October 24, 2020

Selectmen Scramble to Find New Home for COA

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The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen are working to find a new location to house the Council on Aging staff following Saturday’s devastating fire at the Senior Center. The $1.4 million facility at 55 Bay State Road was deemed a total loss. Only the front portico remains standing.

To replace that building would require two to three years,” Selectmen chairman Skip Vadnais said Monday. COA Director Linda Sherman said a refrigerator is needed for the Meals on Wheels program, which should be up and running before the end of the week. Selectman Jim Muri believes it would be at least two weeks before a trailer could be obtained for the COA staff. “That would be optimistic I would think,” Muri said, noting the town would probably be able to pay the cost of replacing the building through reimbursement from insurance.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Fire Chief Frank Barresi told the board the building was “off limits” until the investigation is completed. “I think our fire department did an outstanding job with what they had,” said Selectman Michael Costello. Barresi said his firefighters arrived at the scene just a few minutes after being dispatched. The absence of fire-stops and sprinklers only exacerbated the fire’s destruction. “It went from one end (of the building) to the other in 20 minutes,” Barresi explained. “(The fire) had just too much of a head start on us.” Firefighters were forced to fight the fire from the outside after the ceiling over the meeting room collapsed. The building was unoccupied at the time and no firefighter injuries were reported.  “They did everything they possibly could and kept everybody safe,” Selectman Gerry Schwall added.

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