Town of NewSalem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

July 16, 2018

Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; TaMara Conde, Nansi Glick, Sue Turner, Cemetery Commission; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; Arthur Adams; Sandra Annis, National Grid Representative; Jeff Adams; Peg and Garrick Doherty

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Ø Cemetery Deeds

Ø Pole Hearing Documents

Discussion Items

Cemetery Commission Regarding Sale of Plots & Signing of Deeds

Nancy started off by outlining who the plots are being sold to. One plot is being sold to one person and three plots to another. The Selectboard reviewed the deeds and determined to sign. The Cemetery Commission also reviewed the deeds and signed simultaneously with the Selectboard. Wayne then asked about some ground penetrating radar that was used. TaMara reported that the ground penetrating radar has proven then some areas in the Central Cemetery that they thought had graves were in fact empty. This means there is still room for future burials in the Central Cemetery according to Nansi. Nansi explained that it had been believed that the area was filled with pauper’s graves which would explain no records or headstones. But the ground penetrating radar has disproven these old stories. A good chunk of the cemetery is unusable due to the ground being mostly ledge, so this is truly good news as the area proven not to have graves is suitable for future burials. The Commission finished with a question about their new filing cabinet. Nancy reported that the new cabinet has arrived and is ready for the Commission to use when they’re ready to move their records over to it.

Tree in Front of the Library

TaMara asked about the tree taken down in front of the Public Library and whether the remaining trunk could be carved as has been done in other towns like Orange. Randy was uncertain whether this could be done, noting that it can be very expensive. Nancy reported that the tree was cut by National Grid. She suggested speaking with the Highway Chief. Randy expressed some reservations, suggesting that TaMara is free to get estimates and talk to officials, but noted that aside from the cost there can be much contention about what is actually carved. Wayne agreed. It was noted that the last time the town looked into it the cost was quoted as $10,000.

Discussion of New Phone Policy & Update on Cellphone Carrier

Nancy started off by reporting on her discussions with Sprint. Right now the annual cost of the plan is $7,488. The cost annually would be $5,820 under the new State Contract that the town could get with Sprint this year. Nancy then spoke about research she’s done with other carriers. On average, the costs would be higher than what the new State Contract price with Sprint would be, but lower than what the town is now paying. There was some discussion of the CJIS card for the police and the wireless coverage for the Town Treasurer. Joe spoke about some of the different technologies used and the needs of departments like Fire and Highway. Highway has the push to talk phones, which it needs for a variety of operating reasons. Randy then had some questions about the amount the town is paying now and the new amount under the new State Contract. Nancy explained that the costs are less because the Commonwealth just negotiated fresh rates for the standard State Contract. There was some follow up discussion of other carriers, in particular Boost Mobile. Boost runs on the Sprint network. Unfortunately, the town cannot qualify for the same kind of cost saving family plans offered to ordinary customers. All said, the new State Contract price is a significant savings.

Nancy then turned discussion to the policy for new cellphones and related equipment. The policy will prohibit new purchases or lines without approval of the Selectboard. Randy elaborated on the necessity of this, explaining that there is a need to have some control over what is being purchased and added to the plan. Joe had some thoughts, noting that there could be problems with this if something happens like he drops his phone and it breaks. He only replaces his phones after a 22-month cycle, and only then because they start to deteriorating from use. Randy responded that few are concerned with replacement after 22 months. The issue is that when going through the warrants the Selectboard sees other departments replacing phones more frequently. Joe clarified that the policy would therefore not affect his replacement policy. Wayne noted that as a strong chief, Joe is responsible for materials for his department, but he should still notify the Selectboard. Nancy suggested a provision could go into the policy regarding emergency scenarios. Randy generally agreed suggesting that the policy would ensure that phones are not replaced too frequently. There are some people that have raised concerns in the past, and having a clear policy is something that everyone can reference. Joe suggested specific wording for emergencies be added to the policy. Absent an emergency phones should not be replaced outside of the normal cycle. Nancy agreed to amend the language of the policy to address Joe’s specific concerns.

