Wiscasset Selectman Ben Rines. (Charlotte Boynton photo)
By Charlotte Boynton
Wiscasset Selectman Ben Rines dropped a bombshell during the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, Jan. 6, making a motion to present a warrant article at the annual
town meeting in June authorizing the board to begin negotiations to close the Wiscasset Municipal Airport.
Selectman William Barnes seconded the motion, which caught the board by surprise, before Rines ultimately withdrew his motion.
Rines told the board the town needs help dealing with issues facing the airport and the town is not dealing with the right people. “We need to have some serious
discussions with the feds,” Rines said. “I believe the town wants to have the airport there, but we need to move off the dime and get things moving.”
Rines said the town needs assurance from the Federal Aviation Administration, citing the development of the new Brunswick Landing at the former Brunswick Naval Air
station which includes the Brunswick Executive Airport. The revenue could impact the revenue for the Wiscasset airport.
“We need to talk to Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King, and ask them for help,” Rines said.
Selectman Pam Dunning told Rines the motion to close the airport was premature. Selectman Jefferson Slack also cautioned Rines on the wording of his motion. Rines
said he wanted to get the attention of the feds, and the motion would be a tool in getting negotiations started.
After further discussion, the board asked Town Manager Marian Anderson to contact Maine’s congressional delegation for help with the airport issues. When Anderson
asked what help the town would be requesting, the first issue mentioned was trees from the Chewonki Campground that are growing into protected airspace around the airport
Ken Boudin, a member of the Wiscasset Airport Committee, agreed with Dunning that a motion to close the airport was premature. “We need all the help we can get,”
Boudin said. “We have just begun working on these issues. No one is going to cut trees tomorrow or next year. Give us some time.”
Boudin also reminded Rines the Brunswick Landing complex has not impacted the revenues at the airport. In fact, the revenues have improved.
Rines said he would be willing to table his motion until efforts were made to get some help from the congressional delegation. Dunning told Rines he could withdraw
his motion or the motion could come to a vote, he could not table a motion. Rines decided to withdraw his motion and Barnes withdrew his second to the motion.
Rines also agreed to work with the town manager to determine what issues Maine’s congressional delegation can help the town with.
Rines was also reluctant to give Maine Yankee permission to use the Wiscasset airport in the event of an emergency without representatives coming to a selectmen’s
meeting to explain what they would do in the event of an emergency.
A motion was made to allow Maine Yankee to use the airport in an emergency contingent on a representative from Maine Yankee coming to a selectmen’s meeting to
discuss the issue. The motion carried 4-0. Selectman Tim Merry was absent from the meeting.
Town manager’s report
Anderson reported the town had sent out 14 requests for proposals for property assessing services. The proposals will be opened at the selectmen’s meeting Feb. 3.
Anderson reminded the selectmen retired Assessors’ Agent Sue Varney wore many hats and current Treasurer Shari Fredette has taken on the human resources duties which
previously had been done by Varney.
The Tidewater Group and the Wiscasset Emergency Medical Services leadership team have begun a review of the services provided by Wiscasset EMS. Anderson said they
will explore ways to restructure service deliveries, fees, and other ways to gain efficiencies.
Wings Over Wiscasset will be held Aug. 15 and 16 this year. Anderson told the selectmen she and Town Planner Jamel Torres had met recently with the Wings Over
Wiscasset planning team.
She said the team is working to incorporate not only the airport, but the Wiscasset business community, the yacht club, the Maine Eastern Railroad, students, and
Bill Phinney remembered
Following the Pledge of Allegiance at the selectmen’s meeting, Rines asked for a moment of lasting tribute for William “Bill” Phinney, who passed away Dec. 24, 2014. Rines said,
“Bill was never an elected official of the town or appointed to a town committee. His strength was his independence, and he kept us on our toes.”
He reminded the board and members of the public when they look at the maple trees in downtown Wiscasset to think of Bill, because he planted them there.
The selectmen accepted the resignation of Wiscasset Municipal Airport Manager Erv Deck with regret. Deck, who was at the meeting, received recognition from the selectmen for his
The selectmen renewed the liquor license for The 27 Pub and Grill, located on Route 27.
The selectmen approved a $250 municipal sponsorship for the Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.
The selectmen appointed Town Clerk Christine Wolfe as the registrar of voters.