DERRY — A push by one town councilor to reconsider a vote last month resulted in a different outcome for the fire department.
Firefighters will now be able to accept grant money to purchase four portable ventilators. That came after councilors voted to reconsider their vote of Dec. 17 that shot down the grant funding.
Town Councilor Brad Benson made the motion to reconsider the vote at the Town Council meeting Jan. 7.
The second time around it passed, 4-3, with Benson, Neil Wetherbee, Michael Fairbanks and Phyllis Katsakiores all saying yes to the ventilator grant.
The second vote didn’t sit well with some.
Town Councilor Al Dimmock cried foul and said Wetherbee shouldn’t have voted to reconsider as he wasn’t present for the original vote on Dec. 17 He also chided Katsakiores for not recusing herself for a conflict of interest. Her son, Chuck Hemeon, is a member of the fire department and director of emergency services.
“She should have recused herself,” Dimmock said. “Her son brought the grant before us.”
Wetherbee said he had every right to cast a vote.
“As long as I sit on this Council, I am eligible to vote, and I sit on this council much to your chagrin, Al,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we have to stoop to this level to reconsider.”
Wetherbee also questioned fellow councilors who originally agreed to hold off the first vote until he was present after he formally requested the vote be postponed. Town Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks had also suggested postponing the vote until the meeting Jan. 7, based on Wetherbee’s request.
The second time around proved to be the charm.
Fire Chief George Klauber told councilors the equipment would give emergency staff better outcomes when it came to transporting patients.
He said in the past year, about 25 advance life support patients transported by the fire department would have benefited from the ventilator technology.