TOWN OF HALIFAX, VERMONT
SELECTBOARD MEETING MINUTES—DRAFT
AUGUST 19, 2021
CALL TO ORDER:
Sumner called the meeting to order at 7:10 PM. Selectboard members present were, Lewis Sumner, Bradley Rafus, Tristan Roberts, and Cara Cheyette. Peter Silverberg attended remotely. Others in attendance in person or remotely were Peggy Rafus, Tina Blais, Sue Kelly, Marilou & Doug Parkhurst, Edee Edwards, Robbin Gabriel, David Jones, Eric McLellan, Kathy McLean, Linda Lyon, and Earl Holtz.
CHANGES OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:
Rafus added a Highway Issue.
Sumner added a Letter of Resignation.
Roberts added an Executive Session.
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES:
Sumner made a motion to accept the minutes of 8/3/21 with corrections that were discussed. Motion passed 5-0. (Starting at minute 3 of the recording.)
**Pete Silverberg had a very poor cell connection, he states that if the Board has a vote, assume that he is a yes unless he is heard from. **
Treasurers Order – The Selectboard members looked at and signed the Treasurers Order for August 19, 2021.
Branch Rd, Road Closure – The Celebration Committee is requesting to have Branch Rd closed from the intersection of Reed Hill/Collins/Brook Roads to Jacksonville Stage Road from 7:00 AM to 11:30 PM on August 28, 2021 for the town celebration. Roberts made a motion to Close Branch Road from the Reed Hill/Collins/Brook Road intersection to Jacksonville Stage Road from 7:00 to 11:30 PM, August 28, 2021 for the town celebration. Sumner seconded the motion. Motion passed 5-0. (Starting at minute 9 of the recording.)
Tree Warden-Sue Kelly – Kelly passed out flyers on Title 24 : Municipal And County Government, Chapter 067 : Parks and Shade Trees, (Cite as: 24 V.S.A. 2502) 2502,. Tree Wardens and preservation of shade trees from The Vermont Statutes Online as they have recently updated. Kelly explains that there are numerous trainings online and a Tree Warden School that she has attended. Kelly stresses that the top priority is to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer and to do an Ash tree inventory of all Municipal areas in town. Discussion followed. (Starting at meeting minute 10:30.)
Mask Policy – Roberts states that he talked with Patty Dow, Town Clerk and asked if there was a mask policy for the Town Office that the Bard meetings held in the town office could blanket under. Roberts reports Dow stated she did not want to set a policy for meetings. She is leaving that up to the different boards and committees as to what they wanted to do until there was a policy set by the state that we have to comply with. Roberts states that he would like to see a policy set saying that a mask is needed if you are not vaccinated, been exposed or have symptoms of COVID. Sumner and Rafus agree. Cheyette states that she partially agrees. She has concerns about the small space of the office and the lack of another location to hold the meetings. She would really like to see a mask policy go into effect for everyone attending the meetings. Discussion follows with many different opinions and concerns. Roberts made a motion to read, Until further notice the Selectboard mask policy is that masks are encouraged for all, required if you are not vaccinated, symptomatic or both. Rafus seconded the motion. Edee Edwards expresses concerns about how this policy is going to be enforced. She is concerned about how the policy is worded. Discussion followed as to the concerns of people attending. Peggy Rafus encourages the SB to figure out a better system for remote access so that the town’s people can stay home and be assured that they will be able to take part in the meetings and stay healthy. Linda Lyon expresses concerns over the rise of COVID, she feels as though there should be a mask mandate for meetings. Sue Kelly, as Halifax Health Officer also expresses her concerns over the proposed motion. She would also like to see a mask mandate for the meetings. Blais suggests that the SB set up Air purifiers before and during the meetings. Roberts amends his motion to read, Masks are encouraged for all. Required for vaccinated. Symptomatic or exposed are asked to use a mask. Marilou Parkhurst expresses her concern over people not wearing a mask. She would also like to see a mask mandate as well. More discussion followed. Roberts amended his motion to read, Masks are strongly encouraged to be worn by all, required for unvaccinated people, if you are symptomatic or exposed please stay home. Rafus seconded. Kathy McLean asked if the motion could be amended to everyone attending a meeting to wear a mask. With no more discussion the motion passed 4-1. (Starting at minute 33 on the recording.)
