Board worried about lack of communication
by Margo Avakian
Oct 17, 2013 | 4064 views | 0 0 comments | 480 480 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- “I heard through the grapevine,” announced selectboard chair Edee Edwards, “that the fire truck was in an accident.” Noting that the town contributes funds for liability and collision insurance on the vehicle, Edwards told fire chief Wayne Courser that the board should be notified of such incidents.

Courser said he had taken care of all the paperwork and pointed out that the town does not own the fire truck. No one disputed that, but Earl Holtz calmly repeated that “It does affect the town’s insurance, so it’s important for you to keep the lines of communication open.”

“It’s the first claim we’ve ever had,” Courser declared, adding that he has been with the fire department since 1958. Board member and volunteer firefighter Lewis Sumner commented that ordinarily, he would have notified the board of the accident, but he was out of town at the time. Agreeing that the informal liaison through Sumner was generally sufficient, the board let the matter drop.

Constable Leonard Derby reported that he has been dealing with livestock and dog issues. A stray ram was apprehended, with some difficulty, and is now boarded with Derby’s daughter. Public notice has been given; the animal’s owner has not yet responded. If there is no response within 30 days, the ram will become the property of its current caretaker. As for the dog, it is a Rottweiler which showed signs of neglect, prompting Derby to take him to the humane shelter.

Orrin Isles spoke on behalf of his son, Nathan, who could not be present. Isles related the somewhat tangled history of a large gravel order from the town. The order was postponed last April, Isles said. “I had to scurry around getting work for ... two months, with nothing else coming in,” he said. Nathan Isles delivered 1,000 yards of gravel to the town in July, as requested by highway supervisor Bradley Rafus. Now, Isles said, Nathan has gotten a phone message from Rafus asking for the remaining 2,500 yards on very short notice. Isles said the order probably can’t be completed before December 1. “The next stuff coming off the crusher is yours,” Isles said, adding that they would prefer to get at least 1,000 yards crushed before beginning delivery. “We have to shut down the crusher to (load the truck),” he concluded. Holtz advised Isles to speak to Rafus. Isles said they had tried to see Rafus twice, but had missed him. But he assured the board that he would “make it my personal responsibility” to contact Rafus.

Holtz reported that the weight restriction on the Hale Road bridge has “timed out,” so the board does not need to lift it. The weight restriction on Josh Road is still in place, as it should be, Holtz said, adding that the board needs to be sure not to let that restriction lapse.

Holtz presented a preliminary report on suggested revisions to the town’s purchasing policy. Proposals include using only vendors that have at least “a 50% stake in materials and labor,” limiting the number of subcontractors involved in any job; giving preference to local vendors; developing a group of “approved vendors” who meet all state and federal guidelines; and taking advantage of the state’s bulk purchasing of some materials whenever possible. The committee working on the policy also suggested revising upward the amount of money needed to trigger advertised requests for bids. Purchases of $3,000 or below would be considered “cash transactions”; purchases of $3,000 to $5,000 could be handled with oral requests; a formal request for a quote would be required for jobs between $5,000 and $50,000. Only jobs costing $50,000 or more would need to be posted and advertised.

Edwards said she is “uncomfortable” with a jump from $3000 to $50,000. Holtz cited advertising costs as a percentage of costs for smaller jobs. Edwards remained unpersuaded that the higher figure is appropriate for a small budget town and urged further consideration. The committee will also look into when - or whether - performance bonds would be appropriate.

In other business, Edwards reported that the state hydraulic study for the Old County North Road Bridge is done and has been passed along to the engineers. An on-site pre-application meeting with the Agency of Natural Resources will be held at 11 am on October 17.

The board agreed to formally request transfer of ownership of the town’s website. Board secretary Jessica Bruno said that current owner Robert Tyree is agreeable to the change.

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