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Miceli: Town Deserves Mitigation Money For Emergency Responses To Tewksbury Hospital

Feb 12, 2015 08:34PM ● By Bill Gilman
Tewksbury officials have successfully convinced State Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, that the town deserves mitigation money from the state in return for hundreds of emergency response calls made each year to Tewksbury Hospital and various agencies located on its campus.
Miceli had initially been reticent to lobby state officials for mitigation funds, when the subject was brought up last year. However, speaking at the Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday, Miceli said he had changed his mind on the matter.
"I think it's something we have to do something about. You've convinced me," said Miceli. "You've showed me the number of runs being made up there (to the hospital). I'll have to go through the administration, through the Sec. of Human Services. But the bottom line is I think something can be done."
Tewksbury Dispatch sends Police, Fire and Ambulance to the hospital and surrounding campus for a variety of reasons, ranging from missing persons, to crimes, to false alarms, medical emergencies and transfers.
Fire Chief Michael Hazel has noted in the past that the frequency of the calls can place a burden on manpower, particularly during heavy call periods such as severe weather.
Miceli's appearance before the Board of Selectmen is part of an initiative by the board to improve its level of communication with the town's Legislative delegation. In the coming weeks, state Rep.Jim Lyons, R-Andover, and state Sen. Barbara L'Italien will be making similar appearances before the board.
Selectmen used their time with Miceli Tuesday night to discuss several issues, including state aid, the Tewksbury Cemetery land swap, the Tewksbury Library being on "warning status" with the state and sewer/water rate relief.
Regarding local aid, Miceli said he was disappointed that no firm information was available yet but he said was encouraged that newly elected Gov. Charlie Baker has pledged no further cuts.
"This governor is at least saying it will stay at present levels, which could be a positive step," he said. "I'll be doing what I always do which is to fight for as much as possible."
Selectman Jim Wentworth challenged Miceli on the local aid issue, stating he was concerned that Tewksbury only received $82 per resident in local aid in Fiscal Year 2015, compared to $102 per person for Dracut and $94 per person for Wilmington.
Miceli countered that Tewksbury gets funding in other ways, such as the $195,000 the town will save in the cemetery land swap.
"When you look at what Tewksbury gets out of the total (spending) package, it more than makes up for the unrestricted local aid."
Miceli said he was hopeful that when Rep. Lyons appears before the board in March, more information should be available regarding local aid.

In other business:
  • The board voted to post the interim position on the Library Board of Directors, created when Robert Homeyer resigned last month. The position would be very short-term, only until the April election, when someone will be elected to serve out the remaining two years of Homeyer's term.
  • The board made several appoints, filling vacancies on town board. Francesca Frazier was appointed to the Beautification Committee, Paul Salvato was appointed to the Computer Study Committee. Leonard Adjetey and Joseph Carriere were appointed to the Economic Development Process Review Committee. Patricia Stratis was appointed to the Historic Commission. Kwame Nti-Addae was appointed to the Local Housing Partnership. Heidi Morgans and Patricia Stratis were appointed to the Mass Cultural Commission. Moira Gray and Mary Jo Melloni were appointed to the Public Events and Celebrations Committee. Greg Tuers was appointed to the Recycling Committee.
  • Town Manager Richard Montuori said the unusual number of heavy snowfalls this winter have taken their toll on supplies and funding. He said salt and sand supplies had been depleted, forcing the DPW to put their focus on the main roads and school bus routes after the last storm. New supplies were expected to arrive this week. He also said the town had used the entire $200,000 allotted in the budget for snow and ice removal and were tapping into the $600,000 contingency fund that had been established by Town Meeting voters last year.
  • Both Montuori and Board Chairman Todd Johnson heaped accolades on the staff of the Department of Public Works and Director Brian Gilbert for their efforts to keep the roads clear and drivable in the face of more than 60 inches of snow so far this winter.
  • Montuori also stressed the importance of residents and businesses clearing snow off their roofs. While most town buildings are in good shape, Police Chief Timothy Sheehan encountered a leak dripping into his office this week, prompting him to take matters into his own hands and clear the roof of Police Headquarters.

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