Lincoln County municipalities are canceling or scaling back annual town meetings, closing town offices to the public, and taking other steps to prevent community spread of COVID-19.
Nobleboro postponed its annual town meeting, scheduled for Saturday, March 21. A moderator will call the meeting to order before it adjourns to a later date, likely in early May, Nobleboro Town Clerk Susan Pinnetti-Isabel said in a phone interview.
If the state allows, the town will also postpone its election scheduled for Friday, March 20.
Whitefield has postponed its election and annual town meeting, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, until further notice. The Whitefield town office is closed to the public until April 1.
Bristol held its election Monday, March 16, before an abbreviated version of annual town meeting at Bristol Consolidated School on Tuesday, March 17.
The Bristol Board of Selectmen had met in emergency session Monday night and agreed to limit the annual town meeting to items essential to continue the basic operations of the town.
The town meeting is due to continue in June.
Alna will hold an abbreviated version of annual town meeting, similar to Bristol’s, Saturday, March 21.
Special procedures will be followed for the secret ballot portion of annual town meeting that will take place at the Alna fire station from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, March 20.
Only one voter will be allowed in the voting area at a time and each voter will use a freshly sanitized pen to mark the ballot.
Since there are only uncontested elections, the town is urging residents to stay home.
Like most town offices in Lincoln County, Nobleboro and Bristol have essentially closed to public access until further notice. According to Pinnetti-Isabel, the Nobleboro town office is open by appointment to one person at a time for essential transactions that cannot be completed online.
Alna, Bremen, Damariscotta, Dresden, Edgecomb, Jefferson, Newcastle, South Bristol, Westport Island, Whitefield, and Wiscasset have all essentially closed to public access and are encouraging social distancing for at least the next two weeks.
Town staff will continue to work while following social distancing and sanitization guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jefferson Town Administrator Lynne Barnikow urged residents to conduct town business online. The town office is currently open to one person at a time.
Somerville is only seeing customers at one service counter for the time being. Town Clerk Erica Tompkins said in a phone interview Wednesday, March 18 that the town is reviewing its policies and changes will be announced.
Edgecomb and Wiscasset have postponed all public meetings until further notice.
Dresden postponed all public meetings until the selectmen meet at 6 p.m. March 31 to reevaluate the situation.
The Waldoboro town office remains open during normal business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the town is encouraging people not to come to the office unless necessary and to instead call for assistance. The office has set up a drop box for tax payments and other documents.
The town “is taking this health situation very seriously, but we also must balance the needs of our residents and will continue to provide needed resources and services,” the town website states.
Boothbay Harbor’s town office remains open for normal hours, but is taking precautions like closing meeting rooms to outside groups, increasing cleaning, and putting up Plexiglas at counters, in addition to encouraging online transactions, according to Town Manager Julia Latter.
Damariscotta still planned to hold a selectmen’s meeting Wednesday, March 18 and a budget committee meeting Monday, March 23. In a newsletter, the town said all other board and committee meetings for non-urgent matters had been postponed until further notice.
Towns are also requesting limited attendance at public meetings. Several towns, including Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, and Waldoboro, have recordings of their meetings available through Lincoln County Television, at lctv.org.
Bremen’s town office is operating by appointment only and the selectmen’s meeting and budget committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 19 have been postponed.
The county government has restricted in-person access to the courthouse offices, as well as the probate court and registry of deeds. The offices will be staffed.
The clerk of courts office and district attorney’s office remain open to the public, although visitors are encouraged to call ahead.