RUMFORD — Selectmen on Thursday night gave the Public Works Department a new two-wheel drive half-ton pickup and about 500 feet of guardrail for the Isthmus Road after approving low bids.
Ford dealer Rowe Auburn got the nod for the pickup truck with a bid of $15,709, and Maine Line Fence Co. Inc. of Cumberland won the guardrail supply and installation job with a bid of $4,158.
At the board’s meeting Oct. 7, they asked Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell to seek bids from several different dealerships for a half-ton, two-wheel drive truck and a three-quarter ton, four-wheel drive truck.
After learning Thursday night that Rowe Auburn also had the lowest bid for the bigger truck at $22,649, Selectman Mark Belanger questioned why the town should spend money on a fifth truck in the department’s fleet.
He then chastised other board members for not trying to rein in spending more during the budget season earlier this year.
When asked by selectmen if the department really needed the truck, Russell said the new truck is needed to replace one that needed an estimated $2,200 of work and failed to get an inspection sticker.
Additionally, he said that if selectmen did not OK the new truck, he would be forced to use a larger truck that gets 3 miles to the gallon or use another truck that’s “on its last leg.”
Russell said the fifth truck is used for road striping in the summer, odd jobs, blowing snow from town walkways, the rotary and the ends of bridges after every snowstorm. He said it’s also used to haul snow and to help erect signs.
He said there is money in his capital plan for the purchase.
Belanger argued that voters in past years have reduced that capital plan account to save money, to which Russell countered that due to those cuts, he doesn’t believe he has enough money to replace his aging fleet of vehicles.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick, who on Oct. 7 wanted the town to get a four-wheel drive truck for Public Works, apologized to Russell on Thursday night. He then prefaced his motion for the half-ton truck, saying it’s his job is to look out for taxpayers and by going with the two-wheel drive pickup, it would save $7,000.
The board OK’d it 3-2, with Belanger and Selectman Jeff Sterling dissenting.
Russell said the guardrails will be placed along the section of Isthmus Road that is beyond the cemetery and just after the power lines corridor to prevent serious-injury accidents.
“This summer, a woman went down a 15-foot embankment because there was a moose in the road there,” Russell said. “Thankfully, she didn’t get hurt.”
“That’s a pretty good drop there,” board Chairman Brad Adley said.
Russell said large trees lining the road in that area that could stop a vehicle from traveling down the embankment were removed, which further drove home the need to erect guardrails.
Selectmen agreed, voting 5-0 on Maine Line Fence’s bid.
In other business, the board also approved:
* Making a $150 donation to the Praise Assembly of God church food pantry following a request for help from pastor Justin Thacker.
* A Texas Hold 'Em tournament for the Rumford Rotary Club, to be held on Nov. 21 at the business 49 Franklin on Franklin Street.
* A parade permit for the annual Greater Rumford Community Center Halloween Parade.