Town applies for $200K Homeland Security grant

MANCHESTER - The town has applied for a Department of Homeland Security grant to update the console in the dispatch center.

Town Manager John O'Keefe said the Homeland Security grant, worth more than $200,000, would help upgrade the system currently in place and help purchase a unit for the emergency operating center, as well as a portable unit.

"This is a pretty robust system that we submitted to the state," he said. "It is very expensive."

While the grant is funded by federal money, the allocation of the funds is decided by the state, he said.

O'Keefe said this upgrade would not just have an impact on Manchester; but it would also be good for the region.

"We dispatch to Manchester, Dorset, Danby, Sunderland, parts of Winhall and Rupert," he said. "This is important to public safety."

Currently, the system in use at the dispatch center is a classic telephone, with a keyboard and a radio.

O'Keefe said one of the major benefits of the new system would be redundancy.

"If something goes down in an emergency, right now there is no redundancy," he said.

With the new system, the other unit would be accessible and the portable unit only needs an Internet connection to work, he said.

Last year, the Department of Public Works applied for and received a grant to update the radios in the department trucks.

"After a high rain, one of the biggest assets the town has is the DPW crews," he said. "They need up-to-date radio equipment."

In addition, the town is looking at installing a solar powered trash compactor outside of Spiral Press Cafe, to help combat the overflowing trash can there.

The amount of trash has from time to time become a problem, especially on weekends and holidays, O'Keefe said.

"It [the trash can] is at the intersection of a lot of businesses and we don't really have the ability to keep an eye on it," he said.

Bill Drunsic, the owner of Spiral Press Cafe, said he had also noticed the level of trash.

"During busy times, it appears the one waste or trash receptacle isn't sufficient to handle the amount of trash people try to put in it," he said. "I suspect the business [Spiral Press Cafe] is partially responsible."

O'Keefe said during busy Saturdays, he would drive by in the morning and then again in the afternoon and the trash can would already be completely full. During the spring, summer and early fall, the Department of Public Works has a Saturday shift that helps contain this trash. However, that shift is no longer working.

"I am concerned about the town's image and overflowing trash reflects poorly on the municipality," he said.

To help combat the overflowing trash, a solar powered trash compactor has been proposed to take the place of the trash can currently in that location. "It is a steel box, that has a handle almost like a mail box," O'Keefe said. "It compacts the trash by simply pushing the air of the coffee cups."

With this compactor in place, the trash can will be able to hold five times as much garbage.

Drunsic, who has agreed to split the cost of the trash can with the town, said not all the trash comes from his cafe.

"Since I have physically emptied it myself, I wouldn't say that it [the trash] is the result from the cafe...there are numerous containers and items from other businesses," he said.

The trash compactor itself will cost $3,000. Additionally, a $1,500 recycling component will also have to be purchased, O'Keefe said. Drunsic mentioned the nearby parking lot as part of why the trash can is used so often.

O'Keefe said adding a separate trash can for the parking lot is not an option because the town does not own that lot.

Even though O'Keefe said the trash is a problem, it indicates there are more visitors to the town, meaning there is an economic benefit to all the extra trash.

"We can't add any trash cans because there is no place that lends itself to another trash can," he said. "It's a busy pedestrian corridor."


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