Originally published in Community News, December 19, 2013
Castine selectmen award gold-headed cane to oldest resident, Jack Castino
At their meeting Monday, December 16, Castine Selectmen (from left) Gus Basile, Peter Vogell and David Unger surround Jack Castino as he examines the Boston Post gold-headed cane. The town determined that Castino was the oldest living resident. Castino will keep the award certificate he is holding, but the cane will return to display on the Town Clerk’s office wall.
by Sharon Bray
The Board of Selectmen celebrated the first agenda item for December 16 with the town’s oldest resident (as best town officers could determine)—Jack Castino.
Selectmen David Unger, Peter Vogell and Gus Basile gave Castino a framed certificate with a brief history of the Boston Post gold-headed cane and notes honoring his longevity. Castino was born in 1917.
According to the certificate, the cane is made of ebony from Africa and topped with gold.
Accompanied by Jim Shanley and Matt Sargent, Castino joked about what he could do with the cane. Town officials, however, told Castino he’d have to give back the cane, which belongs to the town to be awarded to the next person who becomes the oldest citizen.
Castine’s cane is on display in Town Clerk Susan Macomber’s office.
In 1909 the Boston Post newspaper gave canes to 700 towns in New England to be awarded to each town’s oldest citizen. Towns would send the paper a picture of a cane award ceremony, and its publication would boost circulation among readers who knew the recipient.
Many of the canes have long since been lost or appropriated by families who did not realize that the cane belongs to the town and not to the person pictured holding it.
Castine’s two previous cane-holders were Dominic Leali and David Hall.
In other business
With the opposite of levity, selectmen discussed the lease of the take-out food stand on the town dock, The Breeze.
Attorney Michael Harman, representing the leaser of The Breeze Snow Logan, told selectmen that their proposed price of $6,000 for the 2014 season would make operation of the business unfeasible.
“It would be cheaper to move” the building than to pay the town to leave it on the dock, said Harman.
The town leases only the 20x30 foot space, not the structure. For the past several years, the lease price has been $1,300, according to Basile. For many years, the lease price has included cleaning restrooms on the dock and disposal of trash in dock barrels.
During the summer of 2013, selectmen held several discussions about conditions in the public toilets. The existing agreement, said Harman, called for cleaning twice a day, “not to keep them clean all the time.”
He said his client was “aware of issues with cleanliness of the restrooms,” but he could find “no indication that The Breeze did not clean twice a day.”
Most days, according to Harman, The Breeze staff cleaned when the take-out opened at 10 a.m. and again during an afternoon lull in business.
Harman raised questions about times when complaints were filed, “before it opens or after closing,” and whether problems were caused by “use” or “vandalism.”
He said the new rate “seems like a punitive amount” that will “result in an outcome not favorable for anyone.”
Other town businesses on and near the dock area also benefit from the public toilets, according to Harman. Those other businesses, noted Vogell, pay property taxes and have their own toilets for customers.
The new lease rate would not include any cleaning or trash duties, said Unger.
The new lease offered for one year also includes provision for the town to seek proposals from other businesses to lease the space starting in 2015.
Resident Arnold Berleant asked if the town had “monitored conditions of the bathrooms” or relied on public complaints.
“Yes,” responded Vogell, he had personally monitored conditions and cleaned the facility several times himself.
Gordon MacArthur asked how much it cost the town to clean the restrooms.
Town Manager Dale Abernethy stated a cost of $3,200 for last summer.
When Harman asked why the town did not put the cleaning job out to bid, Finance Officer Karen Motycka said they tried but could find only one company properly insured to do the job.
“If $6,000 is unacceptable,” said Abernethy, “we could entertain a counteroffer in writing.”
With the opening season several months away, Harman, said he could see “plenty of time to discuss things.”
“No, there isn’t time,” responded Vogell. “If The Breeze doesn’t want it, someone else will.” Selectmen would need time to seek other proposals.
Unger said selectmen should decide by their second meeting next year, January 21.
When Harman said The Breeze could present a counteroffer by January 21, Abernethy said selectmen would have to receive the offer by January 6 to give them time to discuss it for a final decision at the next meeting.
During the meeting, selectmen disagreed about how much to spend on aerial maps of the town. Abernethy told them the state will be re-mapping the whole state. Towns can receive low-resolution versions of the photo-maps at no cost. Upgrades for higher resolution cost from $2,000 to $14,000 with larger land areas costing more than Castine.
The town manager recommended spending $3,000 for an upgrade that should be useful for many years to come. The new maps would be helpful for “civil improvement planning” and to update tax maps.
Liz Parish asked the age of maps done by Sewall in the past. The black and white photos were made in 1973, according to Motycka.
“I can’t see spending the money unless someone can tell me what we need it for,” said Basile who abstained from voting.
“If it will last 40 years, it’s a good investment,” commented Unger.
Unger and Vogell approved the upgrade.
MacArthur asked if selectmen had taken “any action on my letter.” At the November 3 meeting, Gordon MacArthur read a letter he had sent to selectmen regarding the clash between the disbanded Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee and the new Community and Economic Development Committee.
“We are never going to get anywhere if we have committees fighting with other committees,” said MacArthur.
One of the issues related to proposed zoning changes that were voted down at a fall town meeting.
“I think people in this town don’t want anything to change at this time,” stated Basile.
Vogell said he would take another look at MacArthur’s letter.
The meeting ended with selectmen going into executive session “for a personnel matter.”
The board plans to meet at 1 p.m. December 31 to sign final warrants for the year. The next regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m., Monday, January 6.