Community Newsletter

Issue #306

This City of South Portland Community E-Newsletter includes information about City sponsored events, projects and special announcements from South Portland's non-profit community.    Sign up if you would like to receive the newsletter directly to your inbox. Having difficulty viewing the newsletter?  The newsletter and archives are posted on the City's website here.   Please report broken links to news@southportland.org.

Welcome new Police Chief Daniel J. Ahern!

The City of South Portland has hired Daniel J. Ahern of Chelmsford, Massachusetts to be its next South Portland (Maine) Police Department Chief of Police. Ahern has served as Deputy Police Chief in Chelmsford since 2014 and has been a member of that department since 1994. Ahern will begin his duties as Police Chief on February 1, 2022.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work alongside the men and women of the South Portland Police Department,” said Ahern. “As your new police chief, I am committed to build upon the already strong and trusted relationships with the community. I will work tirelessly in a collaborative effort to provide the professional police services South Portland residents have come to expect and deserve.”

Ahern will replace Timothy Sheehan, who resigned as Chief back in April 2021 after 15 months with the City. From April to August 2021, former Deputy Police Chief Amy Berry served as the interim chief until her retirement from the department. Since August, the City has contracted with James DiGianvittorio to serve as interim Chief. Chief DiGianvittorio is a retired Police Chief from Middleton, Massachusetts.
“Our Police Department has seen significant change over the past two years so it was important for us to find the right person to both steady the ship and lead the department into the future,” said City Manager Scott Morelli. “I am confident Daniel Ahern will be this person. He has the education, experience, and personality to build on our department’s history of excellence, and I was impressed by his willingness to make a long-term commitment to our community.”

In addition to his 27-plus years of law enforcement experience, Ahern holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a graduate of the 277th Session of the FBI National Academy.

Ahern was selected from a field of nine applicants. The City sent five of these candidates through an assessment center conducted by Municipal Resources Inc. Based on both their qualifications and scores at the assessment center, the City then selected the top three candidates for interviews. The interview panel consisted of Morelli, Human Resources Director Stephanie Weaver, Fire Chief James Wilson, City Clerk Emily Scully, interim Chief DiGianvittorio, and 4 members of the Civil Service Commission – Lee Harvey, Vincent Maietta, Pedro Vazquez, and Brendan Williams.

Ahern’s start date will enable him to work with DiGianvittorio during his first week to assist in the transition. He will be paid an annual salary of $127,504. Ahern and his wife are currently looking for housing in the South Portland area. When sworn in, he will become the eighth permanent police chief in South Portland history. Prior to that, one chief oversaw both police and fire departments. An announcement will be made in the near future as to when the official swearing-in ceremony will be held for Ahern.
On January 18, the City Council will be discussing and considering a possible City-wide indoor mask mandate for public buildings, similar to what the City of Portland has recently adopted.  If you would like to attend the meeting to give your input, the meeting will begin at 6:30pm and held via Zoom.  Up to two (2) minutes per speaker will be allowed during the public comment portion of the Workshop.  Click here to attend the meeting:  https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89686832112

Starting February 1, 2022, the City Council will be changing its meeting schedule.  Instead of holding weekly meetings that include workshops, the Council will be breaking out its regular business meetings from its workshops and holding meetings and workshops on alternating weeks. All meetings and workshops will continue to be held on Tuesdays at 6:30pm. 

For February, the meeting schedule will look like this:
  • February 1:  City Council Meeting (Goal Setting)
  • February 8:  City Council Workshop
  • February 15: City Council Meeting
  • February 22: City Council Workshop
No formal Council action is taken during workshop discussions.  A reminder that workshop discussion public comment is limited to two minutes per speaker.  For regular Council meetings, the public is invited to attend and comment on each agenda item and/or during Citizen Discussion Part I or Part II for up to 5 minutes.  Check out the City Calendar on the City's website for more information and the schedule going forward. 
It's time to renew your dog's license! The deadline to renew dog license for the 2022 year is December 31. Renew your dog's license online or by mail by January 31 to avoid a $25.00 late fee.  For more information, visit www.southportland.org
Renew Online Now!
The City Council is seeking people to serve on the following committees:
  • Clean Air Advisory Committee (1 member)
  • Public Arts Committee (a new committee, split from the former Arts & Historic Preservation Committee - this committee will focus solely on public arts projects)
  • Historic Preservation Committee (a new committee, split from the former Arts & Historic Preservation Committee -- this committee will focus on historical sites and preservation of City points of interest

There are many other committees with current vacancies, including the Human Rights Commission, Waste Reduction Committee, and more.  There is a committee for everyone's interest!  If you are interested in applying, please click here for more information: https://www.southportland.org/our-city/board-and-committees/ 

Apply Now
The AARP Tax Aide Program is not accepting appointments/messages until after January 17. Please call (207) 518-8579 to schedule an appointment after January 17.

Don't forget about the City's Property Tax Assistance Program!  This needs to be applied for each year.  Those over age 68 may qualify.  Please see the application and more information here.  The deadline to submit is May 1st.

