Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 17, 2014 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.


Adjustments to the agenda:

MOTION: to add item 2b, a request for the purchase of capital equipment. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to add item 4. Under Jail, to approve the hire of Edwin Leighton II as a part-time jail cook at the rate of $12 per hour. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commission Business:

Emergency Management Agency:

EMA Director Andrew Sankey stated that it has been determined that Hancock County was the worst hit county in the State of Maine during the recent ice storm.  The courthouse fared well, there were some problems that occurred but all in all, the courthouse fared well.  EMA has met and filed with the State of Maine for disaster relief.

Three department heads responded to a request for items that should be addressed in order for a smooth transition in the future disasters.  The OFA has requested that certain items be added to the generator, the phone system UPS was placed permanently on the generator through a dedicated line immediately after the storm.  There were issues with two condensate pumps that were flooding, which has been fixed.  Provisions were made to add the RCC Directors lights to the generator as well as the maintenance department.  Items that should be added to the generator include: the sheriff’s training room, hallway lighting, lighting in the sheriff’s patrol office and air conditioning in the RCC.  Director Walls stated that, in a few months, all of these issues will be addressed.  Commissioner Brown stated that during the roof renovation the electrical system should be on one entrance and therefore an additional generator could be added and the entire complex could be run by generator power, if needed.  Currently, the generator is run by diesel fuel which uses approximately one half of its fuel in a 22 hour period.

Items that have been fixed are phone lines, analog phone will be purchased in order to plug into copper lines in order to keep continuity of the phone lines within the building.  Enough phones to cover all copper lines will be purchased in the near future.  The EMA Office is fully powered along with the sheriff’s office, RCC, jail, the OFA bathroom light, portions of the RCC Directors office, the server room with exceptions, the Registry of Deeds servers and portions of the commissioners meeting room.  Commissioner Joy requested to immediately pursue the purchase of analog phones.  Commissioner Brown questioned if all computers had battery back-up.  The majority do for between 15-30 minutes.  The Registry of Deeds is currently electronic, they are no-longer dependent on “books.”  Courthouse back-up systems and life safety systems, as designed, worked.

Systems that require attention include weather or other emergency shutdown authorities/procedures in place.  Director Sankey presented a “flip book” that lists potential threats and immediate actions to be taken. 

Director Sankey discussed Continuity of Government Operations – Who? When? Where? With? and Why?  Who is “in charge and internal/external communications for personnel and the public.  Commissioner Blasi suggested monthly meeting of a Safety Review Committee to review the plan(s).  Commissioner Brown stated that security of the building was taken into consideration when meeting previously.  He stated that the committee may want to address the addition of cameras in the parking garage and hallways.  Security with regard to specific operations should also be addressed.  An all hazards approach is needed.  Commissioner Blasi stated that Department Heads are charged with knowing the plan and implementation.  He suggested sending out a memo to department heads reminding them of what their jobs are within the plan and to ask for volunteers to sit on the safety committee.  A DRAFT of the Continuity of Operations Plan was distributed.  Commissioner Joy stated that he would like to see a bulleted check off style document noting what needs to be done/an action plan, what has to be done, and an overall continuity plan for the future.  Director Walls stated that the commissioner participation was important to this committee.  Commissioner Joy suggested that the EMA liaison should participate as part of the committee.  Immediate follow up should include the suggested bullets of immediate needs and a completion schedule, in the future the addition of the generator and the findings of the committee or revisions in the plan.  It was agreed that the “flip book” is an excellent resource and should be considered.  The EMA Department will communicate his progress in the monthly report.  Director Sankey stated that the job of the local EMA for a local municipality is going to fall on the fire or police chief, they are busy performing their jobs and don't turn their attention to EMA jobs.  Director Sankey gave a brief overview of the role of local EMA's with an emphasis on training and exercising of local, municipal EMA's The ice storm, its cause and effect and their actions to it, may help them in the long run.

EMA Director Sankey requested to purchase a new copier that would include a scanner/fax and finisher.  The cost is $3,379, EMA would pay half.  CFO Roy suggested paying the EMA share from the Technology Reserve account G1-3011-01.  The current copier is 9 years old.  The EMA “in-kind” account is soft match funds generated from attendance of meetings.  Funds could be taken from this account and be utilized towards the purchase; the account number is 3021-56

MOTION: to approve the purchase of a Bizhub 362 in the amount of $3,379 from the “in-kind” account number 3021-56. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi requested that the reimbursement funds be applied back to the in-kind account.  CFO Roy stated that it will be applied that way.

