Sterling's tri-board meeting keeps members up to speed

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Sterling - posted Mon., Nov. 18, 2013

The Sterling Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Board of Finance met for a quarterly tri-board meeting on Nov. 13. Topping the agenda was a review of the technology upgrades to the Sterling Community School. Information Technology Director A.J. O’Connell said staff was taking the time to make sure the wireless was up and running, filters were in place, and access points were sufficient to provide coverage on all floors and wings of the school. The school plans to purchase 156 Dell computers.

Officials identified safety upgrades necessary after a safety audit was done. Tinted glass, panic buttons, card readers and video surveillance equipment will be part of that upgrade package. Superintendent Rita Klebart said the estimated $65,257 cost would be state reimbursed to the tune of $48,018 with $17,239 coming out of the school’s capital surplus fund.

Echo Energy recommended measures the town could take to reduce its energy costs after conducting an energy audit. Those recommendations include peak demand programs, rebates, AC use in the summer and converting interior and exterior lights.

BOE member Lee Shippee brought up the need for town officials to consider resources available to at-risk children and families. “There are families in town who need our support,” she said. “We’re rural and isolated, and in this economy a lot of families aren’t making it.”

Local clothing drives and food donations aren’t keeping up with increasing demands. A decrease in emergency fuel funds, SNAP benefits and food pantry provisions promise a tough winter ahead. Board members discussed contacting the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, Access Agency, the Thompson Ecumenical Group, Salvation Army as well as local granges and churches for information.

Board of Finance Chair David Shippee went over procedures in place at different town offices for the collection of fees. Board members discussed ideas for making those procedures as fail-safe as possible.

Link Cooper tendered his resignation from the Board of Finance. His position will be filled by Neil Cook. Cooper will begin selectman duties in late September.

Ruta Parker’s term on the Board of Finance expired this month, but she has agreed to stay on until the town can find a replacement for her. The Democratic Town Committee is looking for someone who will fill in for her as soon as possible. Democrats or unaffiliated residents are eligible to serve in her place.

The tri-board meeting has been held for more than two years. According to Gray, the regularly scheduled meeting gives members of the three boards a chance to hear what issues are facing the town. “It’s strictly an information meeting,” he said. “We try to keep up to speed on things.”

Shippee said the board has no secrets. “If we have problems we can discuss them,” he said. “Everyone knows what’s going on. It’s worked out well.”

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