Town of Halifax, Vermont
June 2, 2015


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Earl Holtz, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards were present. Ray Combs, Patty Dow, Linda Lyon, Doug Parkhurst, Marilou Parkhurst, Janet Taylor, Andy Rice, Joan LaFogg, Peter LaFogg, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

Lewis Sumner added approval of the May 27th hearing minutes, as they had been completed. A resolution approving a banking change also needed signature, and Earl Holtz asked that item be put first under new business, as Patty Dow was present for that purpose.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Holtz made a motion to accept the 5/19/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Edee Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 5/20/15 joint Selectboard/School Board minutes with one addition. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edwards made a motion to approve the 5/27/15 road reclassification hearing minutes with two changes, one deletion, and one addition. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Holtz abstaining.

New Business

Request to Change Banks
Patty Dow explained the decision to change banks for the town was based on the fact that, during Irene, People’s Bank took a leap of faith with the town, and has been very good to work with. People’s has made borrowing easy, even though the town has no accounts with the bank. On the other hand, getting financial backing through TD Bank, which currently has the town’s accounts, is often difficult. Dow has been using People’s bank regularly for town loans and feels it is appropriate they should also have the town accounts. The majority of the school districts in this region use People’s bank, she said. Linda Lyon said she uses People’s Bank, has had exceptional service, and has found them to be very responsive. Holtz recalled his own good experience with People’s sixty years ago, when he delivered newspapers to their corporate office. Holtz made a motion to change banks for town business. The motion was amended by Edee Edwards to read “change our bank from TD Bank to People’s United Bank.” Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Holtz signed the resolution document, which only required the signature of the Chair, and Dow notarized it.

Open Reed Hill Box Culvert Replacement Bids
Three bids were received for the culvert project, as follows:

A.S. Clark and Sons, Newfane, Vermont: Structure replacement on TH18, $98,204.00 for replacement of a five-foot diameter metal pipe with a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ forty-foot box culvert as per the hydraulic study. Includes all precast concrete components, temporary bypass culvert, erosion control measures, excavation, backfill, and guardrails. All disturbed areas to be seeded and mulched. Certificate of insurance included with packet.

Daniels Construction, Ascutney, Vermont: Removal and replacement of existing culvert with a new 8’ x 4’ concrete precast box culvert as specified in the invitation to bid, VTrans hydraulic study, and town road standards. Includes field survey, design construction plans, permitting, mobilization, traffic control, erosion control, clearing, excavation, removal and disposal of existing culvert, installation and maintenance of a water diversion system, de-watering of excavation to an overland sediment pond, installation of a new precast concrete box culvert including bed retention sills, headwalls, cut-off walls, wing walls, replacement of graded stone-filled channel material inside box, culvert per ANR’s guidelines, backfill and compacting the box culvert with clean, granular material, replacement and compaction of road gravel, replacement and compaction of bituminous pavement, $131,500.00. Packet did not include insurance certificate.

LaFogg and Hathaway Construction, Inc., Williamsburg, Massachusetts: Two bids submitted; the first for a 24-square-foot waterway, 8’ wide, 4’ high, 40’ in length, providing 24 square feet of waterway, guardrail design-built, 16 linear feet of steel with beam, single-faced, four steel with beam terminal ends, single-faced. Temporary water diversion, design-built coffer dam. Time period, mid-June through August 20, 2015, or as determined by the Road Commissioner. Estimated time frame for installation, approximately two weeks, $98,000.00. Second proposal is for a 32-square-foot waterway, including all specifications as itemized above, $99,000.00. Certificate of insurance included with packet.

