City Approves Collaborative Drug Task Force

By Kaileigh Deacon


At the Calais City Council meeting last Thursday night, the Council and Police Department took an aggressive step toward the drug problem in Washington County. Chief Randall brought before the council a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] with four municipalities – including Calais, the sponsoring agency – which would create the Multi-Agency Drug Task Force [MAD Task Force]. The agreement would be between Indian Township, Pleasant Point, Calais, and Eastport. It is likely Baileyville will be added to the MAD Task Force but the Town Council must first agree to the MOU.

The MAD task force is an agreement between the agencies to share information regarding suspicious activity and assisting when needed to crack down on drug activity. Police Chief David Randall expressed that the intention would be to create a layered network between the towns, something that would be demonstrated by the visibility of cruisers from different towns, all of whom would have identical information on suspicious locations or individuals. “I think any time they see any cruiser in this area or that area they’ll be just as concerned about that officer as one from that town,” Randall said. While the State Police, MDEA, and Sheriff’s office aren’t currently part of this agreement, the MAD Task force would still share information with them. The MOU effectively formalizes what is already happening frequently in Eastern Washington County as multiple agencies have been assisting with drug cases.

In addition to providing a boost in combating drugs in Eastern Washington County, it would also provide agencies with more opportunities. The MOU will increase the number of opportunities for trainings in the area, a greater coverage for response to emergency calls when other agencies are unavailable, and more collaborative support in general. With the cooperative effort also comes the possibility of buying equipment for the departments in bulk which could help alleviate some budget strain with better rates.

The city’s auditor from RKO, Hank Farrah, was on hand Thursday night to present the council with the results of the city and school audits. The overall results of the audit were good, and both the city and the school system look to be in good shape. A few areas that need improving that will be looked at in the coming year. Farrah complimented the city on its improvement, praising the city and school finance directors in particular. “We gave you direction and we pointed on what to fix and in what order. But we didn’t do all that work – that came from Crystal and Julie. It’s been a turnaround these three years I’ve been here.”

The city authorized City Manager Jim Porter to purchase new software that will aid the Assessing Department as well as increased access to the property information. The software would allow the public to access property information on the city’s website. The software would cost the city $1,600 which the council authorized to be spent from the fund balance.

Moving forward with the Downeast Economic Development Corporation, the City authorized the contribution of $40,000 to the corporation. This money would go toward covering the cost of the corporation and help with bringing new business into the area. Both Mayor Billy Howard and Councilor Mark Carr expressed reticence with Howard being concerned about the hospital fundraising initiative the corporation started and Carr wanting focus on more projects beyond the fiber optic network. “I really like what Julie [Jordan] is doing, and I think we’ve come a long way with this thing, but I’m not in favor of it if it’s going to be a charity organization from here on out,” said Howard. “I understand what they were trying to do, but if you’re going to do that for one, are you going to have to do it for all? This is supposed be an investment group looking for people to invest in our area. We’re not spending money to be doing this.”

The financing for the Calais portion of the fiber optic internet project was put out to bid and awarded to The First. The council vote was all in favor with the exception of Mark Carr who abstained from the vote.

The council approved the sending out to bid of several tax acquired properties. In addition, the council authorized Jim Porter to submit the letter he wrote conveying the city’s displeasure with the county tax increase for publication in local papers. The letter conveys not only the city’s feelings regarding the increase but the effects such an increase would have on the city and it’s citizens.

The next city council meeting will be held on March 8 at 6 p.m.