Police and fire status discussed prior to trustees’ annual meeting

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – A deliberation over scheduling and budgeting of the Bellows Falls police and fire departments highlighted an April 25 Bellows Falls Trustees meeting. The discussion was initiated by trustee member Steve Adams who said that the village’s trustees need to make sure questions about the two departments are answered at the upcoming village meeting, as over 90 percent of the Village’s spending is involved.

Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake stated that the police department is making between 120 and 200 arrests per year, doing more investigations, answering over 3,000 complaints per year and working closely with federal and state investigators as well as the drug task force. Lake revealed that after the crime lab asked him to turn in evidence, he was informed that for the third year in a row Bellows Falls turned in more drug evidence than any other municipality in Vermont. Lake additionally stated:

“While we don’t compare to Walpole in many ways, Walpole has the same problems we have and so does Springfield, Brattleboro, White River, Wilmington and Dover.”

As far as holding down expenses, Lake said that he usually doesn’t hire brand new personnel because it’s too expensive. Lake stated that the Bellows Falls Fire Department is following the same schedule it has followed for years with at least one full time firefighter on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The department currently has two part-time qualified firefighters who can fill in for illness, vacation, etc., and Lake hopes to add two more in the future. Lake noted that there are currently around 25 on-call firefighters but these individuals are not qualified in all three aspects – truck driver, firefighter I or firefighter II, and emergency medical services – and are not available to cover a shift. Lake noted that it is his intention to apply for a Fire Act Grant in FY2019 to replace the 1989 fire truck. Municipal Manager Shane O’Keefe stated that the training, equipment and personnel are very expensive items.

Trustees Chair Myles Mickle thanked Lake and said the board appreciated his patience and willingness to “put the brakes on spending” due to the financial situation of the Village at this time. Trustee member Evelyn Weeks thanked Lake for “keeping us safe.” Adams stated that he was satisfied with Lake’s presentation and felt it was important for people to understand the cost of these services and the likelihood that these costs would not go down.

Manager Shane O’Keefe reported that final water disconnect notices will be placed on doors tomorrow and payment in full will be due by May 5, 2017. O’Keefe noted that this would be the third notice to delinquent property owners. Property taxes are due May 10, 2017. Household hazardous waste collection will be held at the Springfield Transfer Station on May 13, 2017. The grant application submitted to the Downtown Transportation Fund for repair of the stairs coming into the Square has been denied. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has notified the Town of Walpole that the streetlights on the Arch Bridge will be turned off. Walpole is currently working with the State of New Hampshire to resolve this issue. The lights on the Bridge Street Bridge should be installed by this time next week.

Summary of agenda items – Mickle announced that the 2015-2016 Annual Village Report is dedicated to L. Raymond Massucco for all he has done for the community and congratulated him on this dedication. A motion to allow the board to sell food at the Village annual meeting by youth organizations, coordinated through the village clerk and the municipal manager, passed. Mickle noted that at the last meeting villager Deborah Wright presented the board with this proposal in an effort to increase participation at the annual meeting. Village Clerk Bennett stated that any group must have an adult supervisor present as there was no way the clerk, the manager or the moderator could oversee this effort during the meeting, and it also should be limited to two groups due to available space. A motion to approve the bond anticipation note for a line of credit for the wastewater project in the amount of $2,561,000, and to authorize the municipal manager and the finance assistant to the manager to request funds as necessary, passed unanimously.

Minutes of this meeting can be found by going to www.rockbf.org and clicking on the trustee tab. The meeting can be watched in its entirety at www.fact8.com.

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