GOULDSBORO — Expect to hear booms, crackles and pops at times other than July Fourth and New Year’s Eve with the defeat of a related article at the annual Town Meeting Wednesday evening at the Peninsula School in Prospect Harbor.
In the 30-article warrant, an article calling for limiting fireworks to strictly those holidays before 10 p.m. failed to pass in a yea-or-nay vote. The plan is for town officials to draft a proposed fireworks ordinance over the coming year to fully address the issue.
Prospect Harbor resident Roger Bowen spoke out in favor of the ban, saying “most people who set off fireworks are from out of the state and see Maine as the ‘Wild East.’”
Bowen, who had helped collect signatures for the article, noted the environmental impact of fireworks such as noise and water pollution as well as the danger of potential forest fires. Other residents expressed concerns for pets that may be disturbed by large fireworks displays.
Prospect Harbor resident Roger Dean was among the residents opposing the ban, calling it “an extremely heavy-handed solution to a minor problem.”
Also at the meeting, moderated by Hancock attorney Gary Hunt, an article to locally change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day (Monday, Oct. 8) passed in a 55-45 hand vote.
Maulian Dana Smith, ambassador of the Penobscot Tribe, addressed the crowd, calling the proposal “part of the healing process for all of us.”
While many expressed sympathy and support for Smith and other indigenous tribes in Maine, some voters were hesitant about changing the name. Some of them saw the holiday as a celebration of immigration to North America as a whole. Others supported having two separate holidays.
The town meeting, attended by more than 100 people, kicked off with the quick passage of a municipal budget totaling $4,480,745 for the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The $4.4 million presents a 0.4 percent rise. The largest increases were in the Jones Pond Reserve fund and the Buildings and Ground Reserve fund. Townspeople also approved borrowing money for the immediate construction of a new salt and sand storage shed to meet Department of Environmental Protection regulations.
Selectman Dana Rice said that while the structure would potentially cost as much as $250,000, the borrowing would be spread out over many years to prevent a large tax increase.
In other business, voters discussed and approved raising $20,000 to fix the roof of the Gouldsboro Historical Society, and $6,000 for the Dorcas Library.
“We offer over $200,000 of services every year,” said Mike Summerer, president of the library, explaining the budget increase.
Summerer stated that because of an anonymous donor, the library will be able to purchase a building next door on Main Street and continue to expand its activities and music programs.