By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
SANBORNTON — "It was a good day," said Fire Chief Paul Dexter, the lone full-time member of the department, after voters agreed to spend $139,800 to hire two full-time firefighters/emergency medical technicians while scuttling a petitioned warrant article to do away with Emergency Medical Services Fire Apparatus, Equipment and Vehicles Special Revenue Fund.
For several years Dexter sought to add full-time personnel to a department consisting of a call company of 17 members and five per-diem firefighters, which he contends frequently leaves the town without service, particularly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., when about half of all calls for service occur. Two years ago, his request for two full-time fighter/EMTs failed by four votes and last year was soundly rejected by nearly 100 votes.
Afterwards, a committee was convened to explore a regional approach to augmenting the fire service by entering cooperative arrangements with neighboring departments. The committee met with fire chiefs from Belmont, Franklin, New Hampton, Tilton-Northfield, Meredith and Laconia, as well as with officials from Stewart's Ambulance Service. But, since Sanbornton had no full-time personnel to bring to a relationship, the committee concluded that cooperative agreements were not an immediate option for addressing the town's needs.
Dexter said that with two full-time firefighters he expects closer cooperation with neighboring departments, especially Tilton-Northfield and Franklin, particularly in the coordination of deploying and purchasing apparatus.
Dexter was also pleased voters chose not to discontinue the Emergency Medical Services Fire Apparatus, Equipment and Vehicles Special Revenue Fund. The fund accrues from the fees billed for ambulance services, less the 6.75 percent of monies collected by the billing company. The fund is used to purchase ambulances along with equipment and supplies for medical and fire services. medical and fire equipment.
At year end 2016 the balance in the fund was $273,004. The petitioned warrant article was not recommended by either the Board of Selectmen or the Budget Committee.
In the contest for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen the incumbent, Katy (Wells) North withstood the challenge of Dave Nickerson to return to the board by a vote of 261 to 181.
In the elections for the Budget Committee, incumbent Roger Grey polled 193 votes, but lost his bid for another three-term as Ralph Rathjen topped the poll with 273 votes and John Vorel ran a close second 270 to capture the two seats on the ballot. Justin Barriault, with 271 votes, won a two-year term on the Budget Committee over Bill Whalen, with 185 votes.
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