Repair panel eyes TM article
By Tracy F. Seelye, Express editor
HANSON — The Indian Head and Maquan School Repair Committee voted 6-0, Wednesday, Aug. 13 to request that the Board of Selectmen approve a Town Meeting article seeking an unspecified sum to repair the Indian Head roof, with the understanding that an cost estimate would be available by the October Town Meeting.
The panel also reviewed the immediate repair needs supported by selectmen in a 4-0-1 vote the night before. Both meetings were broadcast on Whitman-Hanson Community Access Television.
“I just want to make it clear that this is an investigative committee, it’s an advisory committee and it basicaly works in conjunction with the School Facilities Subcommittee and the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen to determine what the priority repairs ultimately should be to present at the Town Meeting,” Chairman Bruce Young said in response to questions he has received about the powers and scope of the repair committee. “We can’t order anybody to do anything.”
During their discussion, it became apparent that two of the immediate repairs selectmen approved, involving a dishwasher replacement at Indian Head and boiler repairs at Maquan — at a combined $35,000 — seemed to come as news to the repair committee.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have any say,” said Vice Chairman Michael Jones. “We didn’t even know there was anything wrong with it until they put it [before] the committee last night for $16,000 as an emergency.”
Jones suggested the School District should work with the panel more cooperatively to develop repair priorities. A more pressing need, Jones agreed with Selectman Bill Scott, would be a new set of door locks at Maquan School. It was one of the four emergency repairs the panel voted to recommed at its July 30 meeting.
“I really think they are remiss in not addressing that issue,” Scott said. “Nothing’s an emergency until something happens … the locks are a key part of that.”
Assistant Superintendent of Schools for District Operations Craig Finley told the Board of Selectmen that, while the lock updates would not be done prior to the Wednesday, Aug. 27 start of the school year, it is work that could be done while classes are in session without too much disruption.
Resident Wilbur Danner, who had served on the W-H Regional High School Building Committee, suggested the district consider leasing a new dishwasher, rather than spend the $16,000 to purchase a new one. He had also attended a recent School Committee Facilities Subcommittee meeting at which the repair was discussed. The item was included in a list of five immediate repair needs because a wash tank is leaking and the tank’s deterioration is beyond repair, according to a letter to Town Administrator Ron San Angelo from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Gilbert-Whitner and Finley. The letter, dated Aug.12 was presented to selectmen that night and the repairs were approved for presentation to the October Special Town Meeting.
“We don’t have to shell out $16,000,” Danner said. A restaurant owner, Danner leases equipment from GNC for four years and maintenance is included in the lease agreement. “At the end of four years, I have to pay 5 perecnt of the original price and the title passes.”
The purchase proposed would involve Hobart, a manufacturer Danner said, “used to be the Cadillac of the restaurant business.”
“Hobart has slipped,” he said. “Most of its restaurant equipment is made in China. They’re really living on their name.”
The other item in the School District’s letter which took the repair committee by surprise was $19,000 in repairs to a Maquan School boiler to meet state certfication compliance.
The state came in early for an inspection on Monday, Aug. 11, according to Jones, who said state inspector was asked to come in, but he was uncertain why.
“Looking at it, I don’t blame them,” Jones said. “But at the end of the [school] year, it wasn’t an issue and now … I don’t understand how no one looked at that.”
The fire sheild inside of the door was severely deteroiorated.
“It’s like hitting a moving target,” said committee member Maria McClellan of the latest reports.
Committee member Christopher Howard suggested that the panel request from the School District a complete list of all outstanding open repair items at both schools.
“I also think you should pay attenion to the validity of the items that are brought forward to you, and make sure they really are what they are,” said resident Mark Vess. “There’s a big difference between corrosion and failure.”
In other business, the committee continued discussion of rood repair options for Indian Head School as well as possible options for renovating or replacing Maquan.
Vess suggested a nonbinding referendum could help determine the town’s preferred direction on the latter issue.