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Corinth to Ponder New Fire Station

Corinth Town Meeting will be held Tuesday, March 5, at 10 a.m. in the town’s Municipal Building in Cookeville. Attendees will act upon 18 warning articles and elect 11 town officials by Australian ballot.

Corinth — Town Meeting voters may debate whether it’s time to replace two undersized fire stations that date to the World War II-era, one with a dirt floor and neither with running water.

Corinth Fire Department Chief Ed Pospisil estimates that the boxy structures, one in East Corinth and the other in Cookeville, are more than 60 years old.

When fire engines drive in and out of the former building, their side mirrors must be folded back, lest they catch on the door frame. The latter building, although its doors have been widened, has a dirt floor. Neither structure has running water and moisture from the stone walls in the East Corinth building sometimes rusts out wiring on the trucks, he said.

“Right now, I can’t even wash the apparatus,’’ Pospisil said, referring to the cold winter days that often prevent his crew from using a hose at a different location. “If a guy goes out on a call and his mask gets dirty, he has to go home and wash it in the sink.”

Taking an initial step to address the fire department’s needs is one of 18 warning articles to be discussed at Corinth’s annual Town Meeting. Proposals to determine the feasibility of building a new fire station on donated land adjacent to the East Corinth Fairgrounds and to help install an emergency power generator at the Waits River Valley School in Topsham highlight the gathering’s agenda.

Voters will be asked to consider spending $15,000 to study building and leasing a structure to the fire department.

Another substantial issue is whether $16,000 in grant-matching, town funds should be spent on the installation of a power generator for an emergency shelter at the Waits River Valley School in neighboring Topsham. Citizens there, who share a unified school district with Corinth, will vote on an identical article on the same day. Failure for either article to pass would nix the proposal.

“Those are a couple of pretty big ticket items,” said Corinth Treasurer Susan Fortunati. “In the past few years, we’ve gotten done with Town Meeting around lunch time. But we’ve got some hard issues on (the warning) this year, so the meeting might be pretty lengthy.”

Pospisil actually didn’t want the fire station feasibility item on the warning, because he believes some digging could unearth townspeople or generous outsiders who would contribute their time and expertise to the study for free.

“There’s an engineer in town that can do that stuff and help us avoid extra cost,’’ said the 71-year-old chief, who previously had a 34-year firefighting career in the Hartford, Conn., area. “The guy who is going to donate the land doesn’t want a box fire house, so we’re hoping to do a barn-type deal or maybe post-and-beam construction with green energy certification.’’

Pospisil, whose department has four vehicles and assorted other gear, said he’s hoping the town will eventually build a five-bay firehouse with running water, laundry facilities and space for meetings. Asked if he thought his vision will materialize, he sounded unsure.

“I don’t know but I hope so,” Pospisil said. “I do a lot of public relations in the community and it’s very happy with what we’re doing. We get nothing but praise from the community. When I got here, we had 18 volunteer firefighters and now we have 30. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Corinth’s proposed general fund budget for the coming year is $2,000 more than last year, at $344,000. Proposed total expenses, including the highway budget, come in at roughly $1.1 million, $23,000 higher than last year. Fortunati wrote in an email that if all this year’s warning articles pass, then taxes on a home valued at $250,000 would increase by just under $106, or 7.5 percent.

There are no contested races this year, with Selectwoman Susanne Smith’s three-year term expiring and Ryan Dodge the only citizen on the ballot to replace her. Dodge, a 36-year old-estimator for ARC Mechanical Contractors, is a 1995 Oxbow High graduate who has been a member of the Planning Commission for about a year. He said he’s lived in Corinth since he was 14.

“I stepped up because somebody needed to fill the position and I had a feeling of civic duty,’’ Dodge said. “The Selectboard asked if I was available and I might have been the first person they asked who said yes.

“I’m still very new to the game, but I’m interested in all of it and I have a deep concern for the town. As long as something is justifiable, I will definitely be behind it.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.