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Knox County, Vinalhaven working out new deal on sheriff services

By Stephen Betts | Sep 09, 2020
Photo by: Knox County Sheriff's Office

Vinalhaven — Knox County and Vinalhaven will be working out details for police coverage after voters approved money for police protection.

County and island officials plan to meet next week to further discuss what Vinalhaven wants to see in a new contract, Sheriff Tim Carroll said Sept. 8.

Island residents voted at a special town meeting Aug. 26 to spend up to $150,000 for police services.

That meeting followed the July 22 annual town meeting at which $121,335 for services from the Knox County Sheriff's Office was rejected by the 20 people who attended. That was the only article rejected on the 48-article town meeting agenda.

The rejection followed several incidents on the island including the June 14 stabbing death of Roger Feltis and vandalism complaints from people from off the island who were staying on Vinalhaven.

According to minutes maintained by the town of a July 30 meeting held after the annual town meeting, residents voiced a number of sentiments. Residents said they wanted an officer who gets to know the Main Street business owners, school staff and students and who "had a pulse on the community."

The sheriff said Sept. 8 the deputy assigned to Vinalhaven has been deployed for a year with the National Guard. The sheriff's department is providing some coverage on Vinalhaven until the department gets a more permanent rotation and full staff.

At the Sept. 8 meeting of the Knox County commissioners, the board voted unanimously to spend up to $21,000 for a 16-foot long aluminum boat and equipment to transport deputies between North Haven and Vinalhaven.

The deputy assigned to North Haven is Josh Lemoi, who served in the Coast Guard and was stationed in Rockland in the early 2000s.

Vinalhaven has a year-round population of about 1,100 residents, but that swells by thousands during the summer with seasonal residents.

Residents said the logistical issues of responding from the adjacent island of North Haven shows that it makes sense to have a deputy assigned to the island to live on Vinalhaven.

Knox County has had contracts with both Vinalhaven and North Haven for decades for providing police services.

Vinalhaven's contract expired Dec. 31. The expired contract called for the town to receive 40 hours of police service each week. The town provided up to $750 per month for housing and up to $4,500 per year for heating fuel and electricity for a deputy. The town also paid for a cruiser and office space.

Knox County Town Administrator Andrew Hart has said it has been difficult over the long term to find deputies who are willing to live on the islands.

Vinalhaven is one of the smallest communities in Knox County in terms of populations, but a third in the number of calls for services and second in terms of number of arrest.

Vinalhaven is paying Knox County $590,000 in 2020 as its annual tax assessment that pays for services such as police, operating the jail, dispatch and other county departments. Camden pays the most with an annual cost this year of $1.64 million.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Sep 09, 2020 09:45

Only $21,000 to purchase a 16' boat and equipment to navigate between the islands? Heck... in Rockland we are paying $30,000 just to replace TWO 150 HP outboards just to putt around the breakwater.

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