FARMINGTON – The town of Farmington was awarded the SHAPE award Tuesday night, becoming the newest of 82 locations in the state to currently hold the award.
The Safety and Health Award for Public Employees, or SHAPE, is given by the Department of Labor. It detonates public agencies, departments, and organizations that exhibit excellence in employee health and safety, rising above and beyond the requirements of the Bureau of Labor Standards. The process for achieving the award is rigorous and involves inspections, interviews with employees, and the implementation and maintenance of a health and safety system. For the entire town to receive the award, each of the individual departments must exceed those standards, including public works, police, and fire.
Across the state, only 12 towns hold the SHAPE award for the entire municipality. Farmington joins a select group with this award.
Steve Greeley, director of the Maine Department of Labor Workplace Safety and Health Division, and Mary Matthews, SafetyWorks! program manager, presented the award to the town.
“I also think it’s worth mentioned that the town suffered a catastrophic event three years ago,” Greeley said. “I think this just goes to show what can be accomplished when a town puts its time, energy, and resources together.”
With this award, the town is exempt from the regular Bureau of Labor Standards inspections for the period of two years, from July 2022 to July 2024.
Town Manager Christian Waller thanked the department heads and Executive Assistant Nancy Martin for the hard work put in to achieve the award.
Board Chairman Matt Smith was absent; in his place, vice chair Stephan Bunker spoke, saying that it was a ‘feather in the cap’ for Farmington to achieve this award across the entire town.
As both a board member and a member of the fire department, Bunker said he was very proud to be a small part of the award.
In other business, the board held a public hearing for a lunch wagon permit for Donnie’s Fried Chicken, operated by James Spina of Shapleigh. The only public comment was to express, in jest, some disappointment that no samples were provided; the board approved the permit.
Deborah Tripp Probert, a member of the Maine Old Cemetery Association, approached the board to request that they consider adding funds to the budget to put towards restoring and revitalizing veterans graves in the town’s cemeteries. No motion was made but the board expressed interest in continuing the conversation.
Peter Beane and Deborah Daggett requested a letter of support from the board as they begin a fundraiser endeavor to secure funds for a flagpole and American flag in the Fairview Cemetery. The proposal was to raise funds for the pole and flag, with the understanding that the town’s Public Works department would assist with installation and that the town would assume the ongoing maintenance of the flag. After hearing from Public Works Director Phil Hutchins, who indicated the installation and increased maintenance would not be an unreasonable burden, the board approved the request for a letter of support.
The board discussed informal requests from the towns of Industry and New Sharon to consider allowing residents of those towns to utilize the transfer station. Currently, the town of Strong contracts with Farmington for waste disposal, and Industry and New Sharon may be interested in something similar. The board was open to a more formal proposal and discussion if the other towns were interested.
The special town meeting, originally scheduled for Monday, October 3, has been moved to Tuesday, October 25. This will allow the board time to review proposed changed to the homeless shelter ordinance and place that ordinance on the warrant for the special town meeting, thus reducing costs for the town and time for the residents.
Items anticipated on the special town meeting warrant include the ordinance, a request to secure funding for a new fire truck, and a land purchase adjacent to the public works land.