Blue Hill: Town OKs funds to aid speed patrol
By Rich Hewitt
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

Selectmen will continue to look for ways to control speeding within the town after voters cast their ballots at the annual town meeting last Saturday, but they probably will not keep the town’s cruiser.

Residents at the annual town meeting voted to raise and appropriate $25,000 to fund additional law enforcement activities, but also voted to authorize the selectmen to sell the town’s police car if they think it is no longer needed.

The town had purchased the cruiser several years ago when it signed a contract with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department to provide a full-time deputy to cover the town. The town ended that contract last year, but the selectmen are still looking for additional patrols in town, particularly to enforce posted speed limit throughout the town.

"Speeding in town has always been the big bugaboo," Selectman John Bannister said Tuesday. "These funds give us the option to work with the State Police or Hancock County [Sheriff’s Department] for additional coverage up to $25,000."

The town also could spend more money and increase the time for a local constable, Bannister said. But a constable would need additional training and certification in order to deal with speeding issues. The best way to handle the speeding, he said, would be with added patrols from either state troopers or sheriff’s deputies, who could be assigned to cover the town when they were available.

With that arrangement, Bannister said, the town would no longer need the cruiser and the selectmen probably will decide to sell it.

"That seems likely unless something unforeseen pops into the picture," he said.

The estimated 80-to-90 people who braved the weather on Saturday also voted to change the date of the annual town meeting from the third Friday and Saturday of March to the first Friday and Saturday in April. While the change may not help with the weather, it will allow the selectmen to provide more accurate budget figures to voters, according to Bannister.

Voters approved a $4.1 million school budget, but rejected a request from a community group that would have instructed the school committee to appoint a study group to assess the advisability and feasibility of starting a school-based pre-school program.

Residents also allocated $4,500 for repairs of the town clock which has been located in the Blue Hill Baptist Church since it was donated to the town more than 100 years ago. The church had made repairs to the clock during a building renovation project last year. And in a separate vote, residents also agreed to give the clock to the church that will now be responsible for all future care and maintenance for the clock.

There were no contested races in any of the municipal elections this year.