HANSON — The Board of Selectmen welcomed new Town Administrator John Stanbrook on board — and lauded the work of the town’s first responders, who rescued two men after a New Year’s Eve canoe accident, during their first meeting of the year Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan administered the oath of office to Stanbrook before the meeting was recessed for a welcoming reception in the Town Hall kitchen.
“I’m so excited, I can barely contain myself tonight, and I may not — just a warning,” joked Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett. “This board has accomplished a lot in the past year, but I think the most important thing we accomplished was, with the help of [interim Town Administrator] Merry Marini and [Administrative Assistant] Greer Getzen, laying a foundation for the future.”
She said that future is embodied by Stanbrook.
“He comes to us with impeccable credentials and years of diverse municipal experience and skills, which we know will serve us in good stead,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
Stanbrook’s family attended the ceremony and reception.
“I’m looking forward to working here. Day two is going very well,” he said to laughs. “There’s only 200,000 more, or whatever.”
After Stanbrook’s reception, FitzGerald-Kemmett kept the “good new train” rolling along as Selectmen applauded Hanson Police and Fire personnel who responded to the New Year’s Eve incident [see story, page one]. She began the congratulatory segment of the meeting before Marini suggested the recess for Stanbrook’s reception.
“I have cake,” Marini said.
“I’m sorry, you know me, I just wanted to cut right to [it],” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “For me, it’s not the cake — no carb thing.”
“At this end of the table, cake is important,” Marini said.
New Year’s rescue
When the meeting resumed, FitzGerald-Kemmett noted that, while most Hanson residents were ringing in the New Year on Dec. 31, the town’s first responders were addressing a “life and death drama on Maquan Pond.”
Police and Fire chiefs and personnel who were involved in the rescue were invited to the meeting so the board could “express its heart-felt gratitude to the life-saving measures that they took that evening,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr. provided an overview of the incident and said the first responders appreciated the recognition even though what they did was just part of the job.
He did acknowledge that the job they did that night was “more than routine.”
“From the beginning of this call, from dispatch getting all the pertinent information, relaying it to the crews out on the street, to the police officers getting there and locating these individuals quickly … we were also assisted by some bystanders who did a really good job attempting to help us,” Thompson said.
He called the rescue labor-intensive because the ice, while too thin to hold firefighters’ weight, was too thick to break easily. Police and fire personnel on shore worked together to pull the rescuers and victims back to shore with ropes.
“This was a team effort,” Thompson said. “It definitely made a difference that night — it was great work.”
He also credited Hanson’s mutual aid partnerships with Pembroke, East Bridgewater and Whitman for the three responding ambulances that were used to transport the victims and evaluate rescuers for signs of exposure.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell said he listened to the whole incident on his scanner, noting he had once thought he could be an on-scene incident commander, if the occasion called for it. Now he knows differently.
He learned that a generous resident was willing to launch his own boat to aid in the rescue, and thought that was a great idea. At first.
Police Sgt. Peter Calogero, however, then responded on the radio that Hanson Fire should get their boat in the water before they had a second rescue on their hands.
“That’s why Cal’s got the stripes and I don’t,” Mitchell said, relating the drama he followed along at home.
“There was a point where I was concerned you weren’t going to get to him,” he said.
Mitchell conceded there are things going on at a scene that the public may not be aware of as they listen to the scanner.
“Just listening to you guys work together was just unbelievable,” he said. “What a hell of a job by everybody.”
Bay Circuit Trail
Selectman Matt Dyer, who served on the Final Plymouth County Hospital Reuse Committee with Conservation Commission Chairman Phil Clemens, recommended an easement at Bonney Hill Way to allow the Bay Circuit Trail to skirt the former hospital property. The easement would be accessible to foot traffic only.
The trail goes through 37 communities from the North to South Shore for 200 miles. Selectmen’s approval for the easement was needed for a Mass. Trails Grant application, due in February,
The mile-long stretch through the PCH site would include bog walks and trails.