oxford, Maine

Oxford County commissioners authorize purchase of property behind courthouse


by Matthew Daigle, staff writer Sun Journal Dec. 27, 2016

PARIS — Oxford County commissioners have voted to purchase property next to the county courthouse for additional parking.

County Administrator Scott Cole said the Promenade Street property, which abuts the courthouse on Western Avenue, was being sold by the homeowner for $150,000.

The property would be used to replace parking that would be lost by the upcoming courthouse expansion.

Built in 1895, the two-story brick courthouse is home to the Oxford County Superior Court, county administrative offices, Registry of Deeds Office for the Eastern Division and the assistant district attorney's offices.

“It's a three-step thing,” Cole said. “First, we'll build the new parking on this new piece of property that the commissioners have agreed to buy. A lot of the existing parking outside the courthouse is going to be eaten up by the new courthouse building. Second, we'll build a new building, which will be attached to the old courthouse. Third, we'll figure out who and what is going to be set up inside the building.”

He said that before the commissioners could move forward with anything, they needed to purchase the Promenade Street property and make sure a parking lot could be constructed on the land.

“Since the new building will be where the current parking lot is, we need to make sure that new lot is in place first,” Cole said.

In other business at the Dec. 20 commission meeting, Cole said commissioners began reviewing the county's work-at-home policy to “answer a few questions they had.”

“They want to make sure that people are actually working at home if they're claiming working hours at home,” Cole said, adding that they wanted to make sure they understood the conditions in which employees were working out of their homes.

“Is it in lieu of coming into work, or are employees finishing up work that they started in the workplace?” Cole asked. “That's the kind of clarification they're looking for.

“Another piece of it is the electronic security part,” Cole continued. “If people are working off of their laptops at home, is there an increased vulnerability to hacking?”

Cole said that in March, the courthouse dealt with a “cryptovirus event,” where someone installed ransomware that temporarily paralyzed their system.

“We want to make sure that people are secure if they're working at home,” he said.