Ludlow approves Houlton ambulance and fire contracts, rejects Cary Library funding in first outdoor meeting

3 years ago

LUDLOW, Maine — In order to accommodate social distancing guidelines, the town of Ludlow held its annual town meeting outdoors — the first time it has ever done so.

Though speakers sometimes had to repeat themselves over the sounds of cars whizzing by, and despite the presence of mosquitos, the outdoor meeting proved successful, with all 35 articles voted on and three new selectmen elected.

The town approved contracts with the Houlton Ambulance Service, Houlton Fire Department and Houlton Septic Service for the fiscal years of 2020 and 2021. It also appropriated funds from taxes and surplus to go toward these services, with the total amount of funds appropriated being around $57,000.

But the town rejected a motion to appropriate the sum of $1,778 to the Cary Library in Houlton for the 2020-21 fiscal year, with four opposed to three in favor. The voting against the funding stemmed from the fact that the library is operating in a limited capacity since the COVID-19 outbreak started.

Though the library closed all access to its building and hard copy books in April, it began lending out physical books again on July 6, on an appointment-only basis. It also limits library visits to a maximum of 30 minutes.

With the funding rejected, Ludlow residents who wish to take out a book from the library may still do so, but will have to pay for a membership first, Town Manager Diane Hines explained. Membership for an individual costs $35 a year.

“You can absolutely go and pay for a membership to the library. Anyone in the town could go and support them that way,” Hines said. “You can still use [the library], but if you want to take a book out, you’d have to pay.”

But the library issue will be discussed again for the next selectmen’s meeting on Aug. 12, with plans to either hold a special election or put it on the November ballot.

“I thought about doing a fundraiser as well, but it really should be the town that funds it,” said Hines following the meeting. “It’s not fair that only seven people should decide whether the library gets funded.”

The town meeting also saw an election for three members of board of selectmen, with Shonna Davis, Daniel Hiebert and Roxanne Bruce being elected to the board.