OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
June 19, 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, as were Jeff Marsden (Bazin Bros.), Duane Fletcher (Renaud Bros.), Archie Clark (A.S. Clark and Sons), Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Fred and Tara Cheney (Vermont Roadworks), Patrick Gregory, Justina Gregory, Earl Holtz, Jack Rossetti, Mike Bruno, Cara Cheyette, Edee Edwards, Sue Kelly, Laura Mitchell, Joann Erenhouse (Senior Solutions), Frederick L. Aldrich (Mitchell Sand & Gravel), Peter LaFogg (LaFogg and Hathaway), Fabio Girelli-Caresi, Paula Shwartz, Peggy Rafus, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner added a review of the newly drafted repeater tower contract.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Mitch Green made a motion to approve the 6/5/18 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Open Bids (Paving, Bridge, Fuel, Sand)
Three bids were received for the Green River Road bridge #17 repairs, as follows:
A. S. Clark and Sons, Newfane, Vermont: Bridge deck repairs, Green River Road, to include milling existing top off bridge deck and at least ten feet beyond both ends, remove decayed concrete in two areas noted in bid packet, clean and repair rebarb as needed, replace concrete and repave milled areas. Any other areas determined by Road Foreman to need repairs will be on a time and material basis. Total bid price, $32,500.
LaFogg and Hathaway Construction, Williamsburg, Massachusetts: Mill one inch from entire deck and a ten-foot approach on both ends of the bridge. Cut out and repair two areas of concrete as specified in attached documents. Pave milled area, entire bridge deck, and ten feet into approach on both ends of bridge. Apply tack coat to milled area, pave with one-inch top course. Bid price, $22,650.
Renaud Bros., Vernon, Vermont: Repair two areas of bridge deck as shown in attached specification sheet and photo. Mill and repave bridge deck, including ten feet off each end of bridge. Bid price, $20,000.
Green made a motion to accept the Renaud Bros. bid to repair the deck on bridge #17, in the amount of $20,000. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Three bids were received; two vendors submitted bids for heating oil and diesel fuel, one submitted a bid for heating oil only. The Board first considered heating oil bids.
A. R. Sandri, Greenfield, Massachusetts: 2,000 gallons of #2 heating oil, delivered to the Halifax Town Garage on an automatic ten-day delivery cycle, $2.599 per gallon, total $5,198.
Guy E. Nido, Inc., Wilmington, Vermont: 2,000 gallons of #2 heating oil, prepaid by August 17, 2018, $2.53 per gallon.
Stephan Chait asked how often fuel was delivered. On an automatic ten-day delivery cycle, said Green.
Barrows and Fisher Oil, Brattleboro, Vermont: 2,000 gallons #2 fuel oil at a fixed price of $2.459 per gallon. Prepaid, $4,918.
Green recommended reviewing quotes for diesel, also, prior to approving all fuel bids.
Guy E. Nido, Inc., Wilmington, Vermont: 8,750 gallons summer diesel fuel, $2.66 per gallon. 8,750 gallons winter diesel fuel, 50/50 mix, $2.76 per gallon.
Barrows and Fisher Oil, Brattleboro, Vermont: 8,750 gallons summer diesel fuel, $0.25 over current rack price (presently $2.406), or $2.656 per gallon. 8,750 gallons winter diesel fuel, 60/40 mix, $0.35 over current rack price (presently $2.406), or $2.756 per gallon.
Sumner said the 50/50 mix is much better for us, and Green commented that fixed price is better than rack price, as the rack price fluctuates.
Green made a motion to approve Guy E. Nido’s bid for summer diesel fuel at $2.66/gal., and winter 50/50 mix at $2.76/gal. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Green made a motion to approve Barrows and Fisher’s bid for #2 heating oil at $2.45/gal., Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Two bids were received for winter sand, as follows:
Renaud Gravel, Inc., Vernon, Vermont: 4,000 cubic yards ¾” winter sand, $8.50 per yard plus $9.00 per yard for delivery, or $17.50 per yard delivered, $8.50 per yard picked up at the pit.
