OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 20, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:31 pm. Selectboard members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Lewis Sumner, and Earl Holtz. Also present were Robbin Gabriel, Margo Avakian, John LaFlamme, and Rick Gay. Ross Barnett, Christina Moore, Nick Bartenhagen, and Maggie Bartenhagen arrived shortly after the meeting opened.
Approval of Minutes
Holtz made a motion to approve the 5/06/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded, with Sumner noting one correction, and the motion passed as amended, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 5/12/14 regular meeting minutes as written, with Gabriel noting one correction. Edwards seconded, with the amendment, and the motion passed, 3-0.
Adoption of NIMS
Sumner explained that adoption by the Town of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a requirement before the town is eligible for federal monies. In response to a question from the floor Edwards said that approving the document meant the town is agreeing to respond to disasters with a command and control system standardized across all emergency response agencies. She said the method was used during Irene and proved helpful. Holtz asked whether anyone would be negatively effected by the NIMS adoption. LaFlamme described briefly how the system worked, and the ensuing discussion revealed that everyone responsible for leadership in the event of a disaster in the town has had the requisite training. The board agreed that a list should be created identifying which individuals have received what level of training. Moore said that Halifax EMS has been NIMS compliant since March of 2008 and every member has had ICS training. Barnett said the Fire Department is about 75% trained, and Sumner added that Brad Rafus has received training and is working to set up training sessions for the other four members of the Highway Department. Moore told the meeting she is a Level 400 FEMA certified trainer. Edwards made a motion to adopt NIMS for the Town of Halifax. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Traffic Safety Study
Holtz said the names he received from the town attorney were actually surveyors, not traffic study consultants, so as yet he has no new information on the subject. Edwards suggested talking to Matt Mann of the Windham Regional Commission. Gay questioned the need for such a study and asked whether it should be the town’s or the applicant’s responsibility to pay if a professional were hired for that purpose. The topic will be addressed again at a future meeting.
Holtz has now received a thumb drive containing the Act 250 application materials. The Town Clerk has a supply of CDs and can make copies for anyone who makes a request.
Hearing of Visitors
New WiFi Location
Gay asked who was paying for the new WiFi hotspot connection at the town garage. Edwards explained that the installation cost was covered by the Vermont Digital Economies Project grant, and the existing internet service and phone line at the garage were being utilized. Signal is not adequate at the bottom of the hill, but is strong on top, where the recycle bins were previously located. There is a plan to set up signs at that spot. Edwards will be monitoring usage through the administrative system. LaFlamme and Board members also discussed the funding available from the State for purchase of an antenna repeater system for emergency use at the fire house. That financial assistance will expire on June 30, and a decision was made to decline the money as it is not certain the system could effectively pick up signal from the new hotspot installation.
Halifax Center Tower
Maggie Bartenhagen asked for any new information on the proposed internet tower at Halifax Center. Edwards said she knew the State of Vermont had hired a consultant to handle the historical value study, but she does not know the current status and will check back with VTel’s attorney to find out. In response to a question from Nick Bartenhagen, Holtz said there were two studies pending on the tower project—historical value and wetlands. He believes the chosen location is a high spot with no wetland issues. Gay said he noticed someone digging a test hole in the area last week.
Barnett presented the Board with an invoice and a letter of resignation. Gay asked what would happen when VY funding goes away, and LaFlamme explained that by statute EMDs are appointed, and the position is volunteer in most Vermont towns. Holtz added that VY funding has been available for only a few towns, with some other larger towns providing a stipend for their EMDs through tax dollars. Sumner told the meeting that about five years ago Brattleboro played a part in getting funding for smaller surrounding towns raised from $10,000 to $20,000 by making the point that Brattleboro’s EMDs were already salaried, while EMDs in the smaller towns were not. Currently the NRC and the legislature are discussing future funding and emergency management needs once the power plant’s spent rods go into storage, with decisions possibly forthcoming next year. Edwards mentioned that the town has received separate funding—in addition to that which pays the EMDs—for equipment and training, and the town should investigate means of paying for future repairs and maintenance on emergency equipment when that separate funding is no longer available. She also pointed out that if an EMD is not appointed, the position goes to the Chair of the Selectboard by default.
Holtz announced that a pre-construction meeting will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, May 30, in the town office with Todd Menees, Holden Engineering, LaTulippe Construction, and the clerks of the works. The meeting will be warned as a Selectboard meeting as Holtz and Sumner plan to attend. LaTulippe is putting finishing touches on the construction drawings, and Patty Dow is working on a loan to cover costs until FEMA monies and tax dollars come in. Holtz anticipates, based on the bridge contract, that progress payments will be made once a month, with the first payment due at the end of June.
Edwards requested a meeting date be set to finalize the personnel policy now feedback has been received from the town attorney. The Board will meet at 6:30 on Wednesday, May 28th for that purpose.
Edwards has spoken with Jeff Nugent of Windham Regional Commission about faulty GPS directions in the Halifax area. Nugent believes he can talk to GPS providers and asked for specific problem areas. The Board agreed there were a large number of inaccuracies and attempted to single out a few of the worst problem spots for potential correction. Edwards will suggest Hall Road to Nugent for starters.
A copy of the junk ordinance has been put up on the town web site and Edwards has composed a short write-up which will also be posted. Avakian offered to include information in the Deerfield Valley News, while Maggie Bartenhagen spoke in support of using various avenues—newspapers, publicly posted notices, or a memo included with tax bills—to educate residents about the existence of the town’s junk ordinance in advance of any proposed enforcement action.
School Roof Bid
A pre-bid meeting was held Monday, May 19. Two bidders attended, and Edwards has submitted to the school board a list of questions brought up at the meeting.
Quarry Act 250 Discussion
Board members chose several tentative dates for a meeting with the Fire Department. Sumner will find out which of those days best suits everyone’s schedules.
Select Board’s Order to Town Treasurer for Bill Payment
The order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Edwards will be traveling on June 17th so will not be able to attend that day’s meeting.
Paving and Structure Grants
Sumner has received an email from the state notifying the town that neither of these grant applications was approved. That information has been forwarded to Brad Rafus.
Letter of Resignation
The Board read and discussed Barnett’s letter of resignation from the Co-EMD position. Edwards made a motion to accept the resignation with regrets. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board will send a letter of appreciation for Barnett’s service.
Several other pieces of correspondence were reviewed and filed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 pm.