East Hardwick, News

Gross Assumes Operations Responsibilities for Fire District

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EAST HARDWICK — In January David Gross assumed the operations responsibilities of the East Hardwick Fire District No. 1, including taking daily chlorination measurements and hiking into the reservoir to chlorinate when needed.

Gross reported that chlorination has been consistently maintained at the levels required by the state and that a Google spreadsheet has been created to communicate daily chlorination numbers to the operator and trustees.

In February a new operator, Simon Operations Services (SOS) of Waterbury, took over the monthly testing and state reporting role.

The reason for the mandated chlorination is the incursion of tree roots into the springs, which can potentially lead to bacterial contamination. Manosh Corporation of Morrisville has been retained to remove the roots from all four springs.

Maintaining access to the springs is an ongoing issue. Board members have held work parties to remove brush on the paths. Manosh is scheduled to begin work on April 17.

In January, Gross reported that the flow meter was not operating and that SOS recommended replacing rather than repairing it. They recommend a sonic measuring meter because the mechanical one is being phased out. The board is currently getting bids for purchase and installation. The work is expected to be completed by May.

Fire District Treasurer John Mandeville presented the district’s first annual budget with the projected annual current income from rate payers at $12,100. The total in delinquent payments is $3,700. According to Mandeville “More than half is owed by three ratepayers. Two have been in arrears for several years and an additional one owes $900.”

The board continued to discuss and act on a previously reported fine of $12,000 resulting from a 2019 state inspection. They’ve requested an opportunity to appeal. As a result the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Enforcement & Litigation lowered the fine to $4,000, one third of the total annual income of the district. The board is continuing with attempts to get the fine mitigated. Strategies were discussed in executive session after the February meeting.

An asset management plan is being created by consultant DuFresne Engineering. Gary Michaels reported that the information the company needs has been provided, except for level of service goals which Michaels is currently working on.

The lead pipe survey is not yet complete due to a few homes that did not provide access or offer water testing for lead. This summer, the board and MSK Engineering will again attempt to determine pipe material in those homes.

Eric Stephens related that the board will have to submit an update to the Source Protection Plan in March. Stephens is reviewing the current plan to determine relevant changes. Vermont Rural Water (VRW) offered their assistance and three representatives from VRW met with Stephens and two other board members in March to tour the springs and discuss how to proceed.

Michaels reported that news arrived regarding the FEMA reimbursement for the pipes on School Street that were damaged during the July flood. A check for $2,961 should arrive within the next two weeks. The FEMA reimbursement will be only 75% of the district’s cost of $3,948. The State of Vermont was expected to cover the remaining amount, but denied the claim because statutes exempt fire districts.

The board is continuing work on a rules and regulations document for the district. Draft policies for conflict of interest and purchasing were finalized in February and are on the district’s web page. In March the board began to discuss a purchasing agent policy.

Also in March, board members remarked that Ken LaCasse of the Hardwick Public Works Department was helpful to the district in providing operator services for the period prior to engaging Simon Operations Services and that D&L Beverage and Deli has been very accommodating as they allow daily sampling of the water from their business. The board agreed to send certificates of appreciation to both LaCasse and D&L.

For more information on fire district meetings and notices, see ehfd.mystrikingly.com

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