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Southampton voters OK $1.8 million to replace school roof

  • 2nd grader Samantha Yunes, left, reaches for a football as Liam Illingsworth catches it during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    2nd grader Samantha Yunes, left, reaches for a football as Liam Illingsworth catches it during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Students of Norris Elementary School in Southampton play outside during recess on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Students of Norris Elementary School in Southampton play outside during recess on February 5, 2013.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • 2nd grader Liam Illingsworth, left, and Blake Washburn, right, dash to catch a football during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    2nd grader Liam Illingsworth, left, and Blake Washburn, right, dash to catch a football during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • 2nd grader Samantha Yunes, left, reaches for a football as Liam Illingsworth catches it during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Students of Norris Elementary School in Southampton play outside during recess on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • 2nd grader Liam Illingsworth, left, and Blake Washburn, right, dash to catch a football during recess at Norris Elementary School in Southampton on February 5, 2013.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has pledged to reimburse the town for 55 percent of the cost of the project, $989,584, if it is completed by Aug. 30. That would leave the town on the hook for $809,660, said Hampshire Regional School District Superintendent Craig Jurgensen.

“I’m very pleased. We need a new roof,” Select Board member and Highway Superintendent Edward J. Cauley said after the meeting. “And when you could be getting 55 percent, you have to consider it.”

Residents approved the project by a vote of 87 in favor to 3 against, but some of the 90 residents in attendance questioned what kind of guarantee the town would have that the roof would hold up. The roof has been repaired numerous times since the school was built in the 1950s, and when it was last replaced in 1987, it started leaking again before the repair project was even complete.

John D. MacMillan of Reinhardt Associates Inc., the project’s engineer, said the roof would have a warranty that would cover materials for repairs for 20 years and labor for the first two years.

Jurgensen said that because the $1.8 million will be borrowed, voters would also have to approve it on the ballot of the annual Town Election in May. He said he hopes a contractor will begin the work before the end of the school year and complete it during summer vacation.

Police equipment

Also at the meeting, the town voted 56 to 3 to buy ballistic shields and rifles for the Police Department, a $10,000 purchase that Police Chief David Silvernail called “the first step in a multi-step process to better equip the department to respond to an active shooter in the school.”

Silvernail said the two ballistic shields would provide better protection than the bulletproof vests officers already wear. He said buying four additional rifles would allow officers who live in town to have guns at home, so if they were off-duty, they could respond directly to the school without having to go to the station to get a gun.

Timothy Judd of 166 College Highway questioned the need for the additional weapons since many cruisers already have rifles in them.

“To go back to the station and make plans is going to cost lives,” Silvernail answered.

“Who takes responsibility of these rifles that will be in the officers’ homes?” asked Town Accountant Vicki Leigh Moro of Pomeroy Meadow Road, inquiring about the town’s liability.

Silvernail said many officers already keep their police rifles at home and are responsible for them.

Voters also approved 2 percent raises totaling $96,939 for non-union town employees, police, dispatchers and firefighters; $3,000 for the Almoners fund to help the needy; $3,000 for four bulletproof vests for new Police Department hires; and $30,000 to cover the cost of new stipends that are provided to on-call firefighters.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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