Chester Selectmen Encumber Money for Road Work

CHESTER – Up to $100,000 could be encumbered at the end of this fiscal year to buttress highway work in the coming year. Road agent Mike Oleson met with the board of selectmen on Thursday, June 20 to update them on work he plans to do this summer and to ask them not only to encumber the funds left in his budget on June 30 but also to encumber anything left over in the general budget’s bottom line.

The selectmen unanimously supported the idea, saying it was a good idea and good use of money that otherwise would go back into the general fund. Oleson has historically pinched his pennies on pavement to make sure there is money left in his asphalt line at the end of the year to encumber and add to the next year’s funds. Oleson has received support from the selectmen to do this in the past and he argues that it allows the highway department to maximize their accomplishments each year with a couple of completed road projects.

For this summer Oleson has received bids and gained approval for a contract signing for a little over $300,000 to complete both Shepard Home and Birch roads. Shepard Home is set for a shim and overlay and Birch is to be reclaimed and repaved.

The highway department has already begun trimming brush and inspecting the roads in anticipation of the work. There is potentially one culvert replacement project on Birch. Oleson said that both roads are relatively short, but he chooses short roads because he likes to button up a project before moving on to the next and with limited funds, that means short roads are the ones that see the work.

It is expected that approximately $60,000 will be left in the highway budget. Speculation concerning several unknowns had selectman Jack Cannon estimating another $50,000 in the general budget.
To make sure they were covered on the unknown sum, the selectmen voted to encumber up to $100,000, but that kind of money may not be available.

The fiscal year closes on June 30, but what remains in the budget will not likely be known until a couple of weeks later. Within that sum the board also approved the encumbrance of $8,500 specifically to purchase a sander for the highway department’s dump truck. It’s a vehicle that has caused many issues and cost much on repairs in the last few years, but Oleson argued that the sander could be moved to a new truck when the time came and the money was not being thrown away.

According to Oleson, $15,000 has been spent on the truck since February, and in four years $70,000 has been spent on keeping it roadworthy. Another $20,000 was encumbered specifically to cover inflation on the Fremont Road culvert project that has been in the works for several years. That work is slated for the fall.

In other business:
• Recent high school graduate Trevor Renaud was approved to serve as a full member of the Chester Fire Department. Renaud has been active in the department’s Explorer Post and was given accolades by both fire chief Rich Antoine and chair Steph Landau, who has worked with Renaud in the Boy Scouts.
Renaud earned his Eagle Scout Rank. His service project was to install a new walkway into the cable studio/meeting room at the municipal complex. He also installed a bench, planted a weeping cherry tree and landscaped the area. The board thanked him for his service and asked him to make sure he kept safe.

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