Town of Halifax, Vermont
June 5, 2018


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present. Ray Combs, Peggy Rafus, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

Three items were added to the agenda; Brad Rafus requested an EMD/FEMA progress report and a personnel discussion, and Lewis Sumner advised the Board has line of credit documents for signature.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Mitch Green made a motion to approve the 5/15/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Green asked whether Constable Andy Rice had spoken to the residents on Stowe Mountain Road about debris in the travel lanes. The Board has not yet heard back from Rice, but the material has been removed.

New Business

Open Tractor Bids
The Board received one bid for the purchase of the Highway Department’s old tractor. Rafus made a motion to accept John Betit’s bid for the 1984 International diesel tractor in the amount of $3,700. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Discuss Road Reclassification
Sumner advised the Board had received an email a few hours ago from Cara Cheyette, asking that this discussion be postponed, as Cheyette could not attend tonight’s meeting. Rafus said he would give an update on the situation. He said the Highway Department had graded the Class 3 section (of Hall Road), and cut the sod on a portion of the Class 4 section, as discussed at the last meeting. Subsequently, Cheyette sent an email to a neighbor, expressing her displeasure, as she had not wanted this work done. As a matter of perspective, said Rafus, we maintain 1,480 feet of Class 4 road on Aldrich Road; there is one residence on that portion. The class 4 section of Hall Road in question is 960 feet, with two houses on it. Rafus told Ray Combs the recent work ended before Mike Drummey’s driveway; Drummey has been maintaining the Class 4 portion as far as his driveway for years. What is the distance if you were to go all the way through?, asked Green. Rafus estimated half a mile. He recommended that reclassification, if approved, should end at Drummey’s driveway. It would take a lot of work and material to go all the way through; there is ledge 2-3 feet high. Sumner advised that the Aldrich and Hall road sections be considered for reclassification, which would entail site visits and a hearing. Board members also had communication this year with an Old County Road property owner who is hoping to build a house and would need a portion of road designated Class 4 prior to construction. Green is of the opinion that any portion of road with at least three residences should be reclassified as Class 3. Rafus said that under the new Act 64, the Town is responsible for water control on Class 4 roads. It’s better to spend a little time now removing sod and building crowns, than to fix washouts in the future, as the State will require. Does the State give us money (toward maintenance costs)?, asked Combs. They do for Class 3, but not Class 4, answered Rafus. We still have to control the water, but we don’t get any money for it. Sumner recommended getting the reclassification process started; it’s going to take awhile. Landowners and banks will need to be notified. Gabriel will will research the legal requirements for reclassification, and the Board will revisit the subject at their next meeting.

Local Emergency Operations Plan Amendment
Windham Regional Commission has recommended one small revision to the Halifax Local Emergency Operations Plan—the inclusion of the school as a potential shelter. The Board approved the change, and the EMD will be working to obtain Red Cross accreditation, as the building is not currently qualified.

EMD Update
Peggy Rafus outlined a situation that arose from the Town’s request for a line of credit in anticipation of FEMA reimbursement for road repairs necessitated by last fall’s storm damage. The bank has authorized a loan for a lesser amount than the Town requested. In conversation with the Town Treasurer, the bank said the Town has not yet submitted full documentation to FEMA. Rafus explained that she is working with a FEMA representative on the project; this year FEMA is using a new online program for the reimbursement process, and Rafus is following the FEMA representative’s advice about how and when to submit information. After communicating with FEMA and the State, Rafus learned there was an apparent miscommunication between the bank and the State Department of Public Safety representative; the latter said the project was on track and had encouraged the bank to approve the full amount of the loan. Based on current progress, we expect to have FEMA reimbursement by mid-July, said Rafus, and we have received a line of credit sufficient to cover the immediate invoices. Given the statements made by the bank, I want to make it clear than we are not behind in our submission of paperwork; FEMA representatives have confirmed that. Brad Rafus commented that it took FEMA some months to schedule the initial meetings with the Town. This is an entirely new process to them and to us, he added. Sumner said that based on past experience, FEMA never makes guarantees in advance of finalizing reimbursement requests, but he has been successful in getting the State to support loan applications. Peggy Rafus said she had obtained a written statement from the Department of Public Safety to present to the bank.

Brad Rafus told the meeting the damaged culvert on Hatch School Road would also be replaced, but that would happen later, as a separate project, once hydrology studies have been completed.

Rafus also suggested the Town carry a pre-approved line of credit. We wouldn’t draw on it, he said, just have it approved. We’d have to renew it at least every year, said Sumner. Gabriel will ask the Treasurer to research the possibility.

Personnel Discussion
Rafus advised that a highway department employee has given his notice and will be leaving on June 15th. Gabriel has already advertised in the newspapers and on the VLCT classified web site, he said; we have a ton of work to do this summer and we can’t afford to be short-handed. Travis Briggs has taken a job as assistant road commissioner with the Town of Dover. Rafus also said it was time to schedule employee reviews. Board members agreed to set a date for reviews at their June 19th meeting. Can you get someone to replace an employee like Travis?, asked Combs. We’ll see, replied Rafus. We used to be able to hire someone without a CDL, and train them if they had a permit. The State now frowns on that, so we have to hire someone who already has a commercial license.

Sign Loan Documents
Sumner made a motion to sign the People’s United Bank line of credit documents in the amount of $170,000. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Executive Session (if necessary)

None held.

Old Business

Repeater Tower Update
Everything is hooked up, said Rafus, and it is working really well; we’re very happy with it. We have only found two dead spots—one about a hundred feet long down on at the Guilford line at the lower end of Hale Road, and one very small spot on Amidon Road at the town line. Peggy Rafus confirmed that VY grant documentation for the repeater upgrade is complete and has been approved. The Board answered several questions related to property insurance updates and the terms of the contract Town Attorney Robert Fisher is preparing for the repeater equipment and the tower. We have one more portable radio left, said Rafus. He suggested it might be installed in the Constable’s vehicle.

Other Business


Hearing of Visitors

Ray Combs told the Board that Tucker Road needs a road sign. Was there ever one there?, he asked. It was there until just before winter, responded Rafus. Someone stole it; ripped the post down. Rafus said it’s on his list for replacement; he is waiting to order several at once, as the cost of shipping cost is high. Combs also mentioned that there is a spot partway up Town Hill (Jacksonville Stage) where the gravel at the edge of the pavement is beginning to erode. Green asked if the Town could rebuild shoulders on that hill in the future, as there is no longer a place to pull over if a vehicle breaks down. We had to widen the road by three feet when we repaved, Rafus told him, to meet State requirements.

Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment

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


New correspondence was reviewed and one overweight permit was signed. The Board also reviewed an updated version of the yearly Windham Humane Society contract, and signed the yearly Rescue contract and a letter of intent for the 2018 Municipal Roads Grants-in-Aid program.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary