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Fuel a growing concern in New Durham

August 16, 2011
NEW DURHAM — Road Agent Mike Clarke, while giving the New Durham Board of Selectmen a routine update of highway department activities, brought up what has become the biggest concern of all town officials.

"All projects are on schedule, sand and salt are on hand, all dirt roads have been graded," Clarke said. "But I'm running out of fuel."

He figures he has enough in his budget for one more load of diesel and gas.

Chairman Terry Jarvis noted that Clarke was not alone.

"The whole town has the same problem. There's only 20 percent of the budget for heating oil for all town buildings remaining," she said.

Though crude oil has dropped substantially in recent weeks, it is not expected to precipitate lower prices in time to ease the problem. Jarvis noted that she had already had some discussions with the budget committee and something has to be done. Clarke also reported that the new fuel pump had been installed to replace the one that was destroyed by a delivery truck. Apparently the driver backed into it. The accident resulted in no costs for the town.

Fire Chief Peter Varney provided an update on his department's activity.

"We have found a new source for oxygen that will save the town about 65 percent," he noted.

The trucks that had been down are now back in service.

"The cost of diagnosing through the onboard computer is crazy. The dealers get $95 an hour including travel time. The problems were minor but we were billed, probably, $1,500," he said.

Varney suggested that the town look into buying its own diagnostic equipment, noting though, it would be expensive. Jarvis thought that it might be something the town could use for all departments. It was agreed that it would be looked into at a later date.

Responding to a recent request by the Rochester Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) to review the town's 100 percent reduction of funding to the VNA, Jarvis said that she believed that the board was prohibited by statute from making any changes.

"We can't pay out more money than already appropriated, even if we chose to," she explained.

Selectman Dave Bickford agreed but did suggest that the board should speak with counsel before releasing a decision.

The board received a letter from a family in town, thanking members of the highway department, who investigated a strange car that had recently parked on their property. The letter expressed appreciation that the crew remained until police arrived.

Clarke added, "I saw a guy slumped over the wheel and that it was now a police matter."

Next meeting

The board will meet on Aug 29 at 7 p.m. at town hall.

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