The Year in Review
2020 featured a change in leadership for the town’s police and fire departments after a lengthy search period. After a background investigation which lasted for several months, Dean Isabella was appointed to serve as the new Police Chief. The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 at their November 18 meeting. Chairman Justin Sullivan, Chris Zorra, David Andrade, and Adam Petronio were in favor, with David Viera opposed.
Isabella had worked for the Department of Children, Youth, and Families in Rhode Island as assistant director of Child Services, overseeing the Child Protective Services unit that investigates child abuse. Isabella, who lives in Narragansett, had been a member of the Providence Police Department since 1987 and retired as a captain in 2019.
Last January, members of the police department lobbied selectmen on behalf of Acting Chief David Enos. Enos was appointed to serve as Chief on an interim basis following the retirement of Frank John in July 2019. John had been placed on administrative leave in March 2019 after being in the position for six months. At the time, Enos had been appointed to serve as Deputy Chief.
Petronio explained that Enos supported Isabella’s appointment because he “didn’t have the experience (Isabella) has.” “There was nothing indicating (Isabella) wouldn’t be a good fit,” Petronio added. ‘I think that he’s going to do a good job and we’ll be watching him carefully this year.”
David Rave was sworn in as the town’s new Fire Chief in October. Rave had been appointed to the position at the August 5 Board of Selectmen meeting. Rave was a Battalion Chief from East Providence with 35 years experience. There were 29 applicants for the position.
Former Fire Chief Michael Healy retired in May 2019 but had remained in the position during the search process for a replacement. Healy served in the department for 35 years.
A proclamation read by Selectmen Chairman Justin Sullivan said Healy “had the vision to further develop the town of Seekonk Fire Department. During his tenure he replaced frontline apparatus, increased staffing, oversaw the building and completion of the Banna Fire Station, and was instrumental in establishing the department’s first Deputy Fire Chief.” “During the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Healy’s unwavering commitment remained with the health and safety of the town’s residents,” Sullivan added.
Coronavirus hit Seekonk especially hard, which resulted in its being given the designation of red, which is reserved for cities and towns with the highest average of new infections.
There have been 41 positive cases of Covid-19 reported in Seekonk Schools. Half of those were at Seekonk High School, Superintendent Rich Drolet said earlier this month. Drolet said the school district would continue to remain operating under a hybrid model – two days of in-person instruction and two days of remote learning.
One staff member and five students at Aitken Elementary School had tested positive for Covid-19. Two staff members and four students tested positive for Covid-19 at Martin Elementary School. One staff member and seven students tested positive for Covid-19 at Hurley Middle School.
The town mourned the death of former selectman Dave Parker, who died August 11. Parker, 75, served three terms on the Board of Selectmen. He also served as Town Moderator for 12 years and was one of the founders of the Save A Pet Society.
“Dave Parker was dedicated to making Seekonk a better place to live and raise a family,” said former selectwoman Michelle Hines. “It was nice to have a Board member who was able to tell us how things were started and the reason behind decisions. You could depend on Dave when he told you something and he would help anyone.”
On a happier note, the long-awaited animal shelter was completed. The $1.7 million building is approximately 3,000 square feet and includes two offices, a cat area, indoor and outdoor kennels for dogs, a treatment room, quarantine room, adoption rooms where people can meet the animals, a break room, and a car port for the shelter van.
A new children’s playground was also constructed next to town hall.