SKOWHEGAN — Betty Austin is leaving the Skowhegan Board of Selectmen next week after two decades of community service.

“It’s with mixed feelings that I am resigning my duties as selectwoman on June 16, 2021,” Austin said. “It gives me great pleasure to say that I am getting married, selling my home and will be relocating to Starks.”

Austin has spent more than 20 years serving the community in many roles, including 17 years on the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Budget Committee, Heritage Council, Skowhegan Chamber of Commerce, Channel 11 board of directors, Concerts in the Park Committee and as state representative for District 107.

Betty Austin Contributed photo

“I am really thankful to the citizens of Skowhegan for electing me to six terms as selectwoman and two terms as state representative,” Austin said. “Skowhegan is a great place to live, work and play.”

Town Manager Christine Almand said there will be an item added to the agenda for the next Board of Selectmen meeting to discuss when to hold a special election and other details related to Austin’s resignation.

Also on Tuesday, Road Commissioner Greg Dore worked his final day for the town after 29 years.

In other matters Tuesday, the board decided unanimously to move forward with the Utility Scale Solar Energy Facility Ordinance, which establishes guidelines and standards to regulate utility scale solar energy facilities within Skowhegan.

Under the language of the ordinance, no utility scale solar energy facility is allowed within the town without a permit issued by the Planning Board, unless specifically exempted. Facilities of less than 800 square feet are exempted from the ordinance, although they must meet all state electrical codes and permitting requirements.

Applications must include a permit fee, description of the facility, information on the leasing of the land, description of the energy produced and the panels used, a copy of the agreement and details, a construction plan and timeline, a full official land survey and an operation/maintenance plan, an emergency management plan, proof of financial capacity and a visual impact assessment.

Toward the end of the meeting, Selectman Todd Smith also urged the board reconsider the town’s mask policy. Citing data from the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention from earlier this week, he told the board there were 1,565 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, 429 of them in Skowhegan.

The total number of reported cases of COVID-19 in Somerset County was 2,249 as of Wednesday, according to the Maine CDC. That number included 1,567 confirmed cases and 682 probable.

Also on Wednesday, the case number in Skowhegan remained at 429.

“We need to lose the masks,” Smith said.

The town’s mask policy was heavily debated at the May 25 meeting, at which selectmen decided to change the town’s COVID-19 precautions. At the previous meeting, the board voted 3-2 to require masks for unvaccinated people when they are inside municipal buildings. Town employees must provide proof of vaccination to go unmasked, while the honor system applies to members of the public.

As of Wednesday, Somerset County remained the Maine county with the lowest percentage of its population to be fully vaccinated, at 48.43%. In Skowhegan, the vaccination rate is at 62%. Statewide, 54.25% of Mainers had been been fully vaccinated.

The board took no action Tuesday on Smith’s recommendation because it did not have enough support among board members.

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