St. John Valley

Madawaska selectmen approve light, accept resignation and discuss ash trees

MADAWASKA, Maine — The town of Madawaska accepted a letter of resignation from another member of the Board of Selectmen during the board’s meeting on July 22. Selectmen also approved the addition of two street lights, and discussed an action plan to deal with emerald ash borer and the ash trees in Dionne Park. 

Board member Danielle Campbell submitted a letter of resignation on June 25, citing her family’s move to Arizona as her reason for leaving the board.

“It has been a pleasure to serve this community alongside all of you,” she wrote.

With Campbell’s departure and the recent resignation of board member Brenda Theriault, the board will operate as a three-member board, allowing it to make a quorum if all three remaining members are present. Moving forward, according to the Chairman of the Board, Don Chasse, they will likely push to have those seats filled at the state elections in November. 

Turning on more light

According to Madawaska Police Chief Ross Dubois, a survey was done to determine if any streetlights could be removed years ago in order to save money. While the exact number of removed streetlights is unknown, Dubois has received a request and recommended to the board that one streetlight be reinstalled on the existing pole at the intersection of 22nd and 23rd avenues. 

“There’s no lighting at that intersection and we want to make sure that all the intersections do have a light,” Dubois said. 

They also received a request to install a streetlight at the end of 22nd Avenue where the new construction has happened. 

“We look at it as a safety and security issue,” Dubois said. 

In another cost-saving measure this year, selectmen in March had voted to approve a contract with RealTerm Energy to switch the current high pressure sodium bulbs in street lights for LED lights in an effort to save the town more than $460,000 over 20 years, according to Madawaska Town Manager Gary Picard.

‘Bug warfare’ in Dionne Park

More than a year after the invasive species emerald ash borer was discovered in Maine along the St. John River in the Valley, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry released three parasitoid species of non-stinging wasps July 18 to fight the bug that is bringing death to the ash trees along the river. 

Emerald ash borer was discovered in ash trees in Dionne Park on Fox Street after a sample was taken from one of the trees, which accidentally led police to believe a vandal had carved a chunk out of the tree. Once the miscommunication was cleared up, the town began to consult to determine the best was to preserve the trees for as long as possible in the shady park. 

Madawaska Code Enforcement Officer Drew Dube worked with Colleen Teerling, entomologist for the Maine Forest Service Insect and Disease Lab, to look into the EAB and possible ways to prolong the lives of the trees.

“Dionne Park is one of the most beautiful spots that we have in town,” Dube said. “Years ago when I was young and we had just put the park in, it looked a bit vacant, and I didn’t have that vision. Here we are 20 years later, if you go to that park it is full of shade, it’s beautiful, young parents and children are there all the time.” 

One of the options Teerling and Dube discussed was to girdle one of the ash trees in the park and use it almost like a sacrificial tree to attract the EAB to that tree so the insects hopefully would leave the healthy ones alone. 

The other option discussed was to use a pesticide trunk injection, which would be most effective and would not be dangerous for park-goers, according to Dube. 

The board decided to look into the costs of each option while keeping in mind that they would probably have to plant more trees to plan for the future phase-out of the ash tree from the iconic Dionne Park. 

“For us up here, brown ash has been a way of life for our natives — basket weaving,” Picard said. “It is something that I think we are going to lose, and it was always an important part of Acadian culture. So what would it mean if we could preserve these ash trees… we could be able to say 30 years from now that we actually still have some ash trees here in Madawaska.” 

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