2017-11-03 / Community News

News Briefs

Changes coming for next week’s election

Following tabulation errors in three elections held over the past 12 months and a review by an ad hoc election rules and policy review committee, the town will change the way it facilitates elections, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 7.

The committee, which was formed in early September and met twice, concluded overall the system Scarborough uses works with its post election checks and balances, but multiple consecutive elections – like this summer’s three school budget validation votes – places strain on election workers and hand counting, the method Scarborough uses, produces more errors than than machine tabulation.

To that end, the committee is recommending election tabulation should now be done by machine rather than hand count and have more staff (an election warden and deputy warden) on hand during elections starting on the first day of absentee voting.

The additional staffing will required an additional $5,400, which Town Manager Tom Hall said is already covered in the budget. Town Clerk Tody Justice had been serving as the election warden recently to save money. The electronic tabulation machines will cost an additional $3,000 per election.

Hall said a number of recommended changes from Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn, who looked into Scarborough’s practices, have already been put in place for next week’s election.

“We are taking the process seriously and implementing all the sound recommendations coming our way,” Hall said last month.

Mistakes with tabulation were made following the general election last November and during the second and third school budget validations, July 25 and Sept. 5 respectively.

In the Nov. 8 and Sept. 5 elections, the error was caught before the results had been certified by the council, but after unofficial results had been reported publically.

In the July 25 incident, the error was caught, but not before the results were accepted by the town council, which forced the council to recertify the results some six weeks after the July 25 vote.

“Overall, Scarborough’s election system functioned as intended, with statutory checks and balances working to discover any errors and protect the integrity of the election,” Flynn wrote. “None of the three errors were attributable to the same cause, even though two error involved absentee ballots.”

Council Chairman Shawn Babine said although errors did occur, it is important to note that those mistakes did not change the result of any of the elections.

Hearings on Avenue 2 discontinuance delayed

After months of public meetings and executive sessions with counsel and landowners, the town council discussed moving forward with discontinuing a section of Avenue 2 from King Street to the ocean, but decided to press the pause button and table the topic until the Dec. 6 meeting.

If the town does discontinue its rights to the paper street, 25 feet on the northerly side will be added to the property owned by the Gables on the Sea condominium association and 25 feet to Charles Gendron, the southerly abutter.

In exchange, the town will be granted a permanent easement to use as a pedestrian path to the beach. If the agreement moves forward, the pathway will be re-landscaped.

The paper street has historically been used to get to and from the beach, and several residents in Pine Point have said they would rather see the property remain how it is and not be discontinued. Following the public hearings, the council will still have to make a final decision on discontinuing that section of Avenue 2.

“The action tonight doesn’t discontinue the street. It only initiates the process,” Town Manager Tom Hall told councilors before they cast a 4-3 vote to table, with Bill Donovan, Shawn Babine and Chris Caiazzo opposed.

Delaying the action, councilors said, will allow them to figure out if the condo owners at Gables by the Sea support the plan or not.

“Until I get that approval from the Gables, I have a hard time pushing this forward,” councilor Kate St. Clair said.

Donovan said since the process requires two public hearings (originally set for Nov. 1 an Nov. 15), there would be plenty of time to get that information before the council’s final decision, which was expected by early December, but because of the tabling, will be pushed back.

While Caiazzo said he would like to “get closure on this” because it has been drawn out for such a long period of time and didn’t “see how a delay helps us.” Fellow councilor Will Rowan said he supports tabling the topic if it means all parties get to a point where they feel more comfortable before the council acts on it.

Asst. superintendent snags leadership award

Scarborough Assistant Superintendent Jo Anne Sizemore was named Maine School Superintendents Association’s Assistant Superintendent of the year at the group’s fall meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Sizemore, who was nominated for the award by Director of Special Services Alison Marchese, joined the district in 1978 as a long-term substitute teachers before being hired as a math teacher. She took on the role of middle school principal in 1990 and stayed in that position until 2009 when she was hired as assistant superintendent in 2009. Sizemore served as interim superintendent between former superintendent David Doyle’s resignation in October 2010 and July 2011, when George Entwistle began as superintendent.

This is not the only leadership award she has recieved. In 2006, she was named the Maine middle school principal of the year.

"Being a new superintendent, it is an honor to have an experienced administrator like Jo Anne to work along side everyday," said Scarborough Superintendent Julie Kukenberger, who came to the district in July 2016.

Sizemore said she couldn't have done what she's done without a strong group of educators behind her all along the way.

Community comes together for storm aid

The wind storm that blew through the state early this week left many in town without power, knocked down trees and tree limbs and caused extensive property damage across southern Maine.

Scarborough schools were closed Oct. 30 due to high winds and hazardous travel conditions and Oct. 31 due to there still being many impassable roads and widespread power outages.

According to Central Maine Power, as of Wednesday morning, 2,228 or 21 percent of the company’s 10,397 customers in Scarborough, were still without power.

Scarborough Public Library opened its doors and set up work stations in its meeting room for those individuals without power at home or work earlier this week.

Similarly the Wentworth School cafeteria was open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday as a space for the public to warm up or charge their electronics.

Through Sunday, Nov. 5, between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Scarborough residents can drop off tree branches and other debris caused by the storm at 48 Holmes Road, right next to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

Private contractors can only drop off debris from Scarborough properties, but must provide the name, address and phone number of the resident. No construction materials will be accepted. For more information, call Scarborough Public Works at 730-4400.

Compiled by Staff Writer Michael Kelley. He can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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