Originally published in Castine Patriot, December 6, 2012
Light agenda encourages conversation of fish and roadways in Penobscot
by Sharon Bray
Selectmen Paul Bowen, Harold Hatch and Stanley Shorey at their meeting Tuesday, November 27, said they would like to develop a long-term plan for a fishway to allow alewives into Wight’s Pond.
Although the town has had a variety of locally constructed fish ladders, they said the town would share the cost of building something to last longer.
The spring of 2012 run was especially heavy, according to Shorey. Alewives are a variety of herring that spend most of their lives in salt water but return to freshwater to spawn. In past years a few people preserved the fish by smoking them. A handful of smoke houses still supply a few fish for older residents who don’t seem to mind picking out myriad small bones.
Otherwise, alewives are important as bait used to fish for lobsters.
In addition to Wight’s, Penobscot has a run of alewives into Pierce Pond, but the natural incline of the access brook does not require a ladder, Hatch said.
During the meeting selectmen also discussed road conditions with Road Commissioner Bill Hutchins.
Hutchins said he was confident he was ready for a predicted snow storm.
What none of them was ready for is the condition of state roads through Penobscot. Bowen said the practice of spreading calcium to prevent ice and to rapidly melt snow has caused significant damage to the roads as well as to vehicles that travel over them.
Hatch said Hutchins cannot plow the dips and holes in Route 199.
Hutchins said the calcium in road cracks draws moisture out of the air which then freezes to create so-called “black ice,” which is blamed for many vehicle crashes. He also said state authorities do not seem to be aware of what the practice costs in terms of equipment damage.
Bowen said the state urges towns to do as the state does “because it’s cheap and because people want to drive 60 miles an hour on bare roads” all winter.
“I’d rather drive on hard-packed snow with sand on it,” Hutchins said.
They also talked briefly about the town’s transfer station. According to Bowen, Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz continues to urge Penobscot to join other towns that haul their waste to a transfer station in Blue Hill.
The other two selectmen agreed with Bowen that they would be swiftly voted out of office “if I told Penobscot people they had to take their trash to [the Blue Hill-Surry Transfer Station].”
Although the state is pushing for regional waste disposal facilities, “Penobscot is not about to close our transfer station,” said Bowen.