OXFORD — Fire Chief Paul Hewey informed selectmen, at their July 16 meeting, that the department’s 95-foot ladder truck’s water pump is broken and to fix would cost more than $25,000. This is the second time the pump on the pump has failed. Oxford can still use the truck on calls requiring the ladder but Northeast Apparatus has cautioned Hewey that the truck is no longer road-worthy. A brand-new replacement truck will run about $1.6 million.

Hewey has been in contact with the fire chief in Yarmouth for guidance on grant applications for a replacement truck. Selectman Sharon Jackson suggested he also reach out to Fryeburg’s fire chief, who has written several successful grant proposals. Hewey requested that Asselin and the Select Board outline requirements on the municipal process to provide matching funds as he moves towards completing grant applications.

Hewey also advised the Board about difficulties in staffing the department during holidays and weekends. On Independence Day, the two firefighters on duty had competing calls – one for a roof fire caused by fireworks and the other was a medical call. The two responded to the medical call, leaving the Paris Fire Department to handle the structure fire, and immediately following that cleared an accident in Oxford.

Selectman Dana Dillingham questioned how the need for staffing the department every night had been communicated at town meeting. Voters approved the positions as EMS personnel, not regular firefighters.

“I was under the impression that you were adding two rescue workers, not firefighters,” Dillinham said. “That is not how it was relayed to me and to Oxford residents. People were under the impression that having night staff will cut response times. But if those staff are engaged in a fire call, the response call for medical help is not shorter, it’s longer.”

Hewey said that the proposal for changing night personnel from being on-call to being staffed originally included one firefighter and one EMT. Selectman Caldwell Jackson remarked that the COVID-19 public health emergency required that the new policy began before it was budgeted and the conditions called for two EMTs.

Asselin said he was going to write a thank you letter to the Paris Fire Chief to thank his department for its mutual aid. Dillingham underscored the need to make an official gesture.

“We are not yet done with this discussion,” he said of Oxford’s overnight staffing protocols and chain of command, which relies on part-time, on call support.

Town Manager Butch Asselin brought four properties with unpaid taxes to the Select Board to consider how to manage potential sell-offs. For one, a relative of the deceased property owner stepped forward and offered to purchase it for the amount of unpaid taxes and oversee repair to the place so that the current residents will be able to stay. Selectmen approved the proposal. For the other three properties, all attempts by the town to to reach the owners have gone unheeded, even though at least one of them seems to be occupied.

Board Vice Chair Samantha Hewey (left), Board Chair Scott Hunter, Selectman Caldwell Jackson and Town Manager Bruce Asselin discuss properties with unpaid taxes at Thursday’s Selectmen’s Meeting Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Selectmen approved a plan to list one parcel for sale, tabled action on one other and agreed to make one final attempt to hand-deliver a final notice to the occupied home before taking further action.

Other new business items on the meeting agenda were also tabled for the time being. One was a request to name a private road but because there is only one known home on it it cannot be named. An application for a junkyard permit for Ayotte’s Used Cars and Parts was tabled, pending the installation of a required fence. Selectmen approved a one-time abatement for a resident with a $6900 quarterly water bill. The resident had a new lawn installed and needed to do heavy watering through the dry portion of the summer. Since the heavy water usage was not entering the town sewer system the abatement was granted.

Town clerk Elizabeth Olsen reported that overall the election last week went well. With no one standing for an open seat on the SAD 17 school board, a total of 80 write-in votes were cast. The tabulator tallied Sydney Jackson with 4 votes Floyd Thayer and current Director David Dunn with three each. Since the tabulator dismisses any votes that do not have both a checked box and completed write-in line Olsen said she will conduct a manual recount next week.

Road Foreman Jim Bennett presented estimates for the future purchase of a mini-excavator and trailer to Selectmen for about $161,000. A new excavator would replace the aging backhoe and be more versatile in road maintenance projects. Bennett said the backhoe currently is in need of at least $15,000 of repair work. Selectmen authorized Bennett to put out request for proposals both a mini-excavator and equipment trailer.

 

Comments are not available on this story.