County Search and Rescue team members concerned about low membership

Mon, 04/17/2023 - 4:45pm

    Two members of the Lincoln County Search and Rescue team hope their current mission is not their last. Capt. Don Gleason of Dresden and Lt. Dan MacWalters of Damariscotta told commissioners April 11 they are concerned about the team’s viability. The two cited low participation rates and lack of cooperation from county officials as their reasons. 

    The two plan on attending a County Preparedness Fair on April 29 for recruiting new members. The team has five to six regular members and Gleason estimates 10 are needed for viability.

    Gleason and MacWalters hoped to discuss the team’s plight with acting Emergency Management Agency Director Maury Prentiss and commissioners, but Prentiss was unable to attend. Instead, the two discussed communication problems within the statewide network specializing in searching for missing persons with the commissioners. “We were on stand-by for the recent missing Damariscotta girl which is an improvement, but for others, we weren’t notified,” Gleason said. The team was not alerted for a Jan. 2 missing man, Thomas Harris of Boothbay. “The one that hurt the most was for the missing Boothbay man,” he said.

    Gleason and MacWalters identified a communication problem with Maine Warden Service, which sends missing person alerts throughout the network, as a longstanding problem. “Until recently, the service didn’t know we were a Lincoln County EMA department, but this has been fixed,” Gleason said. They also had concerns about a lack of training space within the communications center. County Administrator Carrie Kipfer told them the situation was under review.

    Gleason and MacWalters promised to update commissioners next month if their membership had increased. 

    In other action, commissioners approved a contract with Dirigo Safety of Auburn for enforcement of underage drinking laws. Dirigo is a non-profit organization providing law enforcement, corrections and risk management training. Chief Deputy Rand Maker explained Dirigo administers state funds for underage drinking enforcement. 

    He reported this year’s $11,375 grant would provide funding from February 2023 to September 2024. “There was a delay for this year’s compliance check grant,” he said. “We use the money to check if licensed establishments or stores are selling to minors. We also do special patrols around prom and graduation time checking parties to discourage underage drinking.” 

    Commissioners approved a $6,930 payment for the Registry of Deeds Microfilm Conversion. Kipfer said the conversion was for records from 1833 to 1858. 

    Kipfer also reported about Waldoboro Water District’s use of Amercian Recovery Plan Act funds. The county approved a $200,000 grant. ARPA requires recipients to provide a periodical accounting of expenditures. Kipfer told commissioners the district spent $31,927 for a 100-horsepower pump and equipment installation, and $16,000 for a variable frequency drive.

    After an executive session, commissioners issued a request for proposals regarding the sheriff’s office building. Kipfer said the building has several areas needing attention. “There are also challenges trying to use space previously used as jail cells and offices,” she wrote in an April 13 email. “We are looking for advice on how to proceed with planning for its future use and what structural concerns that need to be addressed. We’re seeking bids from firms that are qualified to make this evaluation.”

    Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 18 in the courthouse.