The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday January 7, 2020 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Clark and Wombacher in attendance.

Vote to elect a Chairman-

Commissioner Clark nominated himself as chairman; Commissioner Wombacher seconded the motion.  Commissioner Blasi nominated Commissioner Wombacher as chairman.  The vote for Commissioner Clark was taken; the result was 2 votes for Commissioner Clark. Commissioner Blasi raised his hand in opposition.  Commissioner Blasi said because there are no remaining votes he would not call for a vote for Commissioner Wombacher.   Commissioner Clark was elected as Chair.

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: add item 5(g) approval to hire Jessica Cole of Otis as part time on call as needed corrections officer at the part time rate of pay with no benefits (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: remove Employee Recognition (Clark/Wombacher 3-0)

MOTION: remove Airport (Clark/Wombacher 2-0)

Commissioner Blasi did not vote; he said did not have a chance to read the report.

MOTION: move Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) to discuss Patrol Officers union contract negotiations to item 9h (Clark/Wombacher 2-1 Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Blasi said he wanted to keep the item listed as “to be determined”.

Public Comment: none

Approval of minutes:

MOTION:  Approve the minutes of the December 17, 2019 Commissioners’ Special Meeting (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: Approve the 2020 Stray and Abandoned or Surrendered Animal contract with Small Animal Clinic (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

The commission agreed to meet with Barbee Business Services again to review the plan for development of a loan program at the next meeting.  The commission briefly discussed the potential TIF agreement regarding the solar project; they are anxious to talk with someone about how it is progressing.  UT Supervisor Billings reported that there may be a delay in the Community Benefit payment from Bull Hill.  GE is now managing the site, although there was no change in ownership. 


Call sharing agreement- Chief Deputy Pat Kane said they are continuing to negotiate a call sharing agreement with the State Police.

Shellfish Warden- Chief Deputy Pat Kane reported that during the last communication he had with the committee he asked for a report of the group’s finances in order to ascertain what the group was looking for and if it was feasible; he has not heard back.  Commissioner Blasi said the town meeting cycle is here, and questioned whether town budget committees should be budgeting with the assumption that the program is still intact.  Chief Deputy Kane said the Sheriff’s Office is willing to help them, but the group has not yet presented a proposal.  He does not know what they are asking for or what funds there are to work with.  The commission agreed that it was appropriate to wait for the shellfish committee to contact the county.


MOTION: Request to sign amendment with Securus Technology regarding personal tablets (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Jail Administrator Richardson explained that this is another means of communication for inmates.  They will be able to email or make phone calls using a secure network.  They will have access to a law library, and forms and inmate handbooks will be on tablets, resulting in less paper in the jail. This is an enhancement of the video contract we have now.  The jail’s commission percentage is 29%.  If a tablet is damaged there is no cost to the jail. 

MOTION: Approval to promote Ernie Fitch to full time corrections officer at step 9A with full benefits effective January 18, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approval to hire Randy Dunbar of Otis as a part time on call as needed corrections officer, at the part time rate of pay with no benefits, effective January 11, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approval to hire Robert Lisee of Milbridge as a part time on call as needed corrections officer, at the part time rate of pay with no benefits, effective January 11, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approval to hire Brian Goodie of Bangor as part time on call as needed corrections officer, at the part time rate of pay with no benefits, effective January 11, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Enter executive session under MRSA Title 1§405 6 (a) for the purpose of discussing an employee appointment (Clark/ Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approval to promote C/O Ryan Haines to the position of Jail Sergeant, effective January 11, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approval to hire Jessica Cole of Otis as part time on call as needed corrections officer at the part time rate of pay with no benefits (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: change the word “on” to “of” on second page of December 17, 2019 minutes as Commissioner Blasi had requested in revision (Blasi/motion fails for lack of second

Commissioner Blasi wanted the line to read “impact of climate change”.  Commissioner Clark said he was opposed to making a change because the meaning was the same and it is needless extra work.  Commissioner Wombacher said the minutes were fine as they are.


MOTION: approve the December warrants as shown on the Treasurer’s memo to the commission (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The Treasurer’s memo listed the following:

December GF, Airport, and Jail Payroll Warrants #19-48, #19-49, #19-50, and #19-51 in the aggregate amount of $379,706.10;

December GF, Airport, and Jail Expense Warrants #19-85, #19-86, #19-87, #19-88,  #19-89, and #19-90 in the aggregate amount of $602,064.22;   

December UT Payroll Warrants #20-22, #20-23, #20-24, and #20-25 in the aggregate of $1,111.77;

December UT Expense Warrants #20-10 and #20-11 in the aggregate of $24,919.74 

MOTION: approve payment to Meritain in the amount of $1,191.45 (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: make payment to EMDC for $7,000 (Wombacher/fails for lack of second

MOTION: approve the expense of $7,000 to be payable to EMDC in relation to invoice #14523 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


Monthly report- Facilities Director Walls listed several current projects; the RCC project is underway and is and progressing successfully.  There was some discussion about removing and repurposing the wiring in the ceiling.  Access control continues with Phase 3.  The cabling project should be completed this week.  The commissioners reviewed countertop samples for the desk area in the meeting room; they agreed to get a quote for something similar to a wood-grain with a smooth finish.  The generator upgrade project has been completed.  The site survey with the State is ongoing.

