Rockport Town Manager’s Report: Storm clean-up continues, EMS, public works projects

Sun, 05/12/2024 - 10:45pm

    ROCKPORT – The following is the May 13 Rockport Town Manager’s Report and Update delivered in advance of the regularly scheduled Select Board meeting at 6 p.m., in the Geoffrey C. Parker Meeting Room at the Rockport Opera House.

    Annual Town Meeting/June Election:
    All items on our Annual Town Meeting Warrant will be decided at the polls on Tuesday, June 11th at the Rockport Public Library. The school budgets and state ballots will be part of this election and all ballot information is on our town website at

    There will be a Public Hearing on Monday May 13th at 6:00 p.m. to receive public comments on the annual town meeting warrant articles that will be voted upon by referendum vote on June 11, 2024. Like last year we will not be having an open Town Meeting and the budget articles will be voted on by written ballot. This is to approve the expenses for the 2024/2025 fiscal year.

    Absentee ballot requests for the June election are available on May 14th.

    2 seats: 3-year term for Select Board and 1 seat: 1-year term for Select Board:
    We have received papers back for the two open three-year terms on the Select Board, the three people that will be on the ballot in June for this position will be Denise Munger, Michelle Hannan and Tiffany Ford. For the one one-year term, we have received papers back from John Viehman, who will also appear on the June ballot.

    2 seats: 3-year term Library Committee:
    There are two three-year terms open position for the Library Committee, and we received papers back from David Bannister and Helen Shaw.

    1 seat: 3-year term School Board:
    There is one three-year term position for the School Board, which we received papers back from Marcia Dietrich.

    3 seats: 3-year term Budget Committee and 2 seats: 2-year term Budget Committee:
    There are three three-year term open positions on the Budget Committee, and we received papers back from Walker Angell and Helen Shaw. We also have two two-year term open positions, and we received papers back from Douglas Cole.

    Write ins:
    Write in candidacy is available for all positions on the ballot, however, for a write in to accept the position, they must declare in writing with the Town Clerk prior to 4 p.m. on June 10th, 2024.

    Failing to provide a declaration of candidacy in writing will mean the individual may not be elected to the position in question.

    Voter’s Guide:
    Located on our website under election information at


    Footbridge Update: Dallas Fields of Fields Dive Service is building and will install a 6’x 50’ aluminum footbridge with Ipe wood decking. Our initial design proved to be too complicated to implement given our budget and timeline and the extensive engineering that the design required. It became clear that if we wanted to have a footbridge in place for this season- this is the only feasible option. We expect this replacement bridge to be installed in the next 1 to 2 weeks. Construction on the bridge is nearly complete and we are awaiting final approval from the engineer to sign off on the project.

    Storm Repairs. We have been filling in holes and repairing damage from all the latest storms. Please be patient and respectful in those areas, as some of these spaces take time to grow back.

    Prock Marine was quite helpful in tackling the first portion of the repairs last month and we are moving onto the second phase which will address the sink holes created along the river, in the park, and most notably in the parking lot where our commercial fishermen are working. Next week contractors will begin removing damaged asphalt and filling areas where waves undermined the parking lot, which may include the entire parking area. What all involved should understand from all damage from a storm, is that once damage results from a Federally declared disaster, the Town must work very carefully. Safety is the priority but FEMA is quite clear they will not fund any work which goes beyond replacing what was damaged. So while anyone who sees the damage from this storm would suggest making more extensive repairs so that another storm wouldn’t cause the same harm, that isn’t possible without FEMA denying reimbursement. Therefore, we are stuck with making a repair that we have low confidence will stand the test of time, but are doing so because that is the only way we can work with FEMA. Additionally, I’d heard some rumors that a neighboring community received $4million to repair damage from the storms this winter, that is far from the case. None of the communities impacted from the January 11th and 14th, 2024 storms have received any funds from FEMA and won’t for nearly another year. So the bottom line in all of this is that these storms are truly wreaking havoc not just on our waterfront but also in our capacity to provide the repairs we know are needed to avoid further damage.

    Floats Are In. All floats are now in the water in anticipation of many upcoming boat launches and judging by my visit just after the last of the floats were put in the water, those launches are going fast! The Harbormaster and her crew will be working on replacing all of the tie-offs as all of them were damaged in the January storm.

    Mooring Renewal. Abbie has been working with mooring holders to complete their Online Mooring profiles and complete their transactions online. This is the first year we are not sending out paper bills so there will be more work while everyone gets used to the process of doing their renewals online. We will also be sending out postcards as reminders.