Office of Financial Affairs:

CFO Roy requested to approve the hire of Sue Berry of Waltham as a part-time accounting clerk at the rate of $12.50 per hour, effective January 18, 2014.  After requesting her qualifications and CFO Roy could not address them

MOTION: to table until later in the meeting. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed)


Sue Starr, Selectperson for the Town of Trenton, requested a Letter of Support for the proposed floating pier project located at the Sea Plane Ramp of the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport.  The DEP application will be required before the pier can be placed.  She requested a statement signed by the commissioners to show that the commissioners agree with the Town seeking installation of the pier.  The town has nearly $50,000 in cash funds toward the pier and have two grants in the works.  If grants fall through, they will go back and raise the funds.  Ms. Starr stated that the need for a release (non-aeronautical use) should not be needed as the pier project is only making the current structure more secure and the use will be the same.  The Town of Trenton will not be taking over any control and there is no real change to that part of the airport.  Ms. Starr stated her commitment to going as far with this as she can until someone signs a document stating that the project jeopardizes the airport.  Commissioner Blasi questioned airplanes nicking their wings on the pilings.  Ms. Starr stated that a ramp width of 30-40 feet is more than adequate space for an airplane to come of the ramp.  Commissioner Joy stated that the piers were not in the middle of the ramp, they are on the side.  The pier will take up no more than 8 feet of the ramp and the pilings will be on the side of the rip rap.

Commissioner Brown was concerned that the FAA letter that voiced reservation of the project, including the pier.  He was not “for it” if it jeopardized the 1 million dollar airport allotment.  Ms. Starr stated that she would like to see a signed document stating that it will jeopardize the allotment.  Commissioner Joy questioned why the committee is not requesting the FAA’s permission first as if they don’t approve the use, why would you ask the MDOT first.  Ms. Starr stated that she wants to assume that the pier will be exempt from the problem.  Commissioner Joy stated it is a Seaplane ramp under FAA, if you want to turn it into a boat launch, the FAA has to be involved.  He did not understand why they would get a DEP permit prior to speaking to the FAA.  Ms. Starr stated that she could not find where pilings should only be a certain height and wanted to see it in writing.  Commissioner Joy stated that he did not agree that the next step is the DEP permit.  Questions for the commissioners: is this an essential use, he was not sure how “Trenton’s baby” became ours.

Commissioner Blasi requested to act on behalf of the town to request FAA assistance in the process.  Ms. Starr was concerned with contacting the current FAA contacts as they have not shown positive feedback for the project.  Commissioner Brown stated that the letter stated that all correspondence has to go through the FAA and he thought she had the cart before the horse.  It all goes back to non-aeronautical use and the associated cost.  In order to save Trenton and the county a bunch of money the FAA should be contacted to see if it will be approved.  Trenton has already advertised that they are seeking DEP approval.  All abutters are notified of the letter of intent.  The town would go before the planning board as part of their process.  A building permit would be needed for the pier.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if the commissioners would consider writing to the FAA on behalf of the town in order to receive a determination of whether the county would lose grant funds as a result of the town going forward with this permit.  Commissioner Joy stated that we would withdraw any approval if grant funds are in jeopardy.

Ms. Starr requested that the commissioners sign a letter of intent and request FAA approval at the same time, within a 30 day period.  Commissioner Blasi stated that the commissioners were cautioned in the letter received by the FAA but it did not explain why they were cautioned.  Commissioner Brown stated there are 1 million reasons.  Commissioner Joy stated that he had no issue with the pier project as long as it doesn’t interfere with the seaplane ramp.  He was willing to “go this far” for the pier project.  Commissioner Brown was uncomfortable with the letter being addressed to “To whom it may concern.” 

MOTION: that this request be granted that the town of Trenton is authorized to submit the January 17 resolution to the MDEP and the wording is in this document before us. (Blasi/failed for lack of 2nd)

Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated his discomfort with the wording of the motion.

MOTION: we agree that the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Trenton can act as our agent with regard to the floating pier dock in application for a DEP permit. (Joy/Blasi 2-1) motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Brown stated that he did not believe the Hancock County Commissioners have the authority to assign their permission to anyone else.

Amendment: to refer to this document (resolution) in the letter to MDEP. (Blasi/died for lack of second.)

