FARMINGDALE — Selectmen said Wednesday night that receipts submitted by the town’s snowplowing contractor are considered acceptable by the town attorney, but they’re concerned whether enough liquid calcium chloride was bought this winter.

The selectmen had the town attorney send a letter to the contractor, Ellis Construction, asking for additional information because they thought five blacked-out receipts submitted to the town for liquid calcium chloride were for separate purchases. The attorney, Mary Denison, of Lake & Denison, said the town needed the details of the blacked-out sections in case the town is audited by the state.

Ellis Construction owner Chris Ellis, who said he didn’t receive the letter, told the attorney that he made multiple copies of one purchase receipt from Paris Farmers Union for 2,500 gallons of the brine. The receipts were used to show when the material was moved from a storage tank to the trucks.

The chairman of the select board, Doug Ebert, said at the meeting the board will have to discuss whether to take any action if not enough material was bought.

“We need to sit down and talk about it,” Ebert said. “It’s nothing that’s going to happen today. It’s gonna require, as I said, some sitting down with the attorney and saying, ‘Now where can we go from here.’ Because if we don’t do that, someone else’s attorney is going to be involved and we’re going to be in a battle against each other. We need to do it the right way.”

The town awarded Ellis a three-year plowing contract in August that totals $487,500.


The contract says all sand and salt material spread on roads should be pre-wetted with the liquid calcium chloride, but Ellis said the Maine Department of Transportation’s Maine Local Roads Center advised him to only use the solution on a few high-traffic roads. He said he told the board that was what he was going to do, and they approved it.

“The town sent me and my crew to Maine Local Roads, and they told us where to apply it and when to apply it and that’s what we did,” Ellis said in a phone interview Thursday.

Ebert did not respond to a phone call for comment Thursday.

The contract requires a tank to be filled with at least 2,500 gallons of liquid calcium chloride at the start of the season, and its says the road commissioner will determine if the supply needs to be replenished throughout the season.

The road commissioner, Keith Kalloch, had signed off on the contractor’s work for the season, the board said.

Liquid calcium chloride or other brines are used to help the salt stick to the road surface, according Brian Burne, highway maintenance engineer for MDOT.


“The reason for doing that is it activates the salt, and it helps minimize the material loss due to bump and scatter on the road,” he said.

Burne said it’s more effective on more heavily trafficked roads, and the state doesn’t recommend using it on lower-speed or back roads.

A small group of residents who regularly attend select board meetings have voiced complaints about Ellis Construction since it was awarded the three-year contract in August. One of those residents, Gary Choate, first brought the issue of the liquid calcium chloride receipts to the board.

He is accusing Ellis Construction of submitting fraudulent slips, and he told the board Wednesday that he would be calling the state police about the matter.

But the Ebert said the attorney told them there was no criminal wrongdoing.

“There’s no fraudulent documents,” Ebert said to Choate. “That’s what we just discussed. That’s from the attorney.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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