Selectmen place the call for cell phone consolidation

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TOWNSEND — Selectmen this week voted to have the entire town government use one cell phone plan instead of three, to make the billing and tracking of phone calls easier.

The decision comes after a discussion last week with Fire Chief William Donahue over who in the fire and ambulance services should have town-paid cell phones. Donahue said between both departments, four people and the ambulances have cell phones, and they are very much needed for communications between all parties.

Selectman Robert Plamondon said cell phones are not required as a means of communications in the emergency services departments.

”Emergency calls cannot be transmitted over cell phones,” Plamondon pointed out. “The calls have to be recorded so that if anything happens, the information can be retrieved for the individual’s as well as the town’s protection.” He suggested cell phones for the fire and ambulance departments be assigned only to Medic 1, the ambulance, and to Chief Donahue.

”I would also like new plans researched, and maybe put all departments on one plan,” Plamondon said.

Town administrator Gregory Barnes said other departments using cell phones are the Cemetery and Parks Department, Highway, and Building Departments.

”I have researched cell plans with Nextel and Verizon. They both have good things about them. The biggest cost is just having the cell phones themselves,” Barnes said.

Barnes said putting one cell provider in place would make it much easier to track costs and services for allotted minutes.

”I also talked to the Fire Chief, and he said he found one plan where he can get seven phones for one year at about $3,000,” Barnes said.

Plamondon motioned for a consolidated plan with one provider, with Barnes monitoring the cell usage for everyone.

”If anyone is making personal calls from the cell phone, it should be taken away,” Plamondon said.

The selectmen voted to accept the plan, and instructed Barnes to reach an agreement with the best cell phone provider to take care of the needs of the town.