Berlin Electric Crew Praised For Storm Work

BERLIN — During Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting, several new special events were approved in town, a public hearing on solid waste was held and the town’s electric utility was praised for their actions during the storm last Wednesday.

(CENTER/BOLD)Special Events Okayed

Charity races in Berlin were in the news this week with three different approvals for non-profit events being passed, two in April and one in December.

The first will be Paint the Town Purple, which will be hosted by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to raise awareness for this spring’s Relay for Life.

“We’re simply asking if we could hang purple ribbons or bows on the lampposts that line the street to bring awareness to the issue of cancer and the American Cancer Society’s mission to save lives from cancer,” said ACS representative Debbie White.

White asked that the ribbons be allowed to remain up from April 6 through Mother’s Day weekend, or May 12, which is when the ACS’s popular Relay for Life will take place this year.

The council agreed, with Mayor Gee Williams thanking White and her associates for their partnership with the town.

“We’re glad that you have Berlin as a focal point because we certainly want to be supportive of a number of non-profits including the American Cancer Society,” the mayor said.

The second event will be a 5K Walk/Run memorial fundraiser for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy and St. Paul’s representative Dale Smack told the council that the church is breaking new ground with the event.

“It’s going to be something different that we’ve never tried before and so far there’s a lot of interest,” he said.

The race will be held April 13 with proceeds going to St. Paul’s. The runners will stay within town limits and can register with the church now or at 7 a.m. on the day of the race.

Though Christmas is still some time off, organizer Lisa Long asked and received permission for a 2013 Reindeer Run to take place on Dec. 7. The event has been growing in recent years, according to Long, jumping from an initial race with 75 participants to more than 300 last year.

“We had a big, big turnout this past year,” she said.

Williams also remarked on the popularity of the event, which this year will donate proceeds to Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.

“This is obviously growing in popularity and gets people out in the streets early in the morning,” he said.

Solid Waste Code Tightened

The council tightened the code surrounding bulk yard waste pick-up days in town this week after a public hearing to limit who could use the service passed with no comments.

“Basically, the bottom line, I think what this means is that you have to have regular trash service to participate in bulk or yard waste collection that is done as an extra service at no cost to any resident or customer,” Williams said.

With no comments on the measure, the council passed the amendment unanimously and with no discussion.

Declaration Of Official
Intent To Reimburse

After the amendment to the solid waste code, the council reviewed and passed a declaration that will allow the town to self-compensate funds from grants for money the town spends in advance on stormwater improvements.

“It doesn’t obligate the town to borrow any funds, but what it does is if in fact the town is going to expend its own money for design and engineering when and or if the town does obligate itself for capital improvements on the stormwater management system the monies that the town has expended will be able to be reimbursed out of those bonds or those grants the town receives,” said Dave Gaskill, town attorney.

Gaskill stressed the part about the declaration not forcing the town to do anything or borrow any funds. However, he said that it needs to be in place if the town wishes to spend money in advance of grants and recoup those costs.

Electric Utility Praised

When last week’s storm felled a large tree in town, power was lost in some areas for nearly 11 hours. However, both the council and a resident who was part of the blackout publically thanked Electric Utility Director Tim Lawrence and his crew for their work last Wednesday.

The tree, which fell on Tingle Road around 5:15 p.m., dropped surrounding streets’ power until 7:30 p.m. in most areas or around 4 a.m. in a few extreme cases.

“It was probably one of the largest trees I’ve seen that’s fallen on something,” said Lawrence.

While he wasn’t sure if the crash should be attributed to high winds or a reported lightning strike, Lawrence did tell the council that the devastation was clear with a vehicle actually crushed under the impact. A neighboring house owner, he added, was lucky to have avoided a similar fate for his roof.

Williams thanked Lawrence for his leadership and pointed out that while the outage was rough town response was laudable.

“The bad thing is we had the outage,” he said. “The good thing is that we had crews that could dedicate themselves just to that one spot.”

Resident Ellen Lang, a former town councilwoman, agreed and said Berlin’s crew was amazing.

“I stood in my window and I watched them with two bucket trucks, with spotlights, it was snowing, it was blowing, it was freezing cold,” she said. “The wind chill was 19 degrees outside.”

Lang’s power was restored around 4 a.m. and she thanked Lawrence and his crew for working the entire night in miserable conditions.

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