The special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday November 19, 2019 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Clark and Wombacher in attendance.

Spirit of America Awards

The commission recognized the following Hancock County recipients of the Spirit of America awards:

Craig Bowden of Bucksport

David Keene of Bucksport

Kathy Downes of Bucksport

Rebecca Donnell Grindle of Franklin

Bob Pulver of Lamoine

Richard M. Savage

Glyneta Thompson & Gary Mosley of Surry

Rebecca Collison of Surry

John & Mary Whetstone of Trenton

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: add to the agenda as item 4-c “revisit the motion and second on the MAT contract from the November 5, 2019 CRM” (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Public Comment:

Commissioner Clark referenced a written comment from Randy Gravel and requested the comment be added to the meeting record; Commissioners Blasi and Wombacher did not object.

MOTION: Have the County Administrator create a response to Mr. Gravel’s complaint or comment stating that Mr. Gravel’s direct response is to contact the State Police, as he is referencing a complaint that was handled by the State Police, and Mr. Gravel direct and continue to direct all of his comments to the Sheriff, as the commission does not hold the forum to resolve his complaint (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed passed)

The letter will be mailed by return receipt.

Approval of minutes:

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the November 5, 2019 Commissioners’ Regular Meeting (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)


RCC Director Conary submitted an estimate of $59,864.86 from Brown’s Communications for an additional radio console.  The estimate included an additional maintenance package totaling $10,734.50.  Commissioner Clark suggested paying the service contracts separately and paying annually for 3 years.  This leaves a cost of $49,130.36 for the radio console.  Director Conary explained that the City of Ellsworth is upgrading; this unit is compatible with that system.  Purchasing this at the same time the city purchases their units allows us to share the cost of the on-site engineer.  Director Conary plans to replace consoles one at a time, phasing the old ones out.

MOTION: due to our business relationship with Brown’s Communications they be considered sole source (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approve the proposal submitted by Brown’s Communications in the amount of $49,130.36 for the fourth dispatch console, using account G-1-3012-60 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi referenced account G-1-3012-60, with a current balance of $96,409.  Commissioner Clark suggested using this account for this purpose until it is exhausted, then find additional funding; Conary would need to prioritize based on what is in that account.

Commissioner Clark amended his motion to add “using account G1-3012-60”; Commissioner Blasi seconded the amendment. 


RCC Expansion project update and discussion / approval of Penobscot Co. agreement –

Facilities Director Dennis Walls explained that after the last meeting he asked Nazaroff of the Penobscot Company to put together a target price.  After backing out certain features that the commissioners did not want to pursue from the first design, the figure was $361,000.  Walls said the real barrier to getting the maximum price is the set of plans. Walls referenced the existing bathroom; it continues to have plumbing issues, apparently due to inadequate pitch.  Resolving this would be costly, and Walls recommended eliminating the bathroom.  RCC Director Conary was in agreement with removing the existing bathroom.   Commissioner Clark suggested the County do the work for that.  Director Walls agreed, but said the plumbing needed to be eliminated by an effective process, not simply abandoning it.  The air handler needs to be addressed, which will affect the cost; it would put the project in the $400,000 range.  Facilities Director Walls said at some point they will produce a document with a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) - this cannot be ascertained until all the design drawings are done, which will be mid- December.  The Penobscot Company agreement before the commission today includes an explanation of the per-hour cost and the mark-up cost; it covers the way the county will be billed.  The document with the GMP will come later. 

MOTION: Sign agreement between Hancock County and Penobscot Company as the constructor for the RCC Renovation as phase one, with phase two providing a guaranteed maximum price (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The document is labeled A133-2009.

MOTION:  the RCC Expansion project be paid for with Community Benefits- if a suitable funding source is found the commissioners will draw on that funding source (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

CA Adkins suggested transferring $400,000 out of Community Benefits and if a funding source is found later it would be transferred back to Community Benefits.

MOTION: transfer $350,000 from Community Benefits (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Clark said did not want to encourage anyone to pay $400,000 for the project; he expressed that he did not want the project to go over $350,000.

Exercise room- part of the relocation of the gym is to move the equipment to the old law library.  A power receptacle has been installed so the equipment can be moved to the section over storage; Walls suggesting letting people use the equipment and see what the impact is.   Notifications about the impact and sensitivity to noise levels will be posted; recommendations will be made as needed and appropriate.

Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District- Introduction of Executive Director Lesley Lichko-

EMA Director and HCSWCD Board member Andrew Sankey introduced new Executive Director Lesley Lichko, saying she has been on the job a few months and has made a tremendous impact on operations.  Lichko referenced the HCSWCD strategic plan, which included goals to expand services.  They also intend to address the HCPC issue and provide services that HCPC would have, including grant writing and working on brownfields.  Lichko thanked the commission for consideration of funding for HCSWD and expressed that if there are needs HCSWCD can provide she would be grateful to know what those services might be.  Commissioner Wombacher asked how they were letting communities know about services; Lichko said they would send a press release to local community outputs but asked for input from the commission.  Commissioner Blasi suggested putting something on the county website; we would receive inquiries and direct those to the district.  Commissioner Blasi referred to HCSWCD’s strategic goals for 2020, the last one being collaboration with the county commissioners, and suggested adding sub-headings, such as the clam-flats west of the airport seaplane ramp.

Lichko said this was a priority for them.  Commissioner Clark questioned the commissions’ statutory responsibility or authority in areas like that.  Commissioner Blasi asked about climate change resiliency; Sankey said this was addressed in the strategic plan and the district is amenable to working in cooperation with other organizations.  Commissioner Blasi asked how the district will relate and stay apprised of concerns of municipal officers and planning board members.  Sankey said they would go to selectboard meetings and make connections with large groups such as Friends of Acadia; Lichko is actively engaged in all of that.  Lichko said she would be happy to attend a commissioners’ meeting on a periodic basis.  Commissioner Blasi said the planning board members and managers should know a shift has occurred from County Planning Commission to certain functions of the Soil and Water District and there is someone taking care of this business.  The county website will include a section with links to HCSWCD and other organizations that provide services to municipalities.


During the November 5, 2019 CRM the commission did not complete the vote on the following motion:

MOTION: sheriff be authorized to sign the MAT contract when one is made available to him (Clark/Wombacher

The voted was called; it was 3-0, motion passed.

Drug Free Workplace Policy-

CA Adkins reported that the workshop with the Department Heads went well.  All Department Heads helped to shape the draft version.  Any mention of drug testing was removed.  Many of the Department Heads were not comfortable using the Observed Behavior Checklist.  The commission reviewed the draft policy and made minor changes.  The commission agreed that the Observed Behavior Checklist should be included as a support document, to be used as a basis for a narrative to document employee behavior.  Employees will review the policy and sign the acknowledgement form as part of the annual training.  The commission will review and vote on a final version of the policy on December 3. 

Life Insurance discussion-

The commission discussed life insurance and how a death benefit applies to employees enrolled in health insurance, employees not enrolled in health insurance, and retirees.  Under the Meritain health plan, employees who were enrolled in the health plan received the life insurance benefit of 1x their annual salary, with the premium paid by the county.  Employees who were not enrolled in the health plan did not receive the life insurance benefit but had the option to purchase the plan and pay the premium.  Retirees had a $2,000 life insurance policy, premium paid by the county.  Under Allegiant Care, employees who are enrolled receive a $25,000 life insurance policy through Allegiant Care.  Employees who are not enrolled do not have the option of life insurance with Allegiant Care.  Retirees who are Medicare-eligible do not receive a life insurance benefit from Allegiant Care.  Retirees who are not Medicare-eligible and are enrolled in Allegiant Care receive the standard $25,000 life insurance policy through Allegiant Care.

The full consensus of the commission was that employees would continue to receive the same death benefit and agreed to the following:

Regular full time employees enrolled in Allegiant Care will receive a death benefit of 1X the employee’s annual salary at time of death; $25,000 would come from Allegiant Care and the County will self-fund the remainder.

Regular full time employees who are not enrolled in Allegiant Care will not receive a death benefit from the County.

Retirees who are Medicare eligible will receive a death benefit of $2,000; this will be self-funded by the County.

Retirees who are not Medicare eligible but are enrolled in Allegiant Care through the County will receive only the $25,000 death benefit through Allegiant Care.

For the purposes of this benefit, elected officials are considered regular full time employees.

MOTION: provide death benefits for the four categories of active full time employees who are enrolled in Allegiant, active full time employees who are not enrolled in Allegiant, Retirees who are Medicare-eligible, and Retirees who are not Medicare eligible as discussed earlier (Clark/Wombacher motion and second withdrawn

This will be presented to the commission on December 3 in the form of a policy; at that point they will vote on the policy.

The commission agreed to consider an increase to IT Administrator Chuck Carter’s salary with his 6-month performance evaluation.

The commission agreed to allow EMA Director Andrew Sankey and IT Administrator Chuck Carter to extend the use of one week of 2019 vacation time into the first quarter of 2020. 

MOTION: EMA Director Andrew Sankey and IT Administrator Chuck Carter be permitted to use accrued vacation time in the amount of one week in the first 90 days of 2020 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed

MOTION: to adjourn 11:15 a.m. (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator

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