For about 30 minutes on June 8, the Town of Rochester’s regionalized 911 dispatch service experienced a communications failure. And although the police, fire, and EMT services in Rochester could still communicate with each other, the Regional Old Colony Communications Center, or ROCCC, (pronounced like ‘rock’) 911 dispatch was down.
Rochester Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar revealed the occurrence to the public and explained the situation to the Board of Selectmen on July 2 after she attended a meeting with the ROCCC and its client towns on June 19 to hear more about what happened.
Industrial Communications, the company that manages the microwave and fiber networks, Szyndlar said, took full responsibility for the communications failure.
“This system-wide failure impacted many of their customers, not just the ROCCC,” said Szyndlar.
To clarify, Szyndlar explained, Rochester’s local equipment did not go down. Emergency response departments could still communicate by switching to the radio frequency backup.
“So, basically, what happened was that Industrial’s microwave network went into failure, and the redundant backup system also failed, causing loss of connectivity of around 30 minutes with the ROCCC,” said Szyndlar.
She said Industrial Communications has since implemented another added layer of redundancy and has completed a radio tower expansion.
“They are also in the process of replacing microwave and fiber systems with updated systems,” said Szyndlar. “As we all know, equipment can fail at any point in time, but the goal is to come out of this stronger and better prepared.”
The ROCCC is based in Duxbury and provides 911 dispatch service for the Towns of Rochester, Duxbury, Plympton, and Halifax. Rochester just switched over to the regionalized 911 service on May 22 of this year.
Also during the meeting, he’s the acting chief for just a few more months, but Rochester Police Sargent Robert Small introduced three police appointees to the Board of Selectmen, including one promotion to permanent sergeant.
Shawn Peterson has been acting as sergeant for two years, Small said, and now, as the September 16 retirement date for current Police Chief Paul Magee approaches, it’s time to make that sergeant position permanent.
Peterson has been on the force since 2010, Small said, adding, “He’s a very motivated police officer.” Especially now, Small emphasized, during these past few months as Small eases into his position as chief and Peterson has assisted in Small’s sergeant duties.
“It’s been a lot of extra work,” said Small. “[Officer Peterson] stepped up … taking on a lot of my responsibilities as I try to take on a lot of the chief’s.”
The switchover is still a few months away, Chairman Greenwood Hartley pointed out, adding, “The Police Department has been outstanding in the way they’ve helped us do this. … They really work together.”
The board appointed Ben Coucci as a reserve officer to assist during storms and take on police details. Coucci is an Old Rochester Regional graduate and has a BA in criminal justice.
Casey Levecque was appointed as a part-time officer and has an Associate’s degree in criminal justice and is working towards his Bachelor’s at UMASS Dartmouth.
In other business, the board appointed two members to the Capital Planning Committee – Steve Penna and Chris Parks.
The committee was formed years ago by a Town Meeting vote, “And this is the first time it’s been instituted,” said Hartley. The selectmen will appoint two members, the Finance Committee will appoint two more, and the Planning Board, one. The committee will meet to make recommendations on planned capital improvements and present it annually at Town Meeting.
“Our capital plan is finally starting to take shape,” said Hartley.
Also during the meeting, the board approved a 10-year bond for the estimated $498,000 tanker pumper approved by Town Meeting.
Szyndlar recommended the 10-year bond over the 15-year bond, saving the Town an additional $60,000 in interest. An interest rate has not yet been set, and Szyndlar said she would not be able to lock in a fixed rate for this loan, as rates are about to go up.
The rates presented to the board that night were only estimates – starting at 2.25% in 2019 and inching up to 5% in 2029 in increments of about .20-.25% each year.
And in other matters, as the Town sets its sights on a Green Community designation, the board, in speaking with Planning Board Chairman Arnie Johnson, determined one thing is certain: “People want to learn more,” as Hartley put it.
The selectmen and the Planning Board are going to hold a joint meeting and invite Seth Pickering, Green Communities regional coordinator, to a public meeting to give further information and offer answers to any questions the public may have. The selectmen will announce that date once it is scheduled.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for July 16 at 6:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry