Belgrade voters will choose Board of Selectpersons members and weigh in on town business March 18 and 19 at Town Meeting.

Voting on municipal officials and on several referendum items takes place 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 18, at the Belgrade Community Center for All Seasons.

Other business will be conducted in open session beginning 1 p.m. Saturday, March 19. If bad weather forces a cancellation, it will be held at 6 p.m. March 21.

One of the articles includes a request to borrow $809,000 and appropriate an additional $400,000 from taxes to fund three years’ worth of road maintenance and paving.

Those projects would take place on Mill Stream, Wings Mills, West, Dun Knowles, Sahagian and Point roads.

“We wanted to show people that what they’re getting is a lot of road work,” said Ernest Rice, chairman of the Board of Selectpersons.

He said the timing of the work means a large savings for the town on the price of asphalt and on loan interest.

Rice added that if that article passes, the money to be raised in taxes would be $430,000 less than that raised to support of the current year’s budget of $2.47 million. For 2015, the property tax rate in Belgrade was $13.65 per $1,000 of assessed property value. A total of $2.6 million is proposed for the municipal budget for the upcoming year, according to the 2015 town report, which is available on the town’s website at reports.

Three men are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectpersons.

Rice is seeking re-election, as is Richard Damren Jr., who is vice chairman. They are being challenged by Ernst A. Merckens III for the three-year terms.

Two people are running to complete the final two years of the term currently held by Bruce Plourd, who submitted his resignation because he is moving away from the town.

Jason Carey and Cheryl Cook are running for that post.

Two other people are vying for a one-year term for road commissioner — the incumbent, Maurice Childs; and challenger Kevin Hawes, who is a former road commissioner.

Rebecca Seel is running unopposed for another three-year term representing the town on the board of Regional School Unit 18.


Also on the ballot are questions about supporting the budgets for operations and programs of the Center for All Seasons and the library for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

The town is being asked to appropriate $34,750 for the center’s operations and $138,479 in a separate article on funding for recreational programs and events. Last year, the amounts were $35,685 and $133,836, respectively. Voters are being asked to provide $54,077 for the library, about $1,000 less than last year’s proposal. Those articles carry the Board of Selectpersons’ and the Budget Committee’s support, as does an article that would amend the town’s cemetery ordinance.

The voters also will weigh in on a three-year commitment renewing a pact between the town and the Belgrade-Rome Special Needs Pantry. Costs would be considered a donation by the town to the pantry, which moved in October to the North Belgrade Community Center.

Other social service organizations seeking donations include Hospice Volunteers of the Waterville Area, $1,500; and the Central Maine Area on Aging, also known as Spectrum Generations, $2,041. Both amounts are the same as in the current year.

The Budget Committee voted 5-1 to support the Spectrum Generations request; it had the support of all five Board of Selectpersons members.

Rice said Thursday that the board mistakenly weighed in on those requests and that it usually does not.

The voters also will decide whether to kick in $4,500 as usual for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration put on by the Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group.

Another question revolves around spending a total of $40,000 — $31,750 from taxes and $8,250 from boat excise tax revenue — for lake water quality programs.

That also won support from both the board and the Budget Committee.


Rice, 71, is seeking a third three-year term on the board.

“We have a few important things to the town that area pending,” he said, listing the state Department of Transportation’s plans to reconstruct Main Street where it runs through Belgrade Lakes village; the opening of a newly constructed Town Office, which is set for May 1; and his work on a committee looking at the future of the relationship with Regional School Unit 18, which consists of Belgrade, China, Oakland, Sidney and Rome. “I just hate to throw the towel in,” he said. “I’d really like to see that through.”

If he is re-elected, he said, he would not accept first selectman’s position again.

“That does really take a lot of time,” he said.

Rice worked in telecommunications for 22 years and then operated his own investment business before he retired.

Ernst Merckens, 52, is a property manager in Belgrade, and this is his first time seeking public office.

“I grew up in Manchester and lived in Belgrade most of my life,” Merckens said. “I went to school here. I was a Boy Scout in Belgrade.”

He said he’s always been fond of the town, but his previous profession was as a long-haul truck driver.

“I wasn’t around Belgrade on any sort of regular basis, so running for office and giving back to the town wasn’t really a possibility,” he said.

Now he works in Belgrade. He said he was encouraged to run for the board by several selectmen and said he commends the two incumbents for all the time they’ve given to the town.

“We’re getting a new town manager, a new Town Office, so it seems like maybe a unique time in the town to try for a position,” Merckens said. Previously he served on a building committee that worked on a proposal for a multipurpose building that eventually was defeated.

Damren, 60, a former Belgrade fire chief and currently a member of Belgrade Fire and Rescue, is seeking his second consecutive term on the board. He’s served a total of 10 years. Damren works for his sister, the owner of Dave Hallowell Construction, and he also drives a school bus for Regional School Unit 38, Maranacook Area Schools.

“I like to be active in the town business,” said Damren, a Belgrade native. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence. As fire chief I had to come in and ask for money, and now as a selectperson, they come in and ask us for money.”

This a first attempt to gain elective office for both candidates seeking to complete Plourd’s term.

Cook, 63, was Belgrade’s town clerk and tax collector until retiring in May 2014.

“I think I can add something to the board,” Cook said. “I have about 16 years altogether in municipal government. I think I might be able to bring something to the board to help them out and help the town out.”

She is currently on the town Budget Committee and is secretary for the Planning Board.

Carey, 40, a longtime Belgrade resident, said he wants to enter public service to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, H. Lloyd Carey, who was mayor of Augusta.

Jason Carey said he wants to serve the community where he lives and to inspire others to become involved.

He said one of his primary focuses would be the health of the lakes in the Belgrade area, “to be good stewards of this great natural resource in which we live.”

Carey is the staff person for Maine Juvenile Justice, a group that advises the Legislature. He also is a website developer and offers private music lessons.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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