Category Archives: General Town News

This is about Town Government news

Kittery Town Manager releases KCC bus investigation letter to families.

The following letter was released today and with the Town Manager’s permission, it is being posted here on ourkittery.com to provide continuing  transparency.

 

 

 

 

 

TOWN OF KITTERY
Office of the Town Manager
200 Rogers Road, Kittery, ME 03904

Telephone: 207-475-1329 Fax: 207-439-6806

kamaral@kitteryme.org
Kendra Amaral Town Manager
August 31, 2018

Dear Families,

I am writing regarding the August 10 Recreation Department van accident in Greenland, NH, in which two staff members and eleven children in the Town’s summer program were involved. While we are deferring to – and cooperating as appropriate with – the New Hampshire law enforcement agencies to investigate the actual accident, we have been investigating the personnel hiring and driver assignment issues raised by the accident.

I tasked the Interim Police Chief Donald O’Halloran, to conduct an internal investigation of the hiring process for the Kittery Community Center summer camp counselors and the decision-making process for driving assignments in the SAFE Summer Camp program.

The following is to provide you with details regarding the results of the investigation. Please note, some details are not able to be released due to legal confidentiality restrictions regarding certain personnel information.

The internal investigation concluded that miscommunication within the Kittery Community Center led to the new summer camp staff (inclusive of the van driver) being hired without a state-wide driving background review as part of their overall background check. Subsequent to the hiring, the employee was selected to drive the van when needed.

The internal investigation found there were no irregularities in the hiring process for the van driver. The internal investigation concluded that the driver had a valid driver’s license appropriate for operation of the van, with no medical restrictions, during the time of employment with the town. He was trained on the safe operation of the van.

The van was utilized a number of times over the course of the summer program to transport children on field trips. Typically, it would be driven by the program supervisor or other full-time year-round staff. Two of the camp counselors (inclusive of the driver involved in the accident) also performed some driving duties when needed. The driver involved in the accident had driven three times prior to August 10.

The miscommunication within the Kittery Community Center appears to have occurred late in 2017 when there was an effort to enhance the documentation of the protocols for hiring of the KCC staff. The effort produced a detailed hiring and onboarding checklist that was developed with the former KCC Director and Human Resources. It was known that both the KCC and Human Resources were responsible for different parts of the hiring and onboarding process. The checklist did not specify who was responsible for each part of the process.

The KCC has historically performed the driving background checks and Human Resources has historically performed the general background check. The background check conducted by Human Resources included a Social Security trace, County Criminal Court Search, Sex Offender Registry, National Criminal Database, Terrorist Watch List. Because the job description did not include driving as a duty, the requirement to collect the driving record was not apparent during the hiring and onboarding process.

The driving duties were identified/assigned by the KCC staff after the hiring and onboarding process occurred based on the needs of the program.

The internal investigation concluded that the court record review protocols, in place since 2014, only captured the county in which an applicant presently resides, resulting in a limited and narrow review of court actions involving applicants. The town did run a national criminal background check on all seasonal employees including the van driver, however no convictions on the driver were returned.

The national criminal database is proprietary and did not contain a record of the convictions.

We are developing and implementing an action plan to resolve the issues identified in the investigation. This includes reviewing and clearly documenting responsibilities for each part of the hiring and onboarding process for each department (inclusive of the KCC); reviewing all job descriptions to ensure they properly list when driving responsibilities are or may be part of the job duties; and reviewing the background check service plan, InforME, and other states’ services (e.g.: New Hampshire) to determine what combination will provide the most complete picture of applicants. In the immediate term, we have enhanced the level of background checks for new hires including a full driving record review.

We are also reviewing the SAFE Summer Program to determine what changes to the program offerings should occur such as utilizing only contractors for transportation, and the distance and timing of field trips. We are reviewing our handling of the emergency and identifying changes to the transportation tracking and notification process for parents, in an effort to speed up communications in case of an emergency.

I am committed to addressing the issues identified and making sure we are taking every possible step to provide safe and engaging programs at the KCC. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this, please do not hesitate to contact me at 207-475-1329 or at kamaral@kitteryme.org.

Sincerely,
Kendra Amaral Town Manager

 

 

 

 

Kittery to request State Road speed limit reduction

 

 

 

 

 

By Hadley Barndollar
hbarndollar@seacoastonline.com

KITTERY, Maine — Following a petition that garnered more than 40 resident and business owner signatures coalesced by a push from a town councilor, the town will place a formal request to the Maine Department of Transportation to reduce the posted speed limit on State Road to 25 mph.

Councilor Charles Denault was a strong proponent for the petition submitted in June that sought a consistent and safe speed on State Road, which is currently posted as 35 mph between Newmarch Street and the Memorial Circle. In Denault’s report to council, he noted the average speed on State Road has consistently been in excess of 45 mph and even with limited police patrol, speed radar trailers and strobed crosswalks, a large amount of motorists do not obey the speed limit.

