Penobscot County Commissioners Minutes from August 18, 2020
For a downloadable copy click HERE
Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes August 18, 2020 2297 9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci and Laura Sanborn 63° Commissioner Andre Cushing participating via phone
Public Comment –
Melissa Berkey, citizen of Bangor offered a thank-you of seeing everyone wearing masks and socially distancing themselves. It’s “a great kindness”. There are those of us or family member with health problems that can’t afford taking two weeks off to be sick. I appreciate the safe measures taken here.
Melissa hopes that the Commissioners begin working on a Plan B for the jail. Melissa’s opinion is going forward it will be necessary to keep the number of inmates to a minimum while keeping public safety in mind. COVID has changed everything; we will be looking at our plans and our ability to plan going forward. It will always be talked about pre-COVID and post-COVID. In post-COVID we will worry about group living – with people being too close and we will be worried about money. We need to look more at post-COVID life.
2020 County Road Gravel Project in Greenfield Township Bids Opening –
• Commissioner Baldacci opened up the 2020 County Road Gravel Project in Greenfield Township. The following three vendors submitted their bids by the deadline.
VENDOR PRICE/YARD EST # LOOSE YD TTL PROJECT Wellman Paving, Inc. Winterport $32.50 2,700 $87,750
M.O. Harris, Inc Howland $14.50 3,042 $44,109 Joe Reinzo Milford $10.70 3,300 $35,310
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to take these bids under advisement. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. UT Update –
• Director Shaw Weeks received a message from a Millinocket citizen regarding upgrading the South Twin Lake boat launch in IP4. This is owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy Group. After investigation Shaw and George feel that the only real improvements or repairs necessary would be upgrading the old signage. The citizen is requesting that the county consider replacing signage, pave the launch, the roadway and add a parking lot. Shaw has not been able to determine who is responsible for maintaining this piece of property, owned by Brookfield Renewable Energy.
• Director Weeks communicated with Peter Pray regarding the Wolfden Mt. Chase rezoning petition. Shaw will invite lead LUPC staff person, Stacie Beyer, to come in and provide more detailed information to the Commissioners. The following was reported:
o The proposed development includes construction of facilities necessary for initial development, operation and closure of an underground metallic mineral mine, including zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold. o Total acreage for rezoning is 528 acres. o LUPC is seeking a review on the impact of this project; specifically seeking comment on police services by Sheriff’s Departments in the area. (The three law enforcement agencies will be Maine State Police Troop F, along with Aroostook Sheriff’s Office and Penobscot County) o Operation of the mine will require 60 full time individuals. Potentially 6-9 imported employees initially. o There will be 30 workers per shift; two shifts daily; “It is expected that the majority of workers employed at the mine will be from local work force.” Wolfden states that the majority of employees will come from a 30-mile radius of the project. o Wolfden estimates seven (7) trucks out of the facility per day, weighing approximately 40 tons. No travel on County maintained roads. o Seeking comments on socioeconomic impacts, local resources in the UT o Fire/EMS services to be provided by Island Falls Ambulance Service & Island Falls Volunteer FD.
• Shaw was unaware of any opposition of this project; it has been mainly rumors. The Commissioners requested to be told when there are public hearings scheduled for this project.
Sheriff’s Update –
• Sheriff Troy Morton reported today’s jail total population is 169; 23 boarded in other facilities; 131 in Pre-Trial services.
• Law enforcement:
o A conditional offer of employment has been given to Mark Fucile for the Northern Patrol position. He currently is a very respected Detective with Lincoln Police Department and lives in that area. o Two deputies have submitted their resignation. Patty McLaughlin has accepted a position with a smaller police department. Jon Carson is leaving to work in the Town of Veazie. o Sheriff is looking to purchase additional tourniquets to the Patrol division. o There is a nationwide problem with acquiring the Ford Cruisers. As a result of this issue, we are holding our cruisers longer, thus spending more money for repairs and upkeep. o Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to support and approve a JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) to be shared with Bangor Police Department. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve moved 3-0.