Highway Crew Reviews – Rafus states that the best time to do the reviews would be during the day. Board members decided to hold the reviews on September 9, 2021 starting at 9:00 AM. (Starting on minute 1:00 on the recording.)
Doug Parkhurst reported to the board that the remote people were having a hard time hearing what was being said.
Signing of the FET Exempt Forms – Sumner signed the tax exempt forms for the purchase of the new truck.
Town Website – Roberts’s points out the website is not up to date and would like to ask boards, committees and appointees to get updated info in for the website, including contact info. Discussion followed as to how the website could be made better. Roberts and Cheyette will do some research on the website and how to improve it. (Starting at minute 1:05 on the recording.)
Post Office Location – Cheyette stated that she had a conversation with Tyson Dix, Post Master and invited him to attend the next SB meeting on 9/7/21 to discuss the future of the Post Office. (Starting on 1:15 on the recording)
Spring 2021 Semi Annual Water Quality Monitoring Report – Sumner states that the numbers are still high but lower than they were in May of 2018. The report from this spring shows the numbers were at 116.2 Nano grams per leader, in October 2021 the numbers were at 220 grams. Peggy Rafus states that their well was supposed to be tested this time and it wasn’t. She would like to make sure that it was going to get tested this fall when the testing happens next. Sumner stated that yes it would be tested in the fall. She is concerned that the numbers are showing a trend and is wondering what the plan was because the water quality is not improving, the chemical is not going to go away. Discussion follows pertaining to the property’s downhill from the old dump site that may be affected by the chemical that was put on the dump to cap it off in the past. Cheyette offers to talk to Greg Margay to see if he will agree to a test on his well water. (Starting at minute 20:21 on the recording.)
Highway Issue – Rafus informs the Board that there was a resignation from the road crew effective August 26, 2021. Rafus states that he has someone who is interested. Roberts’s states that he would like to see the position posted to be fair. Rafus asks Blais, the SB Secretary to post the job in the Deerfield Valley News, The Commons, and on Front Page Forum. (Staring at minute 1:36 on the recording.)
Letter of Resignation – Sumner read Tina Blais’ Letter of resignation for both the Secretary and Administrative Assistant to the Selectboard effective August 28, 2021. Sumner suggests that Cheyette take care of the agendas and minutes until they fill the positions. The SB discusses holding off on advertising for the Admin position but wants to advertise for the Secretary to the SB right away. The ad will go into the Commons, The Deerfield Valley News and the Front Page Forum. Cheyette agrees to do the minutes and agenda for next meeting but is unsure of any other meetings. (Starting at Minute 1:43 of the recording.)
GMP Permit – Jones talked with Eric McLellan and sees no reason why the town should not sign the permit where DVFiber is concerned. Roberts made a motion to sign the permit, Cheyette seconded the motion, and motion passed 4-0. Silverberg dropped off the call. (Starting at minute 1:58 of the recording.)
Conflict of Interest Policy – The SB signed the new Conflict of Interest policy that was voted on and approved, August 3, 2021.
VLCT Rules of Procedure – The SB chose to move this to the September 7, 2021 Meeting Agenda.
Executive Session – Cancelled
– Rafus points out a mistake on the Treasurer’s order, fixed it and had the other Board Members initial the order.
– Roberts asked Rafus to clarify a question and asked for some clarification on the gravel bids. A short discussion followed. (Starting at meeting minute 1:45 on the recording.)
– Rafus asked the board for clarification on what his role was for the budget. Is the format going to be changed? Is the board going to do their own research into the numbers? Discussion followed. Cheyette requested to put the budget process on the next agenda. (Starting at minute 2:10 on the recording.)
– Roberts asks Rafus what the paving schedule looks like, Rafus says it looks like paving will start the first week of September if nothing changes. (Starting at minute 2:13 on the recording.)
Hearing of Visitors – None
Adjournment –Roberts made a motion to adjourn. Cheyette Seconded. Motion passed 4-0. Meeting adjourned at 9:25 PM.
Secretary to the Selectboard