CARIBOU, Maine — Since organizers began circulating a petition this summer aimed at removing 80 percent of the rural landmass from Caribou to secede into the town of Lyndon, only one thing has really changed.
“Before it was the mosquitoes, but now it’s the cold weather,” joked Caribou Secession Committee spokesperson Paul Camping. It’s been a pretty mild fall for the region, all things considered, but 40-degree weather hasn’t been nearly enough to deter Camping from going house-to-house with his clipboard.
The secession committee boasted a 90 percent success rate in obtaining signatures in early September, and Camping said that those numbers still held true as of yesterday.
“On some streets it was a 95 percent success rate, on others it’s around 80 percent, but we’re finding out that there’s a lot of support in the rural community for this effort,” Camping stated. He also hears encouragement from folks who don’t live in the secession territory but wish they were included in the movement.
On the flip side, Camping has read the Aroostook Republican’s editorial page and knows that there are plenty of folks out there who don’t share his views on secession.
“There are a lot of people who don’t think this is a good idea, so it isn’t unanimous by any stretch of the imagination,” Camping acknowledged, “but there is strong support for it.”
Information about how many signatures the petition has isn’t available as of yet, but Camping said that the committee is getting closer to that point. In fact, Camping described that it’s plausible a public hearing with the city council resultant of the petition could come as early as January 2015.
“At the completion of our petition circulation, we’ll then have to prepare for the public hearing. We’re not sure what form that will take, but the timing will probably be the first of the year after the new councilors are sworn in,” he explained.
A citizen-led movement, secession was first presented to the Caribou City Council and city administration on July 14 with Camping at the podium; also attending that meeting were his fellow secession area representatives — Maynard St. Peter, Freeman Cote, Doug Morrell and Milo Haney. The idea of splitting Lyndon away from Caribou is coming up on its one-year anniversary for the group, and the number-crunching effort started in December.
The core group of secession leaders is just as committed to breaking free from Caribou as they were when they started, and they still believe that “it’s the only way the citizens of rural Caribou can free themselves from the death grip of taxation you currently exert over us,” as Camping told the council on July 14.
As stated in that same speech by Camping, the objective of the Caribou Secession Committee petition is to initiate the process of secession with the intent of removing a certain tract of rural land from the jurisdiction of the city of Caribou and form a new municipality — the town of Lyndon.
Three months after presenting the secession movement, Camping reports that the group is almost complete with their first phase of gathering up their petitions for review and analyze who they’ve missed.
“Phase two is where we go back through the list to see the people we’ve missed and give them an opportunity to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Camping explained.
Those interested in posting questions for the Caribou Secession Committee are asked to do so on their Facebook community page.