VASSALBORO – With roads unusually rough this spring, Vassalboro residents have complained, frequently and loudly.
Vassalboro selectmen have listened, sympathized and come up with a solution: a municipal helicopter service, tentatively named the Vass Fly.
The public works crew is surveying the town for a dozen or more helipad sites, probably including the town office lawn and the recreation fields. Selectmen are negotiating long-term leases on two dozen choppers and arranging to train public works employees as pilots and helicopter mechanics.
A Selectboard member reported that five residents with the necessary licenses have volunteered as pilots pending longer-term arrangements. Selectmen have asked the National Guard for help, once Guard members are done staffing vaccination clinics.
Among road complaints selectmen and town office staff reported receiving:
— A man spent a night in the emergency room after a bump threw him through the roof of his car. He has a concussion and sprained wrists, and can’t drive his car in the rain until the head-sized hole is patched.
— An eleven-year-old girl’s laptop is still lost in the puckerbrush after a violent jolt ripped it from her hands and threw it out the window of her father’s truck.
— Three residents are looking for new vehicles after the bottoms of two pick-ups and a Hummer were torn out when the wheels settled into deep grooves in the pavement. “That was my 2021 Ram – still had the temporary plates,” one man mourned.
— A series of heaves and dips threw a car off the road and over a stone wall into an orchard, where it damaged two Cortland trees. The driver admitted he should have known better than to go as fast as 25 miles an hour on that particular stretch.
— A couple complained that they could not access their driveway, which is near the top of a steep hill. Every time they slowed to turn in, either a trough in the pavement deflected the wheels and they missed the driveway, or a bump sent them back down the hill.
— A woman was carrying her damaged mailbox, which had been struck by a car whose driver was avoiding a pothole, when she stumbled and dropped the mailbox into the pothole. Her garden rake was not long enough to retrieve it.
One day, a selectman related, a town public works truck got hung up on a bump, all four wheels off the ground. Selectmen ordered the road closed, so the town crew put concrete Jersey barriers at each end.
“Made no difference,” the selectman said. “People drove right over the barriers without noticing them, they’re so used to bouncing up and down.”
Selectmen expect a whirlybird update at their April 1 meeting.
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