FARMINGTON – Commissioners met Tuesday and approved the hiring of a new deputy, reviewed the recent collapse of a communications tower on Sugarloaf and authorized the renovation of a bridge in Salem.This picture, taken by Sugarloaf staff, shows the collapsed tower.Commissioners received an update from Communications Director C.L. Folsom regarding the local response to the collapse of a tower on Sugarloaf on Feb. 25. Extremely high winds and ice build up combined to collapse the tower, which is owned by TDS Telecom. The tower provides service for Homeland Security, cellphone service providers and Franklin County agencies in the northern part of the county. The Sugarloaf summit was closed to skiers at the time of the collapse, due to the wind.Folsom said that the loss of the tower impacted the Stratton/Eustis area more than anywhere, forcing first responders to use a text-based communication system for roughly 24 hours. By 3 p.m. the next day, the high winds had subsided enough for Hussey Communications personnel to reach the summit and access antennas attached to the unmanned building beneath the collapsed tower. By 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, Folsom said, communications had been restored.In other business, commissioners approved the hiring of Alec Frost as a part-time reserve deputy for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The plan is to have Frost transition to a full-time deputy on May 1, after he leaves the military, Chief Deputy Steve Lowell told commissioners. Frost will fill a vacancy created after Deputy Keith Madore accepted a position in Kennebec County.Hiring Frost as a part-time deputy would enable him to begin meeting training requirements immediately, Lowell noted.Commissioners approved utilizing Farmington Ford for the FCSO’s vehicle maintenance needs. That business was one of five that submitted proposals to maintain the office’s cruisers. Those services will be used on an as-needed, hourly basis, rather than through the signing of an annual contract.Commissioners also approved a $35,000 project to replace the Salem Bridge with concrete components. Dirigo Timberlands will provide the concrete sections, the 70-year life expectancy of which is superior to wood. The funds for the project will come out of the Unorganized Territory’s road reserve account.Also in the U.T., commissioners approved the transfer of a $50,000 award of Tax Increment Financing district funds from the Madrid Historical Society to the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. The RLHT is the entity that will take over the ownership of a parcel of land between Route 4 and the Sandy River, at the intersection with the Reeds Mill Road.A local group is seeking to acquire the land, demolish the old Madrid Store and Poacher’s Paradise buildings, and create a scenic turnout with some limited parking. The project has been in the works for some time, with local proponents waiting for a Maine Department of Transportation highway project to improve that section of Route 4.Commissioners have previously expressed support for the demolition of the buildings, if not the turnout itself. The old store building currently cuts off view of the Reeds Mill Road bridge, which is one-lane. As a result, people on the bridge trying to get onto Route 4 do not have clear lines of sight. Furthermore, if the state bridge ever was to be expanded to two lanes, the buildings would have to go.Commissioners approved $50,000 in TIF funds for the Madrid Historical Society back in September 2018; however, organizers have since realized that RLHT would be a more appropriate owner and caretaker for the parcel. Commissioners Terry Brann of Wilton and Clyde Barker of Strong were unanimous in supporting redirecting those funds from MHS to RLHT.County Clerk Julie Magoon noted that the Franklin County selectmen had caucused Monday night and elected three people to the nine-member Budget Committee. New Sharon Selectman Travis Pond will rejoin the committee for District 2, while District 1 will be represented by Selectperson Judy Diaz of Jay. District 3’s new representative is Selectman Morgan Dunham.They will join the six present members: Keith Swett, Tiffany Maiuri, Tiffany Estabrook, Ray Gaudette, Bob Luce and Josh Bell, who will serve as the committee’s chair.Magoon noted that Bell had indicated to her that the committee had questions regarding the scope of their authority over the budget. These are questions that have repeatedly been asked over the past few years, including whether new items could be added by the committee or whether members should be approving individual line items or just the department budgets. Magoon suggested that she collect questions from the committee members and department heads and have them reviewed by the county’s legal counsel prior to the budget process.
Despite being the preferred option for responsible ship recycling when compared to South Asia’s shipbreaking yards, Turkey’s Aliaga-based breaking yards still face considerable challenges including high accident rate.Furthermore, there is a low level of awareness of occupational diseases at the Aliaga yards, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform.“NGOs and local labour rights groups, including Platform partner Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch (IHSLW), are concerned about the high accident rate and the low awareness of occupational diseases at the Aliaga yards. As in South Asia, trade union organisation remains weak in Aliaga,” the platform said.What is more, as explained by the NGO, the landing method which is used in Turkey “also poses environmental challenges as the risk of slag and paint chips falling into the water is high.”However, the platform pointed out that through engagement with NGOs and labour rights groups, the Turkish Ship Recyclers Association remains attentive to constantly improving the industry practice.To that end, several of the yards in Aliaga have applied to be on the upcoming EU list of approved ship recycling facilities. “In order to make it on the EU list, the yards will be subject to critical assessment of their environmental and social performance,” the platform added.In 2016, Turkey dismantled 92 ships, including several drill ships and platforms. In comparison to South Asia, Turkey dismantles smaller vessels, many of them either EU-owned or EU-flagged. Aliaga is also a preferred destination for EU navy vessels, the platform’s data shows.