Town of Halifax, Vermont


April 3, 2012

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM.  Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards and Earl Holtz.  Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, Greg Marguet, Joe Tamburrino, Brad Rafus, Charlene Martynowski, Phyllis Evanuk, Leonard Derby, Ray Combs, Carol Wright, Orrin Isles, Nick Bartenhagen, Maggie Bartenhagen, Everett Wilson, Kevin O’Donnell, and newly appointed Selectboard Secretary, Jessica Bruno.

Approval of Minutes

Earl Holtz moved to accept the minutes of the March 20, 2012 regular meeting as written.  Lewis Sumner seconded the motion.  Edee Edwards noted an error in one heading, and the motion was amended to be “as corrected.”
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

Earl Holtz moved to accept the minutes of the March 27, 2012 special meeting as written. Edee Edwards seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

Edee Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the March 29, 2012 emergency meeting with 3 corrections.  Lewis Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

Edee Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the March 29, 2012 special meeting with several corrections. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved

New Business

Appointment of Selectboard Secretary

Earl Holtz made a motion to appoint Jessica Bruno as Selectboard Secretary.  Edee Edwards seconded the motion.  Discussion included thanking both well-qualified candidates, and noting it was a hard decision. The motion carried 3-0.
Jessica Bruno was invited to the Selectboard table to begin her duties immediately.

Green Up Coordinator Appointment

Edee Edwards tried to get in touch with Sarah Morin but was unable to do so. Edwards did hear from Patty Dow that Tara Lane said she would be interested.

Edee Edwards made a motion to appoint Tara Lane as Green Up Day coordinator. Earl Holtz seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.

Broadband Committee and Town Website Committee

Earl Holtz reported that the Broadband Committee is still waiting for a status update from VTel regarding getting broadband internet service in Halifax by 2013. The town website has not been updated for a number of months and the Broadband Committee has discussed working together/combining with the Website Committee to get the town website working a little more reliably. The Broadband Committee would like to ask the Selectboard to consider combining the two Committees (Broadband and Website). Edee Edwards has resigned from the Broadband Committee effectively last meeting. Jessica Bruno, as a member of the Broadband Committee, added that it would be a good idea to merge the two Committees as they are moving toward similar goals and they could pool their resources. Charlene Martynowski and Phyllis Evanuk as members of the Website Committee thought it may be a good idea as well, though they hadn’t really had a chance to think about it yet. Edwards noted that the charter of the Broadband Committee is to try to bring affordable high speed internet access to everyone in Halifax that wished to have it, and then added the next charter could be then to ensure that the town website is reliable, accurate, and up-to-date means of information for the townspeople. If we are looking at communications as a whole, is there enough impetus to also charge that Committee with looking at cell coverage? Edwards noted that the Whitingham board is currently under negotiation to put a cell tower up. As this may be a lot for one Committee to think about, Edwards added that these are usually interrelated (internet/cell service), but we don’t want to overburden the Committee, or water down the original goals. Earl Holtz would like to adjust the charter to “facilitate” bringing broