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Thorpe to recommend new health agent


May 30, 2013
By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW — The Board of Selectmen expect to have a recommendation and be able to begin negotiations on a contract with a new health agent soon.

On May 28, the board agreed to add a meeting to the schedule at 5 p.m. on May 31 to shore up the issue after Selectman and Board of Health Chair Angela Thorpe reported progress in the search.

Thorpe, at the suggestion of Board of Selectmen Chair Paul Federici declined to name the candidate because references were still being vetted, but indicated she was confident in the candidate she hoped to recommend.

"We received some responses to the ad and from those responses we have found a viable candidate," she said. "This candidate looks really good and I think it's very promising for the town."

The candidate, if the recommendation is accepted, would replace former Health Inspector Fred Kowal, who served the town in that capacity for 29 years.

Thorpe added that in the meantime, she had spoken with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health who told her if there was an emergency before a replacement was in place, they would provide someone to fill in temporarily.

The board also agreed to extend by 60 days its memorandum of understanding with the town of Longmeadow that states the two communities will share a public health nurse until grant funding was available to allow East Longmeadow to fill the vacancy that presented itself when Jo Ann Andrews retired.

Addressing public safety issues, the board heard from Police Chief Douglas Mellis, who reported that two new officers would be joining the department after their graduation from the police academy on June 28 at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).

The board selected Joseph Dalessio and Matthew Lecuyer at its Nov. 27, 2012 meeting with their hiring contingent upon the completion of the 20-week, 800-hour training.

Mellis told the board during that November 2012 meeting that he hoped to have the officers on the street by early August.

Dalessio, the son of Sgt. Jeffrey Dalessio, had been hired by the South Windsor, Conn., Police Department, and was attending the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, Conn., when he accepted the position in East Longmeadow.

He graduated Phi Theta Kappa from STCC and earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Westfield State University. He also attended the academy for reserve officers in Longmeadow.

Lecuyer graduated from Springfield College in 2010 with a degree in criminal justice and previously served as a paraprofessional working with special needs students in the East Longmeadow School District.

Fire Chief Paul Morrissette also asked the selectmen to reinstate call firefighter Michael Minahan, a request they obliged.

Minahan, Morrissette explained, left the department approximately two months ago to take a job with the Springfield Police Department, but left when he found the position was not to his liking.

Morrissette went on to say that Minahan was a benefit to the Fire Department, boasting one of the best response percentages on the call firefighter roster and continually learning through additional training.

Morrissette also stated that the majority of his fleet of apparatus has completed and passed its Massachusetts Department of Transportation inspections, with the exception of Engine 1.

He said that while it has been a valuable piece of equipment for the department, the town would have to make a decision on what they wanted to do with the vehicle.

Morrissette said he did not yet have official numbers on what repairs to the 1982 pump truck would cost, but said it would be several thousands of dollars.

"Engine 1 was replaced twice when we got Engine 4 and again when we got Engine 2," he said. "For a spare, it seems like it could be a lot of money."

Morrissette said that while the truck was not used a lot, it is functional.

"We have used it as our brush fire truck. We actually used it when we responded to a fire in Hampden and it moved a ton of water," he said. "In that aspect, it is still a nice truck."

However, given the results of the inspection, it has been taken off the road.

The selectmen asked if not having the vehicle at its disposal at this time was a threat to public safety and Morrissette replied that it was not.

"I don't think there has ever been a time when we have emptied the station," he said.

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