Chester board hears ambulance down a person; discusses renovations of Town Hall

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The most closely followed topic at last Wednesday’s Chester Select Board meeting was not on the agenda, as Water Superintendent Jeff Holden explained what had happened during hydrant replacement that necessitated a boil water order. See Telegraph coverage of his remarks here.

Ambulance coordinator Dan Cook gives the board a recap the service’s year to date. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The board also heard a report from Chester Ambulance service coordinator Dan Cook who said that Megan Greene had resigned three weeks earlier and that they need to hire a replacement.

Greene’s full-time, weekday position was created to fill the gap in service that occurs between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when ambulance service volunteers are at work outside Chester and cannot respond to calls.

Cook said that since Jan. 1, the service had responded – with at least one person – to 288 out of 293 calls with only five calls going to mutual aid because no one was available. Cook said that 129 of those calls were from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Lillian Willis, who heads the Chester Historic Preservation Committee that examines town buildings for repair, said that her group was looking at what needs to be done to take care of Town Hall. She suggested that the town apply for a USDA grant/loan like the one used to fix long term deferred maintenance at the Whiting Library.

Historic Preservation Committee chair Lillian Willis recounts the work the committee has done

Willis said that architect Mark Wesner – partner of Tom Keefe who wrote the town hall condition assessment and has since retired – will help get information together to be used for the USDA application. She suggested that it would be more cost effective in the long run to replace the roof with a less porous type of slate that would be more durable rather than replacing slate every year.

According to Executive Assistant Julie Hance, the USDA program provides 35 percent of the project costs as a grant and 65 percent as a loan. Hance said that the emphasis in this grant cycle is for historic community buildings. The grant application is due in December and, like the library will require a vote from the floor at town meeting in March to accept it.

The committee has been visiting other towns to see how they have handled restorations of their town halls. Willis noted that Ludlow has solved its acoustic issues with panels that blend in with the color of the walls and the auditorium has been fitted with risers for seating and equipment for showing movies.

Representing the Southern Windsor/Windham solid waste district, Bob Forguites and Forrest Randall presented a check for $30,764 as a rebate for funds that were set aside when the Vermont/New Hampshire solid waste district was dissolved in 2008. The amount represents Chester’s share of $379,193 divided proportionately by an 11 year average of tipping fees paid by the member towns. Most of the money will be used for an audit of the town’s zoning and for a wayfinding plan for town signage.

In other business

  • New sign at Rainbow Rock

    Town Manager David Pisha told the board that “we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel” on ownership of the Yosemite Fire House. Pisha said that in late September town attorney Jim Carroll said he was filing papers for a “quiet title” action with the court and that the final piece of the puzzle involved advertising to see if there are any other claims on the property before that court gives a clear title to the town. He said that Carroll estimates that could occur in early 2018.

  • The board also heard that a sign erected and an easily navigated trail constructed down to the swimming hole at Rainbow Rock. Now the challenge is to keep the place free of trash brought in by visitors. The board discussed trash cans and a pick up schedule, but Jonynas said that “people need to take a little responsibility.”
  • A new switchback access trail has been constructed for easier access to the swimming hole

    Jonynas told the board that the New England Forestry Foundation will be holding a public event at the Tomasso property from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. The Chester Conservation Committee will be helping out with the event. A foundation representative told The Telegraph that the organization has mailed invitation postcards to Chester taxpayers but that a press release would not be available until later in the week.

  • Asked about the poor condition of the railroad crossing at on Pleasant Street (Route 11) Pisha said the crew that did the work at Lisai’s are scheduled to return and give that crossing a similar treatment. Pisha said the work must be done by Nov. 30. One member said he thinks he lost a tooth the last time he went over the tracks there.
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