• Sheriff reported the following on the Civil:
o Civil Service paperwork has been increasing. One of the challenges that is occurring is that when people come in to have papers served, they must go through the COVID screening before being allowed in the building. This is adding extra time/work to our medical staff
o Staffing is at crisis currently which means we are forcing overtime in an already difficult job. It’s been difficult not only for us, but nationwide. Sheriff is looking for some latitude with the Academy to streamline processes, i.e. alert testing, getting through the Academy courses. o We are looking to board out additional inmates but with COVID it has made it very difficult. o Administration held a discussion with local law enforcement via zoom and discussed regional booking o We are trying to find a good date for some of the local agencies to come to discuss their challenges with regional booking. o Sheriff will be having a similar meeting with the Court to discuss challenges between the jail and the court. o We are closing up the final details with Keefe Commissary Services. They will be our vendor for the jail. o The video conference room is still a work in progress with nothing more to report.
• Commissioner Baldacci reported he heard from Tom Carter out of Missouri on his ADS (All Detainment Solutions) modular stainless-steel units used for jails. Commissioner Baldacci feels the concept is different but the benefit of a quicker build with less cost to the County may be well worth the time to allow him to come in and report what he would propose. EMA Update –
Director Michelle LaBree reported the following:
• EMA is part of a regional Mass Vaccination Planning Team along with Reps. from Northern Light, St. Joseph’s, PCHC, Bangor Public Health, etc. Bi-weekly planning meetings are held to discuss not only COVID vaccinations but seasonal flu as well. The overall plan to release comes from the CDC, however; healthcare partners and planners are planning for various options since there are so many unknowns. When the guidance is finally released, we will have plans that we can initiate. More to come.
• Director LaBree has been working with Finance Director Judy Alexander on the FEMA Disaster Declaration funding. We are hoping to submit the first batch of eligible invoices for reimbursement this week. There is a little over $14K for the initial expenses that will be submitted. We will continue to submit costs/projects as the declaration is open ended.
• EMA participates in the State Drought Task Force Committee. Most of the State and all of Penobscot County are listed as moderate conditions. As of this date we have not heard of anyone experiencing dry wells.
• Cumberland County EMA has set up a series of exercises revolving around the set-up of the Alternate Care Sites. This program consists of seven sessions in which we’ve been invited to observe along with the City of Bangor and regional healthcare providers. We are looking into offering the same series for our area partners virtually.
• Commissioner Baldacci and Director LaBree had a discussion of the COVID spike in Penobscot County/Millinocket at a Wedding event. There was discussion on a possible exposure to one of our employees in the County. As of right now, Probate is on quarantine until test results come back.
PRCC Update –
• Director Chris Lavoie reported there were several radio issues during the last couple weeks. The northern microwave was swapped out with a spare we had. There was also an issue with a microwave at Blackcap. Whitten’s has ordered the parts and they should be in soon.
• Director Lavoie and Deputy Lilley met last week with RCM to start planning the radio project. They discussed tower sites and what the future holds with contract negotiations. Meetings with the Committee will continue with updating and planning. • Director Lavoie is requesting permission to look into contracting his printers instead of purchasing a new printer every three months. This is costly and frustrating to have printers breaking down so often.
• Five interviews were held last week; two interviewees have been offered conditional offers of employment. There is another person that was interviewed pre-COVID and is now going through the employment screening process. Two call takers have been promoted to dispatchers.
Radio Referendum Proclamation Certification -
Deputy Secretary of State, Julie Flynn provided the final tabulation of the Penobscot County referendum votes. The following was noted:
• Yes votes 22,991 (72.69%) • No votes 8,637 (27.31%) • Blank 369 • Total votes 31,997
Commissioner Sanborn moved to proclaim these votes be certified as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Economic Opportunity Development Discussion –
Former US Rep. Michael Michaud and Maine State Rep. Steve Stanley reported to the Commissioners the most current updates for East Millinocket/Katahdin Region.
Rep. Michaud reported as Chair of the Katahdin Region Development Board stated there is a lot of positive developments occurring within the region.
Rep. Michaud has learned that by 2040 the National Monument will be receiving a quarter of a million visitors which is a concern that there won’t be enough businesses (i.e. resort areas) to sustain the people coming. Both Reps. Michaud and Stanley have reached out to Four Directions; since there had been word that the Native American’s are looking to build a resort somewhere in this area.
Commissioner Sanborn and John Raymond have communicated on an ATV trail system. There has been ongoing discussion on the connector to Aroostook and Washington Counties with Katahdin being the missing link. Rep. Michaud has reached out to EMDC to see if there can be a regional focus and how we can do what Jericho, NH has done building an ATV park system. Rep. Michaud feels this would be best located in the UT and we need to get the planning moving for that. Once this discussion has been moved forward, we will come back to the Commissioners.
Other exciting news is last month the Town of East Millinocket purchased the mill site in the town. Some of the potential tenants for that are taking care of need elsewhere in other parts of Penobscot County. This is wonderful, except now the town has to move a lot quicker in getting the site up and running. What this means is that we’re losing some warehouse spaces because of business growth.
• We have been approached by two individual companies that are in the forest industry who would like to lease out two warehouses on the mill site by January 1st. Both sites need to have work done to them.
• There is a company in Old Town that is looking to utilize the debarking drums that we had in the wood room at the mill site.
• There is a data center that is looking to lease out a portion of one of the buildings we currently have. Rep. Michaud has put them in touch with the Brookfield Group. Although this is great news, we needed to get the warehouses prepared to be leased out. Rep. Michaud reached out to Commissioner Randall Liberty of Maine Department of Corrections to provide some inmates to help us with some of the cleaning. Gratefully, we have been provided inmates from Mt. View’s Correctional Facility for the last five days and they have done a phenomenal job. He stated that he would hire any of these inmates for a job because of their work ethic. It helped us tremendously to move forward. EPA will be up next week to start the process and they have been great to work with. The process is limited to the warehouse. Knowing that we have to have the whole mill site done, Rep. Michaud reached out someone in DC to see if the administration could allot more Brownfield dollars.
We have received two grants for a total of $236K. However, in order to repair/renovate all those buildings, we need more.
Rep Michaud reached out to another friend in DC to see if they were interested in CLT (Corrugated Laminated Timber). Lincoln is already involved with this process. Rep. Michaud was told that the Katahdin region is “a pocket of opportunity”. The town has appropriated about $ 350K for attorney fees, Management Company and for purchase of the mill site. Priorities changed and we went to have an engineering company go over the site. Due to what is happening with the monument, we are unable to meet some of our needs. Such as the training center and wood room (used with Great Northern), grounds work and finishing room. CES came back to state that cost would be around $ 100K.
EMDC has been helping greatly with this project. We’ve utilized the EMDC Director to go after another opportunity that will benefit other towns in the region. Vicki Rusbult and Lee Umphrey will be working on funding and the Brownfield funding with EPA.
Rep. Michaud felt more financial assistance would be helpful and take care of some of our needs. The Town of East Millinocket would be the owner of this site. Commissioner Sanborn recommended talking to UT Director Shaw Weeks who would be able to assist in an application for TIF funds.
Representative Stanley reported:
• He attended a UVAC economic meeting in Sherman last night. There was discussion on the Borox Steam Plant in Stacyville where after licensing will put about 20-30 jobs at this site.
• With collaboration with EMDC (Vicki Rusbult and Lee Umphrey), other agencies and other communities, work is being coordinated to improve transportation in that area. We are waiting on another grant to help with this.
• There is also legislation so that the town can buy some state land.
Administration Update -
• Administrator Collins wanted to reiterate that where an employee may have been exposed to Covid is not connected to the jail or Sheriff’s Department. Those employees are home until test results are known.
• Administration and HR were very busy last week with employee meetings.
• Administrator Collins and Commissioner Baldacci participated in a conference call with MCCA. MCCA voted to support the recommendation of MACCAM for correctional funding for FY 20 in the amount of $1,142,398; of that Penobscot County should receive $100,655.36. Based on an ADP formula our average was 14.91%, for the FY21 we would receive another $247,221.14. • It was mentioned that all the State Departments have been asked to reduce their budget by 10%; DA Lynch is under that order.
• There is a MOU being prepared for the Victim Witness Coordinator to be housed at Bangor Police Department; Administrator Collins has forwarded on to our attorneys for review.
• Last week HR Director Honey, Commissioner Baldacci and Administrator Collins met with Jail Supervisors and Administration.
• FOP negotiations will be held next week for both Line and Supervisor units.
• Payroll Change Notices signed for: Kelly Fennelly, Rebecca Bryant and Ben Hawkins – Payroll Changes
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for August 7, 2020: $ 241,445.21 • Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for August 7, 2020: $ 10,744.65 • Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for August 11, 2020: $ 149,384.34 • UT Warrant to be approved for: NONE • UT TIF Warrant to be approved: NONE
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:20 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approved passed 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins, Director Honey, Sheriff Morton, LT Hotaling, Lt. Babb and Lt. Hardwick. Session ended at 11:21 a.m. No votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:22 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approved passed 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins, and Director Honey. Session ended at 11:48 a.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:49 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0 Certified By: Administrator, William Collins Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner