By Gregory T. Federspiel
New Fire Chief Search: We anticipate beginning the recruitment and hiring process for a new Fire Chief by early in the New Year. Over the next couple of months, we will be gathering input regarding the qualities residents and staff would like to see in a new chief as well as explore possible new models for structuring the leadership for the Fire and Rescue Department. Included in this exploration will be discussions with our neighbors in Essex to see if there are opportunities for the two communities to collaborate in the delivery of public safety services (along with other services.)
In the meantime, our excellent staff (both career and call) of trained fire fighters and paramedics will continue to provide emergency services to residents and visitors. We have brought back retired Fire Chief Al Beardsley to serve in the capacity of Interim Fire Administrator to assist in managing the operations of the department. Al served us well between Chief Rogers and Chief Kramlinger and we are pleased to have him back helping us through this current transitional period.
If you have ideas to share regarding the future leadership of the department and/or would like to be considered to assist in the process of recruiting and hiring a new Fire Chief please let me know.
Communication Strategies: As noted in the quarterly newsletter sent to all households this week, we are employing an array of communication platforms in our efforts to ensure that all residents are well informed about the issues, opportunities for input and decisions being made on your behalf as we manage the affairs of the Town. A quarterly newsletter will be sent directly to each household. A new news portal, accessible from the Town’s homepage at www.manchester.ma.us, will contain up to date news about departmental activities. These articles in the Cricket along with others from various departments will continue. Twitter feeds are also being utilized. And, as indicated by the size of my in-box, many of you take advantage of communicating by email. Of course, you are also welcomed to call or stop by Town Hall for a direct conversation.
Fostering open and clear lines of communications remains an important goal of the Board of Selectmen. Please let us know what works best for you as we are eager to get this right.
Streetlights: The work to purchase the streetlights from National Grid, convert them to LED bulbs, and take over their upkeep is getting closer to completion. Voters approved the funds for this project back in 2017. Negotiating with National Grid, securing grant funding for the project, and getting vendors lined up to do the conversion has all taken more time than originally hoped. The good news is we should have the project completed by the first of the year. Our annual savings will be significant – upwards of $50,000. An easy way to see what the new lights will look like compared to our existing lights is to take a drive some evening up Route 127/Summer Street to the Gloucester/Manchester line a block up from Raymond Street. Here you can see our old style light on the Manchester side and the new light that Gloucester has already installed on their side of the line. We hope to have a sample light installed behind Town Hall as well. The Gloucester lights — the same as being proposed for us – have become the industry standard: a natural brightness for improved visibility but not too bright!
In addition to the new LEDs, we will be installing wireless control units on each fixture that will allow us to control brightness and when the lights are operating all from a computer terminal here at Town Hall.
Budget Development: Work on the FY 2020 budget, which voters will review and vote on at the April Annual Town Meeting, is underway. This early phase of the budget process is a good time to share ideas you have for changes in our operations that can lead to greater efficiencies and improved services. Have something to share? I would enjoy hearing from you as would any of the Selectmen or members of the Finance Committee.
Finally, do not forget to vote on Tuesday, November 6!