Lieutenant sworn in, water storage and sewer connections addressed at Webster BOS meeting.
By Thomas D’Agostino
WEBSTER - Police Officer Michael Shaw was sworn in as Lieutenant last night before family, friends and the Board of Selectmen. Town Administrator John McAuliffe gave a brief speech commending Shaw’s performance on the force and promotion, calling it “bright leadership.”
Police Chief Timothy Bent stood with Shaw’s mother Jane Cook and his wife Julie, while Town Clerk Robert Craver swore Lieutenant Shaw in. The new lieutenant’s two daughters, Abigail, age 9 and MacKenzie, age 12 had the honor of pinning the badge on Lieutenant Shaw.
Webster Public Works Director, J.T. Gaucher addressed the board in regard to updates on sewer connections. There are some homes that should be tied into the main sewer system but have yet to comply. A list mentioned seventeen non-connected properties that according to the DPW have no reason not to tie in. Another list compiled also mentions those properties that cannot be connected. When questioned on the force flow properties, Mr. Gaucher told the board that connecting to these properties is a dangerous liability and stated, “It will never happen on my watch.”
Selectman Deborah Keefe suggested that the properties in question be labeled as such in the Assessors Office and in the deeds, as one property is presently for sale. This way potential buyers are aware that they may have to tie into the town sewer system.
Corrosion control was also at issue. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has requested that Webster comply with certain standards in their water treatment. A system was put in place by the town several years ago in regard to corrosion control in lieu of chemical treatment. Selectman Robert Miller related that the system has never properly worked and should be put in a museum somewhere. “I’ve always felt that that was Webster’s Albatross…” Selectman Miller stated.
The DEP wants the town to add certain chemicals such as Sodium Hydroxide to the water to raise the PH level of the water as it passes through the system, which will in time raise the PH level to the acceptable level of 6.8 to 7.0. “The DEP is anxious to have this put into place without missing a beat.” Mr. Gaucher stated.
The town is facing fines for noncompliance and should have the system updates in place for the new fiscal year. The cost is about $200,000. All agreed that the Water Enterprise Free Cash should cover the cost the improvements. A special town meeting will held for the residents to hear the issue and vote on the appropriation of the money for that purpose. Board Chairman Donald Bourque asked, “Is the DEP happy with us or unhappy with us?”
J.T. Gaucher answered, “They are concerned but understand we are moving forward.”
The work on the water storage tank has been completed in regard to the external features. Interior work will now commence. With a change order of $9,100 the approximate cost for the complete restoration of the tank came to $624,000. Mr. Gaucher stated that this full restoration would give the tank another twenty-five years of service.
Traci Niemszyk of Michael’s Place Bar and Restaurant came before the board to clarify that she is still running the establishment and the license has not changed hands. With that information clarified, the board renewed her license and wished her good luck for the coming year.
Angela Brayton also came before the board in regard to the appointment to the Recreation Committee. The committee is a volunteer organization and Ms. Brayton was seeking more information on the duties and responsibilities of the committee. Mr. McAuliffe commended Angela on her desire to become part of the committee, stating that her interest was really exciting and important to the town. Leslie Baker, Chair of the committee will meet with Brayton to give more information on the duties and responsibilities before the board appoints her.
Selectman Robert Miller brought up the In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants issue for debate by the board. They agreed that the board should not be voting on this, in as much as the residents should have their say on whether they agree with the issue or not. Further information should be available on the issue in the coming weeks.
Selectman Mark Dowgiewicz also wanted to update the public that the board and the police are actively working to make the town a safer place to live. There has already been a marked improvement with more patrols and police presence in the community. This has been one of Selectmen Dowgiewicz’s main agendas and he is pleased with the positive momentum in relation to the issue.