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Hilltown Voices: New wheels for Goshen fire chief

  • The Goshen Fire Department’s new 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab. COURTESY PHOTO

  • The Goshen Fire Department’s new 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab. COURTESY PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 1/31/2020 11:26:19 AM

After having to use her own private vehicle for business and emergency response calls for the last seven months, Goshen Fire Chief Sue Labrie says that she is happy that the Fire Department's new vehicle has finally arrived.

A replacement for the chief's 2007 Ford Explorer, the new 2020 Toyota Tundra SR5 Double Cab arrived last Wednesday, complete with some practical safety and utility features that surpass the capabilities of the older vehicle.

Labrie said that the brakes on the Ford Explorer had ceased to operate in June, as the department was waiting for the arrival of the new truck, the purchase of which had been approved at the annual Town Meeting in May, 2019.

At that meeting, voters gave the thumbs up for the $51,000 SUV as well as a new $55,000 all-wheel-drive utility vehicle for the Police Department to replace a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria and $33,000 for a Ford F350 3/4-ton pick-up truck for the Highway Department to replace a 1986, military surplus pick-up truck.

“It turned out to be a longer wait than we thought,” Labrie said.

The primary purpose of the fire chief's vehicle, or Car 1, is to respond immediately to an incident and assist in setting up a response plan. The extended cab seats five adults and came with a cap on the truck bed, which in itself enhances the safety of its occupants.

“This allows me to keep my contaminated turnout gear outside of the passenger compartment,” Labrie said. “When I had to keep that in my own vehicle, I used a non-porous mat in the car and the gear was in a bag.”

The truck bed is illuminated and has a full slide-out extension with a locking drawer, giving Labrie and other firefighters easier and quicker access to the equipment on board. The slide-out also features a large reversible dry-erase command board.

A new light bar system enables the emergency lights to dim once the chief arrives at the scene, allowing the lights to remain on, yet not blinding emergency response workers or oncoming traffic.

“The old one was either on or off so this is a lot safer,” Labrie said, noting that the Fire Department gets about 100 to 115 calls annually. 

“I hadn’t had it 24 hours before I had to take it out on a medical call,” she said.

Leaky roof fixed

CHESTERFIELD – Teachers, students and staff at the New Hingham Elementary School now have a brand new roof that will keep them safe and dry into the future.

The recently completed shingle roof replaces a deteriorating structure that had left crumbling shingles around the outside of the building and leaks within the school.

Principal Jesse McMillan said that there had been ongoing discussion about replacing the roof for the past few years, but noted that funding has been a major issue for both of the towns in the district.

The school serves Chesterfield and Goshen, each of which approved funding for the roof at their annual Town meetings in May 2019. Cost estimates for the project at that time were between $391,000 and $441,000.

McMillan was unable to be reached for comment on the final cost of the roof installation.

Cabinet of Curiosities

WILLIAMSBURG – If you have a taste for perusing interesting items and artifacts, you may want to check out the Cabinet of Curiosities at Meekins Library. 

Library Director Beverly Bullock said that Meekins is putting more focus on this changing exhibit after a show featuring intriguing old coins and metal objects found by a local metal detectorist were put on display, became a big hit with both library staff and patrons.

“Right now we have some modernistic sculptures by Larry Slezak on display,” Bullock said. 

She said that upcoming displays this spring and summer will include things like fans from around the world, photographic works of Hatti by a Connecticut-based photographer, memorabilia pertaining to Queen Elizabeth, and items that will celebrate American women's suffrage.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at

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