August 04, 2020

Runoff to determine Palmyra selectmen

PALMYRA — A runoff election will be necessary to determine the final makeup of the town’s Board of Selectmen.

Mathys Van Dam and Dean Cray both were running for re-election to the board in Friday’s election. Cray won a decision easily, according to Town Clerk Joan Bradley. However, Van Dam tied with challenger Priscilla Jones, also a former selectman, at 70 votes each. Van Dam will continue to serve on the board until the runoff election.

Kaven Philbrook was elected unopposed to the SAD 48 board of directors.

Most articles in the eight-page warrant were approved according to the budget committee’s recommendations with a few exceptions.

The budget committee made no recommendation to the town to participate in the development of a business and technology park in Oakland for the shared benefit of Kennebec Valley towns. The proposal allocated $8,815 as Palmyra’s share of the first year of development and planning.

The investment was a “good risk” resident William MacLaren told the 40-plus voters who remained as the meeting lasted into the afternoon.

“For years, the biggest export of this state has been brainpower,” he said. “It’s time we do something to keep [young people] here and bring them back if they’ve gone.”

Palmyra voters agreed and joined voters throughout the region who have supported participation in the unique business park plan in hopes of creating more job opportunities. The participation is also based on the hope that once costs for the park are covered, the member towns will share in tax revenue from the project.

Voters supported taking $5,000 from the town’s $536,000 surplus for a contingency account to cover overdrafts in other accounts.

“I’m glad to see this back in there,” Charlie Randall said of the article. Randall said the article extended trust to the selectmen and their judgment in handling the budget. Without it, potential overdrafts had created several special town meetings through the year, he said.

Voters took the budget committee’s recommendation to apply $200,000 from surplus to reduce the tax commitment. Selectmen had proposed $175,000, similar to last year’s allocation.

The town’s Civil War Memorial outside St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on Route 2 will not be moved. Last year, voters allocated $6,500 to move the monument to the park behind the town hall. When the work was scheduled last summer, opposition developed in the form of a petition and succeeded in stopping the move. Selectman Sheila Later asked for Saturday’s vote to clarify the voters’ wishes.

In a related article, voters approved taking the $6,500 from the monument project and added $500 this year to begin planning for a new memorial at the town park. The monument will memorialize the veterans of all wars. Selectmen are looking for volunteers for a study committee to plan the monument.

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