Latest newsletter contains important election info
The June edition of the Belgrade Bulletin, the Town's newsletter, contains important information about two crucial topics: the Town's response to the pandemic and the July 14 election. It can also be read online at townofbelgrade.com/newsletter.
Special thanks to Hammond Lumber Company for underwriting the cost of the postage -- saving taxpayers $1,200. Paper copies of the newsletter will be mailed this week.
Transfer Station closed July 4
The Transfer Station will be closed Saturday July 4. The facility will be open on the following days:
1 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 30 (recyclables only)
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday, July 1 (trash and recyclables)
noon-5 p.m. Thursday, July 2 (trash and recyclables)
1 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, July 7 (trash and recyclables)
Town Office reverting to normal hours
The Town Office will revert to its normal hours the week of June 29. The office, located at 990 Augusta Road, will be open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and, beginning July 2, until 7 p.m. Thursdays.
Absentee ballots available
Ballots for the July 14 election are now available at the Town Office.
Voters will be considering the Town warrant articles normally decided at Town Meeting, the RSU 18 budget, and state primary races. The Town ballot also includes races for Selectboard, road commissioner and school board member. The warrants are available in the Town's annual report, beginning on page 80 of the PDF.
Voters are encouraged to cast absentee ballots to minimize the number of people gathered on Election Day at the Center for All Seasons, Belgrade's polling place.
Voters are further encouraged to get their absentee ballots to-go. The Town ballot consists of 55 items, which will take an investment of time to read and consider. While voters may do that in the Town Office, they can also take the ballot with them, fill it out at home, and return it at their convenience before 8 p.m. July 14. The Town Office has a black dropbox on the building’s north side. Voters are reminded to sign the ballot's envelope before returning it.
Belgrade residents can obtain absentee ballots through July 14. The Town Office is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays. It will be open 8 a.m.-noon on the last two Saturdays of June – June 20 and 27. The Town Office will be open until 7 p.m. Thursdays, beginning July 2.
For more information, call the Town Office at 207-495-2258.
Rec Dept. hosts summer day camp
The Town’s Recreation Department is hosting its traditional day camp this summer, although much about the program will be vastly different.
That’s a necessary response to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 2, the Selectboard approved a plan and protocols for offering the camp, based upon guidelines issued by the State of Maine, the CDC and organizations such as the YMCA. Those procedures and protocols seek to minimize the risk to all involved – campers, their families and camp staff.
While some risk exists with every public activity at the moment, the Board is convinced the summer camp program represents an essential service. Working parents need a safe place for their young children to be during the summertime and something engaging for them to do. That may be truer than ever after students have been away from classmates for more than two months now. So here’s our plan:
With gatherings restricted to no more than 50 people, we are limiting participation to 41 children. We will have six counselors (two for each of three groups of kids); Recreation Director Lily Schubert and Camp Coordinator Annie Dobos, who will serve as backup counselors; and our other regular Recreation employee, who will serve as our sanitation officer.
- We will require families to register and reserve in advance which weeks they wish to use the camp. Priority will be given to Belgrade residents and taxpayers, and to elementary school children. This will ensure we can control our numbers – serving as many young children as possible without exceeding 50 total. To register and reserve, email email@example.com or call 207-495-3481.
Should we have fewer than 41 children during a given week, we will accept drop-ins on those days.
Camp will be from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays from June 29 through Aug. 21. The cost is $85 per week for Town residents, $135 for non-residents.
Families will be provided protocols for the camp and from the state in advance. We will host two Zoom sessions for families to learn about the protocols and to ask questions.
All staff will wear cloth face coverings. Children who can wear face coverings properly will wear them. Counselors will make note of campers’ mask colors each day to ensure they are wearing a clean mask the following day. Families have told us they prefer their children wear reusable masks. We have sources willing to sell masks to families for $5 apiece.
All activities will occur outside. Unless it is raining, children will not be allowed into the building.
Children will have a designated space for their bags and will be spaced at least six feet apart when eating lunches and snacks.
On rainy days, children will be spaced throughout the facility. The gym will be divided with a curtain, with a group on each side. A third group can be on the porches and/or in the social room.
- Camp will feature neither field trips nor guest speakers. No one from the public may visit during camp hours. The pool will be closed, though there will be swimming in the lake. There will be no adult programing during camp hours.
