BELLOWS FALLS Vt. – A new full-time Bellows Falls police officer has been hired with a primary function to handle parking enforcement.
According to Municipal Manager Chip Stearns, the officer, Josh Paulette, was hired on Aug. 29 and will work Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 40 hours a week.
Stearns said that enforcement would include all parking in the village of Bellows Falls, both inside and outside the business area.
Stearns reported that officer wrote out seven parking tickets on his first day, and 20 on the following day, and even a Village Board member was not immune to this newly-aggressive stance. He didn’t say who was cited.
Stearns stressed that the two-hour parking areas downtown as well as the 15 minute spots, which include the post office and in front of schools, will be especially monitored.
The officer’s salary, which wasn’t revealed, will be drawn from the existing municipal budget.
“Parking has been talked about ever since I’ve been around; people have complained about it in public meeting and are demanding it,” Stearns said. “The (Village) Trustees and (Rockingham) Selectboard have been in unison concerning the need to improve parking reinforcement.”
He emphasized that Paulette is a certified police officer in New Hampshire, and is a certified parking enforcement officer in Vermont. Currently the officer is not certified in police duties, as those certifications are not transferable between New Hampshire and Vermont. Paulette will be pursuing additional certifications in Vermont, Stearns said.
Stearns noted that handicapped parking areas are a towable zone, and the state fine for towing is $250.
Lastly, Stearns stated that since Paulette does not have police authority, bringing a ticket to him for dismissal would not be possible. However, if the fine is a particularly large amount, it is possible the payment could be made over a period of time.
As all new jobs are a learning experience, Stearns said that his own vehicle parked in the municipal manager’s parking spot was marked with chalked on the tire and ground. The procedure is if the officer comes back in two hours and the mark is still there, a ticket is given.
Since Stearns is allowed to park in the municipal manager’s spot, it was necessary to inform Paulette of this.