The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Clark at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday March 3, 2020 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Blasi and Wombacher in attendance.

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: Add Sheriff 6b, an expression of sympathy (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Public Comment: none

Employee recognition:

Janitor Ramsey Abraham was recognized by the Commission for 5 years of service to the County, although he was unable to be in attendance.  Deputy Rob Morang was recognized for 15 years of service to the County.

Meeting Minutes:

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the February 18, 2020 Commissioners’ Special Meeting as presented in the packet (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)


Refugee Resettlement

Commissioner Clark said this is an agenda item, not a public hearing. He asked that comments remain brief, and any written comments would be part of the record in a separate file, referenced by the minutes, and available for review. 

Katie Greenman, Orland resident, spoke in favor of the commissioners making a public resolution that would welcome refugees as well as immigrants to Hancock County.  Greenman said a positive statement coming from the commissioners might be the very message needed to sway public opinion away from the exclusionary toward the compassionate.  Commissioner Clark asked the other commissioners if they wished to allow all of those present to speak, or to accept the written documentation and any additional comments they may have.  Commissioner Wombacher thought the people present at the meeting should be allowed to speak.

Beth Stickney, of the Maine Business Immigration Coalition, spoke in favor of issuing a positive statement welcoming refugees.  Stickney said with our demographics and low unemployment, the state needs more people.  She said as a state we cannot afford to be unwelcoming, whether people are coming from another state or another country.   Stickney said Catholic Charities has never resettled anyone in Hancock County, and is not allowed to resettle anyone more than 100 miles from where their office is.   Stickney said the funding received is federal, not local.  Commissioner Blasi asked if there were any statements of unwelcome from areas in Hancock County.  Stickney said she was not aware of any.  Commissioner Clark questioned the impact on the people living in the UT- their tax rate is set by the cost of services provided to them- shouldn’t they have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue?  Stickney said no they shouldn’t, because the question is no different than saying would the Unorganized Territories have the right to say we do not want people from California to move here; refugees are no different.  Stickney said they would be putting a load on Hancock County services no more than people moving from California would.  Tracey Hair, resident of Bucksport and Executive Director for HOME, Inc., spoke of her experience as an immigrant and spoke in favor of issuing a statement of welcome.  Karen Volckhausen, resident of Orland, spoke of her immigrant grandparents and their experience.  She said she wants to believe that we are compassionate and caring people who would not turn their backs and hoped that the County Commissioners would pass a resolution welcoming immigrants to Hancock County.  Judy Garvey, resident of Blue Hill, said Penobscot County recently passed a statement that was brief and welcoming; she sees this as a kind of model for other counties.  Jim Bergen, resident of Blue Hill, said he has experienced resettled people over his lifetime and referenced different ethnic groups who have been resettled.  Bergen said we need to look at these people as an asset instead of a liability and welcome them in a practical way, in that they make contributions to Hancock County.
Commissioner Blasi asked Stickney if counties need to follow suit, since the State of Maine has already consented.  Stickney agreed that the key is where the county has jurisdiction; for example, Ellsworth can decide solely.  Commissioner Clark said the State has jurisdiction over the UT, we simply are hired to manage them under strict criteria set in statute.  UT Supervisor Billings said he had no authority to spend any money that has not been approved by the legislature.  Billings said a message of welcome is fine, except that it sends the message that there is a place to put them.  Stickney said it costs nothing to send a message of welcome, but to send a contrary message of unwelcome means that people who come here for jobs may not want to come because they’ve heard Hancock County doesn’t like immigrants.  Commissioner Clark asked about indirect costs- services such as snow removal, etc.  Billings said we are required to provide those services, but we don’t plow private roads, only public ones, and law enforcement and fire already respond to calls in the entire UT.  Trash disposal may be an increased cost.  Commissioner Clark said if it’s clear that this is not going to infringe upon tax money or the technical legal issues, he would support it.  Billings said he did not think this would be an issue- there are no jobs, no housing, and limited services in the UT.  Stickney said the federal government approved resettlement for 18,000 this year, nationwide.  She said this year Catholic Charities only received 17 refugees. 

MOTION: Hancock County welcomes and is in support of refugee and immigrant resettlement (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: We, as managers of the Unorganized Territory, under the President’s executive order, vote to permit relocation of refugees and immigrants into the Unorganized Territory of Hancock County (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Break 9:46 am – 9:55 am


MOTION: reinstate Millard Billings as Hancock County Land Use Planning Commissioner for a 4 year term beginning July 1 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

This recommendation will go to the State Senate.


