Fire, Highway Get ARPA Boost

            The Rochester Select Board began its Monday meeting by spending over $135,000 of the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on the Fire and Highway departments.

            The board approved Fire Chief Scott Weigel’s request for $95,150 for 15 new mobile radios and 40 new portable radios and Highway Surveyor Jeffrey Eldridge’s request for $12,240 for eight new mobile radios.

            The board then agreed to give an additional $28,223 in ARPA funds to the Highway Department’s plan to relocate its radio repeater station, the automated station that extends the range of the town’s public-safety communications.

            Weigel explained the departments are working on finding and contracting a new location, possibly on High Street, with possibly new equipment. But the department needs the Select Board’s endorsement now to save time.

            Next, the board stayed with the public safety departments by approving Police Chief Robert Small’s recommendation to appoint Andrew Mattos as the department’s new full-time patrol officer. Department Lieutenant Donald Kemmett explained Mattos is a New Bedford Police dispatcher and a former Military Police in the Armed Services.  He is a strong candidate for our department,” Kemmett said, “and he will make a good officer for the Town of Rochester.”

            The board then turned to approving the routes of two road races through town. The Annual Patriot Half-Marathon will use town roads on June 15, and the Annual Cranberry Tri-fest triathlon will come through town on August 25.

            In other business, the board learned the Conservation Commission remains unsatisfied with the response from Mattapoisett officials regarding concern over the town’s rights to the water on Red Brick Farm East land. The property is part of a 241-acre, regional Conservation Restriction giving Rochester no rights to the groundwater that Red Brick Farm East might produce.

            The latest letter from Mattapoisett in response to Rochester’s concerns was from that town’s water board, commission members told the Select Board on Monday, and it did nothing to answer those concerns. It repeated Mattapoisett’s previous promise to “make every effort” to resolve the issue. On Monday, Conservation Commission Chairman Chris Gerrior asked the Select Board, “What kind of solution can we come to? For them to say that what Rochester wants is ‘hard to do’ is unacceptable.”

            Select Board member Adam Murphy said the ConCom should start by responding via written correspondence to Mattapoisett’s letter and then see Mattapoisett’s response to that. “We’d like to see a solid ‘no;’ see their obligation they’ll take on.”

            “We can move on from that,” Select Board Chairman Paul Ciaburri said. ConCom members agreed to take that step first.

            In other action, the Select Board voted to decline the town’s Right of First Refusal to purchase 9 acres at 0 Featherbed Lane, property being taken out of Chapter 61A agricultural land, tax-related protections.

            The board accepted a $400 donation from the Annie Maxim House Residents Association.

            The board followed Select Board member Brad Morse’s recommendation to schedule an executive session to discuss missing details of the town administrator’s job description and what will the town do if the state attorney general does not approve the home-rule petition approved at the January Special Town Meeting to extend the fire chief’s employment beyond his retirement age. That session will be held following the February 20 Select Board meeting.

            Cannon noted that Direct Energy, which operates the town’s new Energy Aggregate Agreement contract, has included customers in town who had actually opted out of the town’s energy provider. He said Direct Energy is working to resolve the problem. For more assistance, residents should call 1-857-557-4943 or the DPU at 617-737-2836.

            The Select Board set its next meeting for Tuesday, February 20, at 6:00 pm at the Rochester Senior Center, 67 Dexter Lane.

Rochester Select Board

By Michael J. DeCicco

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