Members of the Portland Board of Selectmen each took turns as they were officially sworn in on Tuesday night for a two-year term by Town Clerk Bernadette Dillon.
For Democrat Susan Bransfield, it is the start of her fifth term in office. She beamed after taking the oath of office and posed beside Dillon, who was first elected as town clerk in 1977.
Three Democrats Mark Finkelstein, Brian Flood and Fred Knous, took their oaths, but Kathleen Richards could not attend the ceremonies because of illness. She'll be sworn in shortly.
Republicans Ryan Curley and Carl Chudzik also were sworn in.
Bransfield, acting as hostess, pinned each member with a rose. There were refreshments on a side table, which she offered to all.
Later she was asked what priorities she had for the new term. Bransfield said it would be "continued improvements for Main Street, the Route 66 corridor as well as the industrial area." She said "fiscal stability was very important to the board and to me" as being central to a well-run town. She also stressed the importance of quality education. Other things that will get her continuing attention will be public safety, roads and utilities.
The newest member of the board is Republican Ryan Curley, who won in his first try at public office. He said he was "very excited to begin to get to work" and was looking forward to working with his colleagues on the board. His top priority will be to continue the progress the town has made, especially education and business.
He said he ran on a platform to improve the business climate and said "my main focus" will be "how to improve business and get it to Portland."
He stressed the importance of attracting small business, but also wants to help revive the Portland Place project on the old Elmcrest property.
Other members of the board, including Bransfield, have spoken about a desire to find a way to move the project forward. It would involve retail stores as well as new housing. The principal developer several months ago indicated the project was stalled because of the business climate.
Dillon, who had endorsement from both parties, was sworn in by her deputy. She said that 39.4 percent of registered voters took part in the election Nov. 8th. Dillon said she looks forward to serving four more years. She said the town "was running well and it looks beautiful." Dillon has served 34 continuous years in office as town clerk.
Officers were also sworn in for Board of Assessment Appeals and Zoning Board of Appeals. Democrats Donald O'Brien and Richard Murphy will take seats on the Board of Assessment Appeal. Democrat Don Snyder took the oath for Zoning Board of Appeals. Kenneth Kearns was given the oath for Zoning Board of Appeals for a term that starts in 2012.
As soon as the selectmen got down to business, they voted to make Richards Second Selectmen because she garnered the most votes among the six winners for the board.
The only business before the board was a new fire ordinance for developers to supply water tanks for new subdivisions. A public hearing was held before the session but there were no speakers. The matter was moved for adoption and passed unanimously after Chudzik asked for clarification of a lot and a housing unit.
The new ordinance recommended by Fire Chief Robert Shea and the Fire Marshall, requires one 10,000 tank for every 40 lots. They would be built according to regulations and buried underground to prevent freezing in winter.
Fire authorities have said such tanks on site would enable faster response times and might reduce the need for tanker trucks coming from other towns by mutual aid.
The next meeting of the board will be Dec. 7.