THUMBS UP to a proposal in Augusta that would help the city deal with vacant buildings that fall into disrepair.

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would require owners of vacant buildings to register with the city. The six-month permits would cost $200 for commercial entities, such as banks, and $100 for individual owners, and would require the owner to provide contact information for someone in the area to respond to building problems and code violations.

The ordinance would address a growing problem. When a large, out-of-state bank forecloses on a property, the building is left without anyone local to look after it. The foreclosure process takes time, during which the building’s condition can decline, making it a dangerous eyesore that hurts the neighborhood as a whole. Meanwhile, the city can have trouble contacting anyone connected to the property.

Two years ago, the city of Bangor faced a similar problem, and responded with a similar ordinance, though Bangor’s law holds the property owner to certain standards, such as making sure the lawn is cut and the building is secure.

Augusta’s proposal does not include standards, though a city committee is working on wider property maintenance rules.

Those rules are necessary to give the registry ordinance any real weight. But with the initial proposal, the city is moving in the right direction.

THUMBS UP to the extra attention being paid to safety at farms that offer outside activities to visitors.

Agritourism is a growing business, with the number of U.S. farms reporting incomes from activities such as hay rides and corn mazes rising 42 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.

In fact, many small farms depend on the extra income to survive, and agritourism is yet another wonderful way to support local farms and connect people to those who produce our food.

But it all comes with a risk, which was made clear last year when 17-year-old Cassidy Charette, of Oakland, was killed and 22 others injured in a hayride accident at a farm in Mechanic Falls.

According to the National Farm Medicine Center, 14,000 children — 40 percent of whom are visitors — are injured at farms each year.

That has led to increased scrutiny, and more farmers are taking precautions.

That’s good, because a lot is at stake. Agritourism is necessary to sustain the local farm movement, and one mistake can destroy a business, along with lives.

THUMBS DOWN to shortcomings in Maine’s public records retention process that are leaving gaps in the historical record.

Gov. Paul LePage has a penchant for sending handwritten notes as part of conducting public business, though his office contends that those notes are not a part of the public record.

Experts on the Freedom of Access Act, as well as current and former state archivists, disagree, but no one is enforcing it.

There are also empty seats on the State Archives Advisory Board, which advises state and local agencies about record retention policies, and more than half of state agencies and departments do not have the staff assigned to record retention that is required by law.

As a result, a lot of public business is going uncatalogued. The true impact of this likely will not be felt for years, when someone goes back and finds all the holes in the public record.

That’s a shame, and for the sake of open government, this deficiency should be corrected.

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