Departments Lauded for Storm Response

The Rochester Board of Selectmen met Monday evening and spent a good deal of time discussing snowstorm Nemo and commending multiple different departments within the town for their teamwork during the storm.

“All of us will agree that this was a very difficult storm for this town,” said Richard LeCamera of the board.  “At least 45 homes had damage from trees. The majority of the town, or 94%, was without power for 24-36 hours.  It was a very difficult time for the Fire Department and public safety.  I have to say that we have a great team of people that works together and gets the job done.”

Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee said that his staff handled 167 police calls for service from Friday to Wednesday, responded to eight motor vehicle crashes, and to numerous downed wires and tree calls.

“I’d like to thank the other public safety departments,” said Magee.  “I thank them for the full cooperation that we always get.”

Magee also commended the work of several volunteers at the temporary shelter that was set up at the Senior Center in town.

“I’d be remiss to leave out the folks from the COA that ran the shelter,” said Magee.  “The people there were very grateful.  They did a nice job.”

He added that he would leave information sheets with the board for town residents about how to access emergency notifications for future storms, and that the Fire Department has information on their website about storm preparation.

Several other people representing multiple departments spoke about the commendable jobs each department did, including the Fire Department, the Highway Department, the Communication Center, and the volunteer staff at the shelter, among others.

“A big credit goes to this group here,” said LaCamera.  “If anyone in the community has any suggestions (regarding future storms), we’ll take them.”

The board also unanimously approved deficit spending resulting from the storm regarding snow and ice removal.

Another issue discussed at the meeting was the potential implementation of a change from quarterly tax bills to semi-annual bills.  LaCamera is requesting that the town’s assessors attend that next meeting of the board to further discuss this potential change.

Also discussed were increases in school budgets that had been approved for fiscal year 2014.  According to LaCamera, Old Colony has been approved for an increase of approximately $24,800, ORR for a $103,000 increase, and Rochester Middle School for a $53,000 increase over last year.

The board also addressed the problem of mounting maintenance issues at Rochester Memorial School that they had received numerous complaints about.

“The Board of Selectmen have been hearing about maintenance issues at the RMS, and the town has invested a lot of money,” said Richard Nunes of the board.  “The board has been getting info that there are maintenance issues that are taking a while to be addressed. There’s a lot of equipment that needs maintenance. I don’t know if these issues are being addressed.”

A motion to authorize Nunes to enter into conversations regarding maintenance issues at Rochester Memorial was unanimously approved by the board.

“The population of the town look to us for leadership,” said Naida Parker of the board, adding that they needed to address this issue immediately.

LaCamera said that the money for maintenance comes from budgeting from the Rochester School committee and Superintendent’s Office.

The next Selectmen’s meeting has been moved from March 11 and instead meetings will be held on March 4 and 18.

By Nick Walecka

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