The town added new signage reminding New Gloucester residents to wear masks when the transfer station reopened last Thursday. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

NEW GLOUCESTER — Some residents’ angry responses to the “emergency closure” of the town’s transfer station and Public Works building last week after a close contact of a town employee testing positive for COVID-19 led to a stern rebuke from the town manager about the seriousness of the virus and a plea for patience and civility.

“In this day of social media, Twitter and instant responses, those avenues are not proper channels for communicating sensitive or complex situations, which is why it is called an ‘emergency’,” Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard said in a Nov. 11 letter posted to the NGXchange, a local community blog, and linked on the town’s Facebook page.

A close contact of a town employee tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the temporary closure of the transfer station and Public Works building last week. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

Fox-Howard said that town employees were yelled at and “dirty diapers and household trash” were thrown at the transfer station gates.

On the town’s Facebook page, resident reactions to the closure ranged from annoyance to understanding.

“Where are we supposed to dump our trash?” Tara Trapasso Liptak wrote. “And if this is a longer-term closure, is the town going to provide a tax refund or reimburse us for having to get private trash pick-up until the transfer station reopens?”

“If we had a little more notice we could have planned more,” Dave Wroniak said.

The transfer station, which is usually open Tuesday through Saturday, was shut down entirely Nov. 10-11. Dumpsters for household trash and recyclables were placed just inside the gates for public use Nov. 12-14. It fully reopened for all services, including for construction debris, Nov. 17.

On Tuesday afternoon, Fox-Howard said she understands that everyone is stressed but that “you do what you have to do. That’s why it’s called an emergency closure.”

The Public Works building closed on Nov. 10 and as of Tuesday remained closed.

The town manager added that she’s received more complaints about residents not wearing masks in town facilities.

“We don’t have a police department,” she said. “I’m certainly not going to go around arresting people. I don’t really know how much more explicit I can be.”

Fox-Howard also closed the fire department to the public, citing outbreaks among emergency personnel in nearby towns.

The Yarmouth fire chief tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and seven Lewiston firefighters tested positive earlier this week.

Fox-Howard said that many of Fire/Rescue’s per diem employees work in other towns.

“This is once again out of an abundance of caution,” she said.

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