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Houlton Town Office receives COVID-19 makeover

HOULTON, Maine — The lobby at the Houlton Town Office has received a bit of a makeover, thanks to the federal CARES Act.

Houlton Town Manager Marian Anderson said July 24 that the renovations will allow the town office to re-open, but only on an appointment-basis for the foreseeable future.

The original counter area was built in 1976 and received a few upgrades over the years, but nothing like the current renovation project. Gone are the half-doors and the open concept design in favor of an enclosed area to provide better separation between office staff and the public.

“The goal was to keep both the public and our staff safe,” Anderson said. “Because of the lobby size, we are limited to just five people at a time, so we are doing everything by appointment.”

The new area also features plexiglass windows to provide a barrier between office staff and the public. However, because the three windows are not six-feet apart, only the two outer counters are currently being used.

Anderson said there are plans in place to erect barriers between each workstation so that all three windows can be used safely. Each day, the counters and pens must be disinfected to reduce the spread of germs. 

A hand-sanitizing machine has also been installed on the wall inside the lobby for customers. In addition, stickers on the floor mark off the proper distance for spacing.

“The public has been very gracious and understanding,” Anderson said. “We could not have asked for a better response from our community. We are scheduling appointments every 15 minutes to keep things moving along.”

Traffic at the town office has picked up considerably since the state lifted its waiver for registering vehicles, motorcycles, boats and ATVs. 

Anderson noted that the total renovation cost about $12,000 and was completely funded by the federal CARES Act, so as not to have an impact on the municipal budget.

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