Town of Halifax, Vermont



February 24, 2014



The meeting was convened at 8:07 am at the Town Office.  Board members in attendance were Earl Holtz and Edee Edwards. Lewis Sumner was absent.  Also in attendance at various times were members of the public of Brad Rafus, Patty Dow, and John LaFlamme; Peter Holden and Bill Rossignol from Holden Engineering at 8:30 am; and David Malko, with Vermont Telecommunications Authority, and Murray Stone, Northern Reliability at 11:25 am.


Edwards and Holtz prepped for the discussion with Holden, signed the road order (which included a new computer for the Highway Department, and they worked with Rafus to update the Highway Equipment schedule to pass out for the Informational Meeting and Town Meeting.  Given the shorter schedules proposed for regular truck replacement, there may be some FY15 savings for replacing a dump body that can come out of the budget for this current budget proposal.


Rafus noted that he has again had to hire a contractor again to get caught up with sand.  There is some more sand at the garage, but it is frozen solid at this point.  He also noted a regional road salt shortage.  He is awaiting a delivery for an order from 2 weeks ago; we have enough for 2-3 more storms.


A discussion on the challenges of the town budget was held.  The bridge will likely be a target given the large dollar amount.


Holtz, Edwards and Rafus spoke with Holden Engineering staff at 8:30 am.  The budgetary challenges, timeline, and future of contracting, including the engineering oversight contract, were all discussed.  The Selectboard will be getting back with Holden after town meeting, when we have greater clarity about the voters’ response to the budget. 


Further work was done on the Equipment Schedule and slides and information for the Informational Meeting.  Patricia Dow gave some additional financial information.


LaFlamme spoke with Edwards while Holtz was making some copies, noting that Vermont Yankee will be shutdown in December 2014.  At that point, Entergy will apply for an exemption for Emergency Planning activities from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  It will take the NRC 8-10 months to review that, but after that is approved, there will be no more drills.  Radiological Emergency Response Program (RERP) funding will go to zero $ in July 16th.  RENTS, the reverse 911 program, will no longer be funded.  Vermont Alert could replace RENTS, possibly.


The meeting was suspended temporarily at 9:30 am, to reconvene when the next guest available.


Holtz and Edwards reconvened at 11:00 am.  At approximately 11:20, David Malko, Senior Project Manager with the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, and Murray Stone, with contractor Northern Reliability, arrived.  The Rte. 112 corridor cell coverage project that is funded by VTA was the Topic.


This project is designed to improve resiliency during disasters, providing cell service and a satellite backup location for Internet.  The service was put out to bid, and the Coverage Co. company was the only bidder.  It will be a 2G cell service (the lowest common denominator).  This firm has in the past had T-Mobile and Sprint agreements.  The server is carrier independent, but it does require the carriers to buy in.  911 will work.


For the town’s part, we will be responsible for about $15-$20/month of electricity.  Solar panels for backup power to the batteries will be set up with net metering, so some or all of that cost may be absorbed.  The system could run 3-5 days without solar backup. 


They are now considering that the WiFi hotspot may be mostly used at an emergency basis, for about ¾ will keep the power consumption down.  Northern Reliability won the power portion of the quotes.  This power/solar component might be able to be installed this summer.


It was discussed that we should try to push ahead with the VCRD WiFi zone grant for general use, at the town garage, as a separate component.


In terms of the placement of the equipment, it was agreed that the new Town Garage is quite likely the proper location.  Given that we don’t have Lewis here, and that there is no formal memorandum of understanding necessary right now, we made no motion.


The meeting was again suspended at and reconvened at the Town Garage at 12:30 pm.


Solar capacity was checked behind the garage and on the western side of the garage.  The best location was in the vicinity of the diesel tank, which is planned to be moved over to the salt shed. Within the building, the electrical panel and phone connections were checked.  The electric pole was behind the garage and the conduit were also discussed.  The road crew members gave input into the final placement of the site; to be further out of their standard travel zones.


Whirling snow and wind chased us to close the meeting at 1:10 pm.


Hearing of Visitors

LaFlamme requested guidance on the usage of additional Emergency Operations Center office equipment presently being stored at the Halifax Fire Department.Given that a new engine is being delivered, the space needs to be freed up.After discussion, Holtz suggested that it be stored in the Old Town Garage until we might be ready to use it.


Several pieces of new mail were reviewed.

·The Whitingham Free Public Library Trustees provided a recommendation for an appointment to fill the vacancy due to the resignation of the Halifax representative.They had also requested to speak at the meeting on the 18th.

·The Agency of Transportation Certificate of Highway Mileage must be completed at the meeting on February 18th.

·A Public Notice with a 10-day comment period for a Stormwater discharge permit for Denison Lumber noting a Halifax Quarry was discussed.Edwards will follow up to obtain further information about the permit and see if the Planning Commission had any information on this.It was put on the agenda for the 18th.

LaFlamme and Holtz  requested time to discuss the CDBG grant on the 18th also.



Meeting was closed at 9:08 am.


Respectfully submitted,

Edee Edwards, Selectboard Chair