HANSON — New firefighter Thomas White was sworn in at the Tuesday, Feb. 19 Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
Before the ceremony, Selectmen Chairman Kenny Mitchell thanked Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr., Deputy Chief Rob O’Brien, Lt. Sherry Mullin and the entire fire department and mutual aid responders who battled the house fire at 45 Milford St., Tuesday, Feb. 12.
“I happened to be a couple of streets over when the fire started, and it was just impressive seeing you guys [work],” Mitchell said to applause from the board and audience. “The conditions weren’t favorable — it was the middle of a storm — I know you guys had issues getting water at times, but it was nice seeing the leadership, the professionalism and teamwork. You guys should be proud of yourselves, so thank you very much.”
Thompson also lauded his department for a job well done and added this thanks for the other departments lending mutual aid, especially Hanson’s Highway, Police and Water departments.
“Their assistance that night was invaluable,” Thompson said. “I’ve always said, ever since I got a job in town on the Water Department several years ago, it’s so nice to live and work in a town where the departments get along so well and work together.”
He then talked about his newest firefighter.
White is a lifelong resident of Hanson and 2008 graduate of WHRHS. He is currently a firefighter in the Army Reserve, serving on active duty several times. He applied to be a call firefighter in June 2015, serving Hanson in that capacity for three years before receiving a conditional offer on employment in January 2018, filling a vacancy created by promotions.
“He had a busy 2018,” Thompson said, noting EMT White had to obtain paramedic training and pass national exams as well as attending the Mass. Fire Academy, graduating in December, and completing his year’s probation last month.
“He’s been a great addition to our department,” Thompson said of White. “Some of the skills he has obtained, and is still obtaining, in the Army help us out greatly and he has just been another great member for our department.”
White’s mother Susan pinned on his badge after Town Clerk Elizabeth Sloan administered his oath of office.
In other business, Selectmen voted to approve a Senior Center consulting proposal.
“The more we can get a vision for each group, the better off we’ll be,” said Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett.
“I keep thinking of what [Selectman] Wes [Blauss] said a couple weeks ago with 40 percent of [Hanson’s] population being over 50, that it seems this is just pulling everything together,” Selectman Jim Hickey said, referring to similar studies already underway for other town departments such as the library.
Hickey also questioned the current process for interviewing Recreation Directors, as the last two hires haven’t worked out.
“What if we changed up so we’re not falling into this trap again?” FitzGerald-Kemmett agreed, asking if the job description has been tightened up or has a better support system been developed. “How do we set this person up for success and make sure, first of all, that we’re picking the absolute right person and that we’re setting them up for success.”
Town Administrator Michael McCue said more discussions will be conducted with candidates — particularly the one on which they reach consensus — to give them an idea of where the past shortcomings may have been and where strengths need to be.
“I don’t think we feel there’s a necessity to fill the position just to fill the position,” McCue said.
In the past, only one or two Recreation Committee members spoke to all the candidates before the finalists were brought to the whole board, and that will change this time around, said Selectman Matt Dyer, who is the board liaison to Recreation.
“We need to make a business plan up there,” Dyer added. “I don’t think it needs to be a finalized plan, but I think we really need to define the hierarchy of what Camp Kiwanee is, who’s reporting to who, who’s responsible for what, and I think that is really going to help the next person, as well as making sure the goals are crystal clear, right from the beginning.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett noted that Selectmen had not put forth a clear expectation, either.
“I think having Matt as a iaison over there is huge,” Mitchell said.