The Board of Selectmen
The Board of Selectmen is pleased to report that the millennium passed without incident throughout town government, especially our public service departments. The year 1999 was a strong financial year for Ashby. We were not only operating easily in the black, the Collectors Office diligently brought in sizable amounts of back taxes.
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Evelyn Conner and John Brodie, two people who served this town well over many years.
We have been fortunate enough to be able to purchase some new, sorely needed equipment for the Fire Department. The first is a new pumper truck to replace some severely aging engines now in service. The new pumper should provide protection for the Town for decades. Less obvious, but still important, is new, energy saving doors for the Fire Station. As any garage owner realizes, a tremendous amount of heat can be wasted through thin, conventional garage doors. These new insulated doors are expected to pay for themselves in heat savings over their life span.
We have also been fortunate to have, not one, but two defibrillators donated to the Town for use in the police cruisers. This is a tremendous step forward for Emergency Services for the Town. In our system, the Police cruiser often arrives first to a call for medical assistance. With the defibrillator, the Officer can start treating a cardiac arrest patient prior to the ambulances arrival. Two anonymous individuals (one, not a Town resident) donated these defibrillators. These altruistic individuals saw the need for the equipment and its life-saving potential and took it upon themselves to help the community provide a higher standard of care to its citizens. They deserve our thanks.
At the end of the year we experienced another loss when, in December, our Towns Moderator, Franklin Gooley, resigned after 17 sterling years in the position. On behalf of the Town, we thank him for his years of unselfish service to the community.
In preparation for Elmer Fitzgeralds retirement in June, 2000, after 18 years of service to the Town as its Fire Chief, we have had some discussions with him and the Assistant Fire Chiefs about what to do regarding the position to address the Towns needs for the future. The options we have been considering include going to a full time position now, continue with a part time Chief as we have been, include many responsibilities held by the present Chief into one job or leave them separate, or add new responsibilities. In any case, we thank Chief Fitzgerald for his commitment and service to our community.
Highlights from several of the projects we have completed or are in progress this year include the following. The demolition of the old Millers garage has taken place. This building in the center of Town was formerly used as a Fire Station, then a Police Station, then finally, for storage. Our thanks to the Hjelm Brothers who donated their time, energy, and equipment for this project. The building was demolished this year we need only to provide some back-fill to support the retaining wall. This should be completed in early spring.
The Police Union negotiations are in full swing. We appointed the law firm of Mirick OConnell as Labor Counsel. It has been, and continues to be very beneficial to have their ongoing professional legal guidance on a variety of personnel matters, as well as the labor negotiations. Our Town Administrator and Labor Counsel have been extremely involved in implementing new, and updating existing employee policies in order to be current with all state and federal employment laws, attending to employee issues as they arise and conducting the ongoing labor negotiations.
A tremendous effort was contributed, and continues to be given to the Town Common Rehabilitation project that was initiated by Carolyn Damon of the Historic Commission. The members of the Town Common Advisory Committee became very active last summer to assist and advise, as well as the Town Administrator by writing the excellent grant proposal. As it turned out, our Town Common has been kept better than many others who also applied for the limited grant funding and received it. This project continues as Mark Haines from the Town Common Advisory Committee focuses on preserving the Carriage Shed and Linda Sanders works with the Department of Environmental Management for their support in our next grant application.
The Board of Selectmen offers our sincere thanks to all those who have assisted in Town matters this year. From those who are paid employees to those who volunteer on committees and boards. You have all been generous with your time, energy, and expertise and continue to give these for little or no recognition. We are also grateful to those of you who help beautify our Town and those who simply lend a hand when needed. The Town of Ashby could not survive, let alone thrive as it now does, without you.
Respectfully submitted by
The Board of Selectmen
Michael Reggio, Chair
Michael McCallum, Clerk
Mark Forgues, Procurement Officer