Camillo’s Corner: Updates From Town Hall

Every other week, the Greenwich Sentinel will bring you exclusive updates on happenings around Town Hall from First Selectman Fred Camillo.

Health Department Preparing for Influx of COVID-19 Cases in Fall

The Board of Selectmen received an update on COVID-19 from Greenwich Health Director, Caroline Baisley, last Thursday.

Baisley reported that Greenwich cases remained stable throughout August with the exception of a couple of blips, but with fall on the horizon, the town is preparing for a possible influx.

“We’re preparing for possibly an influx of more cases in the fall as the weather gets cooler and the humidity starts to drop. We are working on that and refining some of the things we need to put in place in working with our Medical Reserve Corps. (MRC) members,” she said, adding that the annual influenza plan is being worked on as well.

The MRC is a public health focused unit whose primary roles are to assist in local public health initiatives, promote and enhance emergency preparedness among residents and businesses, and to respond to public health and other town emergencies.

Baisley also updated the board on contact tracing, which has become a vital tool in trying to contain COVID-19. The Health Department staff is using the state’s new contact tracing data entry system, which is still getting ironed out.

“Our staff is starting to get used to putting in the data required for contact tracing,” Baisley said.

She added that in the spring when there were no restrictions on gatherings, tracing revealed a lot of non-family contacts. But now, the tracing frequently shows contacts within a family.

First Selectman Fred Camillo said earlier this week on Tuesday that he recently spoke with Nathaniel Witherell Executive Director, John Mastronardi, who said the facility currently has no known cases and is doing very well.

Storm Task Force Holds Informational Meeting

The task force that Camillo organized to look at how the town prepares and responds to weather events met for the first time last week.

“It went very well. We have a very well rounded small task force with people who have experience in that industry with utilities, with task forces on state and local level,” Camillo said. “All stakeholders are represented.”

At the meeting, Camillo said the members talked about ways in which the town can make things easier on their end in case the utility company fails to respond adequately.

For example, years ago, CL&P, now Eversource, had a building in Greenwich that they worked out of. Now when a storm hits, crews come in from different parts of the state, country, and even Canada.

“They’re showing up with maps. Before, the guys who went out knew the town. What’s causing further confusion is we have a lot of streets here that have the same name, and they’re in different parts of town. So you lose a lot of time [when you’re trying to respond to a storm and get lost],” Camillo said.

“The task force is going to be looking at those issues, identifying them and seeing where we can put in place procedures that will mitigate that from our end,” Camillo added. “Even though our response has been very good and we’ve done very well with communication, you have to see where you can do even better to compensate if there’s a fail on the part of the utility.”

Town Looks to Fill Assistant Fire Chief Role

With Joseph McHugh officially sworn-in as Greenwich’s new fire chief, the town will look to fill the Assistant Chief role formerly held by Robert Kick.

Kick, who is retiring at the end of the month, served as the interim Chief when Peter Siecienski retired from the top spot earlier this summer.

“We’re looking for someone who can help the new chief hit the ground running. That could mean a person already inside the department — who knows,” Camillo said. “At the end of the day, you really want the new chief to be comfortable. If the new chief is not comfortable, then he starts off on the wrong foot. That’s what you don’t want.”

McHugh, who began his fire career as a volunteer in Greenwich, joined the FDNY in 1991 where he served for almost 30 years. Camillo said it’s important that McHugh is from Greenwich and already familiar with the town.

“It’s critical because he has the experience and the trust and the backing of the town. In many ways he’s the perfect fit at the right time,” he said.

Camillo noted that McHugh will be instrumental in picking his assistant over the coming weeks.

Camillo Praises Fire Department for Port Chester Response

On the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 30, the Greenwich Fire Department responded to a building fire on N. Main Street in nearby Port Chester, N.Y.

GFD units initially monitored the blaze from the Greenwich side of the Byram River, but ultimately assisted the Port Chester Fire Department from the Greenwich side. The fire was eventually put out.

Camillo praised the Greenwich Fire Department for helping out.

“They really stepped up, once again showing their dedication and professionalism, and the spirit of cooperation in this case with our neighbor to the south,” he said.

Camillo said he called Port Chester mayor, Richard “Fritz” Falanka, the afternoon of the fire and later that night. Falanka then attended Chief McHugh’s swearing-in ceremony the following day.

“We have a great relationship with Port Chester. We’re two towns that have a long history together, and our department was there on the ground on both sides of the river. I’m very proud of the response,” Camillo said.