MOTION: overdraft 06-90-911 generator upgrade and to pay the Hampden Electric invoice in the amount of $28,350 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0 motion passed)

The Jail Yard payment that was held based on successful completion of the project is now due.  Facilities Director Walls said there is one issue; this has been sent to Architect Charles Earley and Director Walls is certain it will be resolved.  He recommended getting assurance that the issue will be corrected before paying the invoice.  The commission agreed.

Break 10:26 a.m. - 10:36 a.m. 


Monthly report- RCC Director Conary reported that the State authorized the installation of the 4th console.  The console company visited the RCC to review the layout; RCC Director Conary said the design submitted was not acceptable and the designer will continue to work on design options for review. 

MOTION: approve agreement with the city of Ellsworth for dispatching services as presented (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: Approve FY20 mileage rate at .50 per mile (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Authorization for the Treasurer and Deputy County Administrator to issue checks up to $1,000 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Motion:  to pay travel expenses for commissioners living over 5 miles from the county seat (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion of Community Benefit funding Department 17 -

The commission discussed developing a new process for funding the organizations in Department 17.  Commissioner Blasi said he was in favor of using Community Benefits to fund Dept. 17, and advantages are that the organizations would need to report, and there would be only one application.  Commissioner Clark suggested keeping Dept. 17 and funding Univ. of Maine Extension and the Hancock County Firefighters Association through the budget.  He said the county has a statutory obligation to fund the Extension, and the HC Firefighters Association provides public safety services to the entire county.  Commissioner Clark suggested setting an amount of $150,000 of Community Benefit funds for 2021; any organization could apply.  CA Adkins cautioned that Community Benefit funds will not be around forever.  Commissioner Blasi suggested also adding Soil and Water District as an entity funded through the budget.  His rationale is that Soil and Water is under a State agency.  Commissioner Clark said we have a statutory requirement to fund Univ. of Maine Extension, but no one else.  Commissioner Wombacher suggested leaving the process as is for 2020, and then organize the details for 2021.  The commission agreed to consider the matter again at a future meeting.

Review of Annual Training materials- the commissioners acknowledged the annual training materials and the method of delivery to and acknowledgment from employees.  The training materials include the Hancock County sexual harassment policy, the VDT training, the Emergency Preparedness Plan, and the Drug Free Workplace policy.

The commission reviewed the vacation policy for appointed / exempt employees.  Currently these employees are granted an amount of vacation time on January 1, determined by years of service; the vacation time expires December 31.  The commission agreed to allow appointed / exempt employees to carry over to the new year up to one week of vacation time annually.

MOTION: amend the appointed exempt vacation policy as presented to us today which in effect allows for the carryover of one week during the year (Blasi/motion withdrawn

MOTION: approve the presentation which is to amend the appointed exempt vacation policy (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The motion is intended to support the documentation presented by CA Adkins. 

The commission discussed the December 11, 2019 minutes from MCCA regarding the budgeting formula for county dues to the association.

Break 11:45 a.m.

Commissioner Wombacher and Commissioner Clark agreed to review and approve warrants for 2020.

MOTION: enter Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) to discuss Patrol Officers union contract negotiations (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The next commissioners’ meeting will be held on January 21, 2020.

The commissioners went to the 3rd floor to review storage space; this part of the meeting was not recorded.  Upon return, Commissioner Clark reported that CA Adkins will ask Facilities Director Walls to develop specifications for work to be done to build storage space.  These should be brought back to the commissioners; at that time, they will decide whether to go out to bid.

End of year report from our appointed delegation to the Hancock County Planning Commission Executive Committee-

Jim Fisher, County appointee to the HCPC Planning Committee Executive Committee, submitted a draft report.  He gave a brief history of HCPC and his position with them as a staff member.  Steven Feite, appointee to the Committee from Bucksport, reported that the forensic audit of HCPC revealed $287,494.82 in check discrepancies.  Fisher said his goal would be to restore the planning commission; finding a competent planner would be crucial to this.

Commissioner Blasi said he was concerned about Brownfield money and where it is flowing now.   He asked the other commissioners what their level of interest was in assisting.  Commissioner Clark said he is confused about why the County Commissioners are taking such an interest in a non-county government entity.  Commissioner Blasi said he would be content to leave this matter with Soil and Water using their status to apply for Brownfield funds.  Commissioner Wombacher said he shared the concern about making sure funds are going where they should, and recognized the value in the county helping to facilitate partnerships but did not think the county needed to get involved on a fiscal level. 

MOTION: to adjourn 1:57 p.m. (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton,

Deputy County Administrator

Official Website of Hancock County, Maine.                              Copyright 2021 All rights reserved.