Keiser reports hurricane exercise a success
Saying that "we're doing all that we can" to prepare for a major tropical storm, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser reported on Monday that all accounts of the May 5 hurricane preparedness drill at the Melrose school point to a great success.
The exercise, which brought together the National Weather Service, Department of Defense (DOD), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with local and state officials, was part of a nationwide drill that tested emergency preparedness throughout the country.
According to councilman William Kelly, about 75 volunteers portrayed hurricane victims while Jamestown's 16-member emergency shelter team tested their management and response training. While the exercise was a categorical success, Kelly noted that it did reveal some room for improvement. "We found out some little things that we can improve on," he said.
Barbara Szepatowski agreed that while the training was excellent, she had hoped that more volunteers would have participated in order to simulate the chaos that can be associated with a real hurricane. Szepatowski also stressed the need to inform residents, especially seniors, of the importance of evacuation in the event of a major storm. "We need to start making people aware that they need to evacuate. Even though we cannot force anyone to evacuate, it's important that we make people aware that there is a place they can go," she said.
Keiser thanked all those that pitched in with the event and noted that the town's 16 volunteers who successfully completed their training for certification in the state's emergency management program will be invited by the council to receive recognition for their efforts at an upcoming meeting.
Four island restaurants also pitched in with Trattoria Simpatico, Chopmist Charlie's, Freddy's House of Pizza, and the Portuguese American Citizens' Club all providing food and drink to participants.
Planning for Jamestown's 350th anniversary celebration in August is well under way with several events already confirmed, including the dedication of the new Town Hall.
Town Clerk Arlene Petit, who has been working with the 350th Celebration Committee, announced at Monday's council meeting that the new Town Hall dedication is slated for Aug. 11, following a parade kicking off a week-long commemoration of the 1657 signing of the Jamestown Land Agreement. In addition to local officials, it was decided that the town council would formally invite the governor and Jamestown's legislative delegation to participate in the festivities.
Other events being planned for the week-long celebration include a fireworks display, a family picnic, a farm day, a visit to the windmill, and a "Night for the Light" at Fox Hill Farm to benefit the Dutch Island Lighthouse Association.
The 350th celebration is being organized by several groups including the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce and the Jamestown Historical Society. It is scheduled to run August 11 to 18, with additional events to be announced.
Town Offices Closed Temporarily
Town offices were closed Tuesday morning in order for employees to attend the funeral of Town Tax Assessor Kenneth Gray's wife, who passed away suddenly.