“The road is heavily traveled,” Denault said. “It is a major hub from New Hampshire to Maine, and Maine back to New Hampshire. There’s a lot of pedestrians now, we have sidewalks up and down that road.”

In contrast, Denault noted the Route 1 Bypass is four lanes, featuring turning lanes, and is posted at 35 mph. “The residents on this road have clearly articulated their frustrations,” he said.

There is more to this story here. Click here to visit the Portsmouth Herald.

Rec department no more: Kittery Community Center officially renamed

 

 

 

 

By Hadley Barndollar
hbarndollar@seacoastonline.com

KITTERY, Maine — Following six years of an “identity crisis,” the Town Council voted Monday night to officially be rid of the Kittery Recreation Department name designation, and instead transition to the widely known Kittery Community Center.

Since the opening of the Community Center in 2012, there has been little consistency within the department. Staff have been called Recreation Department employees while they work at the Community Center, email addresses are @kitteryrecreation.com, and yet the logo is the Community Center. Town Manager Kendra Amaral said the town was at an “advantageous point” to officially transition the name, which required an amendment to Title 2 in the town code. Town councilors approved it unanimously.

The Community Center has also recently began a rebranding process including a new logo, website, program guide and social media campaign. The process is expected to tie everything together as one cohesive brand. The name change, Amaral wrote in a memo, will make it easier for users to understand both departments are one in the same, cause less confusion and streamline communications.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS STORY, CLICK HERE

It’s here!!! West Nile detected in Kittery.

For the rest of the story

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180829/west-nile-virus-detected-in-kittery

 

 

 

 

 

By Hadley Barndollar
hbarndollar@seacoastonline.com

KITTERY, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that a mosquito pool collected in Kittery last week tested positive for West Nile virus.

The state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory confirmed the presence of the virus in a single mosquito pool, a collection containing between one to 50 mosquitoes, gathered on Aug. 21. Town Manager Kendra Amaral said the collection occurred at Memorial Field at 70 Old Post Road, and has been reported as an “avian biting” species. Amaral said the town will conduct border spraying at the field in the coming days.

“West Nile is widespread throughout the United States right now,” Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “Mainers should remember to take precautions against being bitten.”

The detection of West Nile virus in Kittery comes days after the CDC announced an adult from Cumberland Country was diagnosed with the virus, though the origin is unknown, as the individual had traveled to several other states during the time symptoms developed. It is the first case of West Nile virus diagnosed in a Maine resident since 2015

Ourkittery note,

Legion Pond, AKA Mary’s Pond and Maine Fish and Game Pond on Martin Road, is in trouble. more on this later. Legion is covered in algae and martin Road is getting lower and lower. A haven for mosquitos.

 

 

Amaral: Next police chief must ‘understand Kittery’

By Hadley Barndollar

 

The deadline for applications to become Kittery’s next chief is Aug. 31, at which point in time Amaral said the town will begin an internal hiring process. The town has not hired a consultant, like some other municipalities opt to do.

Amaral said she’s assembled an internal committee to participate in the hiring process, comprised of herself, the finance director, interim police chief, fire chief, a member of the dispatch staff, a patrolman and sergeant.

“We’re going to do this one differently, and hope for a different result,” she said.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

 

Previous Articles on this topic. Courtesy of the Portsmouth herald.

http://ourkittery.com/2018/07/kittery-names-outside-interim-police-chief/

http://ourkittery.com/2018/07/kittery-names-sergeant-gary-eaton-acting-chief/

http://ourkittery.com/2018/07/kittery-police-chief-resigns/

Kittery town manager named Maine’s ‘rising star’

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180808/kittery-town-manager-named-maines-rising-star


 

 

 

 

By Hadley Barndollar
hbarndollar@seacoastonline.com

KITTERY, Maine — A few months ago, when the Town Council decided to enter into a closed-doors session excluding its right-hand woman Kendra Amaral, she was worried.

Little did the town manager know, the councilors were filling out an application to nominate her for a prestigious state-level award.

Amaral was named the state’s “Rising Star” by the Maine Town, City and County Management Association during a special luncheon on Wednesday at Sunday River.

The Rising Star award is given to a public administrator who has been in the profession for five years or less, and is designed to recognize a person who has done a particularly good job in a community. The award aims to provide encouragement to stay in the profession.

“The public administrator may have resolved a difficult problem, provided strong leadership during a crisis or brought new vitality and professionalism to a community,” the award reads.

THERE IS A LOT MORE TO THE STORY, CLICK HERE.

 

Kittery names ‘outside’ interim police chief

https://www.google.com/amp/www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180723/kittery-names-outside-interim-police-chief%3ftemplate=ampart

Read the full story above by Hadley Barndollar

KITTERY, Maine — As the announcement comes that a retired Maine police chief will serve as interim chief of the Kittery Police Department while the search for a permanent successor takes place, strong support has developed for an internal candidate to get the final nod. This follows the turnover of three chiefs hired from “outside” of the town over the last seven years.

