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Commission Minutes

April 19, 2019

PRESENT: John Portela, Luke Shorty, Celeste Branham, Nicole Pellenz, Jenifer Tilton-Flood, Joe Schmidt, John Portela, Anita Stewart McCafferty, Deborah Johnson, Libby Hite, Jonathan Barczyk

The meeting was called to order at 10:12 AM by Chair Celeste Branham. Commission members were asked to introduce themselves. Branham announced that Dept. of Education Chief of Staff Moninski has postponed her visit to the Commission to May due to conflicting obligations. She gave a summary report of the meeting between Senator King and National Service programs earlier in the week. She also shared notes from Senator Collins and Jamie and Bill Logan. 

Deborah Johnson responded to the Commissioner quiz with correct answers to two of three questions. Two founding Commissioners were from Washington County and the one who lived the furthest came from Cutler. 

No changes were offered for the agenda. Barrett moved that the agenda be adopted as presented. Second by Shorty. Vote on the motion: In favor – unanimous. No abstentions. 

Although a consent agenda was presented, Branham indicated that business reports would be handled individually. The process for a consent agenda was explained and it was emphasized that adopting this procedure requires Commissioners to read materials thoroughly before the meeting. 


March Commission minutes. Barrett moved to approve the minutes as posted. Second by Portela. Vote on the motion: In favor – 10. Opposed – 0. Abstention – 1 (Johnson).


Executive Committee report. Jeni Tilton-Flood requested the report be amended to show she did attend. Portela moved that the Executive Committee report be accepted as amended. Second by Shorty. Vote on the motion: In favor – 10. Opposed – 0. Abstention – 1 (Tilton-Flood).

Financial Oversight.   Luke Shorty gave a brief summary of the posted notes. Moved by Shorty that the report of the Financial Oversight Task Force meeting on March 21, 2019 be accepted. Second by Johnson. Vote on the motion: In favor – unanimous.

Communications. Jeni Tilton-Flood summarized the posted notes. Moved by Flood that the report of the Communications Task Force meeting on April 10, 2019 be accepted. Second by Portela. Vote on the motion: In favor – unanimous.

Grant Selection and Performance. Ed Barrett summarized the posted notes and then presented a policy revision for Commission adoption. The current policies for the Maine Rural State AmeriCorps grant state the positions may only be 1700 hour terms of service which was intended to limit rural grantees to full-time (40 hours per week) positions which are easier to fill and manage. As the types of applicants have grown, it is recommended the policy be revised to state that all positions must be full-time service in a week (40 hours typically) but the terms of service may be 900 hour, 1200 hour, or 1700 hour. The change allows for seasonal programming and school-year programming. Moved by Barrett to modify the terms of service permitted under the Maine Rural State AmeriCorps grant program. Second by Shorty. Vote on the motion: In favor – unanimous.

Due to an increase in allocation to Maine, the task force reversed a decision and will open both the standard and rural AmeriCorps grant competitions this spring. Ed noted the pending grant competitions will need peer reviewers and asked Commissioners to refer potential reviewers to staff as soon as possible.

States for Service. John Portela represents the Commission at this organization. All efforts have been focused on the federal budget and upcoming action by the House committees. The Maine program meetings with our Members of Congress are fortunately occurring in a useful timeframe.

America's Service Commissions. Maryalice Crofton reported that Commissions have been working on recommendations to CNCS that would fix the flaws in the AmeriCorps member enrollment process. The flaws happened when the procedure was rolled out before it was fully developed and documented for end users. A second work group involves all the Commission Executive Directors responding to questions from CNCS about the reorganization plan implementation.

The ASC Executive Director, Kaira Esgate, will attend the May Commission meeting to brief Commissioners on the state commission implications of the plan. Her attendance will be virtual but Commissioners will be able to ask questions and have a conversation. The timing is just right for those who will attend the regional conference and meeting with CNCS senior leadership 4 days later.

Maine Service Fellows. Libby Hite asked the Commission to weigh in on the task force decision to select the US Census method of determining rural rather than the USDA method which classifies whole counties. The differences were outlined in the task force meeting notes from March. Moved by Hite to use the Census definition in determining eligible applicants for Maine Service Fellow hosts. Second by Barrett. Vote on the motion: In favor – unanimous.

Commission Staff Report. Maryalice shared information about the regional National Service Conference in May and asked Commissioners to consider attending the second day. Senior leadership from the federal agency, CNCS, will meet with Commission representatives and Executive Directors. Anyone who can attend should let Maryalice know soon so travel documents can be cleared.

The Commission request in state budget for general funds is still in process. The appropriations committee tabled all bills with positions without a work session. Maryalice is in frequent contact with Dept of Education folks regarding the issue. Commissioners are still free to reach out to legislators and explain the need.

There was a brief explanation of process regarding some federal investigations related to National Service grants. Commissioners want to be aware of the activities but the rules for investigations generally preclude staff from discussing them. One point clarified is that the results are published on the Corporation for National and Community Service OIG’s website.

CNCS Update. Libby Hite reported the National Service Recognition Day by Maine’s legislature was successful. The location of the new regional office in Manchester, NH, is still not settled due to difficulties in finding suitable office space.

Proposed change in Youth Service award program.  Maryalice Crofton explained the use of sponsor funds for the youth service award program will change this year. The funding from the Masonic Charitable Foundation has been used for the recognition of youth service only. Going forward, the funding will be used to award mini-grants to youth groups and classrooms that propose a service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The service projects would need to reflect the goal of ‘building the beloved community.” The change brings back a Commission role in supporting youth service that ended when Time Warner was sold and the partnership around service by youth ended. Commissioners agreed the change proposed fits MCCS goals.

National Service Staff Recognition. Celeste Branham presented certificates of appreciation to Senior Corps and AmeriCorps staff who had been invited to attend the meeting. Following the presentation, Commissioners and National Service staff had a working lunch to discuss program activities and accomplishments in Maine.

The next meeting is May 17, 2019 in Rm 110 at 19 Elkins Lane.

The business meeting adjourned at 11:49 am.