PEPPERELL — Outgoing DPW Director Robert Lee brought his entire staff to his last Board of Public Works meeting last week.
The gesture provided Lee with an opportunity to reassure the commissioners that his staff would be available to them during the transition of both his position, as well as his deputy, Mark Richardson.
Lee presented the board with a 15-page job description summarizing his day-to-day activities.
“I just wanted to get it down so that when you’re interviewing new people, you can use that as a background. It’s primarily for the new director,” said Lee.
Lee also advised the board that the search committee had started to review 24 applicants for his position, and another four submitted for Richardson’s position.
“We have received expressions of interest from qualified people and properly licensed people for each position,” said Lee.
“It was suggested that the search committee might want to involve a member of the public,” said Commissioner Greg Rice. “If we’re going to do that, we should do it soon.”
Rice also petitioned to have Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck join the search committee, a move that Lee endorsed enthusiastically, given the expansive role that the Highway Department plays in daily DPW functions.
“Whatever you guys need, I’m here to help,” said Shattuck.
Superintendent Shattuck also expressed concerns to the commissioners that recent layoffs in his department, as well as unexpected sick leave and employee vacations, have left him short-handed. Shattuck suggested that he could offset some of the staffing problems with a part-time temporary worker for the summer. The board did not object.
Director Lee brought to the attention of the board an error in free cash accounting discovered by Town Accountant Tom Wilson.
“The amount certified from free cash for last year for the Sewer Department is in error and it’s a significant error. Where we told sewer had free cash in the amount of positive $280,748; it’s really a negative $34,643,” said Lee.
Lee explained that the reason for the error involved how the “sewer betterment and capital accounts were accounted for in the documents required by the state Department of Revenue.”
“Short of that error, we have maintained a positive cash flow,” said Lee.
On a brighter note, Lee reported that the covered bridge was very near completion and could be open “within weeks or days” with the sidewalks now open for pedestrians.
“There’s not much left to do out there,” said Lee.
The staging areas and Prudence Wright Overlook at the Nashua River access area are being cleaned up and landscaped.
“We’re going to have that bridge as a Pepperrell icon within a week or so,” said Lee. “It’s a spectacular structure.”
Construction on the Mill Street Bridge is expected to begin in October.
The board approved an installer’s license for Baltazar Construction, but denied a similar request for local contractor Paul Kiernan, who failed to provide the required documentation to the DPW before the meeting. Kiernan, who was in attendance, expressed his disappointment to the board as he left the meeting. Sewer Superintendent Mark Richardson explained that Kiernan had not provided contact information for the references to allow verification.
The board also approved abatements for 11 Mason St. in the amount of $63 for water, and for 41 Lowell Road in the amount of $24.14 for sewer.
As the meeting closed, Director Lee said: “I really cannot express my gratitude for being able to work with you guys and your predecessors over the last eight years. And for the guys behind me, I can only reflect what good they do, and they certainly do good.”