Media Archive

Private status of snowmobile club irks selectman

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 6, February 05, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

SEBEC The chairman of the board of selectmen Monday said he was offended by the recent application to the local snowmobile club,calling it discriminatory.

Buzz Small also said he would not support any disposition of funds through the town to the club, for the maintenance of trails, until the application process changes.

A copy of the most recent application to the Big Bear Snowmobile Club of Sebec brought to Monday's meeting states that there are two tiers of membership to the club: a social member and a working member.

Any new member is considered a social member for their first year, and pay a $50 dues. Social members have no voting privileges, club president Glenn Fariel confirmed Tuesday.

If a social member works at least 60 hours in that first year he or she may seek sponsorship from another working member to become a working member, with $5 dues. Working members do have voting privileges, according to the application.

"I personally have a problem seeing public money going to a club that is being openly discriminatory to new members,' said Small, upon seeing the application, "simply because they don't want to lose control."'
He said he is concerned that only working members have voting privileges, and that there are two different fee schedules.

The town votes at annual town meeting whether to disburse any funds generated by registration of snowmobiles in town, as well as grant money, to the snowmobile club. The club may only seek grant monies through the town.

''I would prefer to work with a club that is open to all the citizens of Sebec," Small said.

Fariel on Tuesday said that the club has always been a private organization, according to its by-laws, and that the concerns brought up at Monday's meeting amount to a "personal attack" n members of the snowmobile club.

He said the situation boils down to residents being angry over the "Monarty thing." Charlene and Williaml Monarty were issued a stop work order more than a year ago, halting operation of their marina facility in the village. Since then an entire new board of selectmen have signed a consent agreement to allow the marina business to procede.

Two members of the former board of selectmen sit on the board of the snowmobile club, including Fariel and Tom Walters, as well as Jack McLeod. the husband of Christy McLeod - also a former selectman.

Fariel said there are about two dozen members the snowmobile club currently, and that anybody who has sought applications recently doesn't even own a snomobile.

"The bottom line is you've got a group oi people that have no interest in the snowmobile club that want to join ... to overthrow the snowmobile club," he said.

"We are a private organization and we have membership requirements like any private organization," Fariel continued, "and if Buzz Small, who hasn't lived in this town more than a couple of years, doesn't want to funnel state funds to the club, he should look back and see what the snowmobile club members have done for this town.

Fariel said that the club purchased defibrillator equipment for the fire deparment. and runs the Fourth of July celebration every year.

The club is listed as a non-profit corporation with the state Bureau of Corporations. It was incorporated in 1976.

Sonny Connors, one of the original founders of the club and the current club secretary, said that "nobody, but nobody" will be allowed into the club. when they have dishonest or ill intentions toward other members. "All they want is revenge," he said. "Legally, we don't have to let any members in that we don't want, and we can let members in we do want."

According to Tim Russell, recreational vehicle coordinator with the state Department of Conservation, state law does not require snowmobile clubs to be public, nor private.

'We require snowmobile clubs to be incorporated, but there's nothing in the statute or in the rules that say they can't be private," said Russell. "The trails are what we deal with they must be open to the public and a fee cannot be charged for crossing them."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.