PITTSFIELD — In their first meeting since the ice storm paralyzed central Maine, Pittsfield councilors Tuesday night praised the work of their Fire Department, police officers and public works crews during the recent emergency.
Pittsfield has submitted expenses of $22,000 for emergency storm losses, said Town Manager D. Dwight Dogherty, and about 75 percent of that should be reimbursed through federal emergency aid programs.
Councilor Tim Nichols said, “We really need to tip our hat” to the road crews and town highway department.
“They really did an excellent job,” he said. “I am really proud of how the community and Maine stuck together. It is good to see that people still care about their neighbors.”
Councilor Gary Jordan said that at the height of the emergency he was in the town office when Peter Vigue, a Pittsfield resident and president of Cianbro Corp., called and offered help. It was a Cianbro generator that powered the emergency storm shelter at Maine Central Institute. Cianbro generators also helped local farmers milk their cows and pump water to their herds.
“It’s wonderful to see this spirit of community from our business leaders,” said Jordan.
Kathy Brattoya, a councilor from west Pittsfield where power was out for days, echoed her fellow councilors’ praises.
“The town crews did a phenomenal job during the storm,” she said.
Dogherty said town crews are still working to remove high snowbanks for safety purposes.
“And we’ve virtually lost all the sidewalks to ice. We’ve tried to focus on the ones by the schools and then those downtown today. There are also ongoing efforts to grind up tree limbs,” he said.
Dogherty said the tree branches and limbs that are in the road right of way will be removed immediately, and in the spring residents will be notified when the town’s chipper will come to their neighborhoods, and branches and limbs can be chipped at individual homes.
“Overall, the town employees did an excellent job,” said the manager. “The biggest complaint was our handling of the Department of Human Services voucher system.”
Dogherty said the $50 vouchers had stringent conditions, and Pittsfield enforced them. This was not the case in other towns, said Dogherty, and Gov. Angus King announced Tuesday that the vouchers will be scrutinized carefully. “I feel we did the right thing,” said Dogherty.
Council members also expressed regret at the death of Eltheron “Larry” Whitman, a member of the town’s recycling committee, Community Development Block Grant advisory committee and Pittsfield’s Neighborhood Watch Program. Whitman died Tuesday morning of a heart attack.
Councilor Nichols, chairman of the recycling committee, said that Whitman was a hard worker and that his talents would be missed.