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Writing and Photography by Lee and Connie Rand
MANY FAST-BREAKING LOCAL NEWS STORIES CAN BE FOLLOWED IN REAL TIME ON OUR "WELCOME TO LINCOLN, MAINE" FACEBOOK PAGE OR ON TWITTER @LINCOLNMAINEUS. *
Lincoln Town Council votes 5-1 for new Town Hall on Fleming Street. *
Town council race heats up
Lincoln Town Council, front row left to right - Marscella Ireland, Chris Stevens and Dede Trask. Back row left to right - Sam Clay, Vice Chairman Curt Ring, Chairman Steve Clay and David Whalen.
August 28 - The Lincoln Town Council race has heated up quite a bit this week following Monday’s council meeting, and the availability of nomination papers for the two three-year terms that are open. As of today current Town Council Chairman Steve Clay has taken out papers. His is one of the two seats open in the November 4th election. The other seat is currently held by Marscella Ireland, who has not taken out Nomination papers as of yet.
Current Maine State Representative Jeff Gifford, Thora House (a former council member), Jamey House and Mathew Berry have also taken out papers for the two seats open. The deadline for returning nomination papers with at least 25 signatures is September 22nd. Papers can be picked up by any potential candidate at the Lincoln Town Office on Main Street.
There could be quite a number of citizens vying for the two seats, as several town citizens have expressed to us an interest in possibly running. We’ll keep area voters updated on any new candidates who may announce between now and the deadline on the Lincoln area web site www.WelcomeToLincolnMaine.com and its companion Facebook page.
Mason's Trust responds to Lincoln Town Council vote
August 26 - We received the followed letter from the Mason’s Trust about the Lincoln Town Council’s vote that was taken Monday concerning proposals for a new Town Hall. The Council voted 5-1 (Dede Trask was absent) to accept the proposal by Sterling Osgood for a new Town Hall on Fleming Street. www.WelcomeToLincolnMaine.com and its parent company, Rand Advertising LLC, do not take public positions on political issues, and does not on this one. However, in the spirit of having a better informed public, as a public service we will publish the letter from the Mason’s Trust on the Lincoln area web site and its companion Facebook page. We will also publish any rebuttal or statement from the Lincoln Town Council.
Lee & Connie
"Town Office Decisions"
The Trustees of the Lincoln Masonic Fraternity would like to bring the following facts regarding the plans for the future location of the Town Office to the attention of Lincoln residents.
The Town Office has been housed in the 110 year-old Masonic Building for nearly 70 years.
Currently the Town pays a monthly fee for a contracted 3,850 sq.ft. The Town actually utilizes 4,100 sq.ft. (some storage and the Town was given permission to construct the vault) at no additional cost. The lease fee also covers heat, water, sewer, and trash removal, as well as permitted use of the dining hall for events at no additional cost.
These conditions were set out in the current ten year lease, dated from December 1, 2005 through November 30, 2015. The costs have changed somewhat over this period according to the terms of the lease. For the contracted space (3,850 sqft) the cost has gone from $6.00 / sq.ft. in 2006 to $8.00/ sq.ft. in 2014. If you consider the actual utilized space (4,100 sq.ft.) it has gone from $5.63/sq.ft. to $7.51/sq. ft. Currently the Town pays $2,556.25/mo, or $30,795/yr.
Going rental rates /sq.ft. on Main St. in Lincoln are about $12-14/sq.ft. without heat or utilities. Some spaces are a bit lower in consideration of length of lease, or the tenant’s taking on the costs of renovations or modifications, or a planned option to buy. For example, the school district leases for about $10/sq.ft. without heat or utilities, and has an option to buy. This arrangement began in 2005. Currently the school district pays $3,000/mo, or $36,000/yr for 3,760 sq.ft.
In 2004, about the time the prior lease for the Town Office would have been up for renewal, the Town Council called for a study of the feasibility of purchasing the Masonic Building and the costs of modifications to better meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements among other things. Because of the age of the building, it is not required to conform, but all agree this is desirable, and important. The study was postponed when the prior mill closure occurred. To our knowledge, this study has never been done.