Pole Hearing for Shutesbury Rd

Sandra started off by introducing herself and explaining that these poles are being placed by request of a customer. Right now were the electric lines coming westerly on Shutesbury Rd near the intersection with Whittaker Rd and pole 16, a new house is set to be built. It would be about 600 to 700 feet from the corner of the intersection. To provide service 5 new poles will need to be set on the south side of Shutesbury Rd. Arthur had a few questions as an effected landowner. He wondered why it wouldn’t be easier to extend from a different pole. Sandra responded that there is an accessibility problem that prevents that solution. Arthur had a few other questions about the route of the poles. Sandra noted that some of the reasons for this route is that the cost is less both for installation and for maintenance. Arthur had a few suggestions for tree maintenance and limbing if the proposed route is used. He noted that in winter those trees can be problematic. Sandra responded that National Grid would be in touch with the towns Tree Warden prior to determining what trees should be removed. The type of pole construction for this pole line is essentially condensed so the wires are close together on the pole so the trimming is not impactful. But they will want a 10-foot radius to where the poles and wires are. When new pole lines are put in, trimming is done to help ensure that the lines won’t be impacted by foliage or by snow laden trees in winter. All of this is considered. Arthur noted that the old poles that go through the woods in that area follow the old Prescott line that used to feed the Town of Prescott prior to its disincorporation in the 1930’s. Wayne had a question about the running of fiber on these poles for broadband. Sandra felt there should be enough space allocated for communications. Fiber optic is a third party attachment, and the poles as designed in this case wouldn’t be designed not to carry fiber. Jeff had a question as to how long it would be before placement. Sandra explained it wouldn’t be any sooner than two weeks, but otherwise probably four to six weeks. Nancy noted she will add these poles to the Broadband Committees list. All questions satisfied the Selectboard determined to approve the request by National Grid for approval of the new poles.

Aggregation of Electricity – Next Steps

Nancy reported that at the last meeting the Selectboard signed the contract with the aggregate company and she provided the Selectboard with some materials. These included materials for the public to review. Notices will be sent out that will notify the public of the plan, there will be a choice of supplier, and residents will have the ability to opt out. Randy had some questions relating to the opting out as well as the potential to opt in. Nancy went over the paperwork, but noted she may have to ask some follow up questions. The Selectboard voted to approve the aggregation plan; it will be posted on the town’s website, and a copy placed with the Town Clerk’s office.

Stowell Building & Annex – Loose Boards on Walkways & Steps

Wayne started off by saying the ones at the Annex Building should likely be a rebuild. The ones at the Stowell Building can be fixed readily with some screws. Nancy suggested speaking with a contractor that Wendell has used in the past to see what the cost likely will be. Unfortunately, the budget might be able to cover the costs if it exceeds what’s in building maintenance. If so, it might have to be a request made at town meeting. The Annex’s boards are pretty bad and should be addressed sooner rather than later. Wayne noted that part of the Annex’s problem is that those boards used are rotting away. Ken had a few thoughts about the costs. Wayne agreed suggesting ways to cost save. Nancy then reported on some issues with the Stowell Buildings gutters. Police recently got flooded out again recently and the thought was the gutters may not be drain water away properly.

Update on Assessors Vacancy

Nancy reported that the Board of Assessors has to be present for any appointment as they are an elected board. They will be coming to the Selectboard’s next meeting.

Animal Control Officer

Nancy reported that the ACO will also likely appear on the Selectboard’s next agenda as she has some policy requests. Wayne outlined some of the problems she is encountering and the policies she is asking for.

Stowell Building Well

Thankfully the well is currently staying full. But if the town enters into drought again the well could go dry. Wayne reported on the past options the town has considered and what the possible solutions would be. Not all of those solutions are palatable. Hopefully the well stays full.


The Selectboard adopted the minutes from July 2nd, 2018.

A motion to adjourn at 7:50 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk