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North Collins Court to have additional officer, metal screener

North Collins Town Court will soon see an additional officer and metal screening at the entrance when in session.

At the request of Town Justice John Stevens, the town board approved creating a second officer position for the court and added Ray Ashton to the town’s list of constables.

Ashton, who is state certified in the use of the metal detection wand, is a former officer and police administrator for the village.

In a letter, Stevens noted that increasingly the court has been receiving defendants facing more serious charges which is the reason for the upgrade in security. A “taser” has already been procurred for use by court officers, all of whom have been trained on its use. The town constable will join an already scheduled village police officer on court nights, as part of the town’s police contract with the village. The cost of the new position will be paid through the court’s budget.

In other business, a public hearing was held for the proposed wind turbine law. The local law is modeled on one adopted by Machias, and divides wind turbines into two categories. The first regulates smaller units used by farms and residences, and limits their height to 150 feet on a minimum 5 acre parcel with a 150 foot setback from roads and structures. Additionally the unit cannot produce more than 5 kilowatts of electricity and must meet maximum noise generation standards. A town building permit will also have to be obtained.

A second utility grade provision for larger turbines will be much harder to obtain, as it requires a 1,500 foot setback and a host of engineering studies that must take into consideration the traffic, noise and visual impact of the project.

Town Attorney Richard Schaus will create the ordinance and submit it to the board at its March meeting for ratification. Code Enforcement Officer Phil Tremblay said he had another individual interested in erecting a turbine and was advised by Schaus to use the current wording of the draft town law as guidance.

Tremblay also repeated his request for guidance on trailers being used for storage. Schaus said the planning board should be reviewed by them.

In a related matter, the board decided to review fees and the penalties associated with building structures without permits. Tremblay has reported several instances of construction without permits, but the current fine structure does not seem to be a deterrent.

Residents can expect more flowering trees and stretches of wild flowers in the town parks, as the board approved Highway Superintendent David Winter soliciting donations on the town’s behalf for additional trees. Winter had been chastised by the board for soliciting donations without board approval last autumn.

The board also approved a list of a parks committee members, headed by Kathleen Mecca, and provided $1,500 to purchase wildflower seeds and tree seedlings. The board further authorized advertising the committee to attract more members and volunteers to plant and maintain park gardens. Supervisor Rosaline Seege commented that she was very pleased with the placement of new trees in the park and Councilman Marian Vanni encouraged residents to visit all three parks to see the trees now, and enjoy them again in spring when in bloom.

Winter also received permission to utilize any surplus funds from donations to tile and cover problem drainage areas in Fricano Park and eliminate some of the trenches there.

Winter said specifications had been drawn up to solicit bids for a new roadside grass cutting tractor mandated by a recent Labor Department inspection. He estimates the cost to be $80,000 to $100,000 for the unit. The board authorized advertising the bid with opening of bids scheduled for its next meeting on March 13.

In other action, the board:

• Heard Councilman George LoBianco report on his concerns, especially for town businesses, in obtaining internet service. He suggested contacting Time Warner to see what could be done. He also suggested that perhaps the town would have to get involved in financing some of any build-out. Sue Alessi, chair of the library board said there were 129 instances of access to the library’s WI-FI system in January alone. That represents people bringing their own devices into the library or parked in their cars and does not include use of the library’s own computers. Seege said she has been in contact with Time Warner officials on the situation and has a meeting scheduled.

• Heard LoBianco report about the condition of the signs welcoming people into the town. He said the board should seriously look into new signs for the Route 62 gateways and look into adding signs on Route 75. Winter and Seege will both research sinage costs.

•Heard Recreation Director Rozalin Warren report on a large array of programs the department is offering. She said that most of the programs are being offered by volunteers at no cost to the town.

• Heard Historian Georgianne Bowman report on continued computer problems as the reason she needed to purchase a new unit. However, the latest software is not compatible with her previous files and she is making arrangements to have the archives printed.

• Heard Clerk Margaret Orrange report that tax bills are going out this week and will be due by March 15.

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