Cumberland receives funds for new police officer

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CUMBERLAND — The town will finally fill a vacant police officer job, thanks largely to a federal grant it is receiving.

The position is being funded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. Cumberland is receiving an estimated $125,000 to cover three year’s worth of salary and benefits for an officer, while the town will pay nearly $73,000 during that time for the local match.

The Police Department can use the funding to hire military veterans or rehire laid off workers, or those who are scheduled to be laid off at a date on or after the start date of the award.

The Town Council is scheduled Monday, Aug. 13, to authorize Town Manager Bill Shane to sign an agreement to receive the funds. The town is required under the terms of the grant to retain the new officer for at least one year after the three-year funding period.

Shane said Monday that a position on the Police Department had remained vacant since a resignation about three years ago. This new position will bring the department’s compliment to 10 people, with an average of two officers per shift.

Yarmouth is also receiving the same grant, so both towns may work together in their hiring processes, Shane said.

Also on Aug. 13, the council will vote whether to fund up to $15,000 toward legal and engineering studies for natural gas service. Falmouth and Yarmouth are also involved in the process and are expected to contribute the same amount of funding. The three towns are looking into expansion of a natural gas line into their communities as a means of cutting heating expenses.

The Town Council is also expected to set a public hearing for Aug. 27 to discuss and act on a contract zone agreement request for two companies, Walnut Hill Investments and Telos Capital, to build separate affordable housing projects on Route 100. The Planning Board is scheduled to make a recommendation on the matter Tuesday, Aug. 21.

The two developers are proposing to build single-family homes on properties between Mill and Wilson roads, and in the Village Office Commercial 1 Zone. They need a contract zone because VOC 1 does not allow single-family homes, although it does permit multiplexes, and the minimum lot size is 40,000 square feet, double that sought by the developers.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.