Cersosimo Industries, Inc., Brattleboro, Vermont: 4,000 cubic yards ¾” winter sand, $8.25 per yard plus $13.00 per yard delivery charge, or $21.25 per yard delivered, $8.25 per yard picked up at the pit.
Green made a motion to approve Renaud Gravel’s bid for 4,000 cubic yards winter sand at $8.50/yd. picked up, $17.50/yd. delivered. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed,3-0.
Is the amount delivered determined by the town?, asked Chait. Yes, replied Rafus; it depends on the weather, and the highway crew’s work schedule. New Act 64 regulations will mean several additional projects each year, and less time for the Town to haul sand.
The Board received three bids for the FY19 Collins Road paving project, as follows:
Bazin Brothers Trucking, Westminster, Vermont: 12-inch deep reclamation, compaction included, fine grading not included, 19,360 square yards, $21,296. 3,500 tons 3” deep asphalt, ¾” virgin mix base, ⅜” virgin top, emulsion tack coat included between base and top, $62.32 per ton, total $218,120. Shoulder gravel, to be placed with a shoulder machine, 295 cubic yards at $15.00 a yard, $4,425. Total bid, $243,841.
Mitchell Sand & Gravel, Winchester, New Hampshire: 3,500 tons HVP virgin mix overlay, 1” Type 4 and 2” Type 11, $63.65 per ton, total $222,775. Reclaim, 19,360 square yards, $1.15 per yard, total $22,264. Total bid $245,039.
Vermont Roadworks LLC, Guilford, Vermont: Reclaim 1.5 miles at 12” depth, bidder to provide compaction, install 2” of ¾” binder, 22 feet wide, install 1” of ⅜” top, 22 feet wide. Traffic control, 2-foot shoulders installed, 1½” crushed gravel. Reclaim $1.05 per square yard, total $20,328. Shoulder installed, $5,000. 3,500 tons 100% virgin material, no RAP, Town of Halifax will do all required grading, $73.83 per ton, $258,405. Total bid, $283,783.
Do they put tack between the coats?, asked Ray Combs. Yes, said Rafus. Sumner and Green said all three bids followed specifications.
Green made a motion to approve Bazin Brothers bid for Collins Road paving in the amount of $243,841. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Earl Holtz asked whether it was still Town policy to help if a resident wanted to change their culvert to State spec. Yes, answered Rafus, you pay for the culvert, and the Town provides the gravel, labor, and equipment. Cara Cheyette asked for clarification on State-mandated road width. Asphalt roads must be 22 feet wide, said Rafus; dirt roads are supposed to be 20 feet.
Joann Erenhouse—Senior Solutions
Joann Erenhouse introduced herself as Community Relations Director for Senior Solutions. The organization, which has locations in Brattleboro, Springfield, and White River Junction, provides services to people age 60 and over, and people with disabilities. Erenhouse gave Selectboard members printed copies of an area plan overview containing information on the organization’s structure and resources, and a press release publicizing a $395,000 federal grant awarded to Senior Solutions to fund combatting elder abuse in southeastern Vermont. She discussed the organization’s funding sources and the services it provides. Senior Solutions administers the Meals on Wheels program, which will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser dance, silent auction, and live band with refreshments in Brattleboro, on Saturday, September 29th, at the Old Stone Church. Senior Solutions also provides counseling for SHIP (State Health Insurance Program), which includes a monthly Medicare boot camp—two hours of intensive training on how to sign up for Medicare. (802-855-2655 for anyone interested in signing up.) Erenhouse told Green the web site URL is seniorsolutionsvt.org; there is a lot of information on the web site, she added.
Senior Solutions will also assist people with applications for the 3 Squares Vermont food program; the helpline number for 3 Squares, as well as other assistance, is 800-642-5119. 3 Squares Vermont also offers a Cash Crop program, which allows participants to exchange $10 of their benefits at farmers’ markets for $20 in chips which can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
Senior Solutions also offers assistance with participation in visitor programs such as the fedeal Senior Companions program, which provides a small stipend to seniors visiting seniors, and Friendly Visitors, a volunteer program in which people of any age visit seniors. A veteran-to-veteran visiting program involving the American Legion is currently under development in Brattleboro. Caregiver respite grants, support, and training are also available, as well as various wellness programs.
