PEPPERELL -- After 16 years of serving in local government, Selectman Joseph Sergi will be hanging up his political saddle. Sergi announced at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night that he would not be running for re-election. Sergi has been serving as a selectman since 2007.
"I've enjoyed my time here. I hope I've contributed to making Pepperell a better place," said Sergi.
"It's been a truly difficult four years for Pepperell, but I think I'm leaving it in good hands with (Town Administrator) John (Moak), Peggy (Mazzola) and my fellow selectmen," he said.
After moving to town in 1997, Sergi ran for and got elected to a position on the Planning Board.
Since then, he said, "I haven't looked back."
In addition to the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen, Sergi has also served on the Land Use Committee, the Charter Committee and the Mill Committee. Sergi said he felt that with other goings on in his life, he felt he could no longer dedicate the same level of time and focus that he has to the position in the past.
In addition to thanking his supporters, he extended the most thanks to his wife, Patty, and daughters Olivia and Katie, "for understanding and for all those missed dinners and family events," he said.
Selectman Michael Green addressed Sergi, saying that although the two haven't always agreed, he's appreciated the candor and feedback that Sergi has provided him.
"The town's going to lose a very good leader," said Green. "To me, having come from the outside, you've been, I think, a good mentor in navigating me through some of the politics and things like that and I appreciate it."
"We most certainly had a lot of fun, didn't we?" Sergi responded.
In other business, the board voted to accept the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant of $138,012 that they had been awarded through FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The grant will go towards funding a full-time firefighter and paramedic position for two years, with wages and benefits, at no cost the town. The only costs that the town will incur will be from equipment provided to the employee. The Board of Fire Engineers appeared before selectmen for the motion.
Firefighter Milt Blood said his only concern was the long-term benefits.
"What are we going to gain long term if this is only two years?" he asked. "Is there a way now to start with the Finance Committee to start looking for ways we could possibly take this on at the end of two years?"
Sergi said it would be premature to begin those discussions now.
Assistant Fire Chief Peter Shattuck said in the interview process, they would need to be upfront with the applicant in disclosing the length of the term.
Selectmen appointed Martin Cadek to the position of IT Systems Administrator. Out of 40 to 50 applicants, said Moak, Cadek rose to the top both in his resume and during his interview with his knowledge of innovations and his previous experience as a systems administrator.
Cadek said his first action on the job would be a full audit of all of the systems that the town currently uses.
"I need to understand what you have," he said.
Selectmen also appointed Jacob LaChance, Stephen Scalzillo, Thomas MacEachern and Jordan Salinas to the Auxiliary Police. They appointed officer Steven Bezanson as a reserve police officer. The board also jointly appointed Donna Franzek to the Pepperell Housing Authority.