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Fire Department welcomes Daponde, promotes officers

Date: 8/27/2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — At its Aug. 22 meeting, the Board of Selectmen welcomed a new full-time member of the Fire Department and approved three promotions within the department that became necessary when Fire Chief Paul Morrissette was promoted from captain to his current position.

Selectmen James Driscoll and Paul Federici officially swore in firefighter Brian Daponde as a full-time firefighter.

The board originally voted to hire Daponde at its June 26 meeting.

In addition, Robert Loughman was promoted from lieutenant to captain, filling the position that was vacated by Morrissette when he became chief.

"He's been on the department for more than 19 years and he's been a lieutenant since July of 2007," Morrissette said. "Bob and I have rode together for the past 11 years on the same fire truck. I had an extreme amount of confidence when Bob was on a truck with me. He's a guy that when the trucks are full and I need to split the trucks, I never needed to worry about Bob. His number one concern is his safety, his guys' safety and the public's safety."

Morrissette added that Loughman also took on driver training in recent years and has done well in training several members of the department.

"The guys he has trained are top-notch drivers," he said.

Upon Loughman's promotion, the department was in need of a new lieutenant, a position for which Morrissette recommended Joseph Reale, whom the board approved for the position.

"Firefighter Joe Reale has been on the department for over 13 years," Morrissette said. "Joe has consistently been a super responder as far as of percentage. He is consistently over 50 percent, which is what we strive for with our call firefighters. He's been a driver for over seven years with all of the apparatus, which is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the important points that officers should have. His ability as a driver and his confidence as a driver will simply carry over to his position as an officer in the Fire Department."

Morrissette added that in his professional life, Reale manages a staff of 30 people, which gave the chief added confidence in his leadership abilities.

"He has a lot of leadership skills that could carry over and be useful for the fire department," Morrissette said.

The selectmen also approved the appointment of Ben Cote to fire inspector, another job Morrissette held prior to his promotion.

"Presently Ben Cote has been filling in for me," Morrissette said. "He's been my sidekick for the past several years. He is part way there to the certification level and he is enrolled in the program in the fall, so I anticipate he should be done with that in the spring of 2013."

In other town business, the selectmen were able to welcome one new business to town and approve the expansion of another.

Mary Flahive-Dickson appeared before the board to gain approval for a food establishment permit in order to open Redstone Creamery, an ice cream shop to be located at 48 Shaker Road.

Flahive-Dickson, whose business' special permit had previously been approved by the Planning Board, said her business would include hard packed ice cream, frozen yogurt and cold drinks.

The Selectmen also approved a new location for The Arbors Kids. Unlike its Shaker Road location, which specializes in infants, toddlers and preschoolers, the proposed 80 Denslow Road location would focus on before- and after-school care and activities for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"We're going to be doing several eight-week programs called 'Skills and Drills' in basketball to soccer to baseball to lacrosse as well as 45 minutes to an hour of homework help and tutoring and a chance for children to socialize after school," Shad Hanrahan, executive director of The Arbors Kids, told Reminder Publications, adding that while other sites have programs for school-aged children, the East Longmeadow location would be the first to implement this new model.