Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 09-20-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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LINCOLN – Signing off as chair- man of the Manville Fire Board of Wardens, Bob Lake told residents at a Sept. 11 annual meeting that the department is "in good shape," recom- mending no tax increase. Lake said when he joined the board three or four years ago, "all the talk was mergers, money and bankruptcy." In his final meeting as chairman, he thanked Fire Chief Peter Adam for "doing such a great job holding the line on taxes," and said he's very proud to have "played a small part in this district's solid financial position and stability without incurring any long-term debt." "This is attributable to great plan- ning, a vision of forward-thinking leaders and commitment to this com- munity with service to others," he added. "Rest assured knowing the district remains strong, robust and well-positioned to continue to provide outstanding service for the foreseeable future." Lake said the fire district has seen significant improvements over the past several years, including maintaining an average membership of around 20 active firefighters, with five or six responding to each call. Other rea- sons Lake cited for the department's upward trajectory: • The district has made meetings and the fire station more accessible by moving the tax collector's office to the first floor, adding a new ramp and rebuilding the restroom for visitors. • The district has resolved costly legal battles and reduced legal fees by "improving recordkeeping, reporting and running clear, concise meetings in fully accessible facilities." • Fuel costs were reduced by utiliz- ing a new utility vehicle for non-fire emergencies. • Heat and hot water costs were reduced by installing a high-efficiency gas-fired boiler with a smaller carbon footprint. • The district's utility task vehicle provides better access to remote areas of the bike path. Lake said he's also proud to have worked with "great neighbors, friends and complete strangers who came together for a common goal." Going off script, he said, "There's a handful of people in the district who have chased a number of good people away," and referenced last year's annual meeting, which ran for several hours after two taxpayers raised numerous concerns. "That was politics, personal greed and a vendetta against the depart- ment," Lake said. In thanking Lake for his service to the board, Chief Adam said, "It's not an easy place to be on this board, but Bob stepped in when we were hurting." At last year's annual meeting, one topic raised was a recommendation by District Attorney Robert Cavetti to update the district's operating charter, but the process has been put on hold for now with Lake's departure. "We looked at our operating char- ter, and it's too old with far too many requirements," Lake said. "It needs to be updated, which is something the next board will look at." Adam said this year brought historic change to the station's membership requirements. In prior years, employ- ees were required to live in the vil- lage of Manville, because the station did not have sleeping facilities. The addition of a new sleeping facility has allowed the department to hire outside of Manville. Adam said the department saw "an extreme increase in runs," or a 17.4 percent increase over the previ- ous year, with a total of 895 runs. Of the 895 runs in 2017, 700 were in Manville, 104 were to Albion, 58 in Limerock, eight to Saylesville, one to Quinnville and 24 outside of Lincoln. Moving forward, the chief recom- mended three purchases, which were passed as resolutions by the board: • Replacing Jaws of Life, which are more than 20 years old and no longer repairable, at $28,000. • Replacing the district's phone sys- tem, which is also more than 20 years old, at $6,000. • And purchasing a second granite monument to display the names of all of the district's deceased members' names, at $12,000. In addition, the board passed a final resolution regarding the role and responsibility of Tax Collector/ Treasurer Donna Burbank. Under the resolution, Burbank agreed to provide a higher level of access to taxpayers by holding weekly office hours. Also at the meeting, Kara McKeon and Ed Burbank, who serves as vice chairman, were elected to serve as wardens. 8 LINCOLN SEPTEMBER 20-26, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION Fire board: No tax increase for Manville residents By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTO BY NICOLE DOTZENROD Manville Fire Board of Wardens Chairman BOB LAKE, in green shirt, pictured with the other board members at last week's annual meeting, is stepping down as the the panel's leader.

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