Sumner noted that the state had made an error in their original specs, and subsequently sent an email advising that a 24-square-foot waterway was big enough. Edwards made a motion to award the bid for the Reed Hill box culvert to LaFogg and Hathaway, for a 24-square-foot waterway, $98,000.00, contingent upon approval by the Road Commissioner. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Dog Pens and Animal Control—Andy Rice
Sumner suggested, as Andy Rice was present, moving this discussion up on the agenda. Rice explained the advantages of using the two pens the town owns as temporary holding pens, one at his house and one at the town garage. It makes sense, he said, to have a safe haven locally to hold an animal in case he (Rice) is not immediately available, and holding a stray for 24 hours rather than transporting it immediately to the Humane Society gives opportunity to locate an owner who might live right in the neighborhood. Edwards asked whether there were any guidelines or restrictions regarding leaving an animal unattended, recalling that when the town established a contract with the Humane Society there were a number of reasons why we could not retain a stray for any length of time. Rice said there was no problem with holding an animal locally for a brief period; the town’s contract with the Humane Society is of benefit when a dog needs to be kept for a longer time. Who would do the feeding and watering at the town garage, asked Holtz, and Edwards added the highway crew had concerns about taking on that responsibility. It’s not their job, responded Rice. The pen would only be used briefly, until he could arrive; the enclosure and a bowl of water is all that would be needed. Rice will talk to Brad Rafus and handle moving a pen to his house and setting up the other one properly in a location at the garage that does not interfere with road crew activities. Ray Combs asked whether anyone had ever left a dog in the pens without notifying the town. No, said Holtz, those pens have been there for maybe ten years and haven’t been used for at least nine.

Selectboard Response to Act 250 Request for Findings of Fact
Edwards reminded the Board that eventually the Environmental Commission would be asking interested parties to submit Findings of Fact in the Act 250 Denison proposed quarry proceeding. While the Planning Commission has decided not to make such a contribution, Edwards said new information related to traffic had been received during the last Act 250 session, and she suggested the Selectboard might want to review those exhibits, along with the Board’s earlier submissions on the traffic topic, and create a summarization. Expert testimony regarding safety, stopping distances, and road damage was presented at the most recent Act 250 hearing, along with suggestions for road improvement conditions. The Selectboard has not yet discussed this material. The Board might also want to consider reviewing their previous input on Criterion 9, Public Infrastructure, and Criterion 10, the Town Plan. Holtz and Sumner said Brad Rafus should be part of this conversation. A tentative meeting was scheduled for June 17th, dependent upon Rafus’ availability.

Ratify Alternate ZBA Member Appointment
Edwards clarified the new Alternate Member policy, which states the Selectboard will appoint individuals to serve as alternates, and the ZBA will then select someone from that list to serve under appropriate circumstances. As the Zoning Board had made an appointment at their last meeting, in advance of the Selectboard creating a list of alternates, Edwards made a motion to ratify the ZBA appointment of Linda Lyons as a ZBA alternate member for a period of one year, ending June 2, 2016. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Thus far, no other potential candidates have been located.

Discuss Alternate ZBA Member List
Edwards suggested asking persons who had previously served on the zoning board to act as alternates. Sumner has spoken to Craig Stone, who was on the ZBA for many years, but he declined. The search will continue; this topic will be on the next regular meeting agenda under Old Business. Linda Lyon asked whether she would be serving on the ZBA during the current conditional use process, or would she be an alternate. Edwards said it was uncertain whether Lyon would be serving or not; that would depend on the presence or absence of regular members. There is a substantial amount of preparation involved in the upcoming hearing, said Lyon; I don’t want to invest the time if I’m not going to be serving, but I also don’t want to show up unprepared. One regular member of the ZBA who has been absent for several meetings has indicated he will be present at the first conditional use hearing on June 9th, thus the question of Lyon’s participation remains open. Gabriel will talk to ZBA Chair Sirean LaFlamme and query VLCT regarding proper procedure in the given situation. Edwards thanked Lyon for accepting the alternate position and apologized for the confusion.

Discuss Truck Lease Options—Brad Rafus
Brad Rafus was not able to attend tonight, but Sumner suggested making a one-fifth cash payment on the new truck in FY16, as the budgeted funds are available. Thereafter, the town would only need to borrow money for four years. Patty Dow has already talked to the banks, who are agreeable. The Board approved this plan.

