Special to the Star-Herald
CARIBOU — The Aroostook County Commissioners met recently to review the 2007 audit and discuss new federal emergency management standards.
The meeting, held Sept. 17 at the Caribou courthouse, commenced with an overview of the ’07 fiscal year. Tim Poitras, an auditor with Chester M. Kearney CPAs, presented and reviewed the General Audit for 2007, discussing in detail the statement of net assets. Despite overall economic hardship throughout the county, last year’s accounts compared favorably with the budgets.
Poitras concluded his presentation by providing two recommendations. Overall, he said the county’s financial outlook was a positive one. “Everything looks good, is running smooth, and looks in place,” he said.
The commissioners also discussed new requirements within the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Vern Ouellette, county Emergency Management Agency director, presented the information.
Stressing the importance of NIMS as a federally implemented safety program required by FEMA, Ouellette underlined the significance of the new regulations. “Consistency is the framework” he explained. “How we train here, they train the same level in Florida, or Washington D.C.”
Ouellette noted the already prepared state of Aroostook first-responders, using the recent Fork Kent situation as an example of how quickly and adequately safety officials responded during the spring flooding.
In order to promote consistency throughout the country, Aroostook County employees will need to take part in the I-700 training program, while more involved responders, such as county sheriffs and fire chiefs, will need to be trained at 300-plus level(s). Trainings and exercises will take place at various northern Maine locations during the next few weeks.
With the advancement in NIMS regulations as well as changing technology, new, updated radios are necessary, and will be available for police and fire chiefs and all dispatch stations within the County. “Anyone who is going to be an incident commander is going to receive a brand new ($1,000) radio,” Ouellette said.
County Administrator Doug Beaulieu also presented a request from the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission. The pending application was submitted by Aroostook Wind Energy and proposed the placement of a tower atop Horse Mountain, southwest of Ashland. After reviewing the pending application, County Commissioners accepted the plan. The tower will measure wind speeds in the area.
In other business, Beaulieu commented on the recent jail reformat, which has been a point of frustration for many of the commissioners. Commissioners also reviewed recently submitted bids for three surplus vehicles; bids will be awarded to the highest bidder(s).
The Aroostook County Commissioners will meet again as part of the Maine County Commissioners Association Convention, held September 26-28, at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center. For more information regarding this event, please contact Becky Morgan at 207-623-4697.