Houlton councilors appoint airport manager, submit fire equipment grants

5 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — A town employee now has additional duties on his plate after town councilors appointed him to a temporary position.

Chris Stewart, superintendent of the Public Works Department, is now going to serve as director of Houlton International Airport on a temporary basis.

He will take the place of Ben Torres, who left the position earlier this year.

Milton Cone, the town’s fire chief and cemetery superintendent, filled in for Cathy O’ Leary, the interim town manager, during a meeting on Sept. 24.

Cone said that Stewart was unanimously appointed to the post and will perform all administrative duties at the facility.

In other business, the town is continuing an effort to replace some of its aging equipment.

During the meeting, councilors authorized the application for a $2,000 grant from Maine Municipal Association Risk Management Services to be used to buy four self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air bottles for the fire department.

Cone said the fire department currently has 42 SCBA bottles. Thirty of them were purchased by the town, and 12 of them were purchased by the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

“All of the bottles have expired their shelf life of 15 years,” he said. “MEMA has replaced all 12 of their bottles. We have replaced 26 of our 30 bottles. If we are successful, this will complete our replacement cycle.”

Town officials also are planning to re-apply for a grant to replace turnout gear for its firefighters. Cone said the town was informed last week that it had been turned down for a $90,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that would have paid to replace the gear and buy a washer-extractor and a dryer for the department. Since firefighters are often exposed to chemicals, biological agents and particulate matter, they need special equipment to clean and dry their turnout gear in a way that preserves the integrity of the product.

Earlier this year, Cone submitted a list of big ticket items to be included in the capital plan. He noted that the fire department needed an estimated $75,000 to replace its worn 16-year-old turnout gear.

Ketch said Thursday that the town plans to re-submit the grant before the Oct. 26 deadline.