New generator equips Pawlet for emergencies

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WEST PAWLET — Mettawee Community School in West Pawlet is now home to a generator that will allow the school to be used as a shelter and operations center during emergencies, thanks to a federal grant and private donations.

The generator, made possible by a $48,000 FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant to the Town of Pawlet, along with $16,000 in private matching donations, was dedicated earlier this month in a ceremony hosted by school Mettawee Community School Principal Brooke DeBonis. Additional speakers were Bob Morlino, Pawlet's emergency management director, and Pawlet Select Board member Ed Cleveland.

Morlino explained that after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, when many parts of Pawlet were isolated by flooding, the town recognized the need for an additional overnight shelter site.

A second grant of $6,800 has more recently been awarded to the Town of Pawlet for radio equipment to be used by the new emergency operations center. The radios will be installed in September.

Morlino and DeBonis emphasized the community-wide scope of this project and thanked all who participated, donated and volunteered. Major fundraising efforts were held at Consider Bardwell Farm, the Pawlet Station Restaurant, the Duane Carleton music event held at the school, and the fourth-grade flower bulb sale.

Also recognized were members of the school staff, including teacher Dawn Robertson and custodians Bill Wood and Jim McGraw, and contractors who generously gave reduced rates for their time and materials - Matt Waite Excavation, Tyler Electric Security, and Jim Sheldon Excavating.

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