Town of NewSalem Selectboard

Meeting Minutes

July 15, 2019

Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355

Convened: 7:00 pm

Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Bill Cody, Cultural Council; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; John Bonafini, Lieutenant of Police; Tom Swan, Highway Chief; Ken Bright

Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:

Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants

Ø Chapter 90 Paperwork

Ø Corrected Appointment Slip for Veterans Agent

Ø Appointment Slip for Succession Planning Committee

Discussion Items

Safety Committee Meeting

Nancy reported that there have not been any recent losses. Nonetheless the town is still concerned with OSHA. The Commonwealth has expressed a stance of being willing to work with towns before fining. Still the General Court is now pursuing the adoption of more stringent fining for OSHA offenses. Thankfully the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) is lobbying the General Court to see the fines reduced or lowered in relation to the towns. Nancy then turned to various items flagged by MIIA as areas of concern and the training that should be done. A portable eyewash station has been ordered for the Highway Department to address a need there. Tom reported on other efforts for Highway Department. Joe followed by outlining various steps being taken and equipment the Fire Department is putting in place. They will make sure that any new equipment fits the requirements and has a certificate that says it is OSHA compliant. Nancy then reported on various training that is provided by MIIA on its website. Joe noted that most of the training videos are the same for the same for all departments with some variation. Everything needs to be documented in relation to training to ensure record of it. Sign in sheets, hours, times, people and the like. Nancy suggested picking an item on a once a month basis and having people be trained in it and ensuring the documentation along the way. The town has to start somewhere.

Joe agreed recalling that he got a list from MIIA from the mock inspection and noted that Fire is chipping away at it. Tom reported similar for Highway. It’s a matter of going through it. It was agreed to try and continue to meet on a quarterly basis on this subject to ensure coordination and progress.

Updates from Fire, Highway & Police Departments

Randy asked the Department Heads present, and those representing departments, about general affairs. Tom reported that the two new highway employees are working out well. Tom then reported on a beavers on Moosehorn Rd. Paradoxically they actually appear to have helped things on that road. Tom finished by reporting on his Chapter 90 paperwork. Joe then reported on things for Fire. Mostly quit. The department is doing well on recruitment. For the first time the Fire Department has been able to send someone to the Massachusetts Fire Academy for their training. This is a good thing and he’s happy to see it happen. This is a sponsorship by the department. There is no cost for the classes, just the firefighters time and expenses. Joe finished on some training relating to FEMA that elected officials should do. John then reported on a recent breaking and entering that happened. John then finished by reporting that one of the towns officers will be leaving the town so the department will be hiring in the near future. Randy asked about the filling of shifts. John explained that the department is working on that subject matter. The challenge is that full time departments won’t let their guys work in other smaller departments like New Salem’s. It’s hard to hire brand new officers in a town this size because getting training is difficult. You want experienced officers. Jean inquired about training of officers for mental health issues. John elaborated on mandatory training that officers do. He himself has extensive training in mental health given other jobs he’s held with the prison system and with the courts. As to other officers he could not articulate all the training they’ve had. But police do have required training and they are always willing to attend additional training either with New Salem’s department or in other jobs they might hold. Discussion ended there.

DARE Clothing Bin Request

Nancy reported that a request has come in to install a DARE clothing bin. Randy noted a number of places that already have bins like these. Jean expressed the feeling that the town already has enough of these. It was decided not to approve this request.

Succession Planning

Randy inquired of the Department Heads present about succession planning. A number of the Department Heads are likely a few years away from retirement. At the very least the Police Chief is being planned for, but none of the other departments have that kind of planning. Joe noted that in 4 years, he’ll be 65 and MGL won’t give him much of a choice on retirement. Getting around that would require a petition with the Commonwealth. And even that would only get him until age 70. Nancy recalled the challenges that Wendell faced. The issue for Fire apart from the MGL is the insurance coverage. Randy reported briefly on what Wendell and New Salem have done as to the Police Chief succession planning. The towns are working to hire a consultant. Nancy reported that they have a consultant in mind but a hiring decision hasn’t been made yet. Randy suggested that some of these transitions will require careful planning. Questions will need to be asked. Like whether promotion should come from within or whether regional agreements and cooperation should be pursued with other towns. Nancy concurred with that noting that her position is unique as a shared one between Wendell and New Salem and it may very well come down to money. Wayne suggested that as part of this people consider mentoring. Randy agreed stating that the passing of institutional knowledge will be critical. Randy finished by noting that the succession planning committee for the Police Chief is advisory in nature and not mandatory for New Salem. They will make recommendations the town may accept or not.

FY20 Heating Fuel Pricing

Nancy reported on the annual fuel bid. This is a combination of price per gallon and hourly service. Orange Oil was slightly higher on their fuel price; they were lower on the service price. They were $2.53 a gallon and $75 for service price. So the total price was $14,900. The only other bidder was Sandry, they were slightly cheaper $2.45 a gallon. Service rate was a bit higher and they’re overall cost was $15,000. Jean had a few questions. Nancy elaborated on the relationship with Orange Oil and experiences the town has had in the past with other oil companies.

A motion was made by Wayne to go with Orange Oil. The motion was seconded by Jean. The motion passed without objection.

Letter to Sarah Kohler Regarding Mowing in Front of Property

Sarah has an arrangement with the town regarding mowing around a stone wall. She agreed to handle the mowing. Unfortunately, the area in question along the street near her property is in need of mowing as a matter of public safety for the road. As a result, Nancy has drafted a letter to Sarah asking for further discussion on the matter or for mowing to occur. If she is unable to do the mowing, the Highway Department will have no choice but to mow it. Nancy asked the Selectboard to sign the letter. She noted that this is official and relates to public safety. Tom concurred recalling that the area is more than just Sarah’s property but also concerns some of her neighbors as well. Jean recalled that Sarah purchased the land in question at no small cost to herself in order to protect it. This makes her understandably passionate about it. That said it was agreed that some sort of action or discussion is needed. As such the Selectboard determined to sign the letter Nancy drafted.

Response from Recreation Committee Regarding Tennis Court Maintenance

Nancy sent a letter to the committee after some questions and concerns were expressed regarding the status of the Tennis Courts. The Recreation Committee responded with a letter elaborating on the steps they take for maintenance. They report that they check the equipment on a yearly basis and haven’t made it out yet this year due to weather conditions. Jean suggested that a plan of action and a timeline should be considered. Randy suggested asking Highway Department if they can care for some of the maintenance. Jean responded that some of this really requires professional repair. There are missing nets, broken nets, and cracks. Randy inquired about the status of the fields themselves. Wayne responded that they are mowed and the fields are taken care of. Jean concurred saying that the mowing isn’t an issue. Nancy suggested that budget funds could be sought in FY21 if Recreation doesn’t have enough in their existing budget. Randy noted that Recreation does have a revolving fund, and perhaps some of that could help with needed repairs. It was agreed that this the matter should be pursued further.

Paving – Blackinton & Branch Bridge Roads

Nancy reported on a complaint about the part of Blackinton Rd. A resident feels that the part that wasn’t paved was the part that should have been paved rather than the part that was. Tom noted that in addition to the area paved Highway Department also put gravel down on the part that was not paved. Wayne recalled that the town was asked to pave at least a part of the road and this is what the town was able to do in response.

Schedule for Old Home Day

Old Home Day is scheduled for July 20, 2019.

Cultural Council Appointment

Nancy reported that Bill was willing to serve on the Cultural Council. Bill briefly introduced himself and noted that he’s been to a number of events that are supported by Cultural Council and felt that they are important. He has a family and is very active with what his children do. He also has experience with similar nonprofit type entities so he feels this will be a good fit. The biggest being the student government at UMASS Amherst which had a significant budget. Relating to that he sat on their Ways & Means Committee. He’s also been a longtime observer of the towns Finance Committee. The Selectboard saw no reason not to approve this appointment and thanked Bill for his willingness to serve the community.

License Agreement – 1794 Meetinghouse

Nancy reported on the license agreement that Town Counsel has put together to permit the continued use of the building by the 1794 Meetinghouse. This is a short term fix that will allow the town the time to do through the RFP process for a long term lease. Jean agreed to look over the license agreement to make sure it’s agreeable.

Old Academy Building – Update on Mold

The town has been notified of a mold problem in the Old Academy Building which is more extensive then the town has previously suspected. As a result, the building will not be open for Old Home Day. Jean noted that plans are already in place to attempt to deal with this. The matter should be resolved by early August. This will involve long term solutions that will not only remediate but prevent the issue from returning.

Letter Regarding Rate Increase from KP Law

Town Counsel intends to increase the rate by $10 per hour. The town pays $175 per hour now, so that means the new rate would be $185 per hour.

Corrected Appointment Slip for Veterans Agent

Nancy reported that an error was made in the original slip and asked the Selectboard to sign a corrected copy. The Selectboard approved the correction.

Town Accountant Update

Nancy reported the Town Accountant is out on medical leave for surgery. Meanwhile, the Assistant Town Accountant has resigned. Currently FRCOG is working to ensure that there is coverage for the town.

Capital Planning

Nancy reported that the Capital Planning Committee would like to discuss planning for repair and maintenance of town buildings. It was agreed to schedule with them for an upcoming meeting.

Bears Den

Jean reported briefly on a bit of old business relating to glass at Bears Den. She reported that there have been efforts in the past to do cleanups in coordination with the Trustees of Reservation and she hopes to revive them. Currently phone tag is being played but she hopes to have more to report in the near future.


Nancy reminded the Selectboard that it needs to perambulate the markers of the town as required by MGL. It’s been a few years since the last time. It was agreed to pursue this for the early fall. This process is an old one originating in England where the officials of the town were to walk the boundaries and ensure their continued placement. The Commonwealth last surveyed and placed the boundary markers in the early 20th Century. At one point each municipality had a book with the specific coordinates. Most of which have been lost. Thankfully New Salem is aware of the coordinates of its markers which should make finding them a bit easier with modern technology.


The Selectboard determined to approve the minutes from July 1, 2019.

A motion to adjourn at 8:07 pm was made by Jean. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.

Respectfully Submitted

Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk