Over the objections of a resident engaged in a private legal dispute with the proprietor, the Wiscasset Select Board approved a sale of consumer fireworks license for Big Al’s Fireworks Outlet at the board’s meeting Tuesday, Dec. 19.
Before the vote Wiscasset resident Thomas Bryant read from a written statement asking the board to table business owner Al Cohen’s license application until a decision is made on a private suit Bryant has pending against Cohen.
Bryant is long opposed to the operation of Cohen’s fireworks business, located at 300 Bath Road. The lawsuit is related to Cohen’s storage of fireworks in an offsite facility, to which Bryant is an abutter.
After a brief discussion and a review of the documentation provided by Cohen, showing he has the appropriate state and federal licenses, the board voted 5-0 to approve Cohen’s application,
Axiom President Mark Ouellette appeared before the board to discuss the risks and benefits of public ownership of a municipal broadband system.
Fielding questions from members of the select board and the town manager for more than 45 minutes, Ouellette said town officials must decide on the feasibility of a public system for Wiscasset.
The benefits of a public network include maximum local control. It also comes with concerns of competition from other internet service providers in the area, Ouellette said.
According to figures by Ouellette, Axiom estimates construction costs for a Wiscasset public broadband network totals $5,206,169 to build; to be paid for by $1,316,700 in local funds, and a state grant of $3,889,469. Ouellette said a 20-year bond payment on the $1,316,700 local appropriation could cost the town about $108,000 per year.
The select board decided the next step in the broadband issue is to have other companies come in and give a presentation at the board’s first meeting of the New Year, Tuesday, Jan. 3.
In his written report, Wiscasset Town Manager Dennis Simmons told the select board the efforts of the town staff to maintain a safe and healthy workplace have resulted in a 26.6% reduction of the town’s workers compensation premium in 2023.
Simmons also reported the TextMyGov program is now up and running and information explaining how to sign up for the program is on the town’s website, wiscasset.org. According to Simmons’ written report, the program is a work in progress. As the town receives feedback from the public it will work to improve the program.
TextMyGov is a system intended to improve communications between the town office and Wiscasset residents.