HANOVER - The Town of Hanover, among other municipalities, has been asked by the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services if it would be willing to supply manpower and equipment to help with Hurricane Sandy disaster relief downstate.
At a special meeting Wednesday, the town council discussed the proposition. At this point in time, an agreement to offer help would not be a guarantee of deployment, but would create availability if the state asks for help.
"We were asked if we could make equipment available," Town Supervisor Todd Johnson told the board.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
The Town of Hanover conducted several items of business at a special meeting on Wednesday evening. From left; councilpersons Kevin O’Connell and Kenneth Cross, Supervisor Todd Johnson and Councilperson Fritz Seegert.
Johnson said the town owns a military-style vehicle the state may wish to use in disaster assistance.
"It's basically part of our disaster team vehicles. We use it normally in flooding situations to get people out of residences. It's a six-wheel drive vehicle with capacity to transport 20 to 30 people at a time out of disaster situations or flooding," Johnson said.
Questions were raised about the cost of approving a measure to lend equipment. Councilperson Kevin O'Connell asked whether or not personnel would also be necessary.
Johnson replied, "If we were to send our 6 by 6, that requires a Class A license so we would have to send two people with that."
Town Clerk Janine Salzman informed the board any personnel accompanying equipment would need to be covered by insurance "as if they were (working) in the town" if the board authorized an agreement to lend disaster assistance. The board agreed the next step before making any authorization would be to consult with Evans Insurance, the company which covers the town, to see if equipment outside of the area would be covered, and if an additional expense would be incurred. "They handle all equipment coverage for us, and if we needed a rider, they could advise us on that," Johnson explained.
When asked specifically about costs after the meeting, Johnson said, "From what I gathered, it would be a 72-hour deployment, then they would head home. We estimate it would cost roughly about $850 to $950 per person at the (wage) rate per person." With lodging, meals and other expenses, he said it would probably cost around $1,100 to $1,200 per person for the 72-hour period.
"They're looking for EMTs, interior firefighters, rescue boats and things like that at this point in time, fire police operations and so on," he explained.
Councilperson Kenneth Cross said he had concerns about spending money on operations as far away as New York City. "If it was Cattaraugus or Allegheny county, I might feel different," he said. He also expressed skepticism about demand for town equipment. "Our Army 6 by 6 is to rescue people in floods. The flooding is over," Cross explained.
Councilperson Fritz Seeger asked if the board passed a resolution to help, if it could reverse the decision at a later date once more information about details was obtained. Johnson replied, "No. There's pretty much no turning back once we make a decision."
The board decided to delay a decision, but to authorize Johnson to get verbal approval from each board member or call an emergency meeting to do so if asked by the state, and once more information was obtained.
In other business, after accepting a resignation which Town Assessor Darlene Fox later rescinded, the board approved reappointing Fox as the assessor. After a lengthy discussion in a closed-door executive session, the vote was unanimous. When asked why Fox resigned and then rescinded the resignation, Johnson said he could not give details, "just (that it was) something at the time."
The board also approved its School Resource Officer (SRO) agreement with the Village of Silver Creek at the meeting.
Johnson said, "We do authorize the presence of a uniformed Silver Creek patrolman to be in both school districts, Silver Creek and Forestville, in SRO capacity," but it is unclear when an officer will be present. "As of right now, we haven't received any word from the Village Silver Creek Police Department as to when officers will be trained for that role," he said.
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