- Children will be in the same group of 13 or 14 with the same counselors every day. There will be no mixing of groups.
- Children may not bring toys, games or electronics to camp. Sharing of craft supplies will be limited. Frequently used surfaces and equipment will be disinfected after each use.
- Drop-off and pick-up times will be staggered. Parents must stay in their vehicles. Campers and staff will be screened as they arrive every morning. Staff and children will be directed to stay home if they are sick or do not feel well.
- We will teach and reinforce frequent hand-washing hands and properly covering mouths when coughing and sneezing. Signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 will be posted.
- Health Officer Christine Merckens, a Registered Nurse, will be our designated COVID-19 point of contact. Rescue Chief Travis Burton, who will likely respond to any concerns, will also be a valued resource.
- We will not host sailing camp this year.
The response to the pandemic remains fluid. The State issues new guidelines regularly. Should its guidelines for day camps and recreational programs change, we will adapt accordingly.
In the meantime, we remain open to all suggestions. And we eagerly anticipate having children playing at the Center for All Seasons, enjoying the outdoors and one another’s company, and learning to acclimate to this new normal.
RSU 18 seeks volunteers to man summer meals program
RSU 18 is seeking volunteers to distribute free summer meals to students from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. each weekday through Aug. 14 at the North Belgrade Community Center, 508 Smithfield Road (Route 8).
Interested? Contact RSU 18 Nutrition Director Barbara Bonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recycling has returned
Recycling has returned to the Transfer Station, though that service will not look like it has in the past.
Because the Recycling Center can be a congested place, the Town's chief concern is ensuring safe social distances as residents drop off recyclables. To spread out the number of people at the Recycling Center over more days, we will accept recyclables only from 1 p.m.-7 p.m. on Tuesdays. That is in addition to accepting recyclables and trash from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays, noon-5 p.m. Thursdays and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.
Here are a few helpful hints:
- Pre-sorting your recyclables will help you move through the process more quickly.
- Allow yourself some time. Because we're trying to keep people separated, we are collecting different types of recyclables in different places. The windows are reserved for paper, cardboard, magazines and newspapers. That seems to take the most time.
- Plastics are being collected in a pair of bins outside the Recycling Center, just past the last window. If you've been stockpiling recyclables in plastic bags, put your bags in the plastics bins. Our staff will sort them later.
- Glass is collected in a pair of bins adjacent to the hopper.
- All metals, such as cans, are thrown over the railing with the heavy metals just beyond the hopper.
- The lowest traffic occurs on Thursdays and early Saturdays before 9 a.m.
Questions? Call us at 207-495-2258 or email email@example.com.
Farmers Market open Sunday mornings
The Belgrade Lakes Farmers Market is open for its 17th season, though it is operating differently to ensure the health of the public and its vendors.
The market is open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. each Sunday through mid-September at the 7 Lakes Alliance building at 137 Main St. in Belgrade's village. The Belgrade Lakes Farmers Market will adhere to market guidelines established by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Those include:
- All vendors must wear face coverings. Customers are asked to please do likewise.
- Booths will be spaced to allow for safe social distancing. Vendors will set up their booths to allow for as much distance as possible.
- Extra measures will be taken to keep booths, hands and products clean. All food that can be pre-packaged will be. Customers may not handle products -- this should be done by vendors. Booths will have hand sanitizer and gloves for vendors and customers. Vendors will clean their hands and any surfaces a customer has touched after each transaction.
- There will be no table coverings. Neither will there be food sampling or on-site comsumption by customers. Only food or horticulture products are allowed.
- Transactions will occur quickly, with limited socializing, to mitigate lines of customers. There will be no music or special events, also to prevent gatherings. If possible, customers will be encouraged to pre-place orders with the vendors.
Anyone who is feeling ill or displaying COVID-19 symptoms should stay home.
"We ask for your patience during these times," said Alice VanDerwerken, the market's manager. "Please be respectful of other customers and vendors by maintaining appropriate social distancing."
For more information, visit belgradelakesmarket.com or call VanDerwerken at 207-397-4214.
Out-of-state visitors must quarantine 14 days
Per Gov. Janet Mills, out-of-state visitors are required to self-quarantine for at least 14 days to ensure they are not unwittingly bringing the coronavirus into Maine communities. Signs alerting visitors of such have been installed along the turnpike and at the state lines. A stay-at-home order is in effect in Maine through May 31. Cloth face coverings are required in public places where social distancing cannot be adequately practiced. Other regulations, which will be phased in through August, can be found at this link.
