BELLOWS FALLS -- The chief of police said his department has been kept very busy recently with a significant increase in sex crimes, drug cases and vehicle break-ins.
With the first item on the agenda, Ron Lake delivered an update at Tuesday's Board of Trustees meeting, discussing the spike in cases and mentioning the suggested replacement of two cruisers.
"Sex crimes are up. We've had our fair share," Lake told the trustees in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre. In regards to the vehicle break-ins, he said "people should lock their cars and turn on their outside lights in order to deter any bad guys."
The chief went on to mention his department has increased its foot patrols and has seen seven drugs cases -- involving heroine, cocaine and prescription narcotics -- in the past two weeks.
In the most discussed portion of the update, Lake said the person that works on the police cruisers has told him two of the four vehicles are "on their last legs." He said the information is especially important to taxpayers because it comes from the man that makes a profit repairing the cruisers.
"It seems like every week I'm taking them for an oil leak or something like that," he said.
Lake said he has spoken to Finance Officer Chip Stearns about how to finance the new vehicles.
The news didn't sit well with some members of the audience, who questioned whether it is necessary to spend money replacing vehicles
Cathy Bergmann said she has never heard of a police chief asking to replace two vehicles at one time. Trustee Colin James explained that police cruisers have more wear and tear than most cars and that it is important to keep them in safe condition.
Lake assured the public that the town would be paying for new vehicles only and all the equipment can be removed from the old cruisers and re-installed in the new ones.
The trustees gave Lake the authorization to look into the best options.
Lake also said a grant will allow his department to install a "drug drop-off" in its lobby.
"Right now, we can no more take drugs that you want to get rid of or the public wants to dispose of, any more than anybody else can. And most people are flushing them down the toilet, which is not good," he told the trustees.
He said the drop-off will look like a 180-pound mailbox for locals to deposit unneeded drugs, which he said will be collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"It's a good size. It'll be attached to the floor. It's not like somebody can back a pickup truck through my lobby and walk away with it," he said. "The Greater Falls Prevention Coalition has helped us get that."
Lake said a number of individuals have walked into his office to drop off unwanted prescription drugs, though the police department has no more ability to handle it than the local pharmacy.
With the second item on the agenda, Village Attorney Ray Massucco updated the board on the property at 69 Atkinson St. that has been deemed a fire hazard and unsafe. He said a voluntary compliance agreement has been reached and a number of the building's issues have been addressed.
The village and property owner Ed Suave agreed to 17 terms and as part of the voluntary compliance agreement Suave must make improvements including removing the bag of calcium chloride from the front of the house on the first floor, repairing the first-floor framing in the basement of the building's rear portion and fixing all sinkholes around the structure.
In other business:
-- The trustees voted to award the water facility roof replacement bid to Bellows Falls company Jones Brothers Roofing. Municipal Manager Timothy Cullenen said he felt it offered the best value for the money, at $38,252.
Trustee Deborah Wright asked Cullenen why he wouldn't recommend Finnell or Melanson Co., which both quoted lower figures. The municipal manager explained that as part of the bid process, the request for proposal specifically asked for information on the possibility of additional work on insulation, warranties for materials and labor, and an expected start/completion date -- and Finnell gave no such information.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.