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“Irene” Costs May be Reimbursed

The town's costs of dealing with the aftermath of tropical storm "Irene" may be reimbursed if Worcester Country is declared eligible for federal funds, Town Administrator Louis Celozzi told selectmen on September 12. Because of this, town officials are tallying up all costs for the clean-up to submit to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), he said.

Celozzi gave strong praise to the Police, Fire and Highway Departments as well as all other staff involved. "These people did a fine job," he said. Selectman William Buckley said that public safety dispatchers handled a tremendous volume of calls and also deserve recognition. "I wouldn't trade where we are in an emergency and how we're managed," he added. "They did a phenomenal job. I'm very impressed."

Buckley noted that Fire Chief John Touhey – in his capacity as Emergency Management director – has been telling people to be prepared to survive at least a 72-hour emergency and that advice proved to be needed for those who went without power for several days. "This was a good wake-up call," he said.

The town will be proceeding with the demolition of a house at 8 Blanchard Road, because owner William Sprague has not been able to find financing to do the work, Celozzi said. The building may contain asbestos, and the town needs to pay $2,975 to a consultant to both make that determination and create a plan for the asbestos removal, he said. A $30,000 warrant article has been placed on the October 24 Special Town Meeting warrant to handle all costs associated with the demolition.

"I had hoped it would be a little faster on the Blanchard Road property," Selectman Brian Murray commented. "Hopefully, it can get rectified before the winter months." Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said that all costs the town incurs will be placed as a lien on the property so that the town can recover the money.

Last month, selectmen authorized Celozzi to work with Hopedale in submitting a funding request to the state's MassWorks Infrastructure Program to restore railroad crossings for the Grafton & Upton Railroad throughout the two towns that were paved over during the past 30 years. Celozzi told the board this month that Town Counsel Gerald Moody believes the town is not responsible for the work, and so state Representative John Fernandes, D. Milford, has been asked to get an answer from the state, since it had recommended applying for the grant.


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