Town of NewSalem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

November 19, 2018

Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Lisa Finestone, Tree Committee; MaryEllen Kennedy, Kathy Soule Regine, Broadband; Maureen Montanus, MIIA; Joe Camden, Chief of Police; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; Ken Bright (Cemetery Commission members look up)

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Ø Cemetery Deeds

Discussion Items

Safety Committee Meeting

Maureen started off by introducing herself as the towns new MIIA Risk Manager. She is new to MIIA having previously worked in the private sector. She noted that in the private insurance business she worked closely on OSHA management so that is a strength for her. Maureen then noted that the town has done very well for Workers Compensation and any rate increase should be well under 1 percent. This is good because it means that the Department of Labor & Standards is unlikely to target that area as one for concern. As for property insurance there have only been a few claims that appear to be weather related. Joe Camden responded by noting which claims are active or inactive. Maureen noted that most of the claims to date are around $2,000 which means the towns loss history is excellent. She then went over the rewards program. In the last year about $2.5 million was allocated in rewards. In the end the towns achieved about $3.4 million. This year MIIA has increased the budget for rewards in light of this. Maureen encourages the towns she’s working with to take advantage of this program as much as possible. Nancy went over the things the town has been doing to qualify for rewards. This has included everything from minor paperwork tracking vehicle usage to checking up on buildings for freezing pipes to webinars. Maureen was pleased to hear it and made a few suggestions. This included discussing various ways to train online. Where the town appears to be earning the most rewards is in best practices. Areas the town can easily improve is in areas like policies. Joe Camden noted the department regularly updates policies and he would be happy to send copies if that helps. Maureen thanked him and then turned to further ways the town can improve. This included discussion of various spots in municipal buildings that should be checked and how to document it. Having damage mitigation and avoidance policies all help. The town can earn property rewards that really help maximize the rewards program.

Maureen then turned discussion to OSHA and provided the Selectboard and Chiefs with an OSHA handout. She started with a brief Fire Department overview explaining that so many questions and issues are arising for Fire that have necessitated specific answers and guidelines. Part of the problem is that standards need to be adjusted for Fire since some of them are simply impracticable for the emergency situations that Fire Departments face. Joe Cuneo noted there is a push by the Chiefs Association to achieve a delay in roll out of OSHA standards for Fire. Maureen conceded that is likely to be achieved given the Governors interest. Joe Cuneo then asked some questions about diesel exhaust as well as medical exams. Maureen responded that they are mostly making recommendations at this stage. Joe Cuneo suggested that some of what they want for carbon capture is hard to comply with and asked about alternatives. Maureen went over the requirements explaining the differences between capture and filtration and what Fire can do. Joe Cuneo then returned to the medical exam portion of it noting the high expense of the town paying for annual physicals when they cost about $400 to $800 a person. Maureen responded by explaining what MIIA and other insurers have done to get more information from the Commonwealth. Right now it appears that if clearance is issued for wearing a respirator they should be ok. Joe Cuneo noted that few people are so cleared. He then outlined the various issues noting that the average age of firefighters in Franklin County is in the 40’s. Once you start to put in all of these health exams and respiratory requirements much of the area could be left without firefighters. Particularly in light of how many towns are volunteer departments in this region. Nancy noted that the Commonwealth continues to assure the towns that this will not be an unfunded mandate, and yet the costs will be high and there is so far no allocation of funding to cover any of it. This prompted discussion of how to deal with all of these challenges in light of the cost drivers. If the town has to retrofit town buildings for special exhaust and carbon capture or filtration, it will cost a lot of money.

Maureen suggested various ways to vent municipal buildings. The critical problem is the risk that what the town chooses might not be ultimately what is required. She then went over the differences between MGL 111F, which controls worker’s compensation situations for Fire and Police, as contrasted with ordinary Workman’s Compensation. Unfortunately, MIIA does not have the same room for rewards and grant funding for 111F situations. Maureen then turned to what will likely prompt investigations by the Department of Labor & Standards. She suggested that to avoid these situations, the town can ask for “mock” inspections. This gives the town more time than a regular audit to address issues. Joe Cuneo noted that the various associations for Fire and Police have warned against mock audits because while they do not result in anything directly they put you on the radar and the next time they come out, and they will come out again, they can and will fine. Maureen responded that the desire is to work with the towns not just fine them. Really they are aiming for willful violations. Joe Cuneo asked what happens if the department simply doesn’t have the funds. Randy suggested that the response would likely be fines, so the town would be on the hook for paying for fines for work it can’t afford to do in the first place. Maureen suggested perhaps that an alternative would be for her to do a mock audit instead. This could than facilitate finding any areas needing improvement without prompting the compliance process. Joe Cuneo and Joe Camden both agreed that would be preferable. Maureen then went over a few forms that can be used to address OSHA concerns. This helps with job hazard analysis that would decrease the possibility of violations. This then worked into self-audits and how to implement them. Maureen suggested the best way to start is by focusing on what the departments know is hazardous or likely to be a trouble spot. She then noted that the forms have been provided digitally to the town already for ease of use.

Maureen then went over various controls that should be implemented. This included rotation of personnel. She noted a few ineffective ways to control various hazards and made suggestions for more effective ways of addressing them. This prompted discussion of emergency action plans for facilities. Maureen noted that an irony is that EMS is usually so busy responding to emergencies that they rarely have plans in place for their buildings. Still it’s usually an easy problem to solve. Joe Cuneo then asked about templates. Maureen promised to send over information about what resources like templates are available. From there she turned to some of the nitty-gritty details that the Commonwealth is looking for. Joe Camden asked about ways to ameliorate noting that things could be a work in progress at the time of an unannounced inspection. Maureen responded that as long as there is evidence of compliance, even if it is still in progress, they are less likely to fine given the fact that the towns are still in progress in general. Joe Cuneo then had some questions about chemical labeling as well as greases and lubricants. Maureen outlined what they are looking for in that regard making suggestions for how to address the concerns. The training piece of that will be the most challenging. But MIIA is working on materials for this specific topic. Currently there is a webinar that would be illuminating. Wayne then had some questions concern the appropriate disposal of hazardous waste and materials. Joe Cuneo responded that there are already regular yearly annual programs for such disposal and the departments already utilize them. Discussion then shifted back to sample forms and templates. Maureen noted that some of the materials and plans are not necessary. It truly depends on what the departments are actually doing and whether the area truly is one that is a concern. This is where things like mock audits can help. There was then a question about lockouts. This prompted Maureen to discuss various ways the topic can be addressed and how to handle the possible issue. Joe Camden noted that lockouts aren’t done by the Police Department. Joe Cuneo agreed stating that this is really more an issue for the Fire Department.

This prompted discussion of various equipment that should be tagged for repairs when needed, and how to handle that. Maureen then turned back to best practices and how to identify and address hazard areas. Joe Cuneo outlined what the Fire Department has done so far as well as some of the areas where Fire cannot reasonably comply and therefore are likely to be exempted. From there Maureen talked about some of the performance based and annual trainings that are required. For performance based, retraining isn’t always required. A lot of this depends on what training is doing, whether job duties have changed, or whether an employee is new. It really only applies if a condition changes that requires re-training. Joe Camden noted some of the precautions that might need to be taken suggesting that it may be easier to eliminate possible hazards. He suggested that oil changes always be done by professional mechanics, and cleaning of buildings done by custodian professionals and the like rather than officers doing any of it. This prompted some talk of how to deal with hazardous substances that are flammable. Joe Cuneo noted that there are special cabinets that can be used. Maureen stated that MIIA has grants that can be utilized to purchase them. Maureen then turned to the last item, the MIIA risk management and training program. There are a lot of programs and training opportunities that can be used to assist departments in how to address the challenges of OSHA. Joe Camden asked how many trainings are online as webinars versus in person classes that require travel. Maureen went over what is available as webinar and what is in person. Joe Cuneo interjected to note that hazmat is annual training. Maureen explained what departments that would impact and which ones it would not. Nancy then asked where to start. Maureen suggested the best place to start is to have her meet with departments and do mock audits and see what needs to be done and plan out how to deal. She noted that most of the towns are in this together. Joe Cuneo stated that departments have limited time to do training as it is, and this is a lot more. He suggested that some kind of standard training process be developed that can knock out as much of this as possible in one go. Maureen responded that while that suggestion makes sense, it is hard because the towns are not uniform in everything. A lot truly is site specific. That said she went over what items there are materials for including power points and templates. Nancy finished by suggesting that any mock audits should likely be postponed until after the new year so the town has some time to respond. Joe Cuneo finished by stating that this all comes down to time the departments don’t have and resources and money that the towns don’t have. Maureen responded that she will do as much as she can. Very little has to be built from scratch this can be done, just with baby steps.

Broadband Update

MaryEllen started off by discussing some information about a broadband entity known as Matrix. Matrix has helped Petersham with their broadband design and buildout. If New Salem were to participate with Matrix the town would likely have to give funds back to the Commonwealth and pay for the make ready entirely. The town would also not be eligible for extra funds. Randy interjected to ask if what Broadband is saying is that Matrix is a bad idea. Kathy responded that for New Salem, it likely would be. Randy noted the town has signed contracts and made commitments, so it does not make sense to stop what is being done now. Wayne agreed suggesting that Matrix could result in the town not owning the network, and that makes no sense. The town is well down the road. Kathy then turned to some of the eligibility issues for Federal money and support from Westfield Gas & Electric that could be imperiled if the town were to change course and go with Matrix. It was agreed that the town would not be interested at this point. Kathy then finished by reporting on recent discussions with DCR for clearing for the make ready process.

Chapter 61 Right of First Refusal

Nancy updated the Selectboard on the Chapter 61 process, elaborating on the right of first refusal. She then reported on a property on Cooleyville Rd which is in chapter but will be coming out of it to be sold. The town has 120 days to waive the right of first refusal. Planning Board is notified along with Conservation Commission. This only effects a few acres of property. Assuming the town doesn’t want buy it, the Selectboard may vote not to exercise the option. It was determined not to exercise. If the property was in the Town Center that might be different, but not in this case. Randy then had a few questions about Chapter 61 that Nancy answered.

A motion was made by Wayne to waive the right. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

SREC Sales

Nancy reported the latest payment is $1,519.68.

Stowell Building Well Pump

The water pump appears to be working for the time being. It was agreed that a bill for what repairs have been done should be paid. Otherwise the pump should be left alone.

Meeting with School Committee

Nancy reported this item has been rescheduled for December 3rd, 2018 due to a conflict for the committee.

Letter from FEMA “RISK Maps” for Chicopee Watershed

Nancy reported on a letter from FEMA. This regards meetings that FEMA is having to look at risk mapping and planning for the Chicopee Watershed. One of the meetings will be in Petersham the other in Ludlow. The Building Inspector is going and should be able to report back.

Sale of Cemetery Plot

Nancy Glick and Sue Turner reported that a lot of plots have been sold. A record high of 13 were sold in one day. People are very interested in the Center Cemetery given the surprise availability. They expect that sales will continue to be high as long as there is availability. Sue and Nancy then went over the latest deed which they signed and the Selectboard signed.

Plowing Contractors & Contents of New Highway Barn

Nancy reported there was an emergency situation that necessitate the town hiring contractors. This is fine on an emergency one-time basis, but the town will need to go about hiring properly. They will not be used for the next storm. Depending on the outcome, the town will need to file paperwork and proceed with the proper process for hiring any ongoing contractors. Wayne reported on Highway Department equipment and its status including some equipment that requires repairs. Randy had some questions about who will be driving. Wayne responded by outlining who will be working for Highway Department to cover for snow plowing. He then reported on where sand and salt stand. Randy then suggested that the Selectboard meet with all the Highway employees to go through the expectations going forward and what needs to be addressed. Part of this should concern OSHA related issues as well as normal protocols. Controls will need to be in place to ensure everything works smoothly and that hours worked are clearly documented. Nancy made some recommendations as to how to proceed. Randy agreed stating that there needs to clarity as to expectation and a quantifiable schedule. The department obviously works hard, but there needs to be communication about what is being done.

Any misconceptions or confusions must be dealt with and should be done in a formal meeting setting. Wayne suggested that the department may need a fourth employee, perhaps on a seasonal basis to ensure that mowing occurs in the summer. Nancy suggested that specific wording can be used to ensure that the employee is seasonal and would only get a set number of hours. Wayne felt that this should be a priority. Randy suggested that part of meeting with the department should involve determining what the needs truly are including whether the town truly needs to add any staffing seasonal or otherwise. Nancy had no doubt that people are doing their jobs, but agreed with Randy that there should be some kind of tracking. She noted that Wendell did this with a white board where Highway employees simply noted what roads they were working and what they were doing on any given day. It only takes a few words to communicate this sort of stuff. Ken had a few questions regarding OSHA and possible safety issues for the department, in particular around snow plowing. Randy responded by outlining what we know is required now and what the town is doing to respond to those concerns. Nancy then asked an insurance question for the equipment and buildings for highway. She isn’t aware of what is in the Highway Barns and asked whether it would be possible to better ascertain that for insurance requirements. Wayne reported on what is being stored. It is mostly vehicles and other random pieces of equipment.


The Selectboard determined to table the minutes from November 5th, 2018 until its next meeting.

A motion to adjourn at 8:24 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk