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Fort Kent councilors approve funding for new excavator

FORT KENT, Maine — Employees with the Fort Kent Public Works Department will have a safer work environment and provide more efficient services once they acquire a new excavator the town councilors unanimously approved during their Monday, Jan. 10, meeting. 

The wheeled Volvo excavator will come with four attachments — two buckets, including a wide ditcher bucket, debris grapple and a forestry mulcher. 

Public Works Director Tony Theriault said he expects the grapple to be used in many different situations. 

“We do a lot of blown down trees and when you get a blown down tree hanging up on another tree it’s very, very dangerous to cut it down, so with this we won’t even have to cut the tree. The machine will grab it and take all the danger out of it,” Theriault said. 

The grapple will also help save time for the workers on tasks like clearing branches from a roadway and moving large rocks. 

“You cut and cut and cut and take the branches and pile them up in a dump truck — it’s like piling up feathers — you can’t pile up much; its a tough job to do by hand,” Theriault said. “We do stuff with big rocks and we would take the backhoe to lift up a big rock but then it falls out of the bucket because it’s not made for that.”

The forestry mulcher will be used to grind down trees, without the need for a chainsaw, eliminating much of the danger involved with that task, as well as saving the workers’ time. 

“It grinds the tree up into mulch and leaves it right there,” Theriault said. 

The excavator, priced at around $340,000 including the attachments, is expected to arrive in late June or early July.  

“In today’s world, if we get it then we’ll be extremely happy but just the fact of being able to get one, we’re even more than extremely happy,” Theriault said. 

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