By Edith Tucker

GORHAM — Coos County residents are well-known in economic development circles for their work ethic. Now there is new evidence to support this boast.

Gorham Public Works Director Buddy Holmes reported a problem to the selectmen at Monday evening’s meeting. The town’s transfer station at the DPW yard was inundated both that day and on Saturday with people dropping off unusually large loads of no-longer-needed clothes, household goods and furniture.

These early spring-cleaning efforts can be attributed to the large number of residents who have been laid-off or furloughed from their jobs in response to the coronavirus, Holmes reported.

“We had 80 to 90 vehicles show up with materials they’d cleared out of their garages, cellars and attics,” he explained. “It was quite a fiasco, with people getting angry once our roll-off dumpster was filled up, since there was no place for anyone to drop things off until our contractor came through to empty it.”

“This is a problem no one anticipated,” said Chairman Mike Waddell.

Questions posed by both selectmen Judy LeBlanc and Adam White established that it was the volume of bulky materials, including furniture, textiles and plastics, that caused the problem and not household garbage or kitchen waste, which goes into a smaller dumpster.

Holmes suggested a temporary fix, which the board adopted on a unanimous vote.

Effective Friday, March 27, residents must deliver all loads that fill a six-foot or larger pickup truck bed directly to the Androscoggin Valley Regional Refuse Disposal District’s materials transfer and recycling station at 100 West Milan Road (Rte. 110) in Berlin.

Residents must first get a permit at the Gorham’s Public Works garage. AVRRDD’s recycling center is open Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its bulky materials section with a commercial scale house is open Tuesday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Check AVRRDD’s webpage for more information.

Those with a large number of items to dispose of, which are less than would fill a six-foot pickup truck bed, are now being asked to call DPW employee Lisa White at (603) 466-5025 to be sure that the load can be immediately accepted or whether an alternative time to bring it in must be arranged. As in the past, household garbage will continue to be accepted.

The wet snow on the ground on Tuesday morning put at least a temporary halt to the bulky waste problem.

The selectmen also voted, 3-0, to authorize town manager Denise Vallee and Holmes to make whatever adjustments are needed to facilitate making these new arrangements work smoothly.

Since Holmes was on hand, White pointed out that he is concerned that the space that is now designated as “no parking” on either side of the painted crosswalks on Main Street does not meet the requirements of state law. “It’s a safety issue,” he said, urging that the town comply with the letter of law.

In other action, the select board started the meeting by voting to keep Waddell on as chairman.

The board signed a one-year contract with Shelburne for EMS/Dispatch that runs from April 1 to March 31, 2021. Shelburne will pay $31,080 for services that include GPD emergency dispatch, maintaining and upgrade costs to the Pine Mountain repeater and building, an CPR certification training for Town of Shelburne, if requested.

Vallee reported to the board that HB 1165, designed to prohibit ATVs on a section of the Presidential Rail Trail in Gorham, was tabled on March 12 in the House of Representatives. Rep. Bill Hatch of Gorham, vice chairman of Division I of the House Finance Committee, made the motion to table the bill which he’d taken off the consent calendar the previous day.

The town will have its Code Enforcement Officer John Scarinza work to push along the implementation of the state’s plan to develop OHRV parking adjacent to the Eastern Depot Restaurant off Route 16, Waddell said.

Vallee reported that she has spent a lot of her time monitoring and keeping abreast of all the outreach and information provided by the Governor’s Office, Homeland Security and other agencies and then, in turn, keeping town departments informed. All town buildings are now closed to the public. The public library staff provides curbside pickup of books and other materials to its patrons. Parks and Recreation Department Director Jeff Stewart is been planning summertime events, including the farmers market and summer concert series on the Common.

This meeting was held on the second-floor of Town Hall with those on hand doing their best to sit six feet apart from one another. As always, the meeting was live-streamed and included a call-in or e-mail-in section to allow for remote public comment. Waddell wrote at the top of the agenda that he had declared an emergency “for the purpose of our board of selectmen meetings until the COVID-19 pandemic situation has subsided.”

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