Derry board briefed on pandemic readiness George Mora elected new Select Board chair

George Mora is the new chair of the Londonderry Select Board. Photo by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

As he spoke about the town’s preparation for the Covid-19 crisis, Londonderry Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie told the Select Board on Monday, March 16 that the primary issue nationally is to slow the spread of the virus so that the medical infrastructure can keep up with the demand.

Beattie said his role is “to assemble all possible information and coordinate all possible activity as much as possible” and is available to help for non-emergency and non-medical needs. His phone number is listed on the town website.

Beattie said he has deputized Treasurer Tina Labeau and and Select Board chair George Mora to be assistant directors of Emergency Management in case he is incapacitated. He said continuity of operations for the town government is important and suggested the town clerk’s office be closed to visitors. Town Clerk Kelly Pajala said that there is already a sign on the door asking people not to come in if they are not healthy. Further restrictions have been discussed but not yet implemented. (Editor’s Note: The Town of Londonderry announced on March 24 that the office will be closed to the public until further notice. Those needing assistance should call: 802-824-3356.)

Beattie said the Rescue Squad has a task force dedicated to Covid-19 and has adopted new protocols. He added that fewer people might be seen responding to emergencies.

Fire Chief Jeff Duda explains challenges his crew faces with the Covid-19 crisis.

Beattie said the Londonderry Community Market has a good supply chain and the owners have a warehouse full of food. He does not expect that the early March run on food to be repeated.

Neighborhood Connections is helping supply people with transportation and food, while coordinating with other agencies, according to Beattie. He said Flood Brook School is working to address supplying meals to school children who need them, after Gov. Phil Scott on Sunday  March 15 shut down all schools until at least April 6.  Delivery help may be needed.

South Londonderry Fire Department Chief Jeff Duda said local mutual aid is strong and he has “beefed up” his run cards so that “in the event our personnel cannot answer calls, other towns can jump in” more quickly. Department members, he said, are using masks and an air supply more often to avoid breathing air that might contain the coronavirus. And, like the Rescue Squad, fewer members may be responding to to each call, he said..

Board member Taylor Prouty asked the board to be open to accommodating requests for changes in scheduling town employees given the coronavirus situation. He pointed to one employee who is a single parent whose child is a student at Flood Brook, which is now closed. Everyone agreed. Mora said, this should “go without saying” that the town would help its employees get through this crisis as “unscathed as possible.”

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie deputized Treasurer Tina Labeau, above, and Mora to be assistant directors of Emergency Management in case he is incapacitated.

Post Town Meeting re-organization

In organizing the board after Town Meeting, George Mora was elected to replace Jim Ameden as the board chair and Tom Cavanagh was elected to replace Mora as the vice chair. At Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe’s request, the starting time for meetings — which will still be held on the first and third Mondays of each Monday — will now be 6 p.m.

After some discussion and offers of help from Wayne Blanchard and Jim Ameden, Taylor Prouty agreed to take over the role of road commissioner.

Several appointments were also made including:

  • Emergency Management director: Kevin Beattie
  • Windham Regional Commission representatives: George Mora and Denis Pinkernell
  • Tree Warden: Kevin Beattie
  • 911 Coordinator: Kelly Pajala
  • Animal Control Officer: Pat Salo
  • Planning Commission: Larry Gubb and Elise Smith (3-year terms) and Andrew Rackear (2-year term.)

The board asked O’Keefe to end the Vermont Council on Rural Development a letter requesting a community visit. Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman said the council offers towns free assistance in public engagement and resources for projects that could lead to economic development. Crossman said Londonderry won’t be able to get a community visit for at least a year, but it can begin the “process” toward public engagement.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe.

The board also agreed to have O’Keefe send a letter of interest to the Northern Borders Regional Commission for an economic and infrastructure grant. Crossman said the grant would be used for the design phase of a possible waste water system.

The board accepted the Planning Commission’s recommendation that Section 402 of the zoning bylaws be amended to allow minor road construction on sections of road not maintained by the town or the state to be approved by the zoning administrator. O’Keefe said forcing owners to get approval from the Development Review Board has made it difficult for some projects to proceed. He said public hearings will be arranged at a future meeting.

At O’Keefe’s request, the board voted to rescind the board’s decision to adopt a new Traffic and Parking Ordinance and adopt an amended ordinance. O’Keefe said he put a wrong word in the first ordinance. The new ordinance establishes speed limits on Middletown Road after 60 days unless a petition is filed. O’Keefe said he marked the sites of the speed limit signs and the warning signs in orange paint on the road.

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