PLYMPTON – On Monday, June 25, selectmen met in Plympton to discuss a brief agenda. Halifax Selectman Kim Roy and Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros were both present for ongoing discussions regarding shared fire services between Plympton and Halifax. The board also interviewed candidates for Highway Superintendent and had a heated discussion with ZBA Chairman Ken Thompson over Town Counsel hours.
Shared Fire Services Miscommunications
Kim Roy was not happy with the Plympton Board of Selectman on Monday. She expressed, “sadness and disappointment,” with Plympton officials for a breakdown in communications over the proposal.
The project, which would be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth, according to Roy, in its most likely iteration would see an inter-municipal agreement between the two towns, with Halifax acting as an “employment agency” for Plympton’s department. Each town would retain its identity as a department and would own its own equipment.
Roy expressed surprise that Plympton seemed to be discussing options that were already off the table, such as only sharing EMS services. “We were getting informal requests throughout May…I was just so confused by the requests.”
The board and Roy agreed that they wanted to move forward with an aggressive timetable in exploring the plan and put the communications issues behind them.
Selectmen Chairman John Traynor said, “We’ve really been trying. You have to protect Halifax. We have to protect Plympton.”
Both selectmen Christine Joy and Mark Russo apologized for the breakdown in communications. “I’m absolutely aghast at how communications broke down,” said Russo, citing that everyone was well-intentioned.
The board set a July 9 meeting to discuss a draft agreement and budget with their fire consultant, Chief Lance Benjamino of Middleboro and Halifax officials. Halifax Chief Jason Viveiros is preparing those documents.
Discussing the ongoing status of the Plympton Fire Department, Traynor said of the leadership, “We’ve just had the wrong people,” and then, “We’ve come back from a dark place.”
Big shoes to fill
Two candidates were interviewed for the position of Highway Superintendent, a job made available by the retirement of James Mulcahy, who will retire June 30.
The first applicant, Scott Ripley, who has worked as a Pembroke DPW foreman, grew up in Hanson. He has been with Pembroke DPW for 15 years, working closely with the Highway and Water Departments.
Ripley said, “I like to work with everybody,” when questioned on his management style, but that he needs to work on delegation. Selectman Joy noted that one goal of the board was to create a “master-plan” of the roads in town.
Ripley agreed this was a project he could collaborate on. Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy wanted to make sure that Ripley could, “wear many hats.”
“I don’t want to be bored,” Ripley replied.
Next, the younger and more local candidate, Robert Firlotte, of Plympton, has spent 13 years with the Plympton Highway Department.
Firlotte says he’s familiar with all aspects of the department, although he’d need to learn a bit more about budgeting.
He also agreed a master plan of the roads was an important project that he could work on. Dennehy stated that she wanted to make sure that Firlotte would be able to take continuing education classes that she felt would be essential to his success at the job.
Firlotte said that this was something he was open to.
No date was proposed when the board’s choice would be announced.
ZBA gets TC hours, but not without an argument
Ken Thompson, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, attempted to make a presentation to selectmen Monday, but was cut short because it was not on the agenda. “This board cannot discuss ongoing ZBA hearings,” said Dennehy.
Thompson protested, attempting to hand out documents outlining why the ZBA was attempting to meet with Town Counsel, and where that money was going.
He did not think the five hours that the board offered would be enough for the two weeks before the board met again.
“What do you want from this board?” snapped Traynor, “Is five hours enough?”
“No,” said Thompson, but he took it and left.
In other news:
• There was a brief update on the Atwood property. An informal working group of various members of different committees has been formed to explore various options for the town if it exercises it’s right of first refusal on the sale of the property.
• With the help of Town Clerk Tara Shaw, the Selectman appointed 46 committee members, 15 provisional appointments, and authorized the reorganization of several boards and committees such that they would have staggered terms in their membership.
• Town House summer hours begin next week.
• Town House will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.
• The following are upcoming Selectmen meetings:
• July 9, 6 p.m. including Fire discussions and Plympton Gas & Convenience liquor license transfer
• July 12, 6 p.m. joint meeting at Halifax Town Hall with Halifax officials regarding shared fire services.
• July 16, 6 p.m. open meeting and Right of First Refusal Hearing on the Atwood property.
•July 23, 6 p.m. open meeting.