HALIFAX -- Without an agreement with the Fire Department, it looks as though the Town Garage will be designated as the sole Emergency Operation Center.
"We now have high-speed Internet at the Town Garage. Having good communications is our No. 1 concern for emergencies," said Halifax Selectboard member Edee Edwards. "Why, when Vermont Yankee goes away, should we pay for both places?"
She was referring to funding that Entergy -- the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon -- had given to the town for improving and maintaining emergency management equipment throughout the years. Generators and Internet service were provided through that funding but it will be coming to an end since the plant announced it would be closing in the fourth quarter of this year.
Previously, there was "hand-shake agreement" between the privately-operated Halifax Fire Department and the town. According to Halifax Co-Emergency Management Director John LaFlamme, the department wanted to continue with that arrangement.
"But because Entergy is not going to be funding emergency management anymore ... it would be good to be clear," he said. "After analysis of the EOC, the fire station was the best current location for our EOC and the Selectboard wanted a letter of agreement. This all came together and it was necessary."
On April 15, the Selectboard noted its displeasure with the Fire Department's correspondence. The department did not want to sign an official agreement or resolution. Edwards said she was not sure what the firefighters did not like about the draft she had sent.
"I wanted to help," said LaFlamme. "But the lack of communication is bad."
He told the Selectboard he found a copy of the draft lying around at the fire station.
"If there were plans to distribute it to the Fire Department, I wish I was notified," added LaFlamme. "Unfortunately, now it is a dead issue. They've said twice that they don't want to sign it. That opportunity, to me, is gone. And that's disappointing."
Board members expressed frustration over the matter. When Edwards mentioned that there were no reasons explaining the department's position, Holtz said that an e-mail indicated the department did not feel reasons were needed.
"They feel a certain degree of trust is required to maintain a relationship," he said.
The Selectboard planned on discussing the EOC location at future meetings.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.