In closing, Erenhouse spoke of the $395,000 grant Senior Solutions has received this year from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence against Women. This is a three-year grant to be used for eduation of local, interdisciplinary teams, enabling them to recognize, intervene in, protect from, and prosecute elder abuse in the local population. The pilot program is in Windsor County and involves a wide range of law enforcement and social services team members. Once trained, these team members will, in turn, train local fire departments, EMS, and sheriff’s departments, among others. Cheyette asked whether individuals needed to go to Springfield for assistance from Senior Solutions. No, said Erenhouse, call the help line, tell us your needs, and we will come to you. The Board thanked Erenhouse for her presentation.
Road Reclassification Discussion
Sumner asked Rafus to outline changes being brought about by Act 64. With the new regulations, said Rafus, the towns are now responsible for water runoff on Class 4 roads. We have two options; crown the roads and do a minimal amount of grading so the water sheets off the road, or put in water bars. Previously, the towns were only responsible for culverts on Class 4 roads, now they are responsible for controlling the runoff. While we are required to do this, we get no money or assistance from the State for Class 4 roads. Earl Holtz asked for a definition of a waterbar. It’s a ditch across the road, replied Rafus. The new rules go into effect in 2019, but we are starting now, because there are some grants available. By 2021 we have to have 15% of the mandated work completed. Rafus told Jack Rossetti crowning the roads once a year so the water sheets off is an option. Sue Kelly asked if Worden Cemetery Road was Class 4 or trail, and what the width requirements would be on Class 4 roads. A portion of it is Class 4, said Rafus. The State doesn’t specify Class 4 road width, but those are 3-rod roads, so the Town has a 49½-foot right of way.
That assumes every road has a water problem, said Cara Cheyette. Referring to Holtz’ earlier question about landowners replacing culverts, she asked for confirmation that if culverts are upgraded and there is no water problem, then we’re not going to be putting money into solutions. Right, responded Rafus; but I don’t want to wait until there’s a huge problem and then have to go out and correct it. We need to be proactive, he added, and offered the example of a hard-to-reach portion of Old Stage Road that the State has said must be addressed. We can’t have water sitting in the roadbed. They (the State) have backed off a little bit; the original Act 64 required any berms (or shoulders) be cut back or removed on all classes of roads, but they are now just requiring water control. What size are the culverts you put in?, asked Ray Combs. If we put them in they have to be eighteen inch minimum, Rafus answered. Green returned to Cheyette’s comment, saying the earlier conversation about the Town installing a culvert purchased by the landowner referred to driveways. Is that eighteen inches, too?, asked Holtz. No, said Rafus, it’s fifteen inches. That’s new; it used to be twelve inches. Under the Act 64 grants, an erosion issue related to a private driveway can be part of the grant project, which will help pay for the correction. So if there is a Class 4 road with a culvert going under it, it’s not the case that the landowner could buy the material and the town would put that in?, asked Cheyette. No, answered Green; if the culvert is crossing the roadbed, that is the Town’s responsibility. On Class 4 roads, added Rafus, if we have a bad culvert on a Class 4 road we now have the choice of taking it out and putting in a trench. Then, if a landowner wants to upgrade the road, they can do so at their cost.
Is there any discussion about changing some Class 4 roads to trails?, asked Kelly. One way to avoid cost would be to reclassify to town trail. We haven’t discussed that, said Rafus, but several years ago we reclassified the end of Woodard Hill Road, which has no bridge now and needs a lot of work, from Class 4 to trail. Sumner recalled an earlier attempt by the Town to reclassify Old Stage Road from Class 4 to trail was denied by the court. Maybe we could reconsider that now, as a means of saving money, said Green. He thought the original reason for reclassifying from trail to Class 4 was to make it easier for people to use their land.