For a comprehensive look at our winter operations, and further information on how you can help us during these tough Maine winters, please download our Winter Operations brochure.

Sand Buckets for Seniors

Winter means snow and ice and, invariably, an increased risk of falling. A new program for 2019 from South Portland Public Works and Age Friendly South Portland hopes to make winter a little safer. Seniors (aged 65+) and any other residents with mobility challenges can receive a five gallon bucket of sand/salt mix, delivered to their home, to help maintain their steps and walkways. To order your Sand Bucket, please call Public Works (207) 767-7635, or email publicworks@southportland.org. Sand Buckets for Seniors is a free service, with costs being underwritten by the Senior Steering Implementation Committee, South Portland Public Works, and South Portland Professional Firefighters Local 1476. Stay safe!

Snow Shoveling Volunteers Needed to Assist Seniors
Interested in providing snow-removal assistance to seniors this winter season? Age Friendly South Portland (AFSP) is seeking volunteers who are willing to help shovel critical walkways and pathways around the residences of our senior neighbors who are unable to do so themselves.

Together, let’s help our senior community thrive and be prepared during the winter months. To sign up to become a snow-shoveling volunteer, please complete the following form: https://forms.gle/Cr3TWj87o7t1vnFk7

As senior residents request snow-shoveling services, AFSP will be in touch with volunteers, upon their acceptance and approval by the program, individually to match them with their assigned household(s) and provide any additional specifications or details related to requests.

Extremely cold weather is expected over the next few days. The City is offering Warming Centers at the Main Branch Library, Community Center and Redbank Community Center. These areas will be open as "warming centers" during normal hours of operation (should severe weather cause extended loss of power or other emergency, extending hours of operation would be considered)  -- come in and get warm!
Please remember that masks are required in all City buildings.
Energy Stretch Code (IECC 2021) Training
Both Portland and South Portland have adopted Maine’s Energy Stretch Code for all new residential and commercial buildings. In order to help people understand and comply with this code, we are teaming up with Kim Cheslak, Director of Codes at the New Buildings Institute to offer two trainings.

Tuesday January 25th at 12:00pm – Residential
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in by Phone
Meeting ID: 821 0182 2451
Passcode: 832562
Thursday February 10th at 12:00pm – Commercial

Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in by Phone
Meeting ID: 838 1075 3293
Passcode: 873648

Kim Cheslak is the Director of Codes for New Buildings Institute. She has over 10 years of experience focusing on buildings and codes. Her career has included commercial and residential code compliance studies, working with local governments to maximize savings through adoption of and compliance with code, and managing sustainability portfolios. Kim was instrumental in the formation of Washington DC’s Green Building Division. She supports NBI’s broader engagement in code development, with an emphasis on stretch codes and multifamily code adoption.
The new Transfer Station permit stickers have arrived for 2022! Get yours at Municipal Services or City Hall by providing two forms of proof of residency (preferably your driver's license and vehicle's registration). See below for additional info:

New Residential stickers are orange and are valid until 12/31/23. Limit 2 per residence (the first one is free; the second is $5.)

New this year, property owners who do not reside in South Portland but are permitted to use the Transfer Facility for disposing of yard waste (no other use is permitted) from their South Portland properties will have their own (brown) sticker. Property owners must obtain a sticker by showing two forms of proof of property ownership, as well as your vehicle registration. 2022 Property owner stickers are valid until December 31, 2023.

Landscape contractors may use our facility for disposal of landscape debris (leaves, grass clippings and brush) from South Portland residential properties. A Contractor's permit must be obtained for an annual fee of $150. (Additional permits cost $20 per vehicle.) Contractors must show proof that the material they are disposing of is from a South Portland resident by providing the resident’s permit number. 2020 Stickers (blue) will expire on December 31, 2021. 2022 Landscape Contractor stickers (green) are now available from Municipal Services or City Hall, and are valid until December 31, 2022.
Submitted by Barbara Dee, Conservation Commission
Do you have a concern about a wetland, pond or  stream near your property? The South Portland Conservation Commission in partnership with the South Portland Water Resources Protection Department created the Community Service Grant (CSG) program to encourage and support initiatives by local groups, individuals, associations, or businesses to undertake environmental improvements that contribute directly to the quality of South Portland’s freshwater resources.
Proposals are accepted from a broad range of South Portland interests with the capacity to undertake and complete projects of direct public benefit to a particular locale, neighborhood, stream, pond, and related watershed that will contribute to maintaining, improving or creating freshwater wetlands.
Individual grants of up to $2,500 are awarded on the basis of budgets presented by the applicants. Grant funds may be used for, but not limited to, purchase of materials, securing  professional support if required, paying stipends to volunteers when critical to the mission, renting necessary equipment, providing food and other supports to volunteer groups and to secure any other essential goods or services required for project completion. The FWCF Grant application can be accessed here FWCF_Guide_Application_11_2019.pdf (southportland.org)
City Hall and certain other municipal buildings will be closed on Monday, January 17, 2022 for observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day. 
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