OFA continued:

CFO Roy requested approval to hire Sue Berry of Waltham as a part-time accounting clerk at the rate of $12.50 per hour, effective January 18, 2014 and gave a brief overview of her credentials.  Total hours is 520 per year, 8 hours one week and 12 hours the next.

MOTION: to approve the hire of Sue Berry of Waltham as a part-time accounting clerk at the rate of $12.50 per hour, effective January 18, 2014. (Brown/Joy 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that we already have an employee in place who is the County Treasurer, she has no operational or supervisory conflict with performing these transactions so there was no reason to hire another employee instead of shifting the treasurer into the position and giving her more hours to do these duties.  CFO Roy stated that the reason he did not look to the treasurer is because it is a conflict of interest, she has to have GL(General Ledger) abilities and be able to do data entry.  We do not allow the person who sign checks to have GL capabilities.  You would not want someone who signs the checks to be able to manipulate the books.  Although there is no statute reference for this, it is good accounting principles.  It was also reported as a deficiency in the audit for several years prior to CFO Roy changing it.

Liaison Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that this practice should be discontinued, in his mind it is incongruent with MRSA Title 30-A §101 which says that the county commissioners manage county business.  Commissioner Joy requested a copy of the statute.  Commissioner Brown stated that as a liaison you do not manage the managers, you do not micro manage them, you assist them if you are asked, that is why we have managers.  Commissioner Blasi stated that it was two different interpetations of the statute.  Title 30-A ss. 101 (3) was referenced again.  Commissioner Joy questioned where that statute referenced liaisons.  Commissioner Blasi stated that liaisons could prohibit preclude or prohibit the commissioners from managing the department.  Commissioner Joy stated that the commissioners do not manage departments, we manage the whole of county government.  No one individual commissioner manages anything.  The statute references commissioners, not commissioner.  No one by themselves manages an department in terms of a commissioner.  Liaisons are only to have someone to talk to and bounce items off of.  Commissioner Blasi stated that he did not care for the formality of it but thought it was helpful.  Commissioner Joy stated that formerly liaisons changed every year in order for the commissioners to meet the department heads and understand their needs and what is going on in each department.

Joy: Airport, RCC, CC’s, OFA and MCCA Risk Pool.

Blasi: Probate, DA, UT, Sheriff and Jail.

Brown: EMA, Deeds, Maintenance and Workforce Investment.

Commissioner Brown stated that he preferred to have the UT’s, as he is currently working with Aurora.  Commissioner Blasi stated that he particularly favored the UT’s.  Commissioner Brown has received two requests from department heads to be their liaison.  Commissioner Joy requested that Commissioner Brown continue working with the UT on a current project.  It was reiterated that the liaison is not a manager of the department, they are not there to micro manage and it takes a majority of commissioner’s to make decisions.

11:40 a.m.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to hear a complaint. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)  Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated that there will be numerous people coming into the meeting at 11:00 and questioned if the commissioners should proceed with the complaint.  It was agreed to proceed.

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 11:30 a.m.  A written decision will be provided to each participant and included in their personnel files.  Clerk DePrenger stated that according to statute, the complaint itself does not go into the personnel file, the outcome goes into the personnel file.  Commissioner Brown agreed.  Commissioner Joy stated that deliberation consensus was that everyone has to be treated professionally, that CFO Roy admitted that he was condescending.  The complaint will go into the grievance file, not in a personnel file and the outcome, once written, will be added to the personnel file.  Commissioner Joy, with Clerk DePrenger's help, will write the formal determination which will be given to each employee.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to conduct a termination hearing. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 1:44 p.m.  Noted: Commissioner Blasi left the meeting sometime during the termination hearing.

MOTION: for approval of the sheriff to terminate Corrections Officer Warren Dowling, effective immediately. (Brown/Joy 2-0, motion passed)

Addendum: effective immediately, (Brown/Joy 2-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the hire of Edwin Leighton II as a part-time, on call, as needed cook, effective January 18, 2014 at the rate of $12 per hour, no benefits, working less than 30 hours per week. (Brown/Joy 2-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Brown and the UT Director will be meeting with Burlington and Aurora Fire Chief next Wednesday and will report their findings back to the commissioners.  He will be suggesting a stipends an possible payment on a per-call basis.

Evaluations will be rescheduled at an upcoming meeting.

MOTION: to adjourn. (Joy/Brown 2-0, motion passed)



C. DePrenger

County Clerk

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