TOWNSEND — The Townsend Fire-EMS Department will have a new headquarters in about nine months, thanks to an anonymous donor.
“We need the blessing of the board to accept the donation and begin building within the next 12 months,” said Fire Chief Mark Boynton.
After a proposal to build a new headquarters was rejected at spring Town Meeting, a donor approached Chief Boynton offering to pay for a new building. It would be a partnership in which the donor and the Fire-EMS department would focus on developing and advancing the department.
“The donor may be willing to step up on a later date but wants to be anonymous for now,” the chief said.
The construction would require Fire Department personnel to vacate the headquarters at 13 Elm St. and plan to use trailers in the back.
“It’s fantastic,” said Selectman Colin McNabb. “The donor’s generosity blows my mind.”
The audience applauded after selectmen voted to allow the Fire Department to accept the donation and begin building.
Also, Council of Aging screening committee chairman Ed Snapp announced Kimberly Dee from Ayer as the choice for the new COA director, contingent on salary negotiations.
Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said he has spoken to Dee and she is seeking more than the budget permits. Currently the budget is set at $37,929 for 35 hours a week.
A member of the screening committee, Lt. David Profit, said that if the salary is not raised, it is going to be difficult to hire someone for that position.
“We thought the salary was negotiable based on the extra requirements outlined on the job description,” he said.
He also said retired COA director Chris Clish built a foundation and brought the center to what it is now, but that he thinks the center is ready for the next step.
Selectman Sue Lisio said the town does not have money to pay more than what was offered.
Sheehan suggested asking Dee if she would accept the position at the current pay rate and then bring a proposed increase to fall Town Meeting.
Lisio’s concern was that if Town Meeting does not approve an increase, the person in the position would leave.
“I want to make sure this person is committing to the job,” said Lisio.
McNabb suggested Sheehan speak to Dee.
Currently, volunteers are helping with everyday duties during the transition. Profit said he is concerned that the center will be stagnant until the position is filled.
“The volunteers are fantastic and people have really stepped up,” he said. “But they are not doing the managerial things that need to be done.”
McNabb made a motion to continue discussions at the next meeting on Aug. 26 after Sheehan discusses salary arrangements with Dee. If she rejects the offer, the search for a director will continue.
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