You’ve been raising the Act 64 question for awhile, said Cheyette. The reason the road reclassification is on the agenda is because you’re talking about reclassifying my road—Hall Road—and Aldrich. I know Act 64 is a real thing; I’m going to talk for a little while, and I’m going to ask people to bear with me. Cheyette said she knew Rafus had recommended that if Hall Road were reclassified it should become Class 3 as far as Michael Drummey’s driveway, but she knew Rafus was not the last word, so she would speak to the whole situation. Six months ago, before any of this came up, Cheyette began, I was talking to someone about how hard things can be in town, and he said, you know why I don’t get involved with town stuff? You piss them off, and the next thing you know they’re talking about reclassifying your road. There were sounds of protest from the audience; Cheyette said she would appreciate not being interrupted. In my opinion, she continued, best case scenario, people are being treated based on whether you like them or not, and the worst case scenario is that some of this effort is to teach somebody a lesson. My opinion is that person being taught a lesson is me. I’m going to say why I believe that, and you can all draw your own conclusions. After I say why I think this is personal, I have a couple really concrete things to say about extending the road and about reclassifying up to Mike Drummey’s driveway.
Cheyette now related a series of details drawn from past Selectboard meeting minutes, audio, and conversations she had with Michael Drummey. During the February 6th meeting Board members spoke of a request from Michael Drummey to reclassify Hall Road, and discussed the Town policy whereby landowners could upgrade a Class 4 road and petition the Town to reclassify. Cheyette emphasized that Green stated there were no guarantees a petition would be approved. Cheyette then attended the February 20th meeting and told the Board she thought there had been a misunderstanding; Drummey was not requesting reclassification, he was just interested in having the Town plow the road. In April, Cheyette said she had a conversation with Drummey about getting estimates for buying material and having Hall Road graded. Early in May, Cheyette said Drummey told her he had learned they (Cheyette and Drummey) could buy materials and the Town would grade the road. Drummey told her he had given Rafus a swing set, Lewis Sumner was his friend, and the Town would handle the proposed project. At this point, Peggy Rafus protested vigorously, asking the Board to insist Cheyette stick to facts and not involve her (Rafus’) family. I’m going to get to the facts, said Cheyette, and Sumner urged her to do so. Cheyette argued for her opportunity to speak at length, saying the previous guest (Senior Solutions’ Joann Erenhouse) had done so, and at Town Meeting Russell Denison was permitted to speak for an extended period of time.
Resuming her story, Cheyette said that after her May conversation with Drummey she sent an email to him, and to Rafus, asking them to hold off; the email never got a response. At the May 15th Selectboard meeting, Rafus reported that Drummey had asked the Town to cut sod on the Class 4 section of Hall Road. That was approved. Cheyette’s email to Rafus was not mentioned. The next week, said Cheyette, I called Keith (Stone) to find out about privately grading. Stone said this was between her and the Selectboard. Cheyette said she then went down the hill, and saw the sod had been cut along the road, widening it, the Town had graded the road, and the Town laid material in the road. No, we didn’t, responded Rafus; the Town did not put material on the road. The Town did put material on the road, insisted Cheyette. We did not, repeated Rafus. We cut the sod and crowned the road. Okay, said Cheyette, no material, but you graded. I stand corrected. But there was grading. Exactly, Rafus responded. That’s what you do when you cut sod. The fact is, said Cheyette, I had emailed no grading, Mike came to you, you did grade; I’m just laying that out as a point of fact.
Cheyette said she had emailed the Board asking they hold off discussing reclassification at their June 5th meeting, as she could not attend. Cheyette listened to the audio recording of that meeting and heard receipt of her email noted, but no there was no discussion of holding off. When Malcolm Sumner’s bridge was being reclassified, said Cheyette, if he had called and said he couldn’t get to a meeting, I can’t imagine there wouldn’t at least have been discussion about can we hold off. Green said the Board would have to hold public hearings anyway (if reclassification were pursued), so they had discussion June 5th to start the process. During that meeting, Cheyette went on, there was mention of a not-nice email I had sent to Michael Drummey, discussion of the amount of taxes Drummey pays without receiving services, and, in reference to shared costs (between private landowners) of maintaining the road, someone said, “Nope, she’s not paying,” which is an absolute lie. You’re listening to gossip about me, and you’re saying it in public hearing.
Cara, what are you looking for?, asked Ray Combs. You’re talking about meetings; what’s the basis? Back in February you said you don’t do maintenance on Class 4 roads unless the landowner does the improvement and petitions the Town to reclassify, said Cheyette. That changed when we had the erosion study done, and the State told us we had to maintain the water runoff on Class 4 roads, responded Rafus; that was after February. There are several Class 4 roads that we grade once a year, said Green. That might all be true, replied Cheyette, but the timing of this, the fact is that . . . I’m sure that you can’t . . . that none of this was about a swing set. Once again, Peggy Rafus spoke up in protest. What happened between February and May was that there was a whole open meeting law fiasco, said Cheyette. Several people spoke in unison, then Cheyette said, I do believe this is to teach me a lesson, because the last time I pissed you all off, there was a suggestion on the record that somebody actually wanted to hurt me, and you all laughed, and it turned out not to be true. Who laughed?, asked Sumner. All of you, said Cheyette. I don’t think so, responded Sumner. I do feel this is a personal thing, Cheyette went on. My whole argument about the Town is use your discretion fairly and equally across the board. I have a few things to say about the hill. Here, Peggy Rafus asked that Cheyette be requested to stop if she (Cheyette) brought Rafus’ family into the conversation on a personal level.
Cheyette stated that part of the reclassification discussion was based on what taxpayers were or were not getting for their money. What I get, she said, is the peace, and security, and quiet, and beauty, that I absolutely love. I know I don’t have a vested right in (Hall Road as) a Class 4 road, but I have a real interest in it. Cheyette spoke in general about the Town’s efforts to maintain roads in the face of increasing taxpayer expectations and the rising cost of that maintenance; she said she was happy to pay her share without asking the Town to maintain her section of road. Referring to Hall Road, she said if it were opened up all the way through there would be eighteen-wheelers, tour buses, and pleasure vehicles using it to access the Winery. She said the plan to reclassify as far as Drummey’s driveway felt less personal, although then the Town would be doing it for one taxpayer. Cheyette enumerated some specific considerations, including culverts, drainage, and existing Sure-Pac, that might be part of an upgrade project. Part of the reclassification discussion, said Green, is based on the fact that the State assists financially in maintenance of Class 3 roads, whereas if it is Class 4 they don’t. If we’re going to maintain that section of road, it would be better for the Town if it were Class 3. We did discuss upgrading all the way through, but concluded it would be too expensive.
Brad Rafus asked if Cheyette would be agreeable to a ditch at the bottom of her road section. Water is washing down and the sediment is gathering at Drummey’s driveway. To control that, I have two options, he said; I can crown the road or I can put in a ditch. Cheyette disputed this, saying she spends a lot of time observing water movement and crowns her section of road each year; she doesn’t see a water problem.
Sumner recommended getting the reclassification process started, with letters to landowners and interested persons. Shall we consider Old County Road and Old Stage Road?, asked Green. Board members agreed. Jack Rossetti asked whether Cheyette’s section of road could be reclassified as trail. Green thought that might not be possible on roads where residences existed. Holtz said the portion of road between Cheyette’s and Adamski’s was a horror show; it would have to be dynamited, and the expense would be large. We aren’t considering that section, said Sumner; Rafus and Green agreed. Holtz suggested that part of the road should be trail. Peggy Rafus said landowner input would be needed; if the road were reclassified as trail, property owners wouldn’t be able to subdivide or have access to build. Green thought that we could not go backwards. Once permits for building have been issued, based on a required amount of road frontage, reclassifying to trail would remove that frontage.
Edee Edwards asked about private roads, such as the one leading to dwellings at Halifax Falls, and recommended asking for help from VLCT or others in understanding the legal reclassification process. There used to be a town roads policy, she said, you should be sure that conforms with the Town Plan, and to maintain fairness you should try to find roads that are similar and do them in batches.
After further discussion on whether or not to begin the reclassification process, Brad Rafus said he would like to push it off for one more meeting, to give him an opportunity to gather specific information and research several other roads, including Worden Cemetery and Old Stage Roads. Holtz recalled a list, created in the past, of ten roads to be considered for reclassification. The Board agreed to revisit the subject at their next meeting. Rafus addressed Cheyette, saying that he did not take anything personally, so her comments were fine. I’m here to do what’s best for the Town, and what is fair for every resident in this town, and I don’t do anything to try to get back at anybody. If you think that, you don’t know me well at all. If I let little comments bother me, I wouldn’t be here. Nothing personal. It is with me, though, added Peggy Rafus. You made it personal with my family; I just want to make that clear. Edwards suggested that if meetings were focused to the Chair, it makes it more enjoyable to be here with our neighbors.
MacAllister Site Visit
Sumner advised the Board has received another letter from Attorney Jeffrey Morse concerning Old County Road in Halifax Center. Last year, property owner Martha MacAllister asked that the road in front of her residence be returned to the narrower width of the 1970s. Sumner told Kelly that MacAllister wants the road narrowed by four feet, but we can’t do it. It’s a four-rod road with a 66-foot right of way, and we are not currently using the full right of way width. Morse is requesting a site visit. Green saw no purpose in a site visit, as he believes the question has already been answered. Gabriel gave a brief summary of past communication on the issue; while the Town made its position clear in open meeting, a formal letter was never sent to Morse detailing the Town’s response. Sumner advised the next step should be a letter from the Town Attorney to Attorney Morse.
Set Date for Employee Reviews
The Board consulted the calendar and decided to meet Tuesday, June 26th, 7:00 p.m. at the Town Office for employee reviews. Green confirmed for Stephan Chait that this would be an executive session. (Note: The location was later changed to the Town Garage, as another meeting was already scheduled in the Town Office that evening.)
The Board has received a draft of the proposed Highway Department repeater tower contract for review. Green told Combs the contract had been written by the Town Attorney.
While Board members were reading through the document, Sumner took an opportunity to announce that as of last Thursday the solar panel installation at the Ferry Road landfill was 99% complete, with testing scheduled for June 21st or 22nd. The project is currently on schedule to meet their June 30 deadline for completion.
Gabriel directed the Board’s attention to several details in the tower contract that were in need of revision. Green recommended the amount of compensation be revisited once a year. The document will go back to the Town Attorney for changes, and the Board authorized the Chair to sign the final version once it has been reviewed and approved by the Farringtons and their attorney.
Executive Session (if necessary)
Sumner requested a status report on the Latham stone wall. I emailed him today, said Rafus. I don’t think it was anything town equipment did; it’s too far off the road and it is a narrow break. It looks like a pickup or car went off the road and hit the wall. Rafus told Latham he would examine the wall with him when Latham was in town.
Hearing of Visitors
Combs asked whether the Town has hired a new employee for the Highway Department yet. Rafus said there has been some response, but the position has only been advertised for a week, and we are running additional ads. How is the new tractor working out?, asked Combs. We haven’t used it yet, replied Rafus. An air conditioning line was inadvertently punctured when the radio was being installed; that necessitated repairs this week.
Earl Holtz, Halifax Tree Warden, told the meeting that Emerald Ash Borer has been found in three northern Vermont counties, and is expected to migrate to our area. He distributed a press release about the infestation and said an informational webinar session would be held tomorrow. Holtz told Gabriel the webinar should be available on YouTube for later viewing. Ash trees infested with the Emerald Ash Borer die from the top down, and there is no way to stop the process. He recommended the Town consider doing an inventory of ash trees in the Town right of way. Rafus said he and Keith Stone noted some damaged ash trees on Green River Road today. Holtz said he would examine those trees, and urged anyone noting other ash tree damage to contact him.
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Correspondence was reviewed and the yearly Windham County Humane Society was signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:14 p.m.