Wilton emergency operations plan

WILTON – After a sometimes heated discussion on Monday, March 11, the Select Board voted to adopt the state Emergency Operations Plan. The proposed plan was presented by Town Administrator Paul Branscombe and Emergency Management Director David Boissonnault.

Last week, Selectman Kermit Williams objected to some wording in the manual, saying he disagreed with the concept of the town being able to “commandeer” whatever they needed, even if payment was promised. He also said he didn’t see anything in the document that pertained to Wilton.

Boissonnault said he agreed “commandeer” is a strong word and “appropriate” was suggested instead. He said he had spoken with state officials and adopting the plan is not a requirement, but he was asking the board to sign it to “be in continuity with other towns in an emergency, giving us the ability to work together,” as fire and police departments do now.

He said Wilton has had emergencies in the past and listed several devastating fires in the 1880s, the floods of 1936 and 1978, and the 2008 ice storm. The last plan is from 2006, “the last time the town had an emergency shelter at the elementary school.” He said he had gone over it with the town office and there is now a shelter at the school that “meets all Red Cross specs.” And without a plan in place, the town has “lost out on some disaster funds, such as Old County Road Bridge” which was caused by erosion.

Branscombe said the town should have the plan, and there is still a possibility of help with the bridge. He said, “When disaster strikes, the time to prepare is past.”

Board Chairman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said, “We’re not doing anything outside the norm. We need to look out for everyone. We don’t anticipate a catastrophe, but when we have one, we need to be prepared. We don’t need to rewrite it to focus on our little town.”

She accused Williams of being against the plan “because my husband is the director.”

Williams denied the charge and, reluctantly, made the vote to accept the plan unanimous.

In other business, the board voted to not hire a town accountant at this time. Williams argued last week that the town office “needs another set of eyes on the finances. And we’ve always had one until recently.”

Boissonnault said, “We need to move away from ‘we always had,’ and noted that the town treasurer refuses to work with anyone. “We don’t need an auditor.”

Branscombe agreed and said the finance officer did as well.

Selectman Matt Fish said, “Swimming season is coming, and the reservoir and Garwin Falls need to be back on the radar.” He mentioned the removal of the reservoir fence “which is pretty ugly,” and making the area “more friendly.”

“The Conservation Commission has written to (the family which owns the falls) about an easement. And we want the fire and police concerns addressed. Let’s play it slow and move forward.”

The next meeting will be held on Monday, March 18, 6 p.m., in the Town Hall Courtroom.