October 1, 2020

Deep River Treasurer Named Temporary Trustee of Nurses Fund

DEEP RIVER— The local probate court has appointed the town treasurer as temporary trustee for a charitable Memorial Fund held by the now disbanded Deep River Visiting Nurses.

Probate Judge Patricia Damon approved the temporary appointment and ordred the fund frozen for 90 days after a hearing held on July 22. The fund, comprised of charitable donations made to the nurses group over many years, contains about $72,000 held in four accounts at the local Liberty Bank branch. The fund had been controlled by the board of directors of the Deep River Visiting Nurses, which disbanded at the end of June after town voters discontinued funding for the organization in a May 18 referendum.

Damon also scheduled a continuation of the court hearing for Oct. 21, where further arguments could be presented for the long-term control of the fund that is intended to provide special assistance to the neediest town residents.

Participating in the session on July 22 were Richard Daniels, a former selectman who has been president of the nurses association board of directors, First Selectman Richard Smith, Selectman Arthur Thompson, town attorney Jane Marsh, and Karen Gano, an attorney with the office of the State Attorney General, which frequently monitors the uses of charitable funds. Daniels had requested the probate court hearing.

After opening the hearing, Damon asked the participants to meet privately in an effort to reach an agreement on control of the fund. The group emerged after about 75 minutes and then discussed the interim decision with Damon.

Smith said Monday he is satisfied with the interim decision on the fund. “We’re working on a policy and procedure for overseeing the fund that will be presented at the hearing in October,” he said.

Smith said the current plan is for the board of selectmen to appoint a five-member citizen committee to oversee use of the fund. The committee would include the town’s three representatives to the Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley Inc. board of directors, and two additional volunteers. The non-profit Centerbrook-based Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley has begun coordinating services for uninsured and underinsured town residents.

Smith said the fund would be used much as it has been, for providing emergency fuel oil/utilities, medical and other assistance to needy Deep River residents. “It would be a one shot deal for people that are having a tough time” he said.

Smith said the proposed policy on control and use of the fund would be specified in an ordinance that would be subject to approval of the voters at a town meeting.

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