Changes coming for towns public safety services (5/20/10)

May 20, 2010

By Greg Duggan

Observer staff

July 1 will be a big day for Williston’s public safety agencies.

That Thursday, the town plans to install a new police chief and launch its own ambulance service, and officials report that both changes are progressing on schedule.

Town Manager Rick McGuire informed the Selectboard on Monday that a hiring committee had finished interviews with three finalists for the police chief position.

The town has been without a full-time chief since July 2008, when former Chief Jim Dimmick suffered a stroke. Acting Chief Doug Hoyt, a former Montpelier police chief, temporarily joined the force last month.

For the final step in the hiring process, McGuire said the three candidates received a driving tour of Williston, met with Hoyt and several other town employees and proposed a hypothetical budget for the next fiscal year. McGuire told the Selectboard he is now speaking with town employees about their impressions of the candidates.

The town has also made progress toward implementing its own ambulance service. Currently, Williston relies primarily on St. Michael’s Rescue for emergency response. But the Selectboard decided to include an ambulance service in the municipal budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and voters approved the budget at Town Meeting in March.

After purchasing a new ambulance last month, the town has now also bought a used ambulance from Odessa, Del. McGuire told the Selectboard the used ambulance is in excellent condition. Both vehicles have been included in the town’s plans for the ambulance service.

To offset some of the costs, the fire department has sold some of its own equipment, including its hazmat truck and a car. Melanie Watson of the fire department said a department in Ohio bought the hazmat truck last month. The truck was used to clean up hazardous material spills, though McGuire said the state now handles that type of work.

By obtaining the new equipment now, McGuire said the fire department can begin training staff to be ready for the July 1 launch of the ambulance service.