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Mexico Fire to get rescue ATV
MEXICO -- In about a month, the Mexico Fire Department will take delivery of a rescue all-terrain vehicle.
Mexico Fire Chief Gary Wentzell announced on Oct. 8 that after years of fundraising activities, they have order the ATV through Absolute PowerSports of Gorham, NH.
The machine will include a sled for things like transporting the heavy Indian water tanks when firefighters have to battle wood fires.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to allow Madigan to sign an agreement with Municipal Resources Inc., a New Hampshire consulting firm, that would allow them to begin work on finding areas where Mexico and the town of Rumford could share services.
During a joint meeting on Sept. 4, selectmen from both towns approved a proposal from the company to put together a comprehensive study of Rumford and Mexico to see if they could find areas they could consolidate services.
Selectmen tabled action on a second cops grant that would fund the fifth officer's position.
Because the deadline to accept the grant is still 90 days away, Town Manager John Madigan said it will give him time to crunch the numbers again. The board will revisit this at their meeting on Nov. 26. He said that by that time, the town should know about what municipal study will reveal.
On Sept. 28, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services awarded grants totaling $656,071 to four Maine police departments, including Mexico. The grant was awarded through the COPS Hiring Program, which is designed to help bolster the hiring of local law enforcement agencies.
The grant money, according to a recent news release from U.S Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, will provide 75 percent of the approved salary and benefits for entry-level officer positions over three years. The grant also asks the Mexico Police Department to keep the officer for a fourth year.
“When we first did this grant a few years ago, they funded it 100 percent, so we weren't required to do a local match,” Madigan said to the board. “This one requires us to match $52,024, which comes out to about $17,000 each year for three years. After that, we'd keep the officer for an additional year,” said Madigan.
Selectman Byron Ouellette said getting this grant could complicate things with the municipal study. "We may not want to tie us up for another four years while looking to share services with other towns."
Madigan said the present cops grant has saved the town $30,000 by going from five to four paid officers, including paying for the fourth year.
The grant, prepared by interim Police Chief Roy Hodsdon, will cost the town $17,000 for each of three years, with the town paying for the fourth. Madigan said, "It still might be worth our while; a break even at worst."
Selectman Reggie Arsenault said that if selectmen do not accept the grant, the department will go back to a four-man department.
“I hope you guys remember what happened a few years ago when we had four officers,” Arsenault said. “One of them got hurt and he was out for a long, long time. We ended up paying a lot of overtime and came close to our workmen's comp and liability insurance coming down on us.
“I wouldn't want to put our Police Department back in that situation again,” Arsenault said. “Our police officers will be running around looking like zombies, and if someone were to get hurt, we'd be paying out a lot more money than we would if we took this grant.”
Ouellette replied, “You're just assuming a lot of this stuff, though.”
Police Chief Jim Theriault said, "If we go with the cops grant, you will save the town money by keeping the fifth officer's position."
Selectman Peter Merrill said, “With the first grant, the money more than covered what our obligation was. I think we made money on that deal. If you're looking at the additional $17,000 or $18,000 that we'd have to spend with the new grant, that's peanuts when you compare it to the overtime we'd have to budget over a three-year period. To me, it's a no-brainer.”
The town manager noted that during this delay of action will also give the town an opportunity to see if the state can do something about the local match.
The current cops grant has expired, but the town is now fulfilling the term of that grant by funding the fourth year. Due to a turnover in the fifth officer slot leading down time with the grant, it was extended. The town recently approved hiring Rob Drouin for the position, replacing William Cook, who left in August.
As a result, if the town does decide to accept the grant, they will not have to draw on it for another 14 months. That would give Mexico additional time to refuse the grant, depending on what happens with the municipal study.
Selectmen accepted the resignation of Tanya Vaughn from the town's recreation board. The town is now looking for anyone interested in service on the recreation committee. People interested can apply at the town office.
The board voted to schedule a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a proposed mobile home park and mobile home ordinance.
The ordinance was created after the Planning Board decided to update the current document.