MOSCOW – Two long-time town officials and one newcomer will compete for a single selectman’s seat on Monday.
Residents will also decide whether to halt any wind power development until the town’s ordinance regulating wind energy projects can be amended.
Voters will make their pick in the three-way selectmen’s race from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the Town Hall. The Town Meeting, where residents will vote on the proposed $436,700 budget, begins at 7:30 p.m. at Moscow Elementary School.
The race pits incumbent Maynard Lagasse against former selectman Elvin Hawes and transportation worker Christopher Ingersoll.
During Town Meeting, residents will decide whether they want to approve a 180-day moratorium on wind development in order to allow the planning board, selectmen and citizens time to amend the town’s current ordinance “if it is found to be in the best interest of the town,” according to the warrant article.
Resident Cynthia Belanger submitted a petition to the town recently, signed by more than the required 18 people, said First Selectman Donald Beane, to put the item on the warrant.
Her husband, Roderick, said, “These people know what they’re doing; we don’t. That’s why we want this moratorium so we can have time to make an educated decision.”
People approved the current ordinance at a meeting in December. Under its rules, wind turbines are required to be 2,500 feet – less than half a mile – from the nearest permanent or seasonal residence.
Some people have said the setback should be extended, but others argue that increasing the distance between turbines and dwellings would be too restrictive and would hinder development.
Testing poles in the town and neighboring Caratunk have been gathering wind data for more than a year. Next fall, the potential developers – Maine Windpower LLC and Cianbro Corporation – will likely know whether a wind farm in the two communities is feasible.
The following three people are running for one selectman’s seat:
After 30 years as a second selectman, Elvin “Al” Hawes, 72, left the board two years ago.
Now, he’d like to return. “I enjoy being involved,” he said. “It was just a good feeling to be a part of a town like Moscow.”
Hawes is now retired but served as a deputy with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office off and on between 1971 and 2004. He helped start the Upper Kennebec Valley Ambulance Service.
He worked as a heavy equipment operator for Scott Paper starting in 1967; years later he was in charge of buying and selling forest products. He’s also worked for Plum Creek and is currently a member of the town’s board of appeals.
One of the largest issues facing the town is commercial wind power, he said.
Though “I’m not a 100-percent advocate of wind power,” he said, wind project developments could boost the tax base. “We’re going to need something to generate income,” he said.
Christopher Ingersoll, 29, said it’s time the younger generation learned how to manage the town.
The current selectmen have done well, he said, but who will “step up in the years to come to help with the town’s budget?”
“I figured, learn from what was there,” he said. “Sooner or later my generation’s going to be in there running the town.”
Ingersoll works for the Maine Department of Transportation where he plows snow and maintains roads and ditches. He’s an assistant fire warden for the town and has been a firefighter with the Bingham Fire Department since 2000.
He, too, considers the potential wind turbine projects the biggest issue facing the town. He emphasized that decisions concerning wind power development should be made largely by residents.
“You do a lot of research and then you bring it to the townspeople,” he said. “Being a selectman, you’re only working for the people.”
Incumbent Maynard Lagasse, 66, has been a selectman 33 years.
A retired bank manager, he was a member of the school board before joining town government. Drafted into the Army during the 1950s, he later joined the Maine Army National Guard and is a 40-year member of the American Legion.
In 1992 he helped start a nonprofit, the Kennebec Valley Regional Waste Corporation, to pick up recyclables in Anson, Starks, Bingham and Moscow. Bingham and Moscow have since opted out of the program.
The biggest issue facing the town is wind power, he said, but emphasized that current proposals would put turbines far from houses. “It’s right out of town, – out of sight, out of mind, essentially,” he said.
If the town can obtain cheap electricity from the turbines, he said, it would be a strong incentive for businesses to move to the area. Moscow has no grocery store or gas station. “We need employment. We need some sort of industrial base,” he said.
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