Derry Emergency Management chief outlines actions during Covid-19 crisis

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board met for two hours and 40 minutes on April 20 in a Zoom session mostly to hear about what work Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie was doing to protect the community during the Covid-19 crisis.

Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie told the board about the work that he has done during the Covid-19 crisis.   Telegraph file  photo.

Beattie said a virtual Emergency Operations Center to respond to Covid-19 was opened on March 13 in cooperation with Peru, Landgrove and Weston and that communication with all involved agencies has mostly been by email.  As of April 20, Beattie said the state now allows two people to work together as long as they maintain social distancing. He said this will help a lot of businesses.

He added that lodging restrictions are still in effect, with no short-term rentals allowed. Beattie also said he had been getting complaints that out-of-staters arriving in Londonderry have not maintained social distance. He added he is receiving fewer such calls. As Emergency Management director, Beattie made many visits to the owners of the rental properties, but only reported one family to the State Police because family members kept coming and going. He said the state is relying on voluntary compliance. Beattie said some, but not all, visitors are complying with the state directive to maintain a two-week quarantine after arriving in Vermont.

Without town-by-town reporting on Covid-19 cases, Beattie said it is best to assume the virus is here and act accordingly.

Beattie said he purchased 10 gallons of hand sanitizer for the town and has distributed all but about two gallons of it among town agencies including the Fire Departments and Rescue Squad and a few essential businesses. He added that locals have been making masks, especially for the Rescue Squad.

He also said he as seen an increase in people wearing masks while shopping and among store employees, and he has been working with the managers of the Londonderry Village Market toward this goal.

After a long discussion, the board voted to put Beattie on the town payroll specifically to deal with Covid-19 issues at a rate of $22.50 per hour. This will be retroactive to a date when Beattie can provide enough documentation to satisfy FEMA, which will pay 75 percent of Beattie’s salary.

Beattie said a burn ban has been issued in Londonderry primarily to avoid calling out fire departments and other responders when it is not necessary. For the same reason, people are discouraged from partaking in recreational activities with risks attached, including hiking deep in the woods.

The board voted to allow Beattie to develop a card to be mailed to residents of Londonderry and Landgrove that would include contact information “for all kinds of needs,” such as food deliveries, nursing, social services, medical issues, transportation, and any other emergency needs that may come up.

Beattie estimated the total cost, including mailing, at about $900. Select Board chair George Mora said this would be a good use of a $1,000 donation to the town for emergencies.

In other news, Road Commissioner Taylor Prouty said there is damage to the gable truss and to a concrete wall on the new sand and salt shed. Mora said that since these are not structural issues, they will be addressed in “better times.” In the meantime, Mora welcomed Prouty’s attempts to “raise consciousness” and improve training with the road crew to avoid further damage.

Town Treasurer Tina Labeau said she has identified about $60,000 in spending that could be saved during the financial crisis. Mora said that paving Landgrove Road cannot be delayed.

Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he will apply for a $175,000 VTrans Municipal Highway Structures Grant that would be applied to a new box culvert to replace a 72-inch round culvert under Springhill Road. Prouty said he saw rust and damage below the waterline in the culvert plus movement in the pavement when a truck passed over. If granted, the town will have five years to complete the project, according to O’Keefe.

After an extensive discussion, O’Keefe said he will “take care of approval documentation” to allow residents access to town property to set up a surveillance for about three weeks to see if feral swine are in the area. He said two of the three locations will include a bait station where the animals will have to jiggle a device to get food, at which time a picture will be taken.

Also, Town Clerk Kelly Pajala said that the town office will reopen to researchers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, But they must make an appointment and only one researcher at a time will be allowed in.

Pajala also said she is working on printing and posting signs to tell people that local town parks are closed and the equipment should not be used.

O’Keefe asked residents to complete the 2020 Census.

A request from Ruck Up Inc. to postpone the date of their fundraising boot drop on Route 11/100 from May 16 to Aug. 8 was approved by the board.

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