    New Hire.
    Deputy Harbormaster – I’m pleased to say the Town has hired RJ Polky to join our staff at the harbor as a deputy harbormaster. Though he is a Mainer, RJ has extensive experience as a firefighter out west and has a long list of certifications which can aid our community in a variety of ways. RJ will join Jared Cumming on staff as a deputy harbormaster as we begin to march toward warmer weather. Stop by the harbor and say, “hello,” to RJ!

    Thank you!

    Want to thank all the volunteers for all their help with the Spring roadside cleanup. Once again, we had civic groups, students from local schools, and residents working together to clean up our roadsides and ensure Rockport remains beautiful. Many thanks to our Public Works crews who also worked with our volunteers to pick up the bags across town.

    In Lieu of Taxes:

    Many thanks to Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Aldermere Farm, Beech Hill Connector, and Erickson Field Properties who contributed $5,600 in lieu of paying taxes to help assist with town provided services. Though it is not a requirement, it is greatly appreciated non-profits see such value in how the Town supports them.


    All town cemeteries have been opened to the public for the season. Please be patient while we continue to do more maintenance and cleanup. Memorial flags will be going out on the week of May 20th so they will be there for Memorial Day, and I anticipate all spring cleanup will be completed by that date. Our crews and that of our contract, Farley Inc., are working diligently to ensure the cemeteries are in the best position possible prior to Memorial Day. An extensive drainage project will be started in the next couple weeks at Sea View Cemetery to address flooding during heavy rain events and a new flagpole is on order to replace the flagpole which broke in Sea View.

    Marge Jones Fields:

    Fields are now open for the season! Fields look good, lots of pickleball games and little league games going on. The new dug out is complete and the babe ruth shed had some upgrades, leveled, trimmed, and stained. If you want to schedule the use of a field for this year, email

    Wastewater Article Q&A Session:

    There will be a public meeting regarding Article 3 of the Annual Town Meeting Warrant which would authorize the Town to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in Rockport and extend sewer from the high school to the Route 17/90 intersection on Tuesday, May 28th at 6:00 p.m. in the Geoffrey C. Parker Room at the Opera House. All are invited to attend to ask questions.


    I’m pleased to announce the Government Finance Officers Association has awarded the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to the Town of Rockport for its budget document. In order to receive the budget award, the Town had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation and reflects the commitment our staff places on providing a document that meets the highest principles of governmental budgeting. This is the seventh year in a row the Town of Rockport has won this award and all credit for this honor goes to our tireless Finance Director, Megan Brackett. The format a budget takes really only needs to go as far as what is needed for the Select Board to approve the budget, but this budget provides so much more data and information to aid the Board, the Budget Committee, and frankly all residents of an accurate picture of the municipality’s fiscal health and the budget presented. Congratulations again, Megan!

    Public Works:

    Project Updates. We have been actively engaged in significant brush cutting on Main Street between Route 1 and Simonton’s Corner. This is in preparation for potentially significant road work this summer to address the roadbed and drainage.

    In the Bay Ridge subdivision, Wellington Drive and Terrier Circle are two of the areas we are focusing on at present to provide drainage improvements in preparation for paving when conditions allow.

    Parks. Public Works and our contractors have been working to address deferred maintenance at Glen Cove Park and Walker Park this month. At Glen Cove significant brush had accumulated through the parking areas and around the Anne Kilham created map. We removed the brush the views from the park are once again available to park visitors.

    At Walker Park, we encountered significant storm damage along the sea wall and as noted above in the Harbor section, we made repairs in line with FEMA’s needs. However a better plan should be engaged there to protect the park. Additionally, tree growth had come far too close to the playset, a dangerous metal later was removed and more wood chips were needed to ensure a safe area to play.

    Sidewalk Repairs. Sidewalk repairs were done in the Rockport Village area on Union and Main Street and around the Opera House. We appreciate all the patience while the repairs were taking place.

    Spring Cleanup. While spring has begun, the late departure of winter has left us a bit behind on some items. However, we are nearly complete with street sweeping and plan to begin cleaning our catch basins in the weeks ahead. Painting should begin next week in hopes of having it complete in time for Memorial Day.

    Please always use caution in construction areas as some areas may not be passable and unsafe while our crews are working.


    Upcoming Programs: Check out the library website at

    Friends of the Rockport Public Library’s HUGE Donut Festival Book Sale
    June 7th, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and June 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    The Rockport Room in the library's lower level will be filled with thousands of gently used books, CDs, DVDs, and puzzles appealing to all ages and tastes. Volunteers from the Friends of the Rockport Library will keep book tables stocked full of fiction, nonfiction, mystery, Maine- themed, exciting “specials”, and more! There will be bargains galore, and Annual Friends members receive 10% off purchases. Only cash or checks will be accepted. Proceeds from the book sale will benefit the Rockport Library. Please contact the library at 207-236-3642 if you would like to volunteer at the sale or receive more information about the Friends.

