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First Selectman Messages

Town of Canton >> Boards and Commissions >> Board of Selectmen >> First Selectman >> First Selectman Messages

11/20/2019 - 11/20/2019


Dear Residents,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Town of Canton as First Selectman. Since this year’s election, I have been meeting with town staff and leaders to move forward on issues that touch us all. In that regard, I am pleased to report on progress made and on steps we are taking to address the aftermath of a fire training drill at Cherry Brook Primary School in 2014.

In the unlikely event that you don’t know about the Cherry Brook drill, here is a quick recap:
• In 2014, the Canton Fire Department conducted a fire training drill at Cherry Brook Primary School. The drill focused on the use of fire retardant foam which contains one or more PFAS compounds. This was common practice among fire departments at that time.
• Earlier this year, the State of Connecticut issued its first warning to the Fire Department about the concerns with PFAS compounds and the use of fire retardant foam. These warnings came to the public’s attention following the release of fire retardant foam at Bradley Airport.
• When firefighters were notified of the restrictions in the use of the foam, some firefighters alerted Town officials about the prior use of the fire retardant foam at Cherry Brook Primary School. Immediately thereafter, Town officials alerted the Farmington Valley Health District which alerted the Connecticut Department of Health and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
• On the advice of these authorities, samples were taken from the two water wells that supply water to Cherry Brook Primary School. The wells were then shut off and an alternate water supply was connected to the school. The water lines were flushed and from that point forward, the only water supplied to the school has been from a certified bulk water provider. This will continue until the Town learns that the well water is safe to drink.
• We expect results of the water tests in about two weeks. These tests will tell us if PFAS compounds are still present in the well water and if so, how much. They will also determine what additional testing needs to be done. Water is our chief concern since ingestion (not skin contact) is how PFAS chemicals are absorbed.
• These steps were described at a public meeting held on November 13. As the town gets more information, we will make it available.

I know it’s frustrating to wait for the test results, but without them, we really cannot move forward. I ask for your patience as we wait.

Sewer Connection Fees
In other news, I am pleased to report that the Water Pollution Control Authority agreed unanimously to reduce its sewer connection fees from $8600 to $4000 effective December 1. This should bring Canton into line with the fees charged in surrounding towns. Hopefully, this will bring several responsible development proposals over the finish line and help Canton increase its tax base.

Office Hours
Starting today, I invite you to meet me in my office on the ground floor of Canton Town Hall. My office hours will be 9 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 6 pm every Wednesday. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call me directly at 860-693-7847 or Claudia Nardi at 860-693-7841.

Consider Volunteering
One of the many reasons that Canton is a great community is that we have talented and insightful volunteers serving on our boards and commissions. If you are interested in volunteering for one of the many Town boards and agencies, please fill out a volunteer application for one of the positions on the list of vacancies.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday,
Bob Bessel
First Selectman




Kevin Witkos
First Selectman
Phone: (860) 693-7847

Office Hours:
 click here to make an appointment

Canton Town Hall
P.O. Box 168
4 Market Street
Collinsville, CT 06022