Town of NewSalem Selectboard
July 1, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Letter of Support/Village Neighbors
Ø Appointment Slips for Election Workers
Debt Exclusion Vote – Set Date & Hours for Election; Sign Letter to Town Clerk
Nancy reported on the dates for the debt exclusion. The best date for the Town Clerk is August 21, 2019. The minimum requirement is for polls to be open 4 hours. The Clerk suggests having the polls open from 11:45 am to 7:00 pm. Randy inquired about the costs of running the election. Nancy responded there are costs, like paying the poll workers, but the town needs to do this so as to continue with the Swift River School Window Project. Wayne expressed the sentiment that the only concern with an August date is vacations. Nancy noted that people can always get absentee ballots. She then made a few distinctions such as reminding that this is a debt exclusion and not an override. Debt exclusions temporarily increase taxes to pay the debt service for the specific project and go away once that is paid for. Overrides are permeant tax increases.
Wayne made a motion to accept the recommendations of the Town Clerk as to date and poll hours. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed unanimously.
Risk Assessment Survey – Highway Department
Nancy reported on the recommendations for the Highway Department following the risk assessment survey done by the towns insurer. They have some recommendations. Highway is good at keeping most things up to date, but there are a few informational things that mostly have to do with training and chemical exposure. Related to that is the need for a new eyewash station. There were also some storage changes that should be made. Wayne inquired as to signage that can be placed on site. Nancy noted that a lot of this is handled by training, but signage could be helpful. She felt that a lot of the training can be done by utilizing videos that MIIA, the towns insurer, has on its website. The department has two new employees, so it makes sense to undergo this kind of training.
Letter from DCR Regarding Water Supply Protection FY20 Forest Management
The town has received a letter from DCR. DCR wrote to the town to inform that it has provided resources that can be accessed by the public regarding its Forest Management and Water Supply Protection for FY20.
Economic Development Resource Meeting for North Quabbin
US Representative Jim McGovern is holding an event in Petersham on July 19, 2019 from 8:30 am to 11:30 am. This event is to address economic opportunities and development in the North Quabbin region.
Paving on Old Petersham Road
When paving was being done on Blackinton Rd, there was some left over material and it was used on the intersection of Old Dana Rd and Old Petersham Rd. There were some concerns expressed by neighbors in the region, but that paving is only to improve the specific intersection and only because the material was available.
2018 Municipal Assessment Reporting for Department of Public Utilities
Nancy reported that this year the town only got .60 cents. Per DPU it can only be spent on a transportation project and requires documentation as to its usage. Last year the town got .30 cents. So this constitutes a modest increase. The Commonwealth will allow the town to bank the funds for future use.
A motion was made by Wayne to permit Nancy to take action on this matter including communications with the DPU. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.
Pricing for Town-wide Aggregation of Electricity
At a previous town meeting the residents of the town authorized the town to pursue aggregation of electricity. This means the town will aggregate all houses in town unless people opt out. The town has been approved to proceed. When Wendell did this, the first round they did 6 months rather than 12 months. Nancy stated she would need to be authorized by the Selectboard to make a decision when the prices are offered as the time is highly limited, usually a few hours given to make a decision. Wayne inquired about green options. Nancy responded that there are options and the town can choose green options. There was some discussion about avoiding nuclear energy. It was understood that there is no nuclear option involved in this. Nancy recalled it wasn’t much of a price difference when Wendell decided to go with a green only option.
A motion was made by Jean that Nancy be designated as the person to choose the bidder. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed unanimously.
Appointment Slips for Election Workers
Nancy noted she was unable to get these in time for last meetings Annual Appointments as she did not have the names from the Town Clerk yet. She has the names now, so the slips are ready. The Selectboard saw no reason not to sign the slips and proceeded with doing so.
