A former inmate has filed a Maine Human Rights complaint filed which has been forwarded to our attorney John Hamer. Sheriff reported that this has been declined.
Two previous grievances that were heard here, will be moving forward for arbitration.
Payroll Change Notices signed for: Amy McCrea – Resignation; Gary Decker and Anthony Heal – Hired Full-Time
Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $259,321.16
Accounts Payable to be approved for: $66,271.98
Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: $50,010.55
Unorganized Territory TIF Warrant to be approved for: NONE
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:22 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Bill Collins, Sheriff Morton, Lt. Hotaling, Attorney Ed Bearor, Rob Frank, Judy Alexander and John Hiatt. Session ended at 11:48 a.m. NO votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:49 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Bill Collins, Erika Honey and John Hiatt. Session ended at 11:57 a.m. NO votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:58 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Bill Collins, Erika Honey and John Hiatt (left at 12:15). Session ended at 12:16 p.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Cushing moved to adjourn the meeting at 12:17 p.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Moved to approve 3-0
Administrator, William Collins
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner