SKOWHEGAN — Seven men from the homeless shelter at Trinity Evangelical Free Church will be working for the town soon in a muscle-for-money exchange to pay off the shelter’s sewer hookup fees.

The men, all residents of the shelter on McClellan Street, will work for the equivalent of $7.50 per hour until the shelter’s $5,000 fee is paid, Town Manager John Doucette Jr. said Friday.

Three of the men will be assigned to the town’s transfer station, two to the Highway Department and two to the Recreation Center. Chores will include general maintenance and cleanup duties, some mechanical work and getting ready for winter.

“When they initially came in they had 24 people scheduled to be in that shelter and we based the fee on 24 people,” Doucette said. “Since then they now are going to have an occupancy of 45 males at the shelter.”

The fee is a one-time payment to connect into Skowhegan’s sewer system. Doucette, and Code Enforcement Officer Randy Gray said the original fee was set at $3,400, based on occupancy and the estimated flow generated at the shelter.

When the enrollment increased, so did the hook-up fee, they said.

Doucette said a payment plan had been set up with the church’s pastor Richard Berry for $100 a month. Later, with expansion at the shelter, the payment plan increased, he said.

The shelter is tax exempt because it is affiliated with a church, and relies on donations to operate, he said.

“Pastor Berry came in and said they couldn’t afford that,” Doucette said. “And looking at what they had for assets that could help them, we talked to him about the possibility of using some of his manpower to take care of some of the projects we have in town.”

Gray said the agreement is a good example of doing more with less during tight economic times. There will be no cash exchanged for the work, he said.

The fee should be paid in full in about three weeks, they said. Background checks are done on all the men who register to live at the shelter.

Doucette said if the men do a good job he would be willing to offer letters of recommendation for future employment. The work will also give the men some experience to include on future job applications.

At the shelter on Friday, Berry said he is pleased that the town is supporting the shelter.

“I really appreciate the town working with me on this,” he said. “I have seven full time staff working for room and board. Nobody gets a salary around here, including me. I’m working pretty good with the town manager and the code officer; we seem to be on the same page.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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