    “Drink Your Vinegar: The Ancient and Modern-Day Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar” June 12th at 6:00 p.m.

    Bob Sewall and his wife, Mia Mantello, will explain how apple cider vinegar is made and speak about the many uses for vinegar in cooking; in hot sauces; and in drinkable forms like fire cider, shrub, and switchel. They will also discuss the purported health benefits of ACV. Bob Sewall is a long-time organic apple grower and former President of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners. Sewall’s cold-aged vinegar is used in fine restaurants including Fore Street in Portland, Primo in Owl’s Head, and Nina June in Rockport. This program is part of the library’s ongoing “foodie” series. There will be samples to try and vinegar for sale.

    “Summer of Spies: Youth Summer Reading Program” July 9th through August 6th, times will vary.

    This year’s summer Reading program invites young patrons to explore the genre of mystery, sleuthing, and spying through special events, weekly themed activities, and reading challenges. There will be a kickoff party on July 9, where students will learn about the summer spy challenges and begin their adventure with a secret spy obstacle course. Students will have the chance to build their own spy briefcase, and throughout the summer create and test the tools

    they’ll need for super sleuthing. There will be a live action game of Clue where students can dress in character and solve the classic whodunit. Space is limited for some of the activities, so please call the library at 207-236-3642 to register and learn more.

    “An Introduction to the Maine Fibershed” July 17th at 6:00 p.m.

    A Fibershed is a geographical region where natural fiber is produced, processed, made into textiles, and ultimately composted. The Maine Fibershed’s mission is to educate and connect people to maximize the health of the environment, protect Maine’s natural resources, and shorten supply chains. Pat Harpwell will discuss the “Soil-to-Soil” diagram and the importance of keeping synthetic fibers out of our food, soil, and watersheds. The program will also cover the health benefits of using natural fibers on your skin and in your home; and how waste wool can be used for packaging, fertilizer, and erosion control.

    Family Concert with 2023 Latin Grammy nominee, Flor Bromley July 24th at 4:30 p.m. at Mary Lea Park.

    Families are invited to a very special musical event with Latin Grammy nominee, Flor Bromley. Flor’s colorful, bilingual performance will entertain and teach children about Latin culture. We invite families to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy while listening to Flor’s beautiful

    “Appalachian Mountain Club Series: Summiting Kilimanjaro” July 31st at 6:00 p.m.

    In the first program of the Rockport Library’s new series of talks in partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Denise Anderson will present a narrated slideshow about her adventure hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro has 3 peaks, the highest is Uhuru Peak, at 19,341 feet. Anderson hiked the 7-day Lemosho Route, starting at the Londorossi Gate on the western side of the mountain. The talk will highlight the varies ecological zones: rainforest; moorland and alpine desert; and at the summit — an arctic climate.

    Police Department:

    Training. Congratulations Officer Bixhaku! Jeta is now a new Drug Recognition Expert.

    When police officers arrest a person for driving under the influence, and a breath test shows it is not alcohol alone causing the impairment, Drug Recognition Experts are called in to determine if the person is impaired by drugs, and if so, what type of drug. They're highly trained and an invaluable resource in the fight against impaired driving.

    Training was supported and funded by Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, which included a short trip to Florida, where ten officers were able to complete their field certifications and certification exam in just three days, returning to Maine fully certified.

    Fire Department:

    West Rockport Fire Station Updates: After a slow start, progress is moving swiftly on the site as structural steel is up and I expect roof trusses will not be far behind in the next couple of weeks. Chief Peasley, Architect Amanda Austin, and I met with Maine Coast Construction last week and a firm plan is in place to have this building completed on time this fall.

    We have had 118 calls year to date so far.

    Burn Permits. By definition a “recreational campfire” means an outdoor fire that is used for cooking, personal warmth and light or ceremonial or aesthetic purposes that is not a part of debris disposal (AKA burning brush). In addition, a new law for 2024 clarifies a fire pit may not exceed three feet in height or width. ALL other fires are required to obtain a daily permit online at It’s free and easy so there are no excuses why everyone can’t get a permit when needed!

    For those interested in learning more about joining the fire department, please contact Chief Peasley at


    On Wednesday May 15th, the Rockport Fire Department will begin our First Responder program with its full-time firefighters and several other Firefighter/EMT’s responding to all EMS calls in Rockport. We will begin responding during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 7 days a week. These are the hours the station is staffed full-time by our Firefighters/EMT’s. We have also circulated an ad for prospective Per Diem staff to broaden our ability to fill shifts.

    North East Mobile Health Services will continue to be our primary EMS provider and transport all patients to the hospital. The Rockport Fire Department Firefighter/EMT’s will arrive on scene to: support the efforts of our EMS provider, utilize our own department’s SOP’s/best practices, and start the process of moving to a full time Fire and EMS transporting service.

    If the voters approve the proposed budget on June 11th, which will fund our own self-supportive EMS service here in Rockport this will start the processes of advertising for two additional firefighter EMT/AEMT positions and four Firefighter/Medic or Medic positions.

    We hope to interview candidates this summer, with hopes of personnel starting in October. Upon completion of the West Rockport Fire Station, we will move to 24-hour coverage for Fire and EMS, with a firefighter EMT and a Paramedic on shift 24 hours, off shift for 48 hours, on shift again for 24 hours, and then off for 4 days. This schedule will broaden the base of individuals who might be interested in working for Rockport beyond those living locally.

    We will be responding to all EMS calls 24/7, 365 days a year supporting our current EMS provider until our new staff members become proficient in our policies and procedures and we are confident our staff can assume 100% of transporting responsibilities for EMS needs in Rockport.

    Opera House:

    Renovation Updates: The Geoffrey C. Parker room renovations are now complete. On Monday the 13th, the Select Board will hold their first meeting in the Parker Room since December 2022! Many thanks to Hayrunner, their subcontractors, Chromunique Audio Visual, and our Buildings and Grounds staff working hard to get back to work in this space. I think many will be amazed by the transformation and quite pleased with the results!

    Planning and Community Development:

    New Hire. We are very happy to welcome Andrew Lowe as our new Alternate Code Enforcement Officer and Alternate Local Plumbing Inspector. Andrew will be working closely with Code Officer Scott Bickford in conducting inspections, approving permits, and answering the questions so many of us have has landowners about what we can do with our property. Andrew comes to us with nearly three decades of experience working in a variety of capacities with the Town of Camden, most recently as assistant fire chief. Andrew is a Rockport resident and we are incredibly excited to have him join the team!

    If you need a permit, inspection, or future project to discuss, please contact the Planning and Development and we will get you squared away with a time to meet. Our office is by appointment only, to ensure timeliness of current applications.

    VPI Traffic Study. The Traffic Infrastructure Study project is nearing completion, and will be finished this month. Once complete, the work of the VPI Task Force will provide recommendations from this study to the Select Board for their consideration. There are a wide array of items to consider from the intersection of Pascal Avenue and Route 1 across the bridge and ending at Huse Street. I hope this effort will not only provide a playbook for the Town to utilize in future development but more importantly assist us in seeking grant funding to improve areas of the village without negatively impacting its character. The potential for a new bridge weighs heavily and the ability to support the needs of this bridge and smoothly support our residents on foot, on a bike, or behind the wheel through these areas is important.

    Donut Festival:

    Perhaps it goes without saying but our 2nd Annual Donut Festival will take place on June 6th and 7th at Marine Park. Once again will have shuttle buses to assist with transportation from parking locations at RES and the school. The full schedule is available on the Donut Festival website and Facebook pages!

    Employment Opportunities:

    We have job openings with the Town of Rockport, stop by the Town Office for an application or call and we can email you an application. All applications will be accepted until the positions are filled. The Town of Rockport is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Also, job applications are available on our town website, along with a detailed job description.

    Public Works – Heavy Equipment Operator - This position involves manual work in road construction, repair, and maintenance, snow and ice removal, and other seasonal public works projects. The salary range for this position is $20.00 - $27.00 per hour, dependent on experience and training. Those with a CDL are preferred. Training is available for the right candidate to assist in gaining their CDL License. The person in this position will work under the direction of the Public Works Director.

    Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume and job application to Public Works Director Mike Young, at the following e-mail address (preferred) with “Heavy Equipment Operator” in the subject line, or by regular mail at 101 Main Street, Rockport, ME 04856.

    Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

    Civic Ready:

    We encourage all residents to sign up for this, if you are interested in knowing what is happening in the Town of Rockport. What is great about this system is that you decide which types of information you receive whether it is a reminder when property taxes are due to information on an upcoming event at the library, opera house or when a public works project is happening in your neighborhood; Civic Alert can keep you informed. Those interested can also sign up for alerts on our website at

    Maine Water Assistance Program:

    Is a federally funded program to help support eligible households in having access to drinking water and wastewater utility services. Households will be required to have water liability to be eligible for the drinking water/wastewater program. To receive an application, you can call 888- 623-6762 or email

    Rockport Resource Newsletter:

    If you would like to receive the Rockport Resource Newsletter via email you can sign up through our website.