Warren is one step closer to an adult-use cannabis committee.

At the previous meeting, the board announced they would take volunteer forms from individuals interested in participating in the committee.

Board Chair Roger Peabody said there were eight completed forms so far from interested individuals.

Joseph Berkenbile, chairman of the planning board, was present as an interested party. Arleigh Kraus and Michelle Bennett, Warren caregivers, were also present as volunteers for the committee.

Initially Peabody said the board was not going to appoint anyone to the committee during the meeting, but Vice Chair Wayne Luce suggested that those present should answer questions from the board.

Luce asked why Berkenbile was interested in joining the committee.

Berkenbile said he does not have any “personal interest” in marijuana, but he is aware that there are people who are growing it as caregivers who would like to get into the market.

Luce asked if Berkenbile would be a planning board “liaison” as a member of the committee.

Berkenbile said that he would “kind of” be a liaison, but would also be a regular member of the committee.

Luce asked why Kraus was interested in joining the committee.

Kraus said she was a caregiver, scientist and a local farmer. She said she thinks adult cannabis use needs to be approached responsibly and she feels she “can bring some valuable insight” to the committee.

Luce then asked Bennett about her interest.

Bennett said she believes adult use cultivation can open the town to placing regulations and testing restrictions to ensure safe consumption without pesticides and chemicals. She would like to see adult use cannabis tracked “from seed to sale.”

Peabody reminded those present that the committee may put in “a lot of hard work” and the town may still vote against the change in the land use ordinance for marijuana cultivation.

Luce said he would like to review the applications and appoint committee members at the next meeting.

Selectman Brent Pratt asked why the board would wait for the next meeting. “We have some extremely well-qualified people right here.”

The board appointed the volunteers who were present to the adult use cannabis committee. The other members of the committee will be appointed at a future time.

In other business, the Food for the Journey food pantry requested $2,500 from the Richardson Trust Fund. Donating money from that trust fund does not affect taxes, and the money is earmarked for the poor and needy.

Town Manager Sherry Howard checked the records and reported that as of Dec. 31 there was $860,000 in the fund.

Delia and Bill Lufkin were present representing the pantry. They reported that the pantry currently services 100 people a week and it only services Warren residents.

Selectman Jan Macdonald said the town should support the needy and suggested increasing the donation to $5,000.

Bill said the pantry receives donations from other sources.

Delia said the $2,500 is just to give the food pantry “a cushion in case of panic.”

The board gave the food pantry their requested $2,500 and Luce told the Lufkins they were welcome to come back and ask for more money.

Warren town meeting dates were set. Polling will occur June 9 and the open meeting will occur June 16.

Paul Andrews resigned from the budget committee for personal reasons. The board voted to accept his resignation “with regret.”

The board discussed the 2018-2019 Town Report publishing bids, but tabled the item until more research could be done regarding the available budget.

Lincoln County Publishing bid 700 copies for $2,775. Northern Data Systems bid 700 copies for $2,511.60.

The board also discussed refurbishing the library floor. The discussion was tabled until more bids could be collected for the job.

Volunteers from the community and the re-entry program in Belfast completed work on the Warren Community School in February. The board discussed how to recognize those who helped.

It was determined that the board would recognize all volunteers with certificates of appreciation.

Pratt asked about steps the town is taking to prepare for the coronavirus panic. Howard shared that the town office and Emergency Medical Services took adequate steps to prepare and prevent the spread of the illness.