Don Lowe (D): 2 Capital Projects with Problems

Town Tribune Article,  October 5, 2017. As I write this, our nation is once again confronted with a senseless mass killing in Las Vegas, this time the largest one in our history. In the coming days, many issues will come into play as the shooting’s facts are revealed. We will again seek answers for the motives behind this horrifically violent event, but time and again they remain beyond comprehension. Here in Sherman, we must remember that the smallest acts of kindness, the consideration and generosity of our neighbors, can make all the difference in the quality of life in our community. I am proud to see how good we are to each other, delivering meals to families who are grieving, driving those who can’t drive themselves, finding ways every day to reach out and lend a hand to those in need. In an election year, it is no small thing to be reminded that while we may disagree on certain issues, we are all in this together, and we are very lucky to live here in Sherman.

In the spirit of those who help others, Sherman is blessed to have an outstanding Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD). These super dedicated men and women are first on the scene for residents’ emergencies and that’s reassuring. Having dedicated emergency service volunteers is not only a positive for our safety and well being, but it’s a tremendous cost savings for the town. I had the privilege last week to witness a car fire drill and have it explained to me by Chris Fuchs. a firefighting professional who devotes time and good energy to the SVFD. My goal is to learn all I can about the SVFD in order to better serve them whether I win the race for First Selectman or not. We can all support the SVFD through donations and also by filling out an application to join the organization. If you join. you’ll meet some of the nicest people in Sherman.

For the coming weeks you will hear the phrase “pay as you go” by my fellow Board of Selectmen members. Clay and Bob tout this frequently. It’s in reference to managing the funding of town capital projects. Both Clay and Bob are fine fellows and can be excused for ginning up an issue or two during election season. In reality, however, this is a false claim. There has been nothing in Clay’s six years that the town wouldn’t have paid as we go. In six years, we have had only two primary capital projects and not very lofty ones at that. One is the wash station up at public works. The BOS had to go to the taxpayers, hat in hand, and ask for an extra $100,000 to complete that one. ( I voted “no” on the extra money hoping we could discipline ourselves to build it with the original state grant.) The other capital project was refurbishing the tennis courts. Even as a Selectman I still don’t know how much we paid for that. No transparency. We did pay nearly $27,000 for 312 hours of engineering to complete the project, which was advertised to the public as “pre-engineered.”

The solution to the mix-up with both projects is to communicate clearly with all parties before the project begins, follow through, and then be transparent with the process at every stage so that taxpayers can understand where their money was spent. I will do that. Of course, we’re lucky: These aren’t huge capital projects. But we might have one in our future depending on what voters decide to do about the K-Wing portion of our Sherman School. This is why I am delighted to have Kevin Keenan as my running-mate. As a professional builder with infrastructure expertise across the board, Kevin will be the most talented Sherman Selectman on capital projects since Mr. Ken Grant. Together, Kevin and I are prepared to successfully manage whatever projects come Sherman’s way.

At the last BOS meeting, I made my proposal for an ad hoc Reliable Cell Service Committee. Clay and Bob needed more time to think it over before voting on whether to approve so it’s in limbo. The committee will be comprised of the diligent Sherman folks who have researched this issue and made recommendations to our present First Selectman. The purpose of the committee, which I will serve on, is to make sure that the good work of the reliable cell service people is followed up on and acted upon. If you elect me as your First Selectman, “Following up and acting upon” will be the hallmark of my term in office and a big improvement to the town. I have no other higher political aspirations: the office of First Selectman will be my job, not a stepping stone to higher political office.