Also of note, is that the Town Office gave notice of its intent to terminate its current lease early, dated February 14, 2012…thereby ending the lease on February 28, 2015 instead of November 30, 2015.
The Town management has put out Requests for Proposals concerning the Town Office on at least 3 occasions in the last 2 years. In the request dated 7/23/14 the first paragraph reads “…It should be clearly stated the Town of Lincoln is looking for a lease to own option with this proposal.”
The Masonic Fraternity has made the following proposals to the Town in recent years:
Dated January 25, 2012
Sale to the Town of Lincoln land and buildings at 63 Main St. for a sum equal to 80% of its current assessed value (Structures $207,800; Land $62,100; Total $269,000). The Fraternity offered to finance the purchase price for 30 years at zero interest.
This agreement would include granted use by the Fraternity of the third floor in perpetuity as well as certain insurance and other protections for the Fraternity, e.g. right of first refusal in the event the Town quits the building.
Dated November 17, 2013
Sale to the Town of Lincoln land and buildings at 63 Main St. for a sum of $50,000. The Fraternity would consider returning the sale price to the Town to be used for the purchase of an elevator for the facility. Again, the use of the third floor and protections for the Fraternity would be part of the agreement.
Dated November 17, 2013
Proposal for Renovations to the current Town Office: to involve a mutual assessment of the renovations and cost analysis with planned adjustments to the lease price to include renovations in a pay-ahead format. Again the use of the third floor and other protections would be part of the agreement.
Since these proposals the Fraternity has partially re-roofed the building as well as repaired the front steps of the building entrance.
The Masonic Fraternity remains open and willing to work with the Town to achieve its goals.
The proposed cost to renovate Ballard Hill will result in a more than doubling, nearly tripling of the current monthly costs and will not include heat ,water, sewer, utilities, or the costs of furnishing the building, but is offset somewhat by no longer paying additionally to heat the empty building, and is 10,000sqft. The cost per Bangor Daily News article: $6,850/mo (x15yr lease with option to buy) or $82,200/yr
The proposed cost to build a new building on Fleming Street will result in a more than doubling, nearly tripling of the current monthly costs for less than a doubling of utilized space (6,000 vs 4,100 sq.ft.) and will not include heat, water, sewer, utilities, or the costs of furnishing the building. The cost per Bangor Daily News article $6,358/mo (x 20 yr lease with option to buy) or $76,296/yr
At the end of the proposed new construction, the Town will be faced with an additional expense to purchase the building at a cost that has not yet been included in the agreements but is said to be $1 or a “gift”.
We, and many citizens have urged the Town Council not to rush this decision. We urged the Town Council to diligently seek the input of the Town’s people whom they have been elected to represent. Although this has been an issue in consideration by the Town for some time, it is only in the last week or so that public scrutiny of the proposals has been possible. We urged, as did many of those present at the meeting, and one councilor, that this matter be presented in detail to the people of Lincoln in a referendum. By statute, a “lease to own option”, as specifically requested in the Request for Proposals, requires a referendum.
The Town Council voted on Monday to proceed with a plan to move to a new location to be built on Fleming Street; the vote was worded “to lease only.” This decision was made in spite of many questions raised and unanswered. The Town’s new “lease” agreement substantially increases Town expenses. Those at the meeting were told this will not affect taxes because of TIF moneys to be applied. (If TIF moneys can be applied to leasing on Fleming St., why not on Main St.?) We understand that not every detail needs to be known in order to proceed; still, for such a major undertaking, we believe the townspeople should be asked.
We remind the Council and Lincoln citizens of the non-binding ballot taken in November of 2012 :
One question was: "Do you want the Town Council to purchase land AND build a new Town Office?" 1,602 Voters said NO, while 361 voters said yes. 82% of citizens voting said NO.
The other question asked was about renovating Ballard Hill and there was some favorable response on that account, though at the time no specifics were presented.
No question concerning the renovation of the current building or ‘staying put’ was on the ballot.
