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Fire Chief Candidate Selected

Photo by Greg Troxel

By Nancy Arsenault
A new Fire Chief was tentatively named, Solar Energy received support and updates were given on several water sources and a potential plan for the library building at Tuesday night’s Selectmen’s meeting.

Pending contract negotiations and a physical, Stow native Joe Landry is expected to be the Town’s new Fire Chief. Landry, a Maynard Fire Captain and the Head Mechanic for the Stow Highway Department, was the unanimous choice of both the Search Committee and the Board of Selectmen. Announced at last night’s Selectmen meeting, the Hudson resident is expected to bring not only professional experience and outstanding credentials to the position, but a strategic long term approach to managing the department well into the future.

Search Committee Chair Tom Ryan lauded Landry’s extensive professional accomplishments and broad knowledge of fire service operations as they exist today; a time when medical calls and emergency management sometimes far exceed the time spent on fire related matters. His knowledge of the Stow community and established, positive relationships with town firefighters and emergency personnel were considered valuable by the committee.

Ryan said that Landry continually made it to the top of the list through many rounds of interviews and written essay responses. Initially, 23 applications for the position were received, several of which came from Stow town employees and residents. “We made a point to sit down with anyone from Stow who applied,” explained Ryan of the process.

Ryan explained that the committee first looked for candidates who had achieved the rank of Lieutenant or higher in fire services, were currently working in fire services or no more than 3 years removed, were experienced in working in a community without a public water supply, and lived within 20 minutes of Stow or were willing to move within that distance.

After a round of one on one interviews conducted by all five committee members, 11 candidates were selected to continue and were given 20 essay questions to complete over a two week period. “That was very educational,” admitted Ryan of the information and opinions that came back in those essays. “We really learned a lot.”

Finally, six candidates were selected for interviews, and again as throughout the process, according to Ryan, Landry remained the top choice of the group. Two other candidates also proved strong contenders and would be considered if Landry chooses not to accept the position. Those candidates are Gregory Gagnon, Captain in the Dracut Fire Department and James Peltier, who is Assistant Chief in the Town of Berlin.

Stow Solar Challenge Wins Support
The Board of Selectmen gave an enthusiastic nod of support to the town volunteers organizing Stow’s Solar Challenge as written about in last week’s Stow Independent. The Stow Energy Working Group has definitely been working, and their efforts were applauded by the Board.  They plan to introduce a solar installation plan that residents will be invited to join, contracting with a pre-selected solar installer researched and approved by the Committee. As more and more residents sign on with the approved vendor, the installation cost for all who partake in the program will go down.

At the same time, the group will have thoroughly researched all forms of rebates, abatements, credits and other offerings that will pay back homeowners, reduce tax burdens, or send cash back to those who go the solar route. “I certainly don’t want to have to do all that research myself,” said Selectman Jim Salvie of the material and information being gathered by the group.  Committee member Arnie Epstein said, as an example, a $20,000 installation cost could be reduced to as low as $12 -$13,000 depending on which credits are available and applied for at the time. A goal of just 30-40 homes, according to Epstein, could guarantee a very low installation rate.  He said 70 homeowners have expressed an interest in the program through responses at a public forum and an online survey.

“This is a very favorable time to install solar,” said Epstein. “The costs have decreased dramatically over the past year and I have seen some fairly significant discounts in pricing.  The federal, state and local incentives have also increased.”

The installer discounts offered to program participants are generally available in a 3-4 month window. Epstein said that the Stow program would also require all installations to be completed no more than six months after a contract signing, unless the homeowner requests a longer period of time.  The group is planning to hold public forums and information sessions.

Interviews with potential installers are expected to begin soon, with the sign up period extending September through December.  Interested homeowners may reach the group through co-chair Sharon Brownfield at  Sharonbrownfield@aol.com.

Other News
Town Administrator Bill Wrigley informed the Board that the Massachusetts Legislature is near the final steps required to approve the Deerfield Lane parcel owned by the town, as a potential public water supply source location.  Long encumbered by an existing conservation restriction on the land, the state’s involvement was necessary to allow this use. Representative Kate Hogan told Wrigley that she expects approval in just a few short weeks.

On another water front, the Heritage Lane parcel, also being considered for a public water source placement, is beginning the approval process with the state. Not burdened by the same use restrictions as the Deerfield Parcel, this approval is expected to move much quicker than the other option, according to Wrigley.

The Historical Commission, Historical Society, Ancient Documents Committee and Cultural Council will be holding a joint meetingtomorrow night to discuss their interest in using Randall Library space if the Library should relocate to Pompo. Moving the Library to Pompo and sharing space there with a Community Center is an option seriously being considered and  Wrigley wants to make sure that thought has been given to the afterlife of Randall Library, in that scenario.

He said that all groups expressed an enthusiastic interest in creating some kind of historical museum, archival home for the town’s oldest records and treasures, while at the same time serving as an event and meeting space for related cultural events.

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