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Town and safety leaders hold a working summit

VERGENNES — Municipal, first response and other officials in the Vergennes area held an online meeting Friday to workout details of their response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Eighteen people attended the meeting, included officials from Panton, Ferrisburgh and Vergennes; the Addison Northwest School District; Vergennes Area Rescue Squad (VARS); Bixby Library; and Vergennes Partnership, plus Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes.
At the meeting:
•  City Manager Daniel Hofman said city Department of Public Works employees had been restricted to “only essential work.” He noted that many are also firefighters, and as well as protecting their health that city officials wanted to maintain their availability for emergency work and vital projects. 
He also reported, as did Ferrisburgh Fire Chief Bill Wager, that firefighters would respond to all incidents in full turnout gear, and that the sizes of responding crews to many incidents would be minimized.
•  Merkel said that traffic stops would be limited, with a focus on impaired driving. The department is suspending VIN checks and pre-employment fingerprinting.
Both he and a VARS spokesperson said the agencies are short on masks and hand sanitizer, but Merkel hopes to get sanitizer in large quantities from a source in Waterbury.
With Wager’s help, he hopes to get the temporary food storage and shelf set up soon at the Main Street station. 
•  ANSWD Superintendent Sheila Soule said home instructional materials were being sent out late last week, and school buildings “will be primarily closed” for the safety of maintenance workers.
The exception will be essential childcare provision for school-age children, something ANWSD will help out with. Soule said the district would work first with local providers who might be seeking the income, but had four childcare workers who could handle up to nine children at a time. 
Soule said the district is delivering meals on weekdays.
•  Vergennes Major Jeff Fritz, also the chairman of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes board, said the club prepared and delivered 170 dinners on each of Wednesday and Thursday last week. About two-thirds of those meals were going to children and one-third to seniors, he said. 
The club could use financial donations to support an effort that is now based in the Vergennes United Methodist Church, and is also running low on plastic bags.
Merkel added volunteers were still needed for this and other community efforts.
•  Wager said Ferrisburgh has banned open burning, and he suggested other towns follow suit. In general, he said the department will “minimize crew size and contact with the public.”
•  Lanpher brought the group up to date on what the Legislature had done and was working on, and also summed up how she was approaching the situation personally and hoped others were as well in maintaining social distancing:
“I’m assuming I have the virus. That’s how I operate every day.” 

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