The South Bristol Select Board appointed Sandee MacPhee, of Walpole, as interim deputy clerk for the town at its Thursday, Nov. 9 meeting. According to MacPhee, she will serve until the select board fills the open positions of town clerk, administrative assistant, and tax collector/treasurer.
The vacancies come after Audrey Prior, who served as treasurer and tax collector, resigned Oct. 17 and Town Clerk Brenda Bartlett resigned Nov. 9. With Bartlett’s resignation, South Bristol had no employees to handle town office duties.
MacPhee said she has stepped in to help out and has also applied to the position full time.
South Bristol Select Board Chair Bruce Farrin Jr. said the town has received a number of applications and will continue to review them as they come in.
In the meantime, in addition to MacPhee, the town office has been receiving a helping hand from Bremen Town Clerk Melanie Pendleton and Deputy Town Clerk Keena Cates over the last three weeks.
Pendleton and Cates have been stopping by once a week to help with training MacPhee and other duties while the town office seeks additional staff.
“We’re just helping out with the transition,” said Pendleton, who has worked as the Bremen town clerk since July 2018. “Everyone needs a hand once in awhile and we’re glad to do it.”
In other news, the select board and South Bristol School Committee continue to look into solutions to the school’s water issues. South Bristol School Committee Chair Sara Mitchell was in attendance at the meeting.
The water at South Bristol School tested high for chemicals the state monitors for in public water systems and was deemed unsuitable for consumption early in the spring. Since, the school’s short-term solution has been to bring in bottled water for the students and staff.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals widely used since the 1940s in consumer products and industrial applications.
According to the Maine Division of Environmental and Community Health’s website, most people in the United States have been exposed to some level of PFAS and there is evidence to suggest that continued exposure above certain levels may be unhealthy.
Select board member Adam Rice said town officials are figuring out what the most economic and practical approach is to address the issues.
“The goal is clean water in the facility with a practical approach to budget and available space,” Rice said.
SBS may qualify for funding from the state and federal programs for a water filtration system, but given the dynamics of the SBS property, questions have been raised about qualifying.
Those dynamics, according to Rice, are the two existing septic systems being utilized by the school, one under the original building and one that was put in when the gymnasium was put in.
Drinking wells, according to Rice, must be 300 feet from septic systems, and with the possible addition of a third system for filtration, space has become an issue in planning what to do next.
Rice said the select board believes the most economic and practical solution is to no longer use the old septic system and fully utilize the newer one under the gymnasium on the south end to create more space.
The next phase, according to Rice, is to determine if it’s more feasible to drill a new well or filter the existing one, which would require a new leaching field, but would still need to be 300 feet away from the septic system.
The select board is still investigating, and measuring the outcomes to determine the appropriate path forward.
Additionally, Sara Mitchell said that Charles “Chuck” Hamm, the South Bristol School principal, returned from his medical leave the last week of October. Hamm was dealing with complications with a COVID-19 variant, which he contracted in the beginning of September.
Mitchell said that it was great to have Hamm back and expressed how impressed she was with the SBS staff for keeping things at the school moving forward.
“We really appreciate the staff for stepping up and keeping everyone on track,” Mitchell said.
The select board’s next scheduled meeting is at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the South Bristol town office.