CONWAY — While municipalities like the town of Conway are canceling selectmen's and planning board meetings due to the coronavirus threat, the tiny East Conway Fire Precinct took another approach and held its annual meeting outside around Fire Chief Richard Marr’s pickup truck.
There were six participants: Marr, commissioners Peter Campo and Patrick Young, assistant chief Suzanne Edwards, firefighter Keri Cathcart and daughter, Chelsea Cathcart, who was elected clerk. East Conway has only 297 registered voters.
Campo, who was re-elected as a commissioner, a three-year post, acted as moderator.
The auditor, moderator and the treasurer were re-elected but didn’t want to be there in light of the virus threat.
“We really respect people not showing up if they are not comfortable,” said Campo. “We set it up the safest way we could.”
Campo said in the six years he’s been part of the department, the highest attended annual meeting had 19 people. He was hoping for about 10.
Due to the coronavirus, health experts have been recommending that people stay 6 feet from each other.
In order to keep social distancing and to prevent the fire station from needing to be decontaminated, the meeting was held outside in the dirt driveway between the fire station and the flag pole.
“What’s going on in the town of Conway is the fire departments are closed to the public right now to avoid contamination to first responders,” said Marr. “So, here we are in the driveway without chairs and without tables. ... We were going to work from the back of the truck.”
Had someone requested, they could have attended the meeting while staying in their car, he said.
The meeting opened at 6:32 and closed at 6:39 p.m. as day turned to night and the sounds of honking geese and the occasional passing truck could be heard.
“Except for the vehicle noise, it worked out quite well,” Edwards said.
The weather was a mild 44 degrees and there was no precipitation. Several attendees remarked that they got “lucky with the weather.”
There were six articles on the warrant, and all passed by show of hands. They were the election of officers; the $46,650 operating budget; the adoption of a law to allow the commissioners to accept gifts for public purposes; $8,000 for the equipment reserve trust; and $3,000 for building maintenance and to act on any other business, of which there was none.