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Flu cases estimated near 400; Selectmen review revised policies.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

AUBURN - Andrew R. Pelletier, director of public health, informed selectmen Jan. 14 he learned, during a conference call with state health officials Jan. 11, that this year's flu outbreak is "10 times worse than last year by diagnosed cases. It hit early this year."

He said that by the end of December, 39 flu cases had been confirmed in town this flu season, while normally 20 to 40 cases per year are diagnosed here, with nine or 10 times that not officially diagnosed, but likely present.

He estimated 400 cases of flu, so far, this season in town.

Mr. Pelletier said the Board of Health has administered 612 vaccinations during four flu shot clinics, which the board funded through its revolving account set up for this purpose.

The board has 75 doses left and plans to accept registrations from anyone still needing a flu shot, which will be given during mini-clinics to be held Mondays. So far, 20 residents have signed up for this week's clinic. Call (508) 832-7703 to register.

Mr. Pelletier said vaccinations are also available at CVS, 676 Southbridge St., as well as at doctors' offices and other sites.

To avoid spreading the flu, he said, the board is encouraging "social distancing," frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and staying home when sick.

In other business, selectmen voted to approve new policies on liquor licenses, unregistered motor vehicles and junk licenses.

Doreen M. Goodrich, board chairwoman, said she and Selectman Denise A. Brotherton had worked closely with Police Lt. Mark E. Maass in preparing the new, more comprehensive policies.

Selectmen voted to approve the sale of $4.8 million in general obligation municipal bonds to low bidder Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. at an interest rate of 2 percent.

According to a summary on the bond sale by Edward J. Kazanovicz, chief financial officer, the town will save an estimated $140,000 over the next 10 years by refinancing $945,000 in 20-year bonds, which had been issued at 5.175 percent in 2000.

He said he hoped to save additional interest by refinancing the remaining Auburn High School debt at a lower interest rate, if it is available in March.

Town Manager Julie A. Jacobson gave selectmen her quarterly goals report. She said town administrators are reviewing and revising the personnel policy manual and nonzoning town bylaws to make them consistent with the amended town charter and reorganization plan.

Administration and finance personnel are working to ensure that the town's AA3 bond rating from Moody's is maintained or improved.

Board members approved a request by Selectman Kenneth A. Holstrom for a report on the cost of legal fees for defending the town against a lawsuit by Michael Robidoux, doing business as Cityline Towing. Mr. Robidoux sued the town after not receiving a towing contract with the town in 2009. That case was recently dismissed in Worcester Superior Court.

Finally, Ms. Jacobson informed selectmen that the Greater Worcester Land Trust and the Massachusetts Audubon Society had contacted the town about the possible purchase of some privately owned, undeveloped property in town. She did not identify the parcel. She said the plan is to "maintain the land for preservation purposes. The town had identified the area as best for passive recreation. It does fit in with our goals."
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 18, 2013
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