Randy reported on the meeting he attended at Mahar regarding a future plan for further regionalization. They don’t anticipate that this plan would be implemented with immediacy. So they are making a recommendation and putting together a report for the future. Right now it appears Orange would be reluctant to take that step. All this would do would be regionalizing K-6 to assist Petersham. New Salem and Wendell would keep Swift River. Things would be very similar to what they are now, but there would be a certain economy of scale between Petersham and Orange. Randy stated that there should be documents relating to this that will be made available to the public. Nancy noted that there are also a lot of changes happening. The Superintendent intends to retire in a year and the Business Finance Director has left with Mahar just having hired a new one.
Letter of Support for Village Neighbors
This is a nonprofit that covers New Salem, Leverett, Shutesbury, and Wendell. This is entity helps Seniors on a number of fronts. Principally in helping arrange rides for Seniors that need it. Village Neighbors is asking for a letter of support from the Selectboard for an application to FRCOG for financial support. In many community’s programs like this are run by the Council on Aging for any given town, but in New Salem and the other towns served by Village Neighbors it isn’t feasible for the COAs to run it. It makes sense to support an entity like Village Neighbors. As such the Selectboard determined to sign the letter.
As a bit of old business, Nancy noted that most of the signs discussed at prior meetings have been moved.
Nancy reported that the septic has been pumped, a grease trap had a gasket replaced, and a few other things were done. The gasket in particular needed to be dealt with.
In another piece of old business from prior meetings, the Selectboard found that work that needs to be done to the town fields and to some related recreation equipment. To date the Recreation Committee hasn’t responded to the Selectboard’s inquiries about the matter. Randy noted that the Recreation Committee has had some change in membership and that will likely help resolve the outstanding concerns. Unfortunately, this committee is not appointed by the Selectboard, but rather the Town Moderator. There’s no real mandate for them which can make it difficult. So that can get in the way. It was agreed that Jean would reach out to the Recreation Committee’s chair.
Nancy reminded the Selectboard that the Annual Town Meeting approved, as part of the FY20 budget, a stipend to hire a handyman for the town. This person would help with some of the small projects that the town needs for maintenance. This would help relieve some of the volunteers in town who are often relied on to fix minor things. It would also help the town be proactive to prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones. The position has been posted for some time now to no results. As such Nancy asked permission to approach an existing town employee who might be interested and has the skill set for the town. The Selectboard saw no reason to oppose doing so and authorized Nancy to proceed.
Animal Control Officer Request for By-Law Update & Update on Rabies Case
Wayne very briefly reported on work he’s done with the ACO and the Planning Board to get an update to the dog by-laws. Jean then reported on a rabies case. The animal in question was confirmed to have rabies. She noted some difficulties with getting information on where to send the animal for testing. In this case it had to be sent to Jamaica Plain in Boston. Nancy noted that rabies falls under the Board of Health, and when the town has one, the Animal Inspector. Discussion then shifted to ways to communicate information to the town, such as the New Salem News. Wayne noted there used to be more local resources for rabies, but they’ve kind of faded away in recent years.
Jean inquired with Nancy as to how many councilors are still needed. Nancy responded that there is a need for 4 members.
Jean reported about some concerns she’s heard about broken glass at Bears Den and asked if there is a way to contact the Trustees of Reservations regarding the matter. Wayne suggested calling them to let them know and see if an effort can be made to assist them in cleaning it up.
Old Academy Building
This is a bit of old business as it pertains to the work to be done to the building. There is a fan that needs to be installed and some work done to some lights and electrical work will likely need to be done. Nancy reminded that prevailing wage is a concern unless the person hired is a sole proprietor.
In another bit of old business, Nancy reported on her efforts to schedule. Unfortunately, the Police Chief has availability issues stemming from another employer. Wayne suggested that another police officer can report. Nancy agreed to inquire about having the next highest ranking officer report. The Selectboard would still like to see the Highway Chief as well. It was agreed to pursue the matter for the Selectboard’s next meeting.
The Selectboard noted a few corrections and determined to approve the minutes from June 25, 2019 pending modification. Nancy agreed to see to the changes prior to publication.
A motion to adjourn at 8:05 pm was made by Jean. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk