Selectmen Introduce Early Voting

The Rochester Board of Selectmen meeting quickly started around 7:00 pm, even though the observers and the selectmen still wanted to enjoy the sunny day and the car show across the street at Plumb Corner.

Rochester Chief Dispatcher Tracey Eldridge opened the meeting on June 20. “The State 911 Department is awarding grants for up to $10,000 for dispatchers to attend a Communications Center Management Course in Colorado Springs, Colorado.”

“Well, have you been accepted yet?” asked Chairman Naida Parker.

“I have to send it in for approval,” Eldridge explained. “Once you’re notified, you sign up and take the course. Then you submit your reimbursements for travel, hotel, food, and other expenses including the course itself, which costs $3,000. If there is anything left from the grant, the town can ask for reimbursement for the cost of my salary while I am away for two weeks.”

“And you can handle something if anything should happen while you’re away?” Selectman Rick Nunes asked.

Eldridge replied that she always has provisions in place. “I can find the right person for whatever situation is happening. But I can’t submit the paperwork fully without approval from the Board of Selectmen and a letter of recommendation from them.” She added that Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee had offered to write the letter of recommendation for her, with the approval of the Selectmen.

“We have no problem with that,” said Selectman Brad Morse before the board approved her submission.

Next on the agenda, Parker introduced the Rochester Town Hall’s official Facebook page.           “We’re always looking for more efficient ways to get information to the public,” Parker explained. “This new page will have any current news, snow cancellations, meeting agendas and minutes, elections, and more.”

The page is called ‘Town of Rochester Town Hall’ and was put together by Amanda Baptiste, the Board of Selectmen’s Administrative Assistant. “It looks beautiful, very professional,” Parker said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how many people ‘Like’ the page and share it with their friends.”

“It’s a good idea. I like the idea,” said Nunes. “I would only be concerned that it could become some sort of gripe forum, where people could bring up all of their issues…”

“We’ll have to keep a close eye on that,” Parker agreed. “That’s not the intended use of the page.”

Parker had some news to close out the meeting. “The Massachusetts Town Clerks Association has decided that all public records requests should be taken to the Town Clerk,” she said. Parker holds the Rochester Town Clerk position. “The idea is to get the info out as quickly as possible. I’ll then refer the request to the appropriate department, and they’ll respond to the request directly,” she explained.

Parker also raised the new subject of early voting. “It’s something we haven’t really done here in the past,” she said. “But it’s different than absentee voting because you don’t need to fill out the absentee form. You’ll fill out the privacy sleeve and then the votes will be processed just like absentee votes on Election Day.”

Rochester locals can participate in early voting from October 24 to November 4 of this year by visiting the Town Clerk’s office during open hours. Parker clarified that early voting is only for the coming presidential election at the moment.

The Selectmen voted to skip the next meeting, as it is the week before July 4. The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be held on July 11 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

By Andrea Ray


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