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Bristol Lions hear from former Bristol Town Administrator 02/20/2017

Posted by DS in meetings.
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Kristine Poland (right) is thanked by Bristol Area Lions Club Secretary John Janell for her discussion on town affairs.

At the meeting of the Bristol Area Lions on Monday, February 6, the members, a guest, and the group’s speaker enjoyed dinner at Hawk’s House Inn in Walpole catered by Deb’s Bristol Diner. Kristine Poland, recently retired Bristol Town Administrator, discussed town government. Poland moved to Maine from California in 1987 and took a job at a bank, but did not enjoy the corporate environment. She joined the staff in the Bristol town office in May 2001.

On March 19, 2002, the Bristol voters approved a change in the town’s government and adopted the town administrator form of government. At that time the voters changed the status of the tax collector, town clerk and treasurer from elected to appointed positions, which the new town administrator would fill. Poland was selected from a pool of twenty-seven candidates and took office on Jan. 1, 2002. Poland later added the role of registrar of voters and worked through a reorganization to separate the duties of the town clerk from the town administrator. A warrant to do so was approved last March at Town Meeting, and her colleague on the administrative staff, Rachel Bizarro, became the new town clerk.

Poland is also a member of the executive committee of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, and continues in that post. The Commission serves 19 towns and is a valuable resource to guide a community, especially on controversial issues, such as enactment of changes in waterfront zoning. Poland expects to have a hand in how the Commission will continue to provide guidance on obtaining grants and technical services for the Bristol Mills dam and other potential hot-button issues ranging from regional bike paths to major initiatives like town specific comprehensive plans.

She also shared her perspectives on another area of pressing need, not just for Bristol but throughout Lincoln County, concerning the lack of upgraded internet and cell phone connectivity. In discussing the example of Washington County, which appears to be better connected, she exchanged ideas with Lion David Kolodin, Chairman of the Bristol School Committee. He brought up the fact that the Bristol Consolidated school itself is “wired” at near state of the art and that all the students work on laptops with wifi. However, both agreed that not all students have internet access at home, and often their parents must drive them to the school parking lot so they can connect to the web and do their homework. In some cases, it is a matter of availability and in others a matter of affordability, issues that need to be addressed by a regional approach, not just town by town.

In closing remarks on other current affairs in Bristol, Poland remarked that a legitimate solution to potentially contentious problems often may require direct input from voters instead of administrative actions. For example, the Bristol Mills dam is being addressed by a committee that expects to bring a proposal before the next Town Meeting for a vote on whether to remove the dam, leave it as is, or rebuild the fish ladder with public funding. She also explained the controversy over the proposed change to the Park Commission headed by a full-time commissioner, noting that it too will be resolved at Town Meeting. Whatever the outcomes, Poland plans to remain a resident of Round Pond and engaged in following the future of Bristol, while she continues to seek a next career.

The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions, to be held at the Fellowship Hall of the New Harbor Methodist Church and catered by Deb’s Bristol Diner, is the annual Speak Out. Members of the debate team from Lincoln Academy will be speaking on a topic of their choice using a minimum of notes. Five students are expected, while six others will be attending a similar meeting hosted by the Damariscotta/Newcastle Lions. To make dinner reservations please call John Janell at 563-7402. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions, serving Bristol and South Bristol, call Walt Johansson at 677-2584.

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