ROME — Residents congregated late Saturday morning to discuss 71 articles listed on the town warrant for the annual Town Meeting.

The meeting was held just days after the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the state of Maine. The virus was first detected in a woman in her 50s in Androscoggin County. On Friday, the Maine Center for Disease Control announced that there is a second presumptive positive case in Cumberland County.

Moderator Peter Schultz opened the meeting by announcing that because of the pandemic, all catering for the event was canceled.

“In discussion with my wife, who is a professional microbiologist, I made the decision to not have any food served today because of the virus outbreak,” Schultz said. “I think we need to be careful.”

Despite the announcement, the meeting brought out about 65 residents to the Rome Community Center, which is a little more than previous years, First Selectmen Paul Anderson confirmed.

“We tried to do a little social engineering with placing the chairs to try to separate people a little more than normal.” Anderson referred to the fold up chairs that had about a foot of space between each.

By early afternoon, the municipal budget was approved at $955,393.50; this includes about $262,000 in anticipated revenues, $310,000 unspent from the 2019 budget, $75,000 to offset taxes and $16,700 to contribute to the hiring of a second full-time firefighter/paramedic based at the Belgrade Lakes fire station.

Additionally, voters approved of an appropriation of $306,000 for the reconstruction of Wooster Hill Road and the north end of Mercer Road.

The vote — with 225 voting yes, 52 voting no and 4 blanks — was for a two-year planned project for the two roads. Construction includes grinding, reclaiming and laying a base coat where necessary. When the project is complete, both roads will have ditching, new culverts as needed, brush cutting and tree removal. A surface coat will also be applied on a 1.3 mile strip on Mercer Road starting at the town line.

The vote to appropriate $16,700 to contribute to the hiring of a firefighter/paramedic based at the Belgrade Lakes fire station was a highly debated item. Dr. Timothy Pieh, who works as an emergency medicine physician that treats patients at MaineGeneral Health in Waterville and Augusta, urged residents to approve the article.

“There was an article that came out last December that described the stress on the (Emergency Medical Services) within Maine statewide,” Pieh said.

Pieh conducted a stress test assessment with information that he gathered from reports, data and leadership to see how EMS agencies are doing.

Of the 35 agencies that Pieh oversees, 21 of them are first-response agencies, such as the one in Rome. Of the 21 first-response agencies, 12 of them are relying on two to three people to reliably respond to emergency calls, according to Pieh.

This number is also prorated for eight months; since it does not cover the full year, the expense will be higher in future budgets.

Some residents were skeptical about the article, saying that too much money is given to other towns.

“How many times have people just come to Rome and asked for $25,000 in hopes that this thing goes for five years,” Alan Labelle said. “At what point do we pull the plug.”

In other matters, the residents also approved of an ordinance that would require all transfers of shore land properties to have an inspected septic system to make sure that the systems are functioning properly. The state recently passed the amendment, but there is no enforcement.

According to the town’s code enforcement officer Andrew Marble, septic systems malfunctioning contribute to pollution in water bodies.

“If we adopt this to our shore land zoning ordinance, we can be the enforcing agent.” Marble said.

In the municipal elections, Monica McCarthy was elected first selectman with 160 votes, Lois Stratton was voted second selectman with 137 votes and Kelly Archer was voted third selectman with 224 votes.

Julie Morrison was voted as the town clerk with 259 votes, Tammy Lyons the tax collector with 258 votes and Carroll Bubar was voted the road commissioner with 246 votes.


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