April 17,2020 (Week 3) Newsletter (COVID-19)

Bristol Notes - April 17,2020 (Week 3) 

For the Bristol Selectmen:

Chris Hall, Town Administrator

Another week of lockdown

There are three more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Lincoln County over the last week, as of Thursday, April 16th, for a total of twelve, but seven of these people have recovered. 343 of Maine’s 796 confirmed cases on Thursday (43%) were in Cumberland County. The state is suffering from outbreaks at a number of assisted living complexes – none close to Bristol, thankfully. Our elders who are living at Round Pond Green, or at Cove’s Edge in Damariscotta or the Lincoln Home in Newcastle, are living under extreme precautions including receiving no visitors.

We have now endured three weeks since Maine joined other states in proclaiming an emergency stay-at-home order. In Bristol we are fortunate that most of us have space to work outside or to walk for exercise, and we can drive to the grocery store or the transfer station. But with so many people out of work, kids out of school, and even Reny’s closed as ‘non-essential,’ frustration is rising along with hopes for a quick end to the stay-at-home order. Governor Mills’ order of March 31st expires on April 30th, but the state of emergency has been extended until May 15th and she may have to extend the stay-at-home order until that date or beyond. Maine is not at the top of the curve yet (see over).

Lincoln Health have said this week that they are now preparing for a surge in cases around the end of the month. We should probably expect at least another four weeks or so before things can start to slowly re-open. It’s important we don’t change course prematurely when social distancing is working to hold down the numbers of infection.

Bristol residents who winter in Florida or other points south continue to trickle home, and from anecdotal evidence most (not all!) have been respecting the two week quarantine rule. The view that most people are being good about precautions is supported by the fact that ‘community transmission’ has not yet occurred despite the influx of people. Alfred Ajami has updated the following graphs, showing that Lincoln County continues to do well compared to Maine as a whole and neighboring states in terms of cases per 10,000 people (main chart). However last week showed a small change for the worse, in both Lincoln County and Maine, even as nationally things are looking a little better (see log scale, small chart).


Alfred writes: ‘On the positive front, there are now 75 vaccines developed, proven on a molecular basis and ready for advanced testing. Five have passed initial safety requirements and are in clinical trials worldwide. We might get lucky on the development timeline, which is conservatively quoted as 12-18 months. Also, dozens of antiviral drugs are in the advanced testing pipeline. If the rush to treat AIDS is a precedent, then we may have effective treatments in this class within a year.’

For really good presentations of data on Covid-19, go to https://www.ft.com/coronavirus-latest

As if the virus were not enough…

Bristol has been hit by two storms – one of heavy wet snow on the night of the 9th/10th, then heavy rain and wind on the 13th. The first of these knocked out power to much of Maine, including most of Lincoln County. In Bristol, we were less badly hit than most, however, thanks to the ‘new’ (actually, six years old) substation and transmission line serving the peninsula. About a third of Bristol was without power on Friday 10th, and about a fifth were hit (either for the first or second time) on the night of the 13th. CMP did an outstanding job of bringing everyone back online by Saturday 11th, and by midday on Tuesday 14th.  Next up: earthquakes, or a plague of locusts?

Update on Pemaquid Mill

The purchase of the historic Pemaquid Mill – the former Hammond Lumber building at Pemaquid Falls – was a major accomplishment in 2019, thanks to a partnership between the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust and the Old Bristol Historical Society (O.B.H.S.). For the past year the Historical Society has been developing a conservation plan for the Mill, and a long-term plan for the site to include a museum and archive for the Town.

Phil Averill, chair of the Old Bristol Historical Society’s Pemaquid Mill committee, writes:

“Life has certainly changed since our last update but we are still continuing on.  The Mill Use subcommittee has been meeting by conference call and by Zoom regularly and progress is being made.  We have met with contractors to view the building and see who is interested in tackling some of the big structural support issues.  We have settled on people to do the following tasks:  stone foundation repair, sections 4 & 5 (north end) shed roofing, east (road) side shingling, windows and doors and structural repairs to the building itself.   This work is intended to make the building safe to use as an exhibit space and also return its outward appearance to what it was in the early 1900’s.   We are also about to hire a structural engineer to guide us through all these projects.  Due to contractor scheduling, much of the structural work will be delayed until fall of 2020 barring any other delays from virus spread or inability to raise money.  We will use this time to photo-document the building before more work is done to create a current conditions file for use by future historians.

 “The 2020 fundraising brochure has been printed.  Once OBHS owns the property, we will start a fundraising campaign with a goal of about $250,000.  You will be hearing from us soon.  If you want to jump the gun a bit, contributions can be made to OBHS, PO Box 87, Bristol, ME  04539 with ‘Mill’ written on the memo line.  Mill funds will be held in a separate account within OBHS to be used for that purpose and not the general operating funds of the group.”

It is hoped that the Mill will soon be transferred from the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust to the O.B.H.S., with appropriate easements for conservation and access. Both organizations have benefitted from an excellent partnership.

Another great source of seafood (and much else)

Thank you to John Reny for suggesting I mention a new farm market venture in Bristol Notes: The Hub, at 1005 Bristol Road (top of Hunter’s Hill, just north of Bristol Mills) is a venture of Kayli and Smokey McKeen, co-owners of Pemaquid Oyster Company and Waldostone Farm (the source of those great Bloody Mary mixes). Order oysters, other fresh seafood and grocery items from their web page ( https://my-site-101719-101265.square.site/ ) each week from Sunday to Tuesday, for pickup Friday and Saturday: they put your order in the trunk of your car and you can stay safe and socially distant!

Hard times bringing out the best in people

A generous donor has given $500 to the King Ro market in Round Pond to pay for two weeks of free Friday meals for elderly people living in the village, delivered to their doors.

The Salty Boyz Food Truck, run by Warren Busteed and Beth Polhemus of The Contented Sole, offers free soup to all in the parking lot of the Rising Tide Co-op during the day, and has been delivering food left over in the evening to people in need in Bristol.

Donations to the Town’s ‘Worthy Poor’ fund have increased to $13,850. (I keep apologizing for the archaic name, but the fund dates from the 1800s!) Very many thanks to 38 generous people. Donations to the Town of Bristol are tax-deductible in the same way as donations to IRS-recognized private non-profits.

Bristol Projects

Bristol Selectmen have to balance ‘flattening the curve’ of infection, with not digging any deeper the hole the economy is in. As far as possible, they are looking to continue construction projects (considered ‘essential business’ by the state) and keep paychecks flowing in the community.

The Pemaquid Beach Pavilion is now in its final stage, ahead of schedule. Work on pouring the concrete deck surrounding the new buildings and fitting out the kitchen will continue during the week of April 20th. Ledgewalker Builders have done a superb job, as have their subcontractors Hanley Construction, McClintick Foundations and DiMauro Electric. Now we await the Covid-19 virus to tell us when the grand opening date will be!

The Bristol School Committee approved a contract for the final Phase 3 work on the Bristol Consolidated School girls’ ballfield on Wednesday, April 15th. This work has been entirely funded by donations and grants with the exception of $25,000 voted from the school’s surplus by the 2019 Town Meeting. However, the school’s Boosters Club is still raising money for a well, pump and sprinkler system for the field, outfield fencing, and a scoreboard. Donations can be made to either the School or the Town Office, please, marked ‘Ballfield.’

The Fire Chief and the Selectmen selected low bidder Hagar Construction of Damariscotta to construct a new fire pond and dry hydrant at the Munro Bridge, on Route 32 at the northern end of Round Pond village. This will greatly improve the Fire Department’s ability to suppress any major fire in the Round Pond section of town. Permits allow the in-water work to begin on July 15th.

For more information on any of the matters touched on in this report, please email Chris Hall at [email protected]. Thank you for reading!