Rochester is celebrating the $1,693,485 grant the State 911 Department awarded the town to upgrade its emergency response infrastructure and cover the costs of integrating into the Regional Old Colony Communications Center (aka the ROCCC), a regional 911 service in Duxbury covering the towns of Duxbury, Halifax, Plympton, and soon, Rochester.
Duxbury Fire Captain Rob Reardon on October 16 presented an update on the grant and the projects slated for completion in early 2018 during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
According to Reardon, the state received about $48 million total in requests from municipalities across the state, and awarded $12 million – Rochester, Reardon said, has likely received the largest grant amount ever awarded in the history of the Regional Emergency Communication Center (RECC) Support Grant.
“They believed in this project,” Reardon said.
Breaking down the funding, Reardon said $119,000 would go towards the hiring of a full-time director at the ROCCC, and $400,000 is for design and architect fees for an expansion of the ROCCC. The rest of the $1,174,800 will be spent between Rochester and the ROCCC on “stuff we need,” as Reardon put it.
In Rochester, about $224,000 will cover upgrades to police, fire, and Department of Public Works repeaters. “They were in dire straits and in need of repair,” said Reardon.
Increasing the height of the antenna, installing an HCAV system at the police station, and the addition of a generator will also be funded.
At the Rochester dispatch center, $91,086 will integrate the local 911 into the regional system, and to be installed will be an emergency phone for $2,151, $2,313 to secure the lobby, $8,000 for an alarm system, $18,000 for a video surveillance security system, $2,600 remote door lock, and a $1,700 door buzzer, among other miscellaneous items.
Another $28,165 will outfit the Fire Department trucks and ambulances with computers.
At the ROCCC, in addition to the new director, several full-time and part-time staff will be hired to cover the increase in service to Rochester so three employees will be on duty round-the-clock, with four on duty during peak hours.
Reardon noted that with this particular grant, there are no obligations for the Town to match any of the funds granted. The conversion to a regionalized 911 is 100 percent funded by the state.
“This is obviously to promote regionalization,” said Reardon.
The upgrades top Rochester’s emergency response infrastructure, Reardon said, “…Include safety features to police and fire…that you don’t see in small towns.”
“It’s phenomenal,” Reardon said. For example, normally while a dispatcher is speaking over the police radio, an officer would be unable to interrupt should an emergency arise. With this new upgrade, an officer in trouble would be able to intercept the dispatcher to call for help.
“With this new system, the second the officer keys that radio the dispatcher hears it. I don’t know any other department around here with it,” said Reardon.
As for a timeline, Reardon said there was a delay in releasing the grant money, so there will ultimately be a delay in the integration. The initial target date was January 1, 2018, but now Reardon is aiming for March 2018. He assured the selectmen that the new 911 system would be in place by the start of fiscal year 2019, which starts July 1, 2018.
In addition to the grant, Rochester is also locked in for an additional $125,000 annually for five years to cover the cost of the 911 service, which would have cost Rochester $300,000.
In a follow-up interview with Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar, she said currently the Town spends $320,000 each year to run its local dispatch center, and that total does not include the cost of benefits to union employees.
“It’s quite a big savings for us,” said Szyndlar.
After the five years, Rochester will engage the ROCCC in negotiations on an annual 911 service cost.
In other news, the 2017 Rochester Country Fair generated some money this year, compared to a loss last year in 2016.
Country Fair Committee member Kelly Morgado said this year’s country fair went well. Last year, Morgado said, the fair incurred $66,000 in expenses and only recovered $65,000 in income. This year, the fair spent $63,000 but brought in $68,000 in revenue.
Morgado said the country fair is considering bringing back Thursday night to next year’s country fair schedule, “But it has to be a big night,” Morgado said, “so that has yet to be determined.”
“All in all, I think this year went well,” said Morgado.
Morgado did report that four members of the Country Fair Board of Directors have resigned. “So we’re trying to work it all out right now.”
Also during the meeting, Szyndlar emphasized that the Town of Rochester is not really haunted, and the interviews featured in The Wanderer’s fictional Halloween story did not really take place. Szyndlar said there were multiple residents who actually believed that the town was haunted.
The town administrator also announced that the Town’s new website would likely be up and running on or around November 20.
The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for October 23 at 6:30 pm in the Rochester Memorial School cafeteria before the start of the Special Fall Town Meeting.
Rochester Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry