Municipal Light Board Discusses 2018 reports, Ward 3 seat

Tony Contrino, General Manager of Westfield Gas+Electric and Whip City Fiber. (WNG file photo)

WESTFIELD- The Westfield Gas and Electric Municipal Light Board met Wednesday evening at the WG&E headquarters to discuss various reports from 2018 and to lay out the plan to fill the commission’s vacant ward 3 seat.

One of the 2018 reports was that of the outages for WG&E customers during the year. It was announced that the light plant had begun recording outage data under a new system. Previously, a single house was not recorded as an outage, which will be the case going forward under the new system. There were an estimated 1,600 calls by natural gas customers over the course of the year, a decrease from the previous year. The average response time to an emergency call for gas customers was reported to be 17 minutes.

The commission also gave a report on the cast iron abandonment program for 2018. The report showed that 11,000 feet of gas lines were replaced in 2018, with a current projection of 12,000 feet for 2019. The roads listed for the abandonment program for 2019 are Orange Street, Kellogg Street, Lincoln Street, and Belmont Street. Western Avenue will also be included in conjunction with the city’s construction project on the lengthy road.

Near the end of Wednesday’s meeting, the commission announced the procedure for the coming vote to fill the Ward 3 seat left vacant after the passing of Jane Wensley in March. Candidates will be given until April 19th to announce their bid for the seat. Once all of the candidates are finalized, there will be a joint meeting between the City Council and the Municipal Light Board at 6 p.m. on May 7th where both groups will vote for the person who will fill the seat. The only requirements for one to run are to be a registered voter who lives in Ward 3.

The only subject for debate was how the two groups would get to know the candidates before the vote. Municipal Light Board Chairman, Robert Sacco, came up with a list of questions that will be asked of each candidate. Those questions are as follows: Why do they want to be the Ward 3 commissioner? What has been their background and involvement in the Westfield community? Are there any trends within the industry or Westfield Gas and Electric that they find troubling and want to help fix?

At least one person has put their name in to run for the position already. Jeff Wensley, Jane’s son, announced during the March 20th light board meeting that he would like to run for his late-mother’s seat.

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