Kingfield, Phillips submit funding requests for fire coverage in Salem Township

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FARMINGTON – Budgets requests for additional fire coverage in Salem have been received from the towns of Kingfield and Phillips. Each town requested an additional $20,000 to provide fire protection and other services in Salem Township, dividing the township at the bridge just west of Mount Abram High School, County Administrator Amy Bernard reported during the county commissioners meeting Tuesday. This is in addition to the funds currently allocated for fire protection in other parts of the Unorganized Territories.

In the past the county has paid around $26,000 annually to the Salem Fire Department. Previously, Bernard had noted that the county would most likely pay more for fire protection services from the neighboring departments. At the end of October the commissioners met with officials from Kingfield, Phillips, and Strong to discuss coverage, and the towns discussed it in their own meetings to make a decision on whether they would expand their coverage to include Salem and how much it would cost to do so.

Strong had not yet submitted a request for coverage in Salem Township. Tentatively, Strong Fire would pick up the portion of Baker Hill Road in Salem, an extension of their coverage in Freeman Township.

Mike Pond, the county’s road commissioner and a select board member in Strong, said that the town had some questions on the contract, and it is currently being looked into by the town’s attorney.

Previously the commissioners voted to discontinue funding for Salem Fire effective July 1, 2023, at the start of the new fiscal year for the county. These budget requests are for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

In other business, the commissioners approved three new hires within the county.

Brad Timberlake was hired as the new communications director at the Franklin County Regional Communications Center and will start December 5.

Julia Grant was hired as a part-time corrections officer for the Franklin County Detention Center. Grant has five months experience in Kennebec County, but is not certified through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, so there is no training buy-out for her.

Luke DiSilvestro, of Carrabassett Valley, was hired as a full-time temporary patrol deputy. The position was available starting in December as other deputies are out for training at the MCJA and for paternity leave.

DiSilvestro graduated the MCJA last year and has a year’s experience with the Portland Police Department. Per state law there is a substantial training buyout to the Portland Police Department to reimburse them for the cost of training. DiSilvestro is familiar with the area and has experience as a ski patroller at Sugarloaf.

In addition, the morning that interviews were scheduled for the temporary position there was a resignation of a full-time deputy, resulting in a permanent full-time position opening up; per the contracts, that position must be posted internally for ten days before it can be posted publicly. Lt. David Rackliffe, who oversees the patrol division at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, reported that DiSilvestro will now have the opportunity to apply for the permanent full-time position as an in-house applicant should he choose to do so.

Rackcliffe said he believes DiSilvestro will be a great addition to the staff.

Following the discussions last meeting regarding suitable spaces for the district attorney’s offices, the county is looking into creating a formal lease agreement with the State Judiciary regarding the county courthouse.

A formal grievance has been filed by the teamsters for an issue with the placement on the salary structure for one of the union members. This will be addressed in an executive session with the county’s attorney at the next county commissioners meeting on December 6. The meeting will start at 1:45 p.m. with the executive session, with the regular meeting to follow.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and may be viewed online at MtBlueTV.org

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