ANDOVER – Tensions between fire Chief Ken Dixon and Andover selectmen have been evident throughout this year, as Dixon has vehemently defended the Fire Department and his integrity when repeatedly questioned about department operations.

At Tuesday’s selectmen meeting, Dixon pulled no punches as he read a statement detailing his disgust for what he identified as petty politics brought on by a small group of individuals that was ruining the town.

“My blood has been boiling the last couple of weeks,” he began. He noted that at a recent meeting, a citizen had taken him to task for mileage reimbursement that Dixon had requested for attending Emergency Management Agency meetings, and took exception to the resident’s accusation that he was “making money off this town and should donate the mileage to the town.”

“For the last 23 years, I have been your fire chief and have given all to the town of Andover,” said an impassioned Dixon. His service, he continued, had included serving as Med-Care representative and Enhanced 911 director, with the fire department helping him to mark all roads in town with E-911 addresses.

“During the last town meeting, my character, integrity and allegiance to the town of Andover was assassinated and resulted in my removal from the Med-Care board of directors,” Dixon said. “A concerned citizen was successful in convincing the majority that the EMA account was just another way for the fire chief to get more money.”

He went on to say that the citizen had even impersonated the fire chief in obtaining information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding a grant for a new fire truck that was in the works for the fire department. Despite the resulting investigation by FEMA, the grant survived the scrutiny.

“It is so sad to see such a small number of individuals run rampant over our nice small town atmosphere,” Dixon concluded, to the applause of a number of the roughly 30 people who were at the meeting.

There will be some upcoming changes to the fire department’s fleet of trucks with the purchase of the new apparatus. Engine Three, which is now stationed at the East Andover station, will be sold, while Engine Four will be put out to bid to a contractor or someone other than a fire department.

“Why are we keeping it (Engine Three) if we’re not using it?” Selectman Donna Libby asked.

“Engine Three is a viable firetruck; Engine Four is not a viable firetruck,” Dixon responded.

Libby and Selectman Susan Merrow wondered why the fire department couldn’t sell Engine Three as soon as possible to bring in revenue for the town to help defray some of the loan costs associated with purchasing the new truck.

“For the money you’d get out of Engine Three, you’d be better off, in my opinion, to keep what you’ve got rather than go out and get someone else’s trouble,” Dixon said.

He was authorized to use what funds remain in an account holding county reimbursements for unorganized territory mutual aid, adding the money to the department’s budget.

In other matters, Librarian Janet Farrington addressed concerns expressed by some people at meetings and elsewhere that the library may be forced to cut its book budget. She noted that while the library faces rising heating oil costs, “No decision has been made to cut the book budget at the library.”

Farrington then emphasized, “I don’t believe anyone will notice a difference when they come to the library. We are complimented by visitors from all over the U.S. about the quality of our library.”

Selectmen reappointed Paula Smith to the River Valley Growth Council, and appointed David Belanger and Terri Perry to the Budget Committee.


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