Due to the COVID19 health emergency we are all experiencing, Bowdoinham’s municipal offices are experiencing changes is how business is conducted. Although the doors to the buildings are locked, municipal business is being conducted on a regular, consistent basis only without direct face to face contact with others. Municipal employees are working modified shifts to minimize exposure to each other while at the same time performing their job functions. The recycling barn is closed but roadside trash pick-up continues, phone messages are being returned, business is being conducted via email, Public Works is working cautiously while observing physical distancing and most business transactions can and are being conducted either through the mail or through various links on the town website (www.bowdoinham.com) under online services. For those of us working in municipal government, we are constantly gathering information from the state, Maine Municipal Association, Centers for Disease Control, our attorneys and others, and we are making decisions on an ongoing basis.
I appreciate everyone’s efforts to limit and stop the spread of this terrible virus. Please continue to be diligent in your social distancing when you are required to leave your homes. If you don’t have to leave, please stay home. And please help any elderly or immune-compromised neighbors as much as you can to keep them safe.
I have extended the closure of municipal buildings to the public to coincide with the Governors extension of the shelter in place order which as of this writing is May 15, 2020. This is subject to changes as conditions warrant.
On April 14th, the Select Board voted to postpone town meeting, including the election previously scheduled for June 9, and the open portion of town meeting previously scheduled for June 10. Elections will now be held on July 14th with the State and town meeting will be on July 15th. This vote also automatically extends other deadlines such as the deadline for citizen petitions and any action on submitted petitions as well as the deadline for candidates to submit nomination papers for Select Board and School Board positions.
The due date for taxes remains May 1st; These can be mailed to 13 School Street, Bowdoinham Maine 04033 of processed on line via the town website as mentioned previously.
Social distancing measures have caused challenges in holding public meetings.
The Maine Legislature adopted changes to the public meetings law to allow for remote meeting participation including voting on issues. For the time being, the Town of Bowdoinham will be conducting public meetings via video conferencing. This is in accordance with emergency legislation (PL 2019, c. 617) enacted by the Maine legislature on March 17, 2020, which temporarily authorizes remote participation at municipal board and committee meetings by board members and the public.
The Select Board has arranged for the public to safely view or listen to various municipal board meetings such as the Select Board, Finance Advisory Committee and Planning Board via Zoom. The directions to join the meeting via Zoom are located in the meeting event on the Bowdoinham Calendar on the website. The public will still be able to watch the Select Board meetings through livestream (https://townhallstreams.com/towns/bowdoinham_me) and can provide comments and questions via zoom.
I understand the strain this situation is placing on individuals and the community at large. I am proud of how serious and responsible Bowdoinham’s residents and businesses are being in the face of this challenge. By practicing social distancing, and quarantining yourselves when necessary, you’re demonstrating a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable amongst us at the sake of your own comfort, and often financial security. I know during these challenging times we’ll continue to be kind to one another, be patient, share resources, and don’t hoard supplies that are badly needed by the many. This may last longer than we all want, but it certainly won’t last forever. When this is over, we’ll be a much stronger community for working together to take care of one another.
Thomas Woodin, Town Manager