Nobleboro has postponed its annual town meeting until sometime in May, following a recommendation from Gov. Janet Mills to cancel gatherings of 50 people or more.
Dick Spear, chair of the Nobleboro Board of Selectmen, said the date of the meeting will be determined based on state recommendations. He said the town will need to provide 30 days’ notice of the rescheduled meeting.
Both Mills and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks to prevent community spread of the new coronavirus.
The open portion of town meeting had been scheduled to take place at Nobleboro Central School at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 21.
The first part of town meeting, the municipal election, had been scheduled for Friday, March 20. The town had to await approval from the Maine Legislature to postpone the election as well.
Town Clerk Sue Pinnetti-Isabel said the town office received confirmation Wednesday, March 18 that the election could be postponed.
The polls for the municipal election were scheduled to be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday. The town has no contested elections in Nobleboro this year, with only one candidate for each of three positions.
Selectman Richard Powell is running for a three-year term and Great Salt Bay Sanitary District Trustee Robert Whear for a two-year term. Rhea Butler, a newcomer, is seeking a three-year term on the Nobleboro School Committee.
The Maine Municipal Association expected the Legislature to address the matter of elections the afternoon of Tuesday, March 17.
Spear said the town is trying to be proactive. “This is nothing we have ever seen before,” he said.
Town officials made the decision to cancel town meeting and restrict use of the town office during a meeting at the town office at 8 a.m., Monday, March 16, according to Spear.
“We are working on different things to try and keep contact down as much as possible. We recognize this is a pandemic and are not trying to panic people, we are just taking precautions. We are trying to keep things down to essentials,” Spear said.
The town office is closed to foot traffic, with staff on duty to take phone calls and respond to emails. Essential transactions may happen in person, but only by appointment.
Pinnetti-Isabel described essential transactions as new registrations of vehicles, ATVs, or boats, as well as tax payments.
She said most business can be done online and if residents need assistance, they can contact her at 563-8816 or email@example.com.
“If transactions can be done online, please do them online,” Pinnetti-Isabel said.
According to Pinnetti-Isabel, registrations can also be done by mail to the town office: 192 U.S. Highway 1, Nobleboro, ME 04555. The phone number for the town office is 563-8816.
Plexiglas is being installed at the front desk of the town office to limit contact between staff and the public, according to Spear.
Spear urged residents to only use the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station when absolutely necessary, as the closure of the station would have an extremely detrimental impact on Nobleboro and the four other towns that use it.
The meeting Monday morning included the fire chief, assistant fire chief, emergency management agency director, a representative of the school committee, the transfer station manager, the road commissioner, the selectmen, and the town clerk.
According to Spear, one focus of the meeting was the town’s elderly population.
“We encourage people to check on their elderly neighbors,” Spear said, and the “fire department can deliver anything to people in the elderly community who need things.”
Fire Chief Richard “Moose” Genthner said the fire station would be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a firefighter available to answer the phone.
Genthner said the officer on duty could be reached at 682-8108 and the department in general at 563-2433.
“We have volunteers who can help out and deliver if the fire department can’t,” Spear said.
Spear said that if residents need assistance, they should contact the fire department or the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
Spear is going to make calls to neighboring towns and said it is not out of the question for Nobleboro to close its town office in the future.
“Things are changing by the minute,” he said.