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Chief Search Pushed Back, Starting Salary Raised

Jan 25, 2017 09:48PM ● Published by Bill Gilman

 Dracut town manager James Duggan has announced an extension of the application period in the search for Dracut’s next police chief.

Originally placed at Feb. 1, the deadline has been moved to March 1 due to a lack of applicants. Interviews and examinations have been moved from the week of Feb. 16 to March 9 and 10.

The expected salary has also been modified, now at a range from $155,000 to $170,000. Initially, the job was posted with a set salary of $155,000.

Duggan told members of the Board of Selectmen that he has reached out to nearby towns for feedback and possible applicants and indicated that police chiefs in the nearby towns he contacted had salaries ranging from $166,000 to $210,000.

Selectmen advised Duggan to not place the salary beyond Dracut’s budgetary restraints and also urged him to promote candidates currently within the Dracut Police Department if possible.

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Longtime town volunteer Harvey J. Gagnon has been named as the third annual recipient of the Varnum Day Award.

Gagnon has served on numerous town committees, including the Dracut Historical Commission, Permanent Building Committee and Community Preservation Committee.

He follows 2015 recipient Tyler Bettencourt and 2016 recipient Hector Berube. Rebecca Duda was a de facto honoree for gathering the grant funding needed to establish the award in 2015.

Gagnon was unanimously nominated and approved by the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 14 prior to the board’s next scheduled meeting, with the award ceremony taking place during the meeting at 7 p.m.

Named after Dracut resident and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker and Vice President Joseph Bradley Varnum, the award was created to honor a member of the community noted for their volunteer work in town.

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The Board of Selectmen agreed to the disposal of seven police cruiser lights no longer needed.

They remained as surplus materials taking up space after the sale of the cruisers to which they were attached.

According to interim Chief Neil Ouellette, in the past, lights could be given to tow trucks and other vehicles with vehicle lights, who would use tinted stickers or tinted glass to repurpose the lights. However, he now says that those organizations use lights with the specific colors they need, eliminating the demand for surplus police vehicle lights.

Two of the lights will be used by the Danvers Harbor Patrol and the other five will be destroyed.

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