HANSON — With the resignation of Town Accountant Todd Hassett, the Select Board on Tuesday, Dec. 13 voted to contract with an interim town accountant and meet after the New Year to develop a long-term strategy for hiring a new town accountant.
“[Hassett] has been with us for 10 years,” Town Administrator Lisa Green said. “He’s dedicated a lot of his time and expertise to doing well by the town. He is very well respected by all the department heads and all the employees and he really does a fantasic job and I want to reiterate that his service will be greatly missed.”
In the interim, however, Green said the town needs to have coverage and has received a proposal for interim accountant services from CPA Eric Kinscherf. But, based on Select Board concerns over cost and hours, Green prepared a request for proposals that went out this week.
Select Board Chair Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said one of the concerns Hassett has spoken of was that while any person seeking the interim post may be competent and well-versed, the town should make sure that the town does not want junior members of an accounting firm working on Hanson’s accounts.
“Our point person who’s going to be the one meeting with our department heads, our person who’s going to be your point of contact and working with our auditors and working with the town treasurer and the assessor and all that stuff, should be him or another senior member who we should have an opportunity to meet,” she said.
The interim accountant would be on-site four hours a week, and would be available by phone or email for any questions that arise.
Select Board member Joe Weeks noted the town would be paying the interim accountant $1,500 per week, the equivalent of $72,000 per year. Plympton pays $64,000 for 25 hours a week, so he asked how many hours a week would Hanson’s interim be working.
“They will work as many hours as they need to make sure the town is being represented and serviced,” Green said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett said it is a similar arrangement to the one the town had with Hassett and the dollar amount is also very similar to Hassett’s.
“We’re losing Todd at the end of the month” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “We have to have an accountant to be working with people. I don’t think anyone’s suggesting this would turn into long-term, and if it were to turn into long term, we would have a more comprehensive conversation.”
Hassett has said the town needs a town employee in the accountant position.
In other business, the Select Board approved a request from Stalwart Productions to film portions of a film, “Invitation to Bonfire,” at Camp Kiwanee and to use the former Maquan School parking lot for production parking. The tentative date for that filim is currently in mid-January.
The board’s votes were more of a formality, since a contract has been negotiated, but they gave it unanimous support.
Green said the film company had approached the town for permission to film and introduced assistant location manager Jamie Merz to speak about the request. Camp Kiwanee Facility Manager Roger Means and Deputy Fire Chief Robert O’Brien also attended the Tuesday, Dec. 13 Select Board meeting, as they have attended meetings with the film’s director and production crew to review how the facility will be used and safety requirements.
Green also asked the health agent and Conservation Commission to attend, as fake snow is planned for use during scenes being filmed at the camp.
“I think we want to definitely – and I’m sure guys would do this – is follow the Boy Scouts’ ‘leave no trace’ motto,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
“I, myself, am an Eagle Scout, so I think I could do that,” Merz said, noting the producers have not yet determined if fake snow would be used.
“You should have led with that,” FitzGerald-Kemmett joked.
“Invitation to a Bonfire,” is part of an AMC show based off a book by the same title.
“We’re looking to film over at Camp Kiwannee for two days,” Merz said. “We’re in our last couple episodes of our series and a majority of our action takes place inside and outside of Frontier Cabin.”
The scene involves two actresses walking toward the cabin, a few conversations inside where one is poisoned.
“And then we are going to simulate burning down the cabin, Merz said. “I assure you, we will not actually be burning down the cabin.”
The majority of the fire work involved in that scene will be done in Brockton, where the production company will construct a replica cabin and burn that down, according to Merz.
There are some “practical effects” that Stalwart Productions wants to do on-site, and they are talking to the Hanson Fire Department about how to do that safely.
There are four key elements to that: installation of fake fireplace in the cabin constructed of a steel box fueled by propane tubes; a curtain from that fireplace going onto a dummy for the fire to trail along; Steel plating on the cabin floor would be used to protect the building from the blazing curtain.
“I’m having a little mini-stroke, but I’m sure you guys are on it,” said FitzGerald-Kemmett as he described the effect process.
Merz assured the board at least three firefighters, a pumper truck and a number of the production company’s special effects personnel would be on hand.
“Pretty much 90 percent of the fire we’re using is propane-based,” with a crew member staffing it, he said. “If anything were to go wrong, they’d just shut it off.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said to Green that she hoped the town has looked into liability insurance and that the town is named in the policy.
Merz said the town is fully covered by a $1 million policy.
Whether or not the film crew needs to use fake snow, he said a white tarp under a snow “snow blanket,” and a cellulose product, such as paper is placed over those. They may also use a spray starch onto the top of those layers to resemble a frosty landscape of snow.
“That just gets rolled up and taken away,” he said. The cellulose is hosed down, noting that the material safety data sheets have been provided to the town.
Conservation Commission Chair Phil Clemons only concern was the particulate size of the cellulose, particularly if it is small enough to become airborne and, thereby dangerous around open flame.
Merz said he would look into it, but said it was more as a background effect.
“Back in the ‘wild West’ days, yeah, people would leave a mess,” Merz said.
Recreation Chair Frank Milisi said the production company has been very responsive to the town’s concerns and have put down a $5,000 deposit to ensure the site is cleaned up before they leave.
Green said she received an email from Police Chief Mike Miksh about the filming at Kiwanee in which he said he has no issues with the project and looks forward to working with the crew.