A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 005

Selectman's meeting of Dec. 29, 1984

A decision was made to hire Donald Vachon to fill the advertised post of truck driver/laborer in the Highways Department. A proposal was made to purchase two radios for the Civil Defense program, with the possibility of a 50 percent reimbursement by the State. Then, with these two items behind them, the selectmen and Mr. Day, Road Agent-Apparent, prodded on by the spear of time, moved rapidly down a list of plant, machinery and vehicles due for scrapping, repairing or replacing.

I was reminded of an old Welsh folksong, a verse of which runs:

"Kosher Bailey had an engine

It was always wanting mending

And whenever he did oil her

She would nearly burst her boiler..."

Percy Day, like a true engineer, sometimes refers to machinery affectionately in the feminine gender.

The 1976 plowing truck needs a new diesel engine, priced around $18,900. For less than $10,000 more, a completely new vehicle could be acquired. This latter course is to be explored by Town Administrator Bill Cooper, who would report back about her. The purchase of a new sander will be recommended to the budget committee, as Percy felt she could sand the roads in two hours instead of the present three-and-half. The purchase of a new steam cleaner to replace the present contraption that endangers two men instead of just one, is to be recommended. She would cost $1,300. A portable welder would continue to be rented on the occasions she was required. Plow frames, shaft transmissions and fuel lines were also briefly mentioned, although it was unclear to which greater mechanism they were allied.

"Kosher bought her second hand

And he painted her so grand

And whenever he did patch her

There was nothing that could catch her..."

Civil Defense: Civil Defense Director Dave Green then unfolded a series of suggestions, plans being too strong a word, for 1985. He would like to see a more active role played by the townspeople in Civil Disaster training, and hazardous material contingency planning, and said that companies transporting hazardous material through the town, or storing it within the town, should be submitting information to the Fire Department. This would greatly assist Civil Defense and Fire Department personnel, should they ever have to respond to an emergency.

Mr. Green also asked if Route 11 was designated as a "nuclear route." No-one was sure.

Personnel Policy: Then upspake Personnel Consultant Ann Chapline. On an etymological note. With limited time available, and in the absence of the full Board of Selectmen, the proposals contained in her policy were given only a brief airing. No "comp. time" for department heads, she proposed. If these personnel were overextended, then a possible re-aligning of their responsibilities should be examined.

At this, I checked Mr. Cooper's face for signs of emotion, as contrary to opinion in some quarters, he might fall within this overextended group. Cooper is an old campaigner, however, who has seen proposals come and go over the years, and he resisted the temptation to brighten up. Chapline then suggested a salary increase based on an evaluation of past performance, which drew an "hmmm" from Selectman Berry, like a lukewarm drip escaping from a tap. This proposal was then explained as an "across the board increase plus one or two percent for an exceptionally fine job. People relaxed once more. The meeting then terminated at the record time of 10:40 a.m., with the departure of a particularly natty Selectman Plante, to a wedding.

Dog Officer And Dictionary Definition: By the time you read this Mr. Alan Spear will probably be the new Dog Officer. As I type he has barely a few hours to come to his senses and withdraw his, the only, application for the office.

"More troubles than you can shake a stick at" and "Three in the morning" are two phrases that seem to crop up when I broach this subject with others I consider wonderful candidates.

Ambrose Bierce in his Devil's Dictionary, hereafter referred to by its earlier title of the Cynics Word Book, in deference to the religious sensitivity of some Xmas wallahs, defines Dog as follows: "A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. He toils not. Neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a doormat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase an idle wag of the Solomonic tail..."

Bierce was defining a different creature from canis Farmingtonius, which snoozes not, but pads incessantly from garbage bag to telephone pole to front lawn, with a lean and hungry look, to boot.

This column will monitor Mr. Spear's efforts with a sympathetic eye in the weeks to come.

Jan. 8, 1985

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