Bid opening- Airport Truck

One bid was submitted, from Darling’s Chevrolet in Ellsworth.  The result is as follows:

Base bid for 2020 Chevrolet ¾ ton regular cab $59,010; trade in allowance of $18,000; leaving the net bid price of $41,010.

MOTION: accept the bid from Darling’s Chevrolet for $41,010 on the condition that it meets specifications (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Airport Manager Search update / discussion- interviews will be held Friday; after these CA Adkins will report to the commission. 


Disposal of truck-

MOTION: Hancock County Sheriff’s Office sell the 2014 Dodge Ram truck in the amount of $1,500 to Travis Kane (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Steve McFarland has worked for the county for 38 years; his son Jason also worked for the County.  Jason’s wife Rosanna tragically passed away recently; the Commissioners wish to express their sympathy.  Rosanna established a reading program in the Surry School that provides a new book to every child in the school on their birthday.

MOTION: contribute, in memory of Rosanna McFarland, $150.00 to Surry’s book reading program called Rosanna’s Readers (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: To promote part time corrections officer James Williams to full time corrections officer, effective March 7, 2020 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


RCC Director Conary updated the Commission with his monthly report.  The electrical power is functional on the Bull Hill tower, although there are still repairs to make.  Radio console has been delayed due to a scheduling difficulty. 

Floor Mitigation-

Facilities Director Walls distributed a quote from Capozza for $16,900 for mitigation of the floor in the RCC Expansion space.  This was not included in the overall bid price. Without mitigation the moisture would not allow the product to adhere adequately.  This flooring product allows easier cleaning and less maintenance.  RCC Director Conary suggested using VCT (without mitigation), as that has been the product in place for years with no issues.  Walls said there may be warranty issues, but agreed this was a good option.

MOTION: change the flooring to VCT tile from the no-finish flooring, without mitigation (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)


Facilities Director Walls updated the commission with his monthly report.  He said sheetrock should be going up soon in the RCC expansion.  The coring is done and walls have been framed for 3rd floor project.  Partitions for storage section are scheduled to be constructed this weekend. 

MOTION: Approve up to 5 days of unpaid leave for Dianne Arriesgado (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

The expectation of the Commissioners is that Director Walls communicate with the employee, and with HR, regarding progress.


MOTION: Approve the February warrant memo as presented by Treasurer Boucher (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The Treasurer’s memo listed the following:

February GF, Airport, and Jail Payroll Warrants #20-5, #20-6, #20-7, and #20-8 in the aggregate amount of $366,911.80;

February GF, Airport, and Jail Expense Warrants #20-7, #20-8, #20-9, #20-10, #20-11, and #20-12 in the aggregate amount of $551,344.66;  

February UT Payroll Warrants #20-31, #20-32, #20-33, and #20-34 in the aggregate of $1,235.29;

February UT Expense Warrants #20-14 and #20-15 in the aggregate of $15,137.42

Treasurer Boucher reported that we received a $26.00 invoice from Meritain; this was paid.  There was some discussion on the TAN process.  Treasurer Boucher will meet with CA Adkins to begin preparations. 

MOTION: approve the request for transfer on the report dated February 18, 2020 in the amount of $3,262.00 from our expense accounts into general reserve (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)


Aflac Life Insurance discussion-

Aflac would like to offer County employees a guaranteed issue life insurance plan.  The entire cost of the premium would be covered by the employee through payroll deductions; there would be no expense to the County.  A minimum of 12 employees need to enroll.  An Aflac representative will need to meet with every employee to offer the chance to enroll or decline.

MOTION: Authorize Steve Gilbert from Aflac to meet with all of our employees to see if there is sufficient interest in providing employees life insurance at their expense (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Break 11:30

MOTION: Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) Labor Negotiations with Patrol unit (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(A) for exempt / appointed employee evaluation (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

The next meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday March 17, 2020.

Commissioner Blasi questioned MCCA approval of Charlie Pray’s testimony at the public hearing on February 14 on LD 2094.  Commissioner Blasi said he took exception to his testimony, particularly if he was speaking out of turn.  Commissioner Blasi said he would follow up with MCCA Chair Fowler.

MOTION: to adjourn 1:13 p.m. (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton,

Deputy County Administrator




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