Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy presented a plan for a social media strategy for Plympton at the Board of Selectmen Meeting last Monday. However, there was some disagreement about the best way to grow the town’s presence on Facebook.
Dennehy suggested making one general town Facebook page, but believes there shouldn’t be a comment section for it. She said the page should be “informative not interactive.”
Both Dennehy and Town Clerk Tara Shaw, who will both be handling most of Plympton’s social media agree with this notion due to concerns about violating open meeting laws. Dennehy said, “I don’t think the page should interact with other pages or groups.”
The notion of not having a comment section was a belief shared by all members of the Board of Selectmen. There was some disagreement about interacting with other groups, like Plympton Helping Plympton.
Plympton Helping Plympton is a closed Facebook group where Plympton residents and former residents will discuss things related to the town. Most of the time, the discussions in the group are not related to municipal government. Selectmen John Traynor said they can be about things as simple as someone needing a babysitter.
Local government topics do get discussed on occasion and Traynor believes this is a resource the town should be tapping into. Traynor said there are about 2,500 people in the group, Plympton Helping Plympton.
Town Administrator Dennehy, Town Clerk Shaw, and the rest of the Board of Selectmen expressed not wanting to post to the group. Dennehy and Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said they have concerns about open meeting law violations, particularly because Plympton Helping Plympton is not a public group.
Traynor said he doesn’t think there is a violation because his idea is to post the exact same announcement to Plympton Helping Plympton as they would the town website or Facebook page.
Selectmen Clerk Mark Russo said he’s concerned that the town could lose control over misinformation, in a private forum rather than just their own channels. Commenting couldn’t be turned off in a platform the Board of Selectmen doesn’t control. However, Russo remained open to the idea if the posts were the same.
He suggested Plympton creates its Facebook page first and then explore revisiting some of Traynor’s ideas at a later time. Selectmen voted to start a Facebook page for the town.
According to Dennehy and Shaw, the Facebook page will not be used to replace the website, but bring residents to the town’s official website. Shaw said she already does this from her personal Facebook page within the Facebook group, Plympton Helping Plympton. She doesn’t comment, but will post links to the town website where official information can be found.
Dennehy said, “We don’t want Facebook to replace the website.” She said she sees it as a bridge to the town website.
Electrical Aggregation Update
Mark Cappadona, the president of Colonial Power Group was at the Board of Selectmen Meeting to answer any questions residents may have about the upcoming electrical aggregation service for Plympton. The Plympton Board of Selectmen previously signed a 6-month contract that opts residents into this program starting on January 1, 2018.
Members of the Board of Selectmen said there was some confusion among residents about the service, so Cappadona came in to clear up any questions. However, only one resident attended the meeting.
Joan Harper, the Plympton resident in attendance, asked who she would contact if she opts out of the program, but still sees herself as in it on her electrical bill. Cappadona said she would contact Colonial Power directly and they’d take care of it without any opt out penalty.
Cappadona said there’s no penalty for opting in or out of the program. He described the program as the town giving residents another option that guarantees savings on their electrical bill for the first six months.
Electrical rates for NStar Eversource are expected to increase to 13.175 cents per kilowatt hour this winter. Cappadonna says Colonial Power offers about a 9% savings compared to the standard product.
Eversource is still the electrical supplier for Plympton. Cappadona said this is only a financial transaction and doesn’t affect who to contact about power outages and other issues.
• The appointment of two new fire lieutenants were approved by the Board of Selectmen. Paul Gallagher and John Sjostedt were both appointments as new members of the fire department.
• Liquor licenses were renewed for Plympton Gas and Convenience, Plympton Convenience Store, and Upland Sportsman’s’ Club. Upland Sportsman’s Club also had its range permit renewed.
The next Selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 11, 2017. Open session starts at 6 p.m.