WINTHROP — Town councilors on Monday said so long to long-time member Kevin Cookson.

Cookson, who in November lost his bid to serve another term on the council, and Councilor Larry Fitzgerald, who did not seek re-election, were feted during a brief ceremony held prior to the regular council meeting, the last before each man exits the council at the end of the month. For Cookson the curtain will drop on a 15-year run as councilor.

“I was very sad I was not re-elected,” Cookson said, reflecting on his time in office. “I love the town and I love the town politics.”

Cookson came up just 15 votes short in his bid to win a sixth term, losing to newcomer David Bubier, who received 682 votes to Cookson’s 667. Linda Caprara, who has served on the council for 18 years, was re-elected with 737 votes. Priscilla Jenkins, who served on the council until 2013, topped the field with 748 votes. Bubier and Jenkins will begin their service on the council in January. Cookson, who spent a number of years as the council’s vice chairman and chairman, said he always tried to do what he thought was best for the town as a whole, even if it was unpopular.

“My dad always said, ‘No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone,” Cookson said. “I couldn’t make my decision on the amount of people who show up in the room.”

Cookson said the chairman, which directs the meetings and acts as the council’s spokesperson, always receives a great portion of the blame when the council makes an unpopular decision.

“The chair never makes a motion,” Cookson said. “Maybe I would vote for it, maybe I wouldn’t, but because you’re the chair, you get the blame.”

Cookson said he is proud that the council was able to develop a comprehensive plan for the schools system that helped lead to a new high school and improvements at both the middle and grade schools. Cookson also is proud the council moved the town office from its old facility, the current home of the police department, to space in the same building as the grade school. Cookson said the new location not only works better for the town, but it helped build a connection between town and school administrators.

Cookson, who moved to Winthrop in 1976, reflected on other accomplishments as well. A police officer for 11 years and a volunteer firefighter for 10, Cookson also was a founding member of the Winthrop Ambulance Service.

Cookson said he will continue to serve the town in different capacities. He has joined the Lions Club and has submitted an application to join the planning board whenever there is a vacancy.

“Somewhere down the line I”m still going to be walking the halls,” Cookson said.

Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller presented Cookson and Fitzgerald with a plaque thanking them for their time on the council. She said the men’s insight and experience will be missed. Fuller recalled her first meetings as a councilor and the help Cookson has been throughout her years of service.

“There are really no words to thank you for the service and work you’ve put into the town,” Fuller said.

In other news, town Manager Peter Nielsen gave the board an update on the town’s effort to plan for disposal of the town’s solid waste once its contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in Orrington will expire in the summer of 2018. Nielsen said PERC and a new solid waste recycling and processing facility in Hermon being developed by the Municipal Review Committee have offered competing proposals. Nielsen said both PERC and MRC are claiming the other is inferior in a bid to attract enough communities to ensure enough tonnage to make each facility profitable.

“There’s a tug-of-war going on between those organizations,” Nielsen said.

Winthrop is on the extreme southwestern edge of communities that send their waste to PERC, which is about 90 miles away. Nielsen recently met with managers at Auburn-based Mid Maine Waste Action Corporation and said he was impressed by their operation. By the time the town signs a contract, which could come as soon as this spring, Nielsen said he expects the town to pay about $70 per ton regardless of where it sends its waste.

“The question becomes would you rather drive 90 miles or 25,” Nielsen said.

Beyond the travel savings, Nielsen said, the town would likely receive more than $100,000 if it left PERC. The money is the town’s portion of the pot of money from the founding communities, including Winthrop, that has accumulated over the years.

“If you’re thinking the way I’m thinking,” Nielsen said, “we might be wise to take some of that money, go a shorter distance and save our taxpayers a lot of money.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4


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