Tensions flare at NG meeting

By Matt Junker

NEW GLOUCESTER — The New Gloucester public works garage saga took a turn for the vulgar at Monday night’s Selectboard meeting, when several audience members used colorful language not usually on display at public meetings.

One audience member told another to “shut your [expletive] mouth,” while a third resident said certain accusations amounted to “bull[expletive].”

Tensions escalated to the point that Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office was called. An official from the Sherriff’s Office said that someone at the meeting apparently texted their husband to say things had become heated, and the husband then called the sheriffs.

Though a deputy came and stood in the meeting for a few minutes, things had already calmed down and the deputy left.

Both of the residents who used the less-than-cordial language apologized.

Accusations of a possible conflict of interest and misuse of town resources relating to the “vote yes” signs purchased before last week’s special town meeting made for a tense Oct. 23 selectboard meeting – and those tensions bubbled over in the audience.

Pat O’Brien introduced a petition to reconsider the results of the special town meeting, where voters approved the public works garage proposal 168-138.  The push to reconsider stems in part from allegations that came up at the town meeting that Ganneston Construction, the company slated to build the new garage, paid for signs encouraging people to vote yes, and that town public works staff later put some of those sign up.

Later, while another resident was at the microphone asking about the sign issue, O’Brien made a comment from his seat.

Dennis McCann, who was sitting behind O’Brien, told him, “You had your time to speak, sir.”

O’Brien then told McCann to “shut your [expletive] mouth.”

O’Brien said Wednesday that he felt McCann was threatening in both his language and demeanor and that McCann had made a number of comments to him on Monday night.

“I will defend myself,” O’Brien said. “This man was threatening to me.”

His comment to McCann elicited an immediate and fiery reaction from others in attendance, including calls to have O’Brien kicked out of the meeting.

McCann stood up, and at least one other audience member moved closer to O’Brien after his remarks and stood behind him. O’Brien said that “it didn’t feel safe to me in there.”

“Get out of here! Get him out of here,” shouted Beverly Cadigan, who served on the garage design committee and was one of the leaders of the first petition effort.

“That language is not allowed in this room,” said a clearly upset Libby, who served as a Selectboard liaison on the design committee.

Cadigan continued to push for O’Brien’s removal.

Earlier, during O’Brien’s time at the microphone, he wondered whether there were “favors” or “kick-backs” such as concert tickets, vacation packages, golf outings, or meals from Ganneston as part of the garage process.

Libby strongly denied that any such things occurred, and later said that misinformation circulated on social media “seems to have spread inappropriately like wildfire.”

“There was no concert tickets or any of that jazz that was listed off,” he said.

In her brief back-and-forth with O’Brien, Cadigan seemed agitated by his questions and suggestions about the committee.

“Who are you to talk to me that way?” O’Brien asked Cadigan as she was yelling for him to get out.

“I’m a citizen in this town, too, and I’m a committee member, and you just accused me of taking money that I didn’t,” Cadigan said.

“Potentially, you have,” O’Brien told her.

“Bull[expletive],” Cadigan responded forcefully.

Chase said she did not want any more of that type of language, and both Cadigan and O’Brien apologized. No one was kicked out.

O’Brien said after leaving the meeting later in the night that his language was “inappropriate.”

“I apologize for that,” he said, also saying that Cadigan’s language was “equally inappropriate.”

“Emotions are running high,” continued O’Brien.

McCann said he thought that O’Brien’s language was “a little hostile” but didn’t seem particularly bothered by it after the meeting. McCann also stood up at one point during the special town meeting last week when another resident mentioned him by name.

Kathleen Potter, one of the self-described “old ladies” (including Cadigan) who led the initial citizen’s petition to hold the special town meeting, said McCann helped collect some of the signatures for that effort.

Potter also said that this issue has “frayed the nerves of the community” like she had never seen before in the 15 years she’s lived in town.

During Monday night’s discussion, Libby said he was “disgusted” by the level of “hate and discontent” surrounding the garage issue.

“We’ve had emotional issues in the past, but people haven’t reacted this way,” Libby said after Monday’s meeting.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Patti’s Oct. 27 “Inside New Gloucester” Column

Anne Gass of Gray discussed her book, “Voting Down the Rose,” as the guest speaker at the New Gloucester Historical Society’s meeting on Oct. 19. The book is about her great-grandmother, Florence Brooks Whitehouse, who helped win women’s voting rights in the U.S. about a century ago.

