New equipment in sight for Jamaica Highway Department


JAMAICA -- Road Commissioner Keith Hazard is exploring two potential purchases while dealing with other equipment issues and potential paving projects.

"I’m the bearer of bad news every time I come here," he said to the Selectboard on Monday night.

Hazard brought up replacing the plow for his department’s one-ton truck. It was previously mentioned to the board that the plow would need to be replaced soon. He only had one price at the meeting and was attempting to get another from a different vendor.

A steam cleaner that the department uses for "degreasing and keeping the machines looking good" stopped working the other day, Hazard said. It was a high pressure washer that is about 20 years old. He said he would try and get some prices for a new one.

"I’d rather spend $1,500 on a new one than $750 on just a pump on the one we have," he added.

A backhoe that is 21 years old was also brought to the board’s attention. Hazard pointed out that all its bushings were worn out and mentioned the possibility of renting a backhoe for the summer months. He did not have any prices at the meeting.

"We’re running out of money as we talk," Selectboard member Paul Fraser said.

Selectboard Chairwoman Lexa Clark believed the Highway Department’s equipment fund was set at $15,000 each year.

Two sections of road in town will likely need to be addressed soon.

"They’re at the town line of Winhall and Jamaica on Pike Falls and South Hill from when you leave the village up to where the dirt begins at the other end," Hazard said. "They’re at the point where they either need to be blacktopped or just turned back to dirt road. We’re going to have to do it, if not this year, then next year."

One section is approximately 700 feet long while the other is about 900 feet. After showing one company’s price, Hazard told the board he needed to get more prices for the blacktop.

A technician from John Deere visited the Highway Department on Monday to replace a few items on the grader and clear its computer.

Hazard also advised the board that his department’s radios would need to be looked at.

"Something’s happened and all our radios are out of whack," he said. "We can’t communicate well with a couple vehicles."

Board members said the highway department could not share the same frequency as the Jamaica Fire and Rescue Department. According to Fraser, that idea was explored pretty extensively in the past. The issue had to do with its increasing traffic on the channel.

The fire department gets into contact with Hazard by calling his cell phone or calling Town Offices, where a handheld radio is kept with Treasurer Terri Bills Garland and Town Clerk Pat Meulemans for four days each week.

Hazard is planning to request that the Corrections Department return for its annual brush cutting week.

"That works out good. The price is right. We get a lot done fast," he said. "We generally have Corrections people who got community service for doing whatever. They work with us from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and it works out good. We get five or six people, usually young people that load the brush and we can just cut it. And Richard usually monitors the chipper so no one ends up in the chipper."

In other business:

-- The Selectboard decided to wait for its fourth member, Andy Coyne, to be present in order to vote on a warrant granting the constable permission to pick up unlicensed dogs. Coyne is also the town’s health officer.

If it goes unsigned, Selectboard Chairwoman Lexa Clark said the constable cannot pick up dogs and take them to an animal shelter in Brattleboro.

"Say, if a dog were to bite someone, then we would be liable," she added.

Selectboard member Paul Fraser refused to sign it.

"I’m going to vote against anything that directs him to go and do something that we don’t want him to do," he said. "In any case, whether it’s dogs, cats or whatever, anytime we’re signing something, I think we should sign something we expect people to follow."

-- The Selectboard will contact town attorney Paul Gillies about obtaining an easement through imminent domain after Town Hall abutter Ralph Smith would not sign an easement presented to him. The town was seeking permission to drive on his property to drill a well, which would be on town property. Water at Town Hall is currently unpotable and the board is in the process of attempting to replace the water system.

"(Smith) was asking this time for us not only to pay for the well but also his taxes. And we had talked about that last time and felt that message was presented to him that we were not willing as a town or Selectboard to pay that. That we felt that it was a gift in many respects as we were paying for that," Selectboard member Judy Flower said, referring to the proposed well that Smith could have connected into if he signed the easement.

Smith wanted the town to pay for his connection to the well, which was estimated to cost $1,500.

By reverting back to the original easement, Flower said it will involve having a truck drive onto his property and it will be put back together the way it was found. Now, he will not be able to connect to the well.

Clark mentioned the project and easement process has been ongoing since last September.

"We’ve been trying to get him to see it was good for him. He just doesn’t feel comfortable doing it apparently," she said.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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