HOPE — The Select Board Nov. 23 heard proposals for a grant to help pay for an emergency generator at the school and for an easement for a trench under Blueberry Hill Road servicing a solar array.

Fire Chief Clarence Keller and Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Ray Sisk met with the board to see if it would like to pursue a grant to help pay for a generator at the school that would allow the building to be used as a center to provide heat and shelter in an emergency. The EMA Performance Program Grant would be a 50/50 split.

Keller said that the estimate that he got for the cost of the project was $150,000 but noted that was not based on an in-depth look at what would be involved in the project. However, he said even this ball-park figure was enough to “take the wind out of the sails.”

Board Chair Sarah Ann Smith said she was not sure $75,000 was viable, though she said there was an opportunity worth considering with the grant funding.

The deadline for the grant application is Dec. 15. Select Board members said they would be willing to hear more information and hold a special Zoom meeting to help in deciding before the tight deadline.

Smith raised the concern that this project did not seem high on the priority list that she had seen related to it from the government and might be a long shot. Sisk said he would not have brought it to the board if it was too much of a long shot.

If this project went forward, it would be completed by 2023.

In another item on the agenda, Sarah McBrian and Wayne Breda were seeking an easement for a utility trench of some kind that runs under Blueberry Hill Road to service their solar project.

The town attorney, William Kelly, has advised against granting the easement. For one thing, such a decision would have to be approved at town meeting. He suggested a Revokable License Agreement with the town.

McBrian complained about what she saw as a problem with communication from the town. She wanted to pursue getting the easement placed on town meeting.

The Select Board wants more information on the issue going forward. It will require detailed drawings showing exactly where the trench is located. McBrian and Breda said they know of a contractor with sophisticated equipment for looking into the road and seeing what is in there without having to dig the area up.

The Select Board also wants to discuss the issue further with the town attorney to clarify what needs to be done.

In other business, “review results” from Ed Hodgins of R.J.D. Appraisal were included in the documents for the meeting.

“R.J.D. Appraisal has completed its review of the first third of the properties in the Town of Hope for the tax year 2022. The following is a list of the results obtained from the quarter review:

·       Developed parcels visited: 306

·       # of parcels with a change: 256

·       % of parcels with a change: 84%

·       Gain in valuation: $1,336,650

·       Decrease in valuation: $316,500

·       Net gain in valuation: $1,020,150

During public comments Chris Robinson asked if the Select Board members would benefit from training in the constitution. Smith said she had a master’s degree in diplomacy but thanked him for the offer. Robinson said he would like to offer a six-week class at the town library on the constitution with sessions lasting up to an hour and a half each.

Crystal Robinson also called for a course on growing and preserving food, saying she believed there could be food shortages due to ongoing problems in the country. As a School Board member, she expressed concerns about government mandates and laws concerning schools that elevate costs and which she argues are not constitutional.

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