In addition to voting on school budgets, China and Vassalboro residents cast ballots Tuesday on a handful of town issues at the polls.

China’s townspeople have decided that the town should not move forward with a plan to construct a consolidated emergency services building and community center.

According to Town Clerk Becky Hapgood, 332 people opposed the plan, while 72 favored it. The question asked if voters approved or rejected the town spending up to $25,000 of its undesignated funds to “contract for the engineering and costing” of the building, to be constructed at 571 Lakeview Drive.

Voters handily approved the first stage of the project in November, which involved allocating $5,000 for a conceptualization of the structure.

The building was proposed by town officials to house the China Police and Rescue departments, along with the volunteer China Village Fire Department. China’s two other volunteer fire departments — in South China and Weeks Mills — would have remained at their independently owned locations. All three of the town’s chiefs voiced disapproval of the consolidated building last week, claiming it was an unnecessary waste of taxpayer money. China Village Fire Chief Tim Theriault, also a state representative, said his department would not move. Town Manager Dennis Heath claimed that the chiefs had circulated misinformation about some of their prior involvement with the consolidated building plan.

Sheldon Goodine, retired China fire chief, gets an “I Voted” sticker after casting his ballot at the China town office in China on Tuesday. A proposal to take a second step toward establishing a consolidated emergency services building that would place the China Village fire department, the police department and the rescue department under one roof was on the ballot. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

The chiefs’ public rejection of the plan came on the heels of an ongoing clash between the fire departments and town officials over how volunteer stipends are allocated.

In the other municipal referendum on the China ballot Tuesday, residents voted down the town’s proposed investment in a waterfront property north of the Four Seasons Club. With 289 no votes and 114 yes votes, residents rejected the idea of the town paying up to $150,000 for a 5-acre lot at 584 Lakeview Drive that would provide public access to China Lake for boating but not swimming. A maximum of $125,000 would have come from the lake access reserve account and $25,000 would have come from China’s tax increment financing (TIF) account.



Vassalboro Selectman Robert Browne Courtesy of Robert Browne

In Vassalboro’s municipal elections, voters re-elected Robert Browne as selectman and overseer of the poor. Jessica Clark and Kevin Levasseur were re-elected to the School Committee. Levasseur is the sitting chairman of the committee. All three officials ran uncontested. Each will serve a three-year term.

Browne received 98 votes, Clark received 81 votes and Levasseur received 79 votes. There were no write-in candidates for the selectman’s position, and there were five write-in candidates for the School Committee positions, according to Town Clerk Cathy Coyne.

Vassalboro Community School Committee member Jessica Clark Courtesy of Jessica Clark

“I think the biggest thing is not that I’ve won but that people are happy with the town,” Browne said Tuesday night after the results came in. “It’s (a reflection of) the town manager, the roads crew, the Budget Committee, the School Committee. I don’t look at it as one thing.”

He added that while “it’s nice to win, I wish there was more of a turnout.” Vassalboro had a population of 4,347 in 2017, the latest recorded figure from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Clark said she is eager to renew her tenure on the school board.

“I’m looking forward to serving the residents and students of Vassalboro on the Vassalboro school board for the next three years,” Clark said Tuesday night. “It’s important for citizens to be involved in town government and the future of the school. I am glad to have the opportunity to serve.”

Levasseur did not respond to a call seeking a comment after the election.

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