Yarmouth voters OK library bond, elect Guay, Watterson

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YARMOUTH — Voter turnout was higher than expected Tuesday, despite a deadly explosion in town that caused a last-minute polling-place change.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.5 million bond to revamp the town library and elected newcomers Leah Guay and Bob Watterson to the School Committee.

Town Clerk Jennifer Doten said 26 percent of registered voters – nearly 1,900  – went to Town Hall to vote – even after the usual polling location at Robert W. Boyd Amvets Post 2 was closed due to an explosion on nearby Gables Drive that killed a 66-year-old man, injured four people and destroyed as many as eight homes.

Three candidates campaigned for two open seats on the School Committee: Guay, 52, Watterson, 56, and Craig Wolff, 43. Guay and Watterson received almost identical numbers of votes at 1,073 and 1,070, respectively. Wolff trailed the pack with 776 votes. Committee members Art Bell and Abby Diggins were ineligible to run this year after serving two terms.

The $1.5 million bond referendum sailed through by a wide margin, 1,422-476.

The bond will help pay for a $2.5 million renovation project at Merrill Memorial Library, which will include construction of a $300,000 enclosed, heated, glass-walled corridor that will extend from the parking lot to the entrance.

The project also includes top-to-bottom renovations of the existing space: a new presentation room, expanded restrooms and private tutoring rooms, plus rewiring, improved insulation, and a fire suppression system.

Work could begin as soon as October and be completed within 18 months. During that time, the library will remain open, Board of Trustees President Gro Flatebo has said.

The June 25 ballot had two other elections, but they were not contested.

Town Council Chairman Steve Woods and Councilor Pat Thompson won their unopposed bids for re-election, as did William Reinsborough in his unopposed bid for the Yarmouth Water District Board of Trustees seat he has held for more than two decades.

At 6:17 a.m. Tuesday, the explosion at 50 Gables Drive knocked out ceiling tiles and cracked plaster walls at the Amvets post. Soon after, rescue workers cut power to the area and closed off North Street, which sent Doten scrambling for a backup plan.

She said town employees from several departments came together to reroute voters to Town Hall. The workers helped move voting booths and post signs letting voters know about the sudden change.

“It took a village, but it all worked out,” Doten said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Doten said she was expecting 1,600 voters.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.

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Leah Guay

Bob Watterson