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Deerfield official sees ‘cleanup year’ for 2014

SOUTH DEERFIELD — In the new year, Deerfield can expect a few big changes as the town sets out to accomplish several longtime resolutions and goals.

“It looks like it will be a good cleanup year,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Mark Gilmore. “We’ll get a lot of stuff done we need to get accomplished.”

A month into 2014, the town plans to hire a permanent town administrator. The hope is to find a replacement before interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn leaves in early February.

The Personnel Board has already created a new job description for the next administrator, and a screening committee has been formed to review applications. The job description will be on the table of the Board of Selectmen at this week’s meeting.

With the hiring of a new administrator, the town would have replaced all of its department heads in the last two years.

This year is also the first year for Town Clerk/Treasurer/Collector Barbara Hancock. Longtime Town Clerk Mary Stokarski retired in December and the town promoted Hancock from assistant town clerk.

“We would have replaced all our department heads. It’s exciting to have that transition done,” said Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness.

The town also plans to put the former Oxford Foods property on Jewett Avenue back onto the tax rolls this year, which could add up to about $40,000 in revenue.

The town has issued a request for proposals due this month. The request leaves the option up to interested developers to propose uses for the property. The Board of Selectmen would pick which proposal it believes benefits the community the most.

One lingering task the town hopes to tackle this year is implementing the Complete Streets and Livability Plan for the village center.

In March, the town completed a plan that offered an array of suggestions on how to attract businesses, slow speeding drivers and bring some color to the village center.

This year, the town, led by the Planning Board, is applying for a Local Technical Assistance Grant to create a village center master plan designed to identify steps to improve its zoning, economic development and housing and bring the village center to life.

By March, the town, along with Whately and Sunderland, plans to hire a director to lead the state’s first inter-municipal 24/7 paramedic ambulance service. The three towns are also anticipating to receive an award from the Community Innovation Grant to help bring down the start-up costs of the service.

The South County Emergency Medical Service is a big transition for Deerfield and its partner towns as they leave behind their local volunteer departments for a full-time paramedic force.

The South Deerfield Fire District has historically welcomed Deerfield EMTs into its fire station at no cost, but this year the fire department will have to adjust to seeing new out-of-town faces. The new ambulance service and fire district are working on a lease. Allowing new volunteers into the station is a political issue that has troubled some of the firefighters, who are concerned with security of the building. The South County EMS is allowed to temporarily base its primary ambulance out of the fire station for up to three years until it finds a permanent location.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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