PEPPERELL -- "We're asking residents to be vigilant," said Nashoba Health Agent Kalene Gendron this week at the Board of Health meeting.
Gendron was referring to the ongoing concerns over mosquito-borne diseases that have been detected in Massachusetts, specifically West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
"Pepperell is still negative for both," said Gendron, who went on to say that there were no plans to spray in the town at this time.
Nevertheless, schools have been notified with recommendations to protect students engaged in after school athletic programs; as well as consideration of using the Reverse 911 system to advise residents of any changes in conditions.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has distributed Fact Sheets on the safe use of mosquito repellents, and information on both WNV and EEE. Copies of these documents can be viewed or downloaded at http://www.mass.gov/dph/wnv.
Ken Gikas, Region 2 Consultant for Emergency Preparedness approached the board with information on a new trailer that will be delivered to the town sometime in November. The trailer is being purchased with state grant money and will contain emergency equipment for deployment to the field should an event require it. The fully configured and equipped 6x12-foot trailer costs approximately $12,000 and will be contain a generator, communications equipment, cots and other public health and safety equipment.
The board granted an extension to Nancy Linscott of 87 Lowell Roa to correct health and safety violations at that address. Linscott cited a strained relationship with the tenant, which has prevented her from completing repairs to the property. The board has given Linscott until November 20 to resolve the issues.
The board agreed to table a discussion and action on a well regulations variance request from Kristen Bala of 119 Mt. Lebanon St. Bala explained that a slightly elevated arsenic level in her private well could be remedied with a point of use solution to rid the chemical from the drinking water at the residence. The town's well regulations require a point of entry system that can cost upwards of $3,500 to install and several hundred dollars annually to maintain.
"The research I've done it's not high enough - it's just on the border - so I'm addressing the drinking portion," explained Bala.
"I thought it was overkill to do every spigot and hose," she said.
"We would like to help you, but it doesn't look like we can right now. Let us think about it and call some experts," said Commissioner John Marriner.
Board members once again raised the issue of job descriptions and overlapping responsibilities between the positions of Animal Control Officer and Animal Inspector. The former is overseen by the Board of Selectmen while the latter is a Board of Health staff position. At issue has been the use of the Animal Inspector to handle dog complaints in the town.
Typically, when complaints have been received by the Police Department they have contacted Robin Hebert, the Animal Inspector, rather than Alicia Flagg, the Animal Control Officer. Hebert resides in Pepperell and is generally more accessible.
"Every time they call her, she goes out," said Acting Chairman Phillip Durno.
"John Moak has already advised Frank Cocci the Communications Officer and also the Chief of Police David Scott that if there are any dog related calls or issues to contact our Animal Control Officer," said Gendron.
The board agreed to seek a meeting with Town Administrator John Moak to discuss the current situation and possible improvements.
More than a year ago, the board agreed to seek a reduction in testing requirements for the Boynton Street landfill. Such a reduction would save the town approximately $700 annually. A recent response from the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) requested that the town supply them with testing records dating back to 1997, when the landfill was closed.
"I think that we need to write a letter and state to them that in our opinion they have copies of all these tests that have been taken," said Durno.
"They absolutely have copies," said Gendron.
"Being a small town with minimal hours for a secretary is beyond our ability to go through that many years of records when they have the information they are asking for," added Durno.
The board requested attendance at the Sept. 25 by the owner of a property at 5 Palmer St. for failing to maintain the parcel in a clean and sanitary condition.
"The homeowner is blatantly ignoring us," said Gendron.
The board also cited similar conditions at 52 Lowell Road, where an outstanding complaint has existed since April of this year. That complaint cited dogs without proof of rabies vaccinations or dog licenses and numerous stray cats on the property.
The board approved septic upgrade permits for 39 Tarbell St. and 24 and 26 Emerson Circle.