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Selectman discuss future of position

By Levon Kinney

Staff Intern

WILBRAHAM The Board of Selectmen discussed the transition period between when Town Administrator William Fogarty leaves and a new administrator is hired.

"I believe we should start with the basics by hiring an interim administrator," Selectman James Thompson said at the Dec. 4 meeting.

"It seems that since we have an assistant administrator," Selectman Patrick Brady asked. "Couldn't we split the responsibilities between the assistant and other people in the office?"

Barry, who has a career of teaching, likened that to a principal leaving and letting the assistant principal step up to fill the position while still acting as vice principal.

"The work load involved is a bit larger than most think," Fogarty added. "To take away a full time position during the planning of the budget would not go well."

"We are not talking about a long period for an interim," Thompson said. "Hopefully by the end of March we will have a full-time administrator."

Thompson suggested a few names for the interim position, "John Pearsall or library director Christine Bergquist."

The selectmen decided before any more time goes by a search for an interim should be started.

"A lot of the interims just try to complete the day-to-day tasks," Fogarty said. "I suggest someone who can give an outsiders perspective for picking a full-time replacement."

Highway Superintendent Frank Shea and Edmond Miga of Wilbraham's Department of Public Works (DPW), gave a presentation to the Board of Selectmen to tell how technology has helped the DPW in the removal of snow and ice.

"Our snow removal policy prepares for the season in the months before," Miga said. "When the storm is predicted we inspect all the vehicles and they are made ready for service."

Miga said that the town has moved from a sand and salt mixture, which is corrosive to all the vehicles in town, can clog up the storm drains, and takes a lot of time to clean up in the spring.

"When we were using straight salt and sand," Shea said. "We weren't getting the proper reaction for snow and ice to melt. When we switched over to magnesium chloride and other less corrosive products, it cut down on the need for application."

Shea explained that magnesium is one of the four most common materials found on Earth and that the human body contains three to five percent magnesium.

Selectman David Barry asked Shea to explain the parking ban on streets.

"Many times we try to plow around the cars, but once they are moved the DPW receives a call from a neighbor complaining about the mess," Shea said. "We have to come back and clean it. It is common sense to not leave a car on the street during or after a snow emergency."

The official town parking ban that was enacted at the annual town meeting in 1988 states that parking is prohibited in such areas as "Within 20 feet of an intersection, that obstructs a sidewalk, crosswalk, driveway, with the left wheels to a curb, over one foot away from curb, or leaving less than 10 feet of unobstructed lanes and highways.

"The portable basketball hoops that are dragged into the street should be removed around this time of year," Shea added.

Another position for the Wilbraham Historic Commission was filled when the selectmen nominated Rachel Smythe for a position ending in 2009.

Barry asked Smythe why she chose the Historic Commission.

"I want to get involved in the town," Smythe explained. "I am also very interested in history."

Smythe, whose husband works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has lived in many areas around the country and also South Korea.

"I have a degree in English from Boise State University, where my husband and I used to live," She said. "I had an internship with the Boise Historical Commission and wrote a book on Boise's role during WWII."

Fogarty explained that commission meets roughly once a month and they do a lot of project work with the Wilbraham Historic District and the Athenaeum.

The Selectmen also approved medical bills for Wilbraham Police Officer Chris Doyle and fire fighter Lisa Cannar.

Greg Chaconis of Red Bridge Road reported to the Selectmen that the "Welcome to Wilbraham" sign that he and other members of the community had erected, was knocked down over the weekend.

"A car collided with the sign and also drove over the bushes Friday night," Chaconis said. "Sunday afternoon when I went to go repair the damages, the sign was missing."

The incident was not reported until Chaconis called the police and the DPW.

"If there is anyway for insurance to cover it," Barry said. "We'll see what we can do."