BERLIN — Berlin Fire Chief John Lacasse has notified the city that he will be retiring, effective July 1.
“It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of Berlin and the firefighters of the city of Berlin,” he said in his formal notification to the city.
“There have been several events this past week, along with some ongoing issues, that have prompted this decision; a decision that has been weighed carefully. Though I regret retiring earlier than anticipated, it is the right decision for me at this time,” he wrote in the June 3 letter.
Lacasse was a 22-year veteran of the Berlin fire department when he was named fire chief in February 2018. He wrote that he was very appreciative of the support he received from the mayor and council, city administration and city staff during his tenure as chief.
City Manager James Wheeler announced Lacasse’s retirement at Monday’s council work session. Councilors expressed their regret at the news.
Lacasse is the second department head to step down in less than a month. Public Works Director Eric Grenier is resigning effective June 28. Councilor Lucie Remillard said she is sad to see both men go.
Both positions have been tough to fill. It took the city eight months to hire Lacasse after Fire Chief Randall Trull resigned at the end of June 2017.
Former Public Works Director Michael Perreault gave the city advance notice of his plans to retire and the position was still vacant close to four months before Gernier was hired.
In other business:
• Brownie Scouts from Girl Scout Troop 10097 met with the city council to discuss the scouts’ proposal to build a small book exchange at Community Field. Troop Leader Lisa Smith said the project is part of the scouts “Take Action Program.” The troop would take responsibility for building the small structure as well as maintaining it. The idea is to have a little box with a small number of books that kids could take and exchange.
The brownies met with the mayor and council in the formal council chambers with brownie scout Wednesday Belanger outlining the proposal to city officials.
Mayor Paul Grenier complemented the scouts on their involvement in last month’s city cleanup and their book exchange. He suggested the scouts coordinate the location of the book exchange with Recreation Coordinator Terry Letarte.
After the council voted to approve the book exchange, Grenier invited Belanger to come up and bang the gavel signifying the measure had passed.
• The council spent the bulk of the meeting reviewing sewer abatement requests.
Users of the city’s sewer system are billed annually based on 80 percent of their water usage. The public works director is authorized to grant abatements due to clerical errors. All other abatement requests go to the council, serving as the appeals committee.
This year, Public Works Director Eric Grenier sent 13 abatement requests to the council.
A majority was denied, several applicants were asked for more information, and partial abatements were granted to two.