SKOWHEGAN — The five-member Board of Selectmen voted unanimously this week to dedicate the annual town report to the Maine Army National Guard.

The report for 2011 will now go to the printers to be ready for the annual Town Meeting June 11.

Town Manager John Doucette Jr. said he considered several options for the dedication, but finally recommended the National Guard for all the work the soldiers did for the town last year.

“They did trails, they rebuilt dugouts, they redid fields and a footbridge — they saved us a lot of money,” Doucette said Wednesday. “Not only that, but they are representing the armed services; they’re also getting training that’s very important to them to do these projects because they’re an engineering group.

“It’s nice to see the state’s Army National Guard helping our communities. These guys came all the way down from Fort Kent and Caribou; they were a long way from home doing what they did for this community.”

The 136th and the 185th engineering support companies worked in Skowhegan in June as part of projects undertaken by the 133rd Engineering Battalion.

Projects included replacing bridges on the Heselton Street nature trail, a drainage system for a new youth football field behind the community center, new dugouts at the Pat Quinn baseball field off East Maple Street and remaking the Bucky Quinn baseball field on South Factory Street for youth softball.

Of the five projects undertaken by the National Guard, the biggest was completion of a handicapped accessible hiking and biking trail along the Kennebec River gorge. Denise LeBlanc, director of the Skowhegan Parks and Recreation Department, said that project alone would have cost the town an estimated $300,000.

Sgt. Kevin Barnes of the 185th Engineer Support Co., based in Caribou, said last summer the goal for his unit was to get each soldier trained on every piece of equipment — chainsaws, bulldozers, pay loaders, rollers, dump trucks and graders — so they could all be licensed to operate the equipment.

His crew cleared the path for the trail, cut the trees, chipped some of the wood and brush for the trail side then graded the trail surface. He said the work is valuable training for the 15 men in his platoon as they await possible deployment overseas in 2013.

Doucette said the town wanted to get the projects done, but couldn’t afford to pay for them from the town’s general fund. He said he, LeBlanc and a representative from Plymouth Engineering met with the National Guard commander last summer.

“They liked our projects because they were all permitted; we had all the engineering and everything done and ready to go,” Doucette said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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