VLCT/PACIF Response to Insurance Query
After an elected official damaged his personal vehicle while on town business within the town, Holtz queried VLCT regarding liability. He also posed the same question about volunteers and town employees, and asked about coverage for a non-employee who damages his vehicle in the town right-of-way. In each instance, VLCT response stated that vehicle owners’ insurance would cover such incidents; the town’s insurance does not provide coverage. It should be of concern that volunteers using personal vehicles have motor vehicle insurance.

Hearing of Visitors

Ray Combs asked for an update on the town garage roof. Stephan Chait is working with the engineering company, said Holtz, but we haven’t heard anything yet. Sumner said Chait would be letting him (Sumner) know when the company representative will visit. What about the paving situation on Green River Road, asked Combs. Sumner said the town attorney had reviewed the supporting documents related to pavement damage. He will follow up with Bob Fisher to find out whether Fisher has communicated with Lane Construction.

Old Business

Road Reclassification
Sumner advised the Board should set a date to discuss the written decision on road reclassification. The Selectboard has sixty days from the date of the hearing to write that decision. The Board selected some tentative dates to hold a meeting, including a deliberative session, to discuss reasoning prior to writing a decision. Gabriel will ask about town attorney availability on June 8th, June 9th, or June 17th.

Other Business

Financial Review Before FY End
Edwards noted that final FY15 payments on wages and benefits will bring allotted budget dollars near zero balance. About $4,600.00 remains in the office expenses category, with some purchases yet to be made. Monies remaining in the bridge budget will be moved to reserve funds; temporary guardrail work on the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill is still to be done. Taxes and interest are over-budget by $8,000; Sumner said county taxes had gone up; the Board will ask Patty Dow for line item detail. There won’t be a lot left over, said Edwards, but I don’t think we’ll be over budget too badly. There are some dollars remaining in the highway wages budget which may be used up in the last few weeks if the fiscal year. Expenses for sand, salt, and stone were more than anticipated, while gravel costs were less; there is money left in the chloride budget, and monies for roadside mowing were not spent. Maintenance and fuel costs were also greater than the budgeted amount. Edwards will follow up with Patty Dow and Brad Rafus regarding end-of-year details. We should set up a meeting with highway employees soon, she said, to discuss wages, CDL policy, and holiday pay policy.

Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment

The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.


Holtz told the Board Everett Wilson was interested in the Conservation Commission proposal. The Board would would like to have several additional volunteers and compose a charter before a commission is launched.

Edwards shared an email from the state advising the availability of bulk fuel purchasing using state contracts and asking whether the town had used a state contract for oil purchases in the past. This was new information to the Board. The town presently has bid requests out for next year’s fuel; can we investigate the state’s offer while our current bids are in progress, asked Edwards. Sumner said sometimes such contracts carried a requirement for large amounts in one delivery—8,000 to 10,000 gallons. Further research will be done on the state’s process.

Edwards said she had become aware that a private citizen appears to be working in the river with large equipment. I don’t know how much in the river; do we have an obligation to do anything about it, she asked. Absolutely, answered Holtz. Talk to ANR and Todd Menees and find out if there is a permit. Edwards announced a two-day Rivers and Road Training, part of the Road Scholar Environmental Workshop, to be held at the Wilmington Town Garage October 7th and 8th. The workshop is sponsored by Vermont Local Roads, VTrans, and the Federal Highway Administration, and includes an hour-long prerequisite online course. Sumner will bring the event to Brad Rafus’ attention.

Holtz announced that he was resigning as Selectman of the Town of Halifax, effective immediately. He gave the Board a letter to that effect, saying, “I’ve had a good time working with the three of you, but it’s just my time.” Edwards asked Holtz to reconsider. “I’ve spent over a week thinking about this,” responded Holtz, “I really appreciate that, but I’m just going to spend the time with my family.”


The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary