Beattie: Food shortages, large gatherings of concern in Derry

Emergency Management chief Kevin Beattie speaks to the Londonderry board over Zoom.

By Bruce Frauman
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Londonderry Emergency Management Director Kevin Beattie updated the Select Board via Zoom on Monday, May 4 about Covid-19 conditions in the state and the local response, opening a meeting that lasted more than 2½ hours.

Beattie said his biggest concern is that people are getting short of money and will have a harder time feeding themselves. He said the state distributed tens of thousands of Meals, Ready-to-Eat, commonly known as MREs, at state airports, including in Springfield and Rutland. These packages usually have a main course, a side dish, bread, a dessert, a powdered drink and a heating source, according to Wikipedia.

Another round of food distribution is being planned by the state, Beattie said, but with meals with more “taste.” Beattie said he has arranged for Bromley Mountain and Magic Mountain to be used as distribution sites, adding that these may be needed because not only have people lost income, there is a good possibility of meat shortages.

One of the signs Beattie set up at Lowell Lake. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

Concerned about overcrowding of recreational areas, Beattie was given free rein by the board to write and print signs asking users to observe social distancing and practice other safety measures. Board member Vincent Annunziata said that wording and layout would have an impact on whether people follow the guidelines, and suggested they be “intimidating and to the point.” But Beattie said the signs are educational and are intended as a reminder. Signs will be posted at Lowell Lake, Williams Park, the Winhall Park campground entrance and the West River Trail.

Beattie said he became concerned when he saw several “large gatherings” on Sunday, May 3, where there was no social distancing or use of masks, and large numbers of cars at Lowell Lake, the trailhead of the West River Trail and Stratton’s snowmaking pond. Board chair George Mora said she would not be surprised to see a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Board chair George Mora.

Beattie also said he still has about a gallon of sanitizer strictly for town use and that the town has “plenty of masks” available from the town clerk’s office and that the four-town virtual Emergency Operations Center remains in operation.

Beattie said Londonderry was one of six towns in the state to receive a grant to update the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. The $7,500 will help Beattie organize a series of meetings with town officials and others, and  Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he will put out a request for bids for a contractor.

Transfer Station to receive 100 Weston stumps

Transfer Station issues also were discussed during the meeting.

Tom Cavanagh

Board member and Transfer Station liaison Tom Cavanagh and O’Keefe will write a letter to officials in the town of Weston requesting that the town take some responsibility for the 100 tree stumps Cavanagh was told to expect at the Transfer Station in the next two or three weeks.

Cavanagh said the station usually receives only about 20 stumps a year. He would like Weston to provide a loader to push back the stumps as they are brought in.

Following an executive session at the start of the meeting, the board voted to hire Seth McLaughlin to work at the Transfer Station on Sundays for five hours each day.

Solid Waste Coordinator Esther Fishman said food scraps will be banned from the the trash starting on July 1. The Transfer Station does have bins for all food products, including meat and bones, though Fishman is also recommending that people compost their kitchen scraps.

Road work, roads issues

Road Commissioner Taylor Prouty said work is also beginning soon on Under the Mountain Road and the adjoining trail. Landowners Willoughby Britton and Jared Lindahl were given permission to improve the road and trail in February.

Road Foreman Josh Dryden.

The board approved a motion to designate Innovative Surface Solutions as the sole source for calcium chloride for de-icing and dust control.  In return for agreeing to purchase at least 12,500 gallons per year at a little over $1 a gallon, ISS will provide two 3,000-gallon storage tanks and one 925-gallon spray system. Road Foreman Josh Dryden said the larger portable tank will save trips back to the town garage.

After considerable discussion, the board agreed that assigning one person to help take care of town properties is a good idea, but a plan will have to wait. Planning Commission Chair Sharon Crossman said an assessment of the maintenance needs of the old Town Hall and the Town Office building is “in motion.”  There is no agreement on how to proceed with the actual repairs.

O’Keefe said speed limits of 30 and 40 mph will go into effect on Middletown Road on May 15 as there have been no petitions in opposition. The Select Board approved the speed limits on March 2.

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