Don O’Halloran, who spent 26 years leading Old Town’s police department preceded by 20 years on the Bangor force, has been tapped as interim police chief, Town Manager Kendra Amaral confirmed Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot more to this story so visual the above link.

Since the police chief vacancy arose once again, some have expressed support for longtime department member Sgt. Gary Eaton to get the job. Eaton was appointed as acting chief on July 6 directly following Soucy’s resignation and is a 38-year Kittery Police Department veteran, having started with the department in 1980 as a patrolman, and then promoted to sergeant in 1987. Eaton has already expressed that he will apply for the job vacancy when it’s posted.

Visit the Portsmouth Herald for the rest of this story by clicking on the above link.

Sgt.Gary Eaton

Kittery deploys technology to slow speeders

As a result of citizens concerns about speeding vehicles, action by the Kittery Town Council and the Town manager Kendra Amaral, the town has deployed three Speed Radar Pole Signs. One sign kit was obtained with a grant and the others purchased by Kittery.

They were deployed last week by Acting Chief Gary Eaton at the direction of the Town Manager in three critical areas. State Road by the Lions club, Rte 103 (Pepperell Rd.) and Rte. 236 before Dana Ave.

It is the hope that additional signage will be sought and deployed in areas of high priorities as funding becomes available.

From Wikipedia, some of the following information was obtained.

A radar speed sign is an interactive sign, generally constructed of a series of LEDs, that displays vehicle speed as motorists approach. The purpose of radar speed signs is to slow cars down by making drivers aware when they are driving at speeds above the posted limits. They are used as a traffic calming device in addition to or instead of physical devices such as speed humps, speed cushions, speed tables, and speed bumps

Signs are available in a range of costs with a variety of different features. Manufacturers of radar speed signs abound, ranging in style and features from a basic inexpensive sign to more sophisticated signs with myriad features to help analyze data and improve results. Pole mounted signs that combine speed display with variable message capability are often used in school zones, eliminating the trailer’s “footprint”.

Standard signs have stationary block letters that display the words “your speed”. More advanced models include variable messages such as Your Speed, Speed Limit, and Slow Down, which can be programmed based on motorist speed.

Many manufacturers offer optional solar power, which allows the signs to be powered via solar energy with rechargeable batteries included for nighttime operation.

RTE 236

Some of the features offered on the higher end signs include focused viewing systems to avoid distractions for motorists in other lanes, vehicle data collection, programmable software that allows you to determine sign behavior, and/or access via portable devices such as Bluetooth or PDAs.

Studies conducted both in the UK and in the US have found radar speed signs to effectively slow traffic down.[2][3] Although the overall speed reductions are generally less than those resulting from physical measures, the signs have the greatest effect on those drivers that are exceeding the posted speed, or traveling within speed transition zones.[4]

Kittery Point Rte. 103

The signs were most effective on streets where vehicles were driving more than 10 mph above the posted speed limit. In the Bellevue study, streets where signs were installed continued to experience speed reductions even two years after the signs were installed.[

After the recent deployment on State Road, Kittery residents including a local resident Dominic Goupil stated “it was immediate obvious that many of the cars heading north approaching the signs reduced their speed.” This is evolving process and the hope is that Kittery continues to add these through out the Town. These work, and helps our police department and keep our streets safer. Many times people forget or daydream and the flashing strobe lights remind them they need to pay attention.

In Kittery Point, one resident said “you could see brake lights as soon as the sign began to flash.”

This is an example of Kittery being proactive. Other Kittery initiatives are being pursued such as changing all the street lights to LED to help significantly reduce our monthly $9000.00 street light bill and lowers Kittery’s carbon footprint.

More to come.

Kittery names Sergeant Gary Eaton Acting Chief

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180706/kittery-names-eaton-acting-police-chief

from an article in the Portsmouth Herald

 

KITTERY, Maine — Thirty-eight-year Police Department veteran Sgt. Gary Eaton was appointed as the town’s acting chief effective Friday, Town Manager Kendra Amaral announced.

The interim chief pick comes after Police Chief James Soucy tendered his resignation, citing “personal family reasons.” Soucy had been chief of the department since May 2016, and previously served as a captain in Manchester, New Hampshire. Soucy said he was “certainly honored” to serve as Kittery’s police chief, and proud of the community efforts the department implemented during his tenure. Amaral said the town wishes him will in his future

Our Kittery note: Gary Eaton is a Kittery native and Traip Academy Graduate.

Read the full story from the above link.

 

 

 

Kittery Police Chief resigns

 

For the full story click the link

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180705/soucy-resigns-as-kittery-police-chief?template=ampart

 

 

 

 

 

 

KITTERY, Maine — Police Chief James Soucy has resigned from his post and will serve his last day on the job Friday.

Town Manager Kendra Amaral said the 26-year law enforcement veteran handed in his resignation two weeks ago, and “needs to leave for personal family reasons.”