Stuart named new chair of BOS
By Tom Reilly
The Sutton Board of Selectmen, as it does every year at this time following a town election, reorganized during their June 3 meeting. The Board generally rotates its leadership positions, so John Hebert was stepping down as chairman.
Selectmen unanimously voted to make Ken Stuart the new chairman, in short order then chose David Hall as vice chairman and Michael Chizy as clerk. These votes were also unanimous.
Before stepping down, Hebert thanked all of his colleagues for their help during his year as chairman. He said he also wanted to thank former selectman Rich Hersom for several of his ideas over the past year.
Hebert said the Board stood strong on a number of issues, something he saw as coming from “great ideas, great communication, a town administrator who we can work with along with our financial team, department heads, and lastly, the workers.” But it was the citizens, said Hebert, who seemed to be at the bottom of the pole that were really at the top of the pole because the Board listened to their idea and concerns.
“I think that makes out town here very healthy,” said Hebert.
He said the town’s bond rating was AA and was one of the best in the Blackstone Valley. He added the town had a balanced budget this year presented well ahead of schedule. He also noted there had been no layoffs in the school department this year, something he saw as a plus for both the school department and the town.
Now there were “two beautiful schools” whose construction was now ahead of schedule after being taken over by Brait Builders earlier this year. He said the selectmen had taken criticism on how it has handled the school project, but the members stayed together as a board during its negotiations with the bond and surety companies.
Hebert said as long as he was on the Board—which he hoped would be at least this term plus one more—the highest priority were feasibility studies for a new police station and a new highway department facility. He said the DPW in particular was on an ever decreasing footprint at its base of operations off of Route 146. There was a new highway superintendent in Matt Stencel but the town had also been forced to move its salt shed from a nearby parcel into the DPW yard itself and that it had already been short of space before that. Hebert said the DPW did a great job getting all to fit.
He said he hoped the Route 146 project at Boston Road would be finished late this fall or early next spring. The contractor has been dealing with moving telephone poles and there was now a wall next to Tony’s Pizza on the southbound side, Hebert said. All of the conduit work was being laid to the intersection of Boston Road and Pleasant Valley Road so that a new traffic light could be installed if needed. Pleasant Valley Road itself would be widened to 24 feet and it was going to handle any northbound Route 146 traffic that wanted to go to Sutton’s center. He said this was going to eliminate some of the turn cycles.
Stuart said being chosen as chairman in the town where he grew up, went to school, and raised his family was the greatest honor he could achieve. He thanked Hebert for the great job he had done that year in keeping the Board focused on the issues. Stuart said this was his fourth year on the Board and also wanted to thank Chizy for all his help. He asked him to kick him if he said anything wrong. He concluded by saying he was happy to have news selectman Paul Maynard on board and also thanked outgoing selectman Rick Hersom for his years of service. He said Hersom really kept the Board “on the level,” even though they did not always agree.