Commissioners approve 2 new SUV purchases for sheriff’s dept.

Fri, 04/21/2023 - 8:30am

    Lincoln County is adding two new police cruisers to its fleet by buying them right off the lot. On April 18, Chief Deputy Rand Maker told commissioners the department is still waiting on delivery on four 2023 cruisers and began seeking bids for two 2024’s. But an unexpected communication from Darling’s in Bangor will put two new Dodge SUVs on the road within a month. 

    Maker explained the current fleet is aging requiring additional maintenance costs. In past years, those vehicles would have been replaced, but ongoing supply chain problems make finding replacements nearly impossible. So when the department received an inquiry from Darling’s about vehicles on the business’s Bangor lot ready for purchase, sheriff’s department officials took notice. Maker identified hybrid and gas-powered white Dodge SUVs meeting the department’s immediate needs. The hybrid is priced at $52,481 and the gas-powered one at $49,927. Maker and County Administrator Carrie Kipfer recommended buying them. “There is so much uncertainty in purchasing vehicles. These are two frontline patrol vehicles available to us now,” Maker said. 

    Commissioners voted, 2-0, to purchase the Darling’s vehicles. The county also received bids for 2023 and 2024 patrol vehicles at lower quotes than Darling’s. Key Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Newcastle submitted a $38,611 bid for a 2023 Dodge Pursuit Durango SUV. Quirk of Augusta bid $44,265 for a gas-powered SUV and $46,765 for a hybrid. Maker recommended waiting on these offers due to an uncertain delivery date.

    Commissioner Bill Blodgett was amazed at how much SUV pricing had increased in only a couple years. “These prices were half a few years ago. I can remember buying them for pricing in the twenties,” he said. 

    In other action, commissioners approved a letter of intent to apply for a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant. The federal grant is providing 200 scholarships for Lincoln County residents who need help with digital access. National Digital Equity Center is assisting the Maine Office of Community Development in providing grant opportunities. Executive Director Susan Corbett told commissioners training would benefit residents in their personal and professional goals. “This is an exciting opportunity for your residents,” she said. “The one-on-one training includes assessing their skills followed by training in local classrooms located at town offices, libraries and schools.”

    Zoom classes would also be available for advanced training purposes. On May 2, commissioners will host a public hearing on the grant and consider submiting a formal application. 

    Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes reported two towns received Reach ME Broadband Grants. Newcastle and South Bristol are receiving matching grants. Newcastle received $80,000 and South Bristol received $60,000. Reach ME Grants were designed to optimize broadband development by incentivizing internet service providers to extend service to all unserved locations in their service area.

    But the news was not as good for two other Lincoln County towns. Barnes announced Bremen and Nobleboro submitted applications, but did not receive approval. “There were $62 million in grant requests and only $20 million available. So both towns will reapply in the next round,” Barnes said. 

    Barnes also announced Katherine Simmons of North Yarmouth was the commission’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center intern for the summer. Simmons is a University of Maine second-year student studying environmental science. 

    Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 2 in the courthouse.