Medicaid expansion discussed

How will you be voting on Referendum Question 2 on the Nov. 7 ballot? Two informational meetings covering both sides of the issue will be telecast on New Gloucester’s local access Channel 3 on Friday, Oct. 27; Saturday, Oct. 28; and Sunday, Oct. 29 beginning at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The program will be replayed the first weekend in November following a similar schedule. It can be viewed by cable television customers in Gray, as well. The informational meetings can also be viewed as video on demand at www.newgloucester.viebit.com.

For Patti Mikkelsen’s complete column in the Lakes Region Weekly, go to: http://news.keepmecurrent.com/inside-new-gloucester-129/

 

Annual Hunter’s Breakfast

NEW GLOUCESTER FIRE RESCUE invite everyone for our annual HUNTER’S Breakfast!  Saturday, October 28th

All you can eat delicious hot cooked breakfast, beginning at 5 am for all you hungry hunters!

If you are not a hunter no problem! Please bring your family, neighbors & friends to our once a year home cooked breakfast!
Menu: Eggs, Pancakes, Sausage, Bisquits & Beans, OJ, Milk, Coffee, Water.

(Get there early & we’ll have a few special items on the menu, served until they’re gone! Mmmmm…cinnamon rolls!)
$7.00 ages 5 & up
Free ages under 4
Great price for all you can eat!!
Your support for this annual fundraiser will help us purchase life saving equipment!

https://www.facebook.com/newgloucesterfirerescue/videos/1185734978225535/

https://www.facebook.com/newgloucesterfirerescue/

 

Drug Take-Back Day October 28th

National Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, October 28th. To find locations for disposal of prescription medications, see here.

Georgiana M. Rice, 1928-2017

Georgiana was born on August 9, 1928 and passed away on Sunday, October 22, 2017.

Georgiana was a resident of Maine at the time of passing.

She was born August 9, 1928 in New Gloucester, Maine, the daughter of George Rand and Aida (Gould) Rand, and attended New Gloucester area schools. Keep reading

Outbursts Erupt at the Oct. 23 Special Board of Selectmen’s Meeting

Controversy over the proposed new public works facility continued at the Oct. 23 Special Board of Selectmen’s meeting. You can watch it as video on demand at https://newgloucester.viebit.com/

Don’t forget to vote!

November 7th is voting day. While it’s an off-year with no state or federal election taking place, there are several referendum items on the ballot. You can vote three ways:
1) absentee ballot by mail– by requesting that the Town Office mail a ballot to you
2) go to Town Office and vote in person
3) go to the polls on November 7th at the fire station, 611 Lewiston Rd. Polls are open 6 am to 8 pm

Here are the questions on the ballot:

  1. Citizen Initiative
    Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to state and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?
  2. Citizen Initiative
    Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?
  3. Bond Issue
    Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts and stream crossings?
    Total estimated lifetime cost is $133,875,000 representing $105,000,000 in principal and $28,875,000 in interest (assuming interest at 5.0% over 10 years).
  4. Constitutional Amendment
    Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to reduce volatility in state pension funding requirements caused by the financial markets by increasing the length of time over which experience losses are amortized from 10 years to 20 years, in line with pension industry standards?

For more information on these questions, see http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.html

Garage contract signed, petition filed to reconsider vote

Selectmen voted 3-2 Monday night to authorize Town Manager Carrie Castonguay to sign the contract to build a public works garage.Meanwhile, a petition signed by 290 residents was filed with town officials this week asking for reconsideration of last week’s vote approving the $4.6 million project. The vote was 169-139. Keep reading

Peter B. Sawyer, 79

Peter B. Sawyer, of Gray, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 14, 2017, at home, at the age of 79. He was born in Portland on Oct. 3, 1938, to the late Elbert C. Sawyer and Hazel J. Pankhurst Sawyer.Keep reading

School district had been urged not to hire coach

Duane Greaton was hired as Gray-New Gloucester High School’s football coach despite the objections of a parent who said he had an abusive style and a warning from the school’s previous coach that Greaton was unqualified. Keep reading