Town office is open
Belgrade’s Town Office has reopened, but with new measures to protect the public’s health.
In keeping with the governor’s executive order, masks that cover the nose and chin must be worn in the Town Office by Town employees and citizens. Citizens with breathing troubles or related medical conditions are urged to instead call the Town Office at 207-495-2258; we will make every effort to remotely help those residents.
To ensure safe social distancing, no more than three citizens will be allowed in the office simultaneously – one at each available customer service window. One citizen at a time will be allowed in the building’s alcove; once a window is vacated, the person in the alcove may proceed into the office. Otherwise, citizens will line up outside the building. The sidewalk has been marked with hashes at least 6 feet apart.
The new procedures are posted on the front door, in the alcove and at the customer service windows. The Town Office, 990 Augusta Road, is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and, until further notice, from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. The Saturday hours are meant to provide convenience and to spread demand for Town services.
Other safety measures at the Town Office will include:
- One-way foot traffic. Citizens enter the front door and exit through a side door to prevent crossing paths.
- Plexiglas shields span the customer service windows.
- Hand sanitizer is available at each window. Its use is encouraged.
- Counter shields, countertops, doorknobs and other implements are sanitized throughout the day. Pens are also available. Once used, a pen is dropped into a separate container for sanitizing before it is reused.
The Center for All Seasons remains closed to the public.
Questions about the new procedures can be directed to Town Manager Anthony Wilson at 207-495-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library offers curbside service
The Belgrade Public Library is offering no-touch services.
While the building is not open to the public, patrons may request materials by contacting the Library at 207-495-3508 or email@example.com. Library staff will arrange a time for patrons to retrieve their requested items from the library’s front porch.
Library staff will also recommend titles based on authors and genres, at a patron’s request.
Requests and retrievals will occur during the library’s regular operating hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. The Library is located at 124 Depot Road.
For residents who cannot drive, Neighbors Driving Neighbors will deliver requested items to patrons’ front doors.
All Library materials will be returned to the dropbox outside the library. Library staff will empty the dropbox daily and store materials for four days before processing and re-shelving them. The four-day wait ensures the coronavirus will die on any contaminated item.
All Library programming in June will be conducted online. This includes using the online meeting platform Zoom for the Library’s book group and guest talks, and using the Internet for weekly trivia and scavenger hunts. Details will be posted at TownofBelgrade.com/library and on the Library and Town’s Facebook pages.
Selectboard hosts online hearing July 9
The Board of Selectpersons on Thursday, July 9, will host the final of three public hearings on the warrant articles on the ballot in the Town election July 14. This will be an opportunity for voters to ask questions about the articles, including the Town's budget, and learn more about the issues on the ballot.
The meeting will be conducted at noon via the online meeting platform Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81102571715. The hearing will also be broadcast live on the Town's Facebook page. Citizens may pose questions through either platform.
The warrant articles are listed in the Town's annual report, beginning on page 78.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of the Town Meeting in March. Because public gatherings of more than 50 people will not be allowed through the summer, the Selectboard opted to put all of the warrant articles to a secret ballot vote on July 14. The election will be combined with the state primaries and voters' consideration of RSU 18's 2020-21 budget.
July 4 festivities canceled
Because the state has restricted gatherings to fewer than 50 people and the public health threat remains, this year's July 4 festivities in Belgrade have regrettably been canceled.
Food pantry remains open, accepting donations
The Belgrade/Rome Special Needs Food Pantry continues to provide food to needy families from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Tuesdays at the North Belgrade Community Center, 508 Smithfield Road. Pantry volunteers ask that residents who are ailing find a substitute to pick up their food. The pantry has instituted a no-touch process to protect clients and volunteers.
There are two easy ways to contribute to the effort:
- If you wish to donate food items, you may bring those to the Town Office, 990 Augusta Road, and leave them on the back porch (the left, or north, side of the building). You can call 207-495-2258 or text 207-592-6031 to alert someone of your delivery. The following items are most in need: cans of beef stew, hash, soup, and fruit, deodorant, shampoo, dish soap and laundry detergent. Non-perishables are always welcomed.
- You can mail a financial donation to the Belgrade/Rome Special Needs Food Pantry at P.O. Box 236, Belgrade, ME 04917.