The Masons have attempted over many years to deal at least fairly, and in effort, generously, with the community, and specifically the Town management. It is with the same commitment to ethical conduct and in a spirit of generosity that this non-profit organization of volunteers offers this information for the Town’s people to consider. We continue to be willing and open to pursue creative solutions to the needs of the Town and Town Office in this uncertain economic time. We welcome you to contact us and encourage you to contact your Town Councilors on this matter.
Mark B. Weatherbee on behalf of the
Trustees of the Lincoln Masonic Fraternity
August 16 - The Lincoln Fire Department and Penobscot Valley Hospital have been working last Saturday and today training to work with hazardous materials. The training took place at the Lincoln Public Safety Building. Photos by Lee Rand.
Dunkin' Donuts is now open
August 7 - The new Dunkin’ Donuts shop on West Broadway in Lincoln (picture taken yesterday), opened this morning to enthusiastic coffee and donut lovers despite the waits from the road construction in the area. Long rumored (we broke the news last spring on this site), the franchise is now officially a part of the business community here in Lincoln. Several other businesses are also rumored to be interested in coming to Lincoln along the West Broadway corridor leading into town. We can only wait and see!
Penobscot Valley Hospital announces new Comfort Care Suite
July 24 - Today a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Penobscot Valley Hospital to celebrate the opening of the new Comfort Care Suite. During 2012, the Hospital collected contributions from members the community, staff, board of directors, and local businesses to create a new Comfort Care Suite. The Suite is designed to better accommodate extended families who want to accompany their loved one throughout their last treasured days of life. Over $30,000 was raised in 2012, and since then, many renovations have taken place including relocating offices, fully remodeling the suite’s two bathrooms, new flooring, lift equipment, electronics, artwork and comfortable seating.
The Comfort Care Suite was designed around an employee suggestion from Dolly Dill of the hospital's nursing department, who wanted to see better accommodations for families and friends to more privately share the last few days with their loved one in a comfortable environment that didn’t feel like a typical hospital room.
In addition to the family room, adjoining patient room and other accommodations, the hospital hopes to provide many other conveniences to help alleviate the stress, including shower facilities, free courtesy carts with beverages and snacks, special reading materials, games to help pass the time, and a sleeping cot if a family member wants to stay overnight.
Penobscot Valley Hospital Announces New CEO
In other PVH news, the Board of Directors at Penobscot Valley Hospital is pleased to announce the appointment of Gary Poquette as Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Poquette most recently served as Chief Executive Officer for Wyoming Medical Center/Niobrara Health & Life Center in Lusk, Wyoming. He has also served as Chief Executive Officer for The Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire.
For nearly 40 years, Poquette has been in healthcare administration in a wide variety of capacities. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Creighton University, his Master of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University and his Master of Health Administration from the St. Louis University.
QHR worked closely with the Board, medical staff, employees and community leaders to find a CEO that meets the needs of the hospital and community.
“Our goal was to work closely with the Board to find the right candidate for Penobscot Valley Hospital and for the Lincoln community,” explained QHR Vice President Chip Holmes. "I am confident that PVH will benefit beyond measure by having Mr. Poquette at the helm of its hospital.”
PVH Board Chair Fred Woodman added, “The Board of Directors is very excited to have a person of the caliber of Mr. Poquette as our new CEO. He brings a wealth of experience and other strengths that will help PVH continue to move forward in these challenging times for Critical Access Hospitals. As a Board, we look forward to working with Gary starting in early September and serving the healthcare needs of our community.”
Ron Weatherbee named interim town manager
July 22 - Lincoln Recreation Director Ron Weatherbee, on right talking with our sports photographer Lee Rand, was named Lincoln’s interim town manager, replacing William Lawrence, at Monday night's Council meeting.
Town manager resigns
July 1 - Lincoln Town Manager Bill Lawrence informed the town council at last night's meeting that he is resigning. His last day as town manager will be July 11. The following statement was issued by Lincoln Town Council Chairman Stephen Clay Tuesday evening, "Bill made Lincoln better. I will miss working with him. His no nonsense personality made things happen. He tackled issues head on and got results. If a question was asked and he didn't know the answer, he would work hard to find the answer. I wish him the best with his new job. I will miss him professionally and personally."
Lawrence has accepted an unspecified job in Florida. No interim town manager will be hired until at least July 14.