By Katina Caraganis
TOWNSEND -- After nearly a decade serving on the Board of Selectmen, Robert Plamondon decided to step aside to spend more time with his family.
Plamondon announced his decision to leave the board at its meeting earlier this week. He said he is moving out of state to be closer to his children and grandchildren.
"As soon as I sell my house in Townsend, I'll be there. It's projected to close at the end of the month, but you just never know with that stuff," he said Thursday.
Plamondon has served three three-year terms and said his decision to move on is bittersweet. One of the things he'll remember most, he said, is the collaboration between the community and the town to build a new library.
"Not that we (selectmen) were the force behind it, but we helped facilitate it and expedite whatever permits and working with Gary Shepherd and Sterilite and other parties involved," he said.
However, the one thing that touched him the most, he said, was seeing a young boy in town be honored by the Police Department with a new bicycle after he called 9-1-1 when his grandmother was sick and saved her life.
"Believe it or not, one of my favorite meetings was when he came in. The chief let him wear his hat and he got a new bike," he said. "I have two grandchildren and this meeting just touched me. The picture of it was just awesome. It was a happy ending. It just felt good. It was not political and I think that's why I enjoyed it the most.
One of the things he wishes he could see through is the building of a new central fire station in town. Currently, the town has five stations and Fire Chief Donald Klein has been working to build a new station to centralize operations.
"I'd like to see that happen. I think that's the next step for the town. I don't know what the taxpayers will decide to what extent they want to approve and what final plan they ultimately accept is up to them," he said. "I think it's clear we need a central fire station. I think the issue will be cost."
The high school building project is another challenge facing the town, Plamondon said. The school district is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to build a new high school to replace the existing building, which is more than 50 years old.
Plamondon said that while both buildings are desperately needed, it's up to the voters to decide if both in the same year are something they can afford.
"With the economy and the taxpayer fatigue, I think that will be the biggest challenge. It's we can afford it but at what price," he said. "It's up to the people whether or not they can afford or what modifications can they make to reduce the price tag and make it more manageable."
This is an exciting time for the town, Plamondon said, calling the progress being made "another step in the right direction."
"I will miss the town greatly, but I won't miss the state of Massachusetts," he said. "I've been here 26 years. I moved here when my son was small so he grew up here. I have a lot of good friends I made over the years that I plan on keeping in touch with. It's been a privilege to be here. I'd like to think I've done my best."
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