Londonderry hears from candidates, considers new fire truck

By Shawn Cunningham
©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

About 25 people turned out for Candidates Night at Town Hall in South Londonderry on Tuesday Feb. 10. In the absence of town moderator Wendell Coleman, Select Board member Robert Cowles took over the moderating duties. Cowles also announced that after 18 years on the board, he would not seek re-election. Calling the experience “very rewarding,” he noted that during the last 6 to 8 years the board has been successful “because the Select Board worked together as a team with no agendas to push.”

Incumbent Select Board member James Ameden, whose two-year term is coming to a close, was not in attendance. It was not known if he would seek re-election.

ON THE COVER: Londonderry residents gather to listen to candidates for various offices.

Londonderry Select Board member Robert Cowles, left, announces that he is not seeking re-election. Matt Mosher, right, is running for Cowles' three-year term. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Londonderry Select Board member Robert Cowles, left, announces that he is not seeking re-election. Matt Mosher, right, is running for Cowles’ three-year term. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

Matt Mosher, a Londonderry firefighter, announced his candidacy for the Select Board noting that he is a local businessman, a father with two children in school and that he is interested in helping Londonderry grow and improve.

A member of the audience asked Mosher if he had an opinion on building a town wastewater system.

Mosher said he had no comment on it specifically, but that the topic would be on the agenda. Cowles said that it has been discussed, but not at length. Several of those attending pointed to Prouty Park as a the anticipated site for a sewage treatment plant, although it was also pointed out that the state has stopped funding sewage plants next to rivers in favor of smaller localized systems. Everyone agreed that with two villages, Londonderry’s sewage disposal situation is unique and very expensive.

Treasurer Tina Labeau announced she would be running for the two unexpired years of the term that she took over. Labeau said that even with 15 years experience as a local auditor, there are new challenges every day and that taking credit cards for town payments and doing payroll internally rather than paying a service are two of the projects she has worked on.

Debbie O’Leary announced that she would be running for the position of lister. She had wanted to run in the past but a family illness got in the way, she said. O’Leary noted that she has little real estate experience, but a lot of database experience. O’Leary said that she moved here four years ago and that her daughter works at Flood Brook School and her son at Stratton Mountain. An audience member noted that incumbent Julie Adams would not be running for re-election.

First Constable Roger Sheehan and Second Constable Nick Doane announced that they would stand for re-election to their posts. It was announced that Gary Barton will run for re-election to the cemetery commission and all of the incumbents on the Pingree Park board would run for re-election except Debbie O’Leary.

Although Pauline Davison was not present, it was announced that she would seek re-election as a Trustee of Public Funds. Current trustee Mike Goodbody rose to say that public funds are monies given to the town for specific purposes and that Londonderry has perhaps the largest pot of public funds of any town in the state at $6.5 million to $7 million. Goodbody made a pitch to the assembled to remember Londonderry in their wills. He also noted that the trustees meet quarterly at People’s Bank and the public is welcome.

New fire truck proposed

As the candidate portion of the evening wound to a close, Cowles invited comments on the question of buying a new fire truck for the Champion Fire Co.

The Champion Fire Co. on call. Photo by the Champion Fire Co.

The Champion Fire Co. on call. Photo by the Champion Fire Co.

Speaking for Champion, Matt Mosher described the process of choosing a company to build the truck and working out the specifications for the engine. The department narrowed the field from eight firms, until it chose Smeal Fire Apparatus of Nebraska.

Among the important features needed were a six-person cab to cut the number of private vehicles at a fire scene and a custom chassis to fit in the fire house. According to Mosher, the group cut more options than it kept, including a light tower, new radio gear and new equipment for the truck. The department instead opted to transfer equipment from the current engine No. 1 as it transitions to a secondary status.

The Pierce fire truck that is currently the No. 2 engine will be retired. “You can go over $500,000 without thinking too much,” said Mosher. “We did a lot of thinking about it and cut as much as we could.” Mosher also said he was happy to share the details of the two-year process with anyone who was interested.

If approved by the voters, the $465,000 engine will be financed with $66,000 from current taxes, $334,000 through five-year financing and the balance coming from a lease by the Champion company. One audience member asked what the town would get for the expenditure. “Fire protection,” answered Mosher.

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  1. Erik Benway says:

    Thanks Shawn. Smeal makes a good product. I’d guess this truck, if purchased, would be a lot similar to Phoenix Fire Co’s Engine 3, but with as mentioned 5 or 6 seats to eliminate personal vehicles at calls. It’ll be interesting to see the final product due to Champion’s narrow apparatus bays.

  2. Hi Erik. I wrote this report from the descriptions of the trucks given at the meeting, so I did not look at the trucks to see what numbers are actually on them. At the moment, the Freightliner is the front line engine with the Pierce as a reserve. If the bond is approved, the Pierce will be retired and the Freightliner will take its place as the second engine with the new truck becoming the front line engine. Thanks for reading the Telegraph –

  3. Erik Benway says:

    Isn’t Engine One the Pierce the one purchased from Essex Junction a few years ago? Because I know Engine 2 is the 1995 Freightliner (not sure if the apparatus is Pierce). Which one is being replaced the Freightliner or Pierce?