Wakefield selectmen approve excavator and trailer purchases


by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
February 11, 2017
WAKEFIELD — In a brief regular meeting on Feb. 8 Wakefield selectmen reviewed equipment purchase recommendations with Public Works Director Leigh Nichols and discussed snow plowing issues.

The town's 1985 excavator is at the end of its useful life and its replacement is scheduled for this year. Nichols reported that he had reviewed a number of purchase options and had settled on a 2014 John Deere excavator available from Nortrax, John Deere's northern New England construction equipment dealer. A new excavator goes for $250,000 but the 2014 model, a former rental unit with 1,700 hours on it, was available for $125,695. Nortrax offered $11,000 for the 1985 unit as a trade-in, Nichols said. Adding and installing a "thumb" to grasp and hold debris in the bucket would add $13,314, bringing the total cost up to $128,009. The balance in the capital reserve that will be used to purchase the excavator is $131,300.

Nichols noted that it comes with a 32-inch bucket for ditching, has a 36-inch bucket for culvert work and a 72-inch tilt bucket. The cab is also air conditioned.

Selectman Ken Paul noted that the purchase agreement lists the excavator as new. Nichols explained that because it has been a rental unit, it is considered new as far as the five-year warranty is concerned.

Selectmen Chair Charlie Edwards did some math and announced that the machine has only been used about 10 hours a week. "We're getting a pretty good deal," he said.

The board approved the purchase 3-0.

The board also approved the purchase of a used 20-foot trailer as a cost of $2,000 from the capital reserve plus the trade in of the town's old 14-foot trailer. Nichols noted it needed a coat of paint, but that was the only flaw.

Edwards said "The roads look great," but noted that he had received complaints that dirt roads seem to be done last. Nichols said he had also received three calls on this himself. He explained that if he knows freezing rain is coming he doesn't want to plow dirt roads because then they get covered with ice and dangerous to drive. Keeping the snow in place until the freezing rain ends keeps the roads passable and easier to scrape. He said he will be happy to talk to residents who have questions and concerns.

Paul asked about homeowners plowing their driveways into the road. Nichols said there are a few who do that but wanted to remind people that the homeowner is responsible for any accidents caused by that plowing.

Other business

State Rep. Lino Avellani dropped by on his way home from Concord to thank Selectman Paul for his three terms of service as selectman and to say he looks forward to working on the board. Avellani is running unopposed for the selectman's seat Paul currently holds.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams was not present, being home sick (but watching the meeting on ClearView Community TV), so Administrative Assistant Toni Bodah sat in for her.

Bodah noted that the latest sewer warrant for $30,000 is $10,000 higher than the last semiannual bill sent out. Sewer bills are based on water usage and the gallons of water billed went up from 2.6 million gallons to 3 million gallons. The sewer rate was also increased. She said many sewer users will be surprised when they receive the next bill.

Selectmen signed an audit agreement with Vachon Clukay & Company.

Bodah informed the board that the Greater Wakefield Resource Center board had submitted a sign permit to replace their sign. Paul wondered if the board was prepared to pay for the replacement sign; Williams emailed from home that they were.

Bodah also reminded residents that it will not be possible to register cars from Feb. 17 to Feb. 22 due to a major software upgrade at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

When the regular business of the meeting was complete, Selectman Connie Twombley thanked Paul for his many years of service to the town, not only as a selectman but in other roles. "I learned a lot from you," she said, with gratitude.

The next meeting of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall conference room.

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