Cameras Approved for Police Department Purposes

By Lura Jackson

The Calais police department is getting a few technology upgrades to enhance its efficiency, including four quality mobile cameras and GPS in its cruisers. The approval for both items was granted at the city council meeting held on Thursday, August 27th.

The decision to request the cameras was prompted by the recent complaints of citizens regarding the destructive and dangerous use of ATV vehicles on city streets, although the purposes of the cameras will be multi-fold. The cameras will be placed strategically around the city to provide surveillance during times when police officers are not present. The purchase of four cameras for a total amount not to exceed $2,000 from the Jessie Baig police department fund was motioned for by Councilor Marcia Rogers, seconded by Councilor Artie Mingo, and unanimously approved by the remaining council members.

The installation of four GPS units into the police cruisers and city public safety vehicles will enable City Manager Jim Porter and Police Chief David Randall to keep appraised of the location of each vehicle while providing live diagnostics. City Manager Jim Porter said that the best rate was through PCT Communications at $35 a month for each unit with a two year contract. The council approved the request.   

During the last city council session, an emergency amendment to the fireworks ordinance was added, restricting the use of consumer fireworks within 1,500' of livestock. The council unanimously voted to make the amendment a permanent addition, and a public hearing was scheduled for September 10th. Councilor Billy Howard noted that he liked that enforcement of the ordinance is complaint-based. Chief Randall agreed, adding, “It makes sense to go where the complaints area. I found out recently that there were chickens on Boardman Street.” Randall said that there had been no issues with enforcing the ordinance since its passage.

City Manager Porter reported that he had met with Scott Ramsey of the Rails to Trails project regarding the possibility of removing four miles of railway between Calais and Ayer’s Junction, thereby extending the snowmobile trail to town. “He’s excited about it.” Porter said that Ramsey was instrumental in creating the first part of the trail from Ellsworth to Machias. Ramsey advised Porter that it was important to get politicians on board with the project. Ramsey also met with Bill Kolodnicki of the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge and the pair agreed that they favored consolidation of the entire trail system.

 Councilor Howard said he had met with Chris Gardner, Director of the Eastport Port Authority, to discuss the same topic. Gardner is not in favor of removing the railway because, as Howard put it, “Once it’s gone, it might be gone for good.”

Library Director Kathleen Staples said that the library is preparing to have new carpeting added around the circulation desk. She requested that the library be closed on Friday, October 9th as the library will already be closed on Saturday due to Columbus Day. The city crew would return on Tuesday the 13th to put the stacks back in place. The council approved the request. 

Councilor Artie Mingo noted that he was impressed with the number of library visitors reported for the month of July, with over 2,000 visits from the adult and juvenile patrons of the area. Councilor Marcia Rogers added how much she appreciated the efforts of librarian Joyce Garland in coordinating the School Literacy program. “It expands kids’ interest ten-fold,” she said, adding, “It’s a really nice program.”

Mayor Marianne Moore commented that she had been receiving lots of compliments on the downtown flowers. Councilor Mingo seconded the opinion, saying that his out-of-state relatives were very impressed with the appearance of the downtown. Councilor Anne Nixon said the CDRC had a successful Chair Affair and that the scarecrow contest will soon be taking place. In addition, she noted that the CDRC is presently raffling a Remington Model 870 Express Super Mag shotgun with tickets available in downtown stores or from CDRC members at $5 each or three for $10. The gun was donated by Alicia Seavey in memory of her husband, George W. Seavey. The raffle will be held September 15th.

The council recognized the efforts of the International Festival committee in conducting a successful event. “The more activity on the waterfront, the better,” Councilor Howard said. Police Chief Randall said that he had been worried about a lack of coverage but that officers from customs had assisted whenever necessary, and that no problems arose.

The council also approved two bonds related to previously addressed water and sewer infrastructure projects, including a general obligation bond for Safe Drinking Water, which relates to the ongoing Temperance Street project, and a rural development sewer bond. Neither project will affect city rates for the provision of water or sewer services.

 

City Manager Porter said that he had recently accepted the resignation of Lea Farrar as an assessing clerk with regret, and that he would like to request permission to fill the position. The council approved the request.