Highly Decorated Officer Targeted For Madison Police Hire

Also at selectmen meeting, improvements to senior center, new senior center staff, upgrade for senior center manager, money for fire department radios approved. John Koobatian of North Madison leads Pledge of Allegiance.


John Rich, a highly decorated police officer who is currently a lieutenant with the Connecticut State Police and the commanding officer at the division of internal affairs, has been identified as the lead candidate for the second in command at the Madison Police Department. 

Rich's employment was discussed at an executive session of the Board of Selectmen Monday night, and again during open session of the selectmen's meeting.

"We intend to offer him an employment package" effective upon Rich's retirement from the state police August 1, Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm said, adding that the process would be finalized in an upcoming Police Commissioners meeting.

According to Rich's LinkedIn profile, he has a long list of awards to his credit, including awards for being the top graduate in his training class, for crisis intervention leadership, three awards for meritorious service, a lifesaving award, and two awards for outstanding police service.

John Koobatian, teenager from North Madison, recognized for bravery

The selectmen's meeting Monday night began with Selectman Joan Walker recognizing . Koobatian earlier this summer saved a drowning dog while on a family outing at Chatfield Hollow.

"He went out and saved the dog's life," Walker said at the meeting, to applause from the crowd in attendance. Koobatian then led the Pledge of Allegiance before the regular session of the meeting.

Also at the meeting, Captain Bob Kyttle explained why the all-volunteer fire department, which takes the lead on protecting the heavily populated south end of town that includes the restaurant and retail district, needs an additional $30,424.21 to buy 18 portable radios and related equipment "to ensure firefighter safety and to meet FEMA and NFPA recommendations."

Radios become a firefighter's "lifeline," "We really need this"

Kyttle said Madison Hose. Co. No. 1 has been carefully evaluating the purchase for about four to five months, making sure that the new equipment works well and matches the town's new communication system. He said the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that everyone working on an air pack have a portable radio. While the department currently has about 14 radios, the department has more than 30 members.

He said that during a large scale incident, more than 14 firefighters might be deployed at any one time, and that a radio is a fire-fighter's "lifeline." "We really need to upgrade this," Kyttle said.

Selectman Diane Stadterman asked why the request was being made now, rather than as part of the normal budget appropriation process. "Why is this a special appropriation?" she asked.

Timing of purchase questioned

Kyttle responded that the department wanted to make sure that they had everything correct when it came to making the request for the radios, necessitated by the town's recent upgrade of its communication system. He noted that the process included detailed research and having the volunteers do drills as part of an evaluation process to make sure that the radios would allow the firefighters to communicate effectively in an emergency.

Stadterman said, twice more, that she still didn't understand the timing of the request and why it was being made now, rather than as part of the department's overall budget request during the normal budget cycle.

Budget workshops generally start around December of each year and budget referendums are generally sometime in May. So, if Madison Hose Co. No. 1 waited for the next budget cycle, the equipment purchase would be made sometime after May 2013.

Selectman Joe MacDougald noted that the budgets for the current fiscal year, which just started, were submitted eight months ago. First Selectman Fillmore McPherson added that the radio purchase was a one-time request, rather than a recurring item that needed to be embedded in the budget, and so Madison Hose Co. No. 1's request seemed appropriate at this time.

Purchase of radios unanimously approved

Board of Finance member James Matteson, who attended the meeting, said he had the same question that Stadterman had about the timing, and that he also wondered whether the North Madison Volunteer Fire Department, an organization separate from Madison Hose Co. No. 1 that takes the lead on protecting the geographically large north end of town, would also need new radios.

Kyttle, an officer with Madison Hose Co. No. 1, said he did not know whether North Madison Volunteer Fire Co. would also need new radios.

The selectmen unanimously approved the special appropriation for the purchase of the radios. Stadterman said, after the meeting, that she did not question whether the radios were needed, but that she just wanted to clarify the timing of the purchase and why it wasn't made during the normal budget appropriation process.

Request to add sound buffer to senior center, for $39,875, approved

Later in the meeting, the selectmen took up the issue of a request from the town's facilities department to make a $39,875 addition to the town's new senior center. Madison Director of Facilities Bill McMinn said the money would be used to install a sound abatement structure in the ceiling of the senior center cafeteria. He said the town has received several comments to the effect that conversation can be difficult in the cafeteria because of the acoustics.

Stadterman, who served on the building committee for the senior center, noted that the project was "near and dear to my heart," and said the additional money was needed "not because mistakes were made or because the design was faulty," but because an apparatus that would have served this purpose was removed from the originally proposed budget of $6.6 million for the senior center and ambulance garage, as part of an effort to get the cost of the senior center/ambulance garage project down to a level where it would be approved by voters at a referendum. She said at the time the apparatus was removed, it was considered decorative rather than functional.

The senior center, which opened in late 2011, was built at a cost of about $5.5 million along with the new ambulance garage.

McMinn said that he considered the sound abatement structure to be an "enhancement," and that the cost reflected the town's desire to do it in a way that was attractive. "We want to put in a quality job in such a beautiful building," he said.

"With all that nice space, it echoes"

Selectman Joe MacDougald asked if there was any way to reduce the cost of the project. McMinn replied that another option to buffer the sound might be to install curtains, but that the facility has beautiful windows that would then be covered. Selectman Joan Walker said a reverberation test came back at a level of 1.35, much higher than the recommended level of .70.

"With all that nice space, it echoes," McMinn said.

The request was approved 5-0.

Senior Services Manager receives a raise, new program coordinator approved for senior services

Also at the selectmen's meeting Monday night, the selectmen changed the position and salary for Joe Petrella. Petrella was hired in August 2011 at a salary of $55,000 and received an unspecified raise in March 2012 upon successful completion of his probationary period. At the meeting Monday, his position was changed to Senior Services Manager (E-5) from Senior Services Supervisor (E-4) and he now will report directly to First Selectman McPherson.

His new annual rate of pay, effective July 23, 2012 will be $68,000. The new position and salary were approved at the meeting.

Also at the meeting Monday, the selectmen unanimously approved the hiring of a part-time (20 hours a week) program coordinator for the senior services department. The effective date of hire is August 13, 2012 at an hourly rate of $19.73. This position is a new position and will be self-funded with program funds, said Director of Human Resources Amy Dickman.

Attendance, programs at the senior center discussed

Petrella attended the meeting and provided the selectmen with a general update about activities and attendance. He said in the six to seven months that the senior center has been opened, it has added 26 programs, some of them one-time programs and others that are ongoing. He said 40 fitness passes have been sold and that there has been an increase in the number of people participating in exercise programs.

The number of people people participating in card game programs ranges from 5 to 6 up to 24, he said, and that 75 seniors recently attended a free brunch hosted by St. Andrews and the First Congregational Church at the senior center.

Petrella said he has heard criticism that "the parking lot is not always full," but that lunches routinely attract, on average, about 25 to 27 people. He said the town also is starting to see an influx of participants from surrounding towns, including Killingworth and Clinton. Movie matinees on Friday generally attract about 14 to 20 people, he said.

Quarterly look at revenues and attendance at senior center planned

He said the center would like to expand programs into the evening hours, and that the hiring a new coordinator should help allow for that. Future plans include creating a handbook, formalizing a volunteer program, further developing a community outreach program, developing a marketing plan for programs, and developing a quarterly report that would detail revenues and how many people are attending programs. "We need to look at that quarterly," he said.

Petrella said the center still "has a long way to go." Asked how many people use the center on an average day, he said it was hard to quantify exactly, but he estimated it was about 30 to 50 people on a typical day when lunch is served. "But that could be low."

Also at the meeting, Dickman was promoted to the position of director at a salary of $76,400, effective July 23, 2012. Dickman was hired May 2, 2011 as human resources manager at a salary of $66,500 a year.

Clam dig, book sale discussed, other action taken at meeting

In other action at the meeting,

  • Selectman Joan Walker reported that the Shellfish Commission is planning another clam dig on August 11 and 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Surf Club, and that more details will be coming soon.
  • Selectman Al Goldberg noted that the Scranton Memorial Library's annual book sale will be this coming weekend, and that they are "overloaded with book donations."
  • State Rep. Noreen Kokoruda provided an update on the status fo state funding.
  • The selectmen agreed to have a street light (not a stop light) installed at the intersection of Horsepond Road and Kelsey Springs Road at the request of area residents.
  • Facilities Director McMinn reported on the current field management for the town and school, and discussed the possibility of a pilot program for organic and non-pesticide management for the town's new Constitution Park. Additional research and meeting are planned on the subject.
  • The resignation of Connie Richer-Fannelli from the Youth and Family Services Board was accepted with thanks for her service.
  • Alison Keating was appointed to fill the vacancy on the Youth and Family Services Board for a term to expire Jan. 1, 2013.
  • James Monahan was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Energy Efficiency Committee for a term to expire Jan. 1, 2015.
  • A special appropriation request of $49,502 from Human Resources for the payout of sick and vacation time for additional police (O'Connor, Pardo, and Dobbin) and town (Bavin) retirees was approved. "Retirees were not anticipated," the agenda said.
  • The hiring of Cheryl Kuszpa for a part-time senior account clerk/bookkeeper, an approved, budgeted replacement position at $19.34 an hour was approved.
  • The hiring of John Rank as a full-time maintainer, a full-time budgeted replacement position at $15.47 an hour was approved.
  • A request from Director of Public Works Michael Ott to spend no more than $42,000 from the highway equipment and town vehicle fund to purchase two vehicles to add to the police department fleet was approved. Ott said this purchase would not have a detrimental effect on the ability of the town to maintain its fleet.
  • Line transfers totaling $12,835 were approved.
  • The hiring of Brandon Annicelli as a full-time maintainer for the Buildings and Grounds Department, a budgeted replacement position, at the union contract rate of $15,47 was approved.
  • The hiring of Robert Russo, a full time engineering assistant for the public works department, at an annual salary of $50,000 was approved. This is a new, budgeted position that was approved as part of this fiscal year's budget.
Clara July 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Does our town have procedures and policies on hiring? Is that something we as tax payers can view? I would also like to see a list of the other candidates that were considered for this position.
Malinda Moore July 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Carla, you and a lot of other people would like to know who all the canidates were so with that said, they will never tell you or anyone else. Good luck and give up. It's a power thing.
Malinda Moore July 29, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Regarding the Sand Man questions. How does this pan out now? What are the sanctions against the town tax payers or former town employees who were allowed to attend The National FBI Academy but didn't follow the agreements in the contract of remaining in law enforcement for a minimum of three (3) years after graduating? How many Madison Officers have ever attended and which ones failed to meet this requirement? Another costly civil litigation against the town or just a loss of future enrollment from the Madison Police Department? Or was it just a gentleman's agreement based on character, credibility and honor? Does anyone have answers? Embarrassing for the town either way to say the least.
sand man July 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Soon we will be calling John Rich RICHY RICH $$$$$$ With the amount of money he will get. Starting at $ 98,000.00 & bennifits & a car.
elevator parts September 27, 2012 at 03:32 AM
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