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Town stays with Veterans' Service District


April 18, 2013
By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW — The Board of Selectmen has decided to remain with the Veterans' Service District of Eastern Hampden County.

The board had been discussing the possibility of forming a district and sharing a Veterans' Services Officer with Longmeadow, who has had a vacancy in the position since former Veterans' Services Officer Jason Dieni left for a job with the federal government in July 2012.

Board of Selectmen Chair Paul Federici had unofficial talks with representatives from Longmeadow at the January Massachusetts Municipal Association and had discussed the issue at a recent Board of Selectmen open session.

The town had until May to make a determination as to whether or not it wished to make a change.

However, it ultimately decided that the town was well served in its current situation and the monetary benefits would not be worth another change.

"We realized that the cost savings was not much, if anything," Federici told Reminder Publications. "We are happy with the service we have received from our current district, so we decided to stay for at least one more year."

Longmeadow also recently hired Anthony Lawrence to fill their vacancy. He began work on April 1.

East Longmeadow joined the Veterans' Services District of Eastern Hampden County, which includes Hampden, Holland, Monson, and Wales in December 2011 after a lengthy process of trying to determine how to adequately replace retiring Veterans' Services Officer George Herrick.

Residents at the September 2011 Special Town Meeting voted down a warrant article to fund the position and a prior attempt to regionalize with Longmeadow also failed. In the interim, Herrick agreed to stay on as a part-time volunteer until the town joined the district.

John Comerford, the district's director, has a primary office in Monson and a satellite office East Longmeadow at the Pleasant View Senior Center.

Federici said that input from the community helped make the decision to stay.

"We've gotten some nice letters speaking highly of the service," Federici said. "I know it took a while for people to get used to the new system because [Herrick] was here for a long time and had a specific schedule and way of doing things, but now that people are getting used to it, it seems as if things are going well."

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