Casco say okay to snow days

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO – Since Dec. 30, 2007, the Casco Town Office has been closed for snow days only three times.

During the most recent December snowstorm that was accompanied by strong winds, seven employees braved the elements and showed up for work at the town offices.

“The governor declared a state of emergency and told people to stay off roads. Seven people drove on the roads and came into work on the Monday. I think the risk of those people being out on roads is too much of a risk,” Casco Board of Selectmen Chairman Barbara York said.

On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to overturn a previous board vote, and allow the town manager to make the call to open offices late or close them early in the event of adverse weather.

“It was part of the record that the town offices should never close,” Town Manager David Morton said.

Morton explained that some time ago, the selectmen had addressed the issue of employees getting paid for snow days when they remained home.  When the board voted against paying for snow days, it had also declared the town office should never be closed because of bad weather. The primary reason for the latter decision was to not deny residents town services by closing unexpectedly.

“As Road Commissioner, I drive on the worst of roads. But,  if someone goes through all the effort to drive through 18 inches of snow to the town office to register a vehicle, and I tell them I can’t do it because I don’t have employees, someone is going to be upset,” Morton said.

It was suggested that Morton publicize any future closings with local television or radio stations so people don’t travel to the town office. Another idea for informing the public of weather-related closures was to leave a message on the town office answering machine – a task that can be done by staff from their homes.

“One vehicle sliding across the road can tie up a road for hours and make snow-plowing difficult,” Morton said.  “I just wanted to make sure the board gave me clear instructions on what to do” on days when snowstorms close other institutions, schools and businesses.

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