WATERVILLE — City Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, is the new council chairman, having been elected 6-1 by councilors Tuesday night.

Waterville Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7 Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

Thomas, 44, replaces Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, who has served as chairman for the past year.

Mayhew nominated himself for reelection but did not get a second from the council. Councilor Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, nominated Thomas, Councilor Flavia Oliveira, D-Ward 2, seconded the motion and Thomas was elected 6-1 with Mayhew the lone dissenter.

Thomas owns Digital ImageWorks, a printing company, and is programming manager for the Waterville Opera House. He served from 2011 to 2014 as a councilor representing Ward 4, and was chairman for a year during that stint.

Thomas has represented Ward 7 for the past year. He was elected in November 2018 and took office in January 2019. He also serves on the city’s Finance Committee, Head of Falls Planning Committee, Municipal Solid Waste Committee, Tax Increment Financing Committee and Fire Department Study Committee.

Waterville Councilor Richard Foss, R-Ward 5 Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

Also on Tuesday, Republican Richard Foss was administered the oath of office by City Clerk Patti Dubois. Foss, 46, is a network systems analyst who was elected to the Ward 5 council seat in November, defeating incumbent Jay Coelho, a Democrat.

Councilors on Tuesday also made numerous appointments to city committees and boards: Eric Dumond and Brad Fisher, Airport Advisory Committee; Pam Merrill, Board of Assessment Review; Eric Dumond, Mark Poirier and Stephen Crate, Board of Zoning Appeals; Rien Finch, Winona Karns and Stephen Crate, Ethics Committee; Julian Payne, Matt Zetterman and Paul Jacques, Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District board of trustees; Margaret Soucy and Patricia Loisel, Haines Charity Relief Committee; William Grant and Cynthia Jacobs, Waterville Public Library board of trustees; Kim Lane, David Cosgrove and Christinalyn Cote, Waterville Housing Authority; William Violette, Waterville Sewerage District Commission; and Mike Monck, Jessica Laliberte, Jay Coelho and John Levesque, Fire Department Study Committee.

 

REPLACING TRUCKS

In other matters, the council voted 7-0 to award a $181,089 contract to Hight Auto Group, of Skowhegan, for a three-quarter ton, double-cab truck; a one-ton, four-wheel-drive crew cab; a one-ton, two-wheel-drive crew cab; and a one-ton, four-wheel-drive truck with a dump body. The equipment is for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Three of the four vehicles replace comparable models from 2002, 2003 and 2005. The additional crew cab is for use at Pine Grove Cemetery on Grove Street. Funds for the equipment will come from the 2019-2o general purpose bond for equipment.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan said the four vehicles are critical to operations and in the 13 years he has been with the department, the only equipment it has bought was a pickup truck. A committee determined the the four vehicles are necessary, he said.

“These were four of our biggest needs,” he said.

 

MARIJUANA AMENDMENTS

The council also took a first vote to amend the city’s ordinance regulating licenses and permits to add a reference to the marijuana ordinance. The amendment, which was approved, will authorize Dubois to administer the licensing of all marijuana facilities in the same way as all other business licenses, according to the item on which councilors will vote. A second vote is required.

Councilors also took a first vote to amend the marijuana ordinance to clarify four provisions: The city clerk administers the licensing of all marijuana facilities; license fees are collected at the time of application; license fees are refunded if licenses are not granted; and annual license fees apply to medical marijuana cultivation facilities.

The amendment, which was approved, authorizes Dubois to administer licensing of all marijuana facilities in the same way as all other business licenses and authorizes that annual license fees apply to medical marijuana facilities. A second vote is required.

 

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The council also took a final vote to accept a $15,000 donation from Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative for Operation HOPE; approved a resolution supporting Maine’s bicentennial celebration; voted to refer to the planning board for public hearing and recommendation a request to rezone 209 College Ave. from Commercial-C to Contract Zoned District/Commercial-A to allow a total of four apartments there; and voted to refer to that board for public hearing and recommendation a request by William Dangler to rezone 3-5 Park St. from Residential-B to Commercial-A to allow his hairdressing business to move there from Temple Street.

Dubois announced the charter commission was set to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday so residents may give input on possible charter changes. Jim Laliberty and Tom Nale are co-chairmen of the commission and Rien Finch and Cathy Weeks are co-secretaries.

Nancy Sanford, of May Street, said she wanted to publicly thank the Waterville Police Department and other law enforcement officers who responded to the drive-by shootings Saturday night. May Street was one of the streets targeted.

“I happened to be listening to ‘Dateline,’ so when I heard what I identified as three gunshots, I thought it was on ‘Dateline,'” Sanford said. “When I looked out of my front window, I noticed that across the street there were two Waterville Police Department cruisers there and it evolved from there. The Waterville Police Department, I think, did a wonderful job, and they were there until the folks had been apprehended and I, just as the person who lives directly across from the folks targeted, I was very grateful for the support and informative action.”

Payne said people have asked him about the process for replacing the city manager and thinks it is time for the city to start a search, even though City Manager Michael Roy does not plan to retire until the end of the year. Businesses do not like uncertainty, Payne said, adding he would like to see someone chosen who has a business degree, accounting degree or past experience.

“It’s never too soon to start looking,” he said.

Mayor Nick Isgro said the plan is to start searching in the spring and a thorough search will be undertaken, with many stakeholders involved in the process.

Roy said he is developing an outline of the search process, which will be emailed to the appropriate people. He expects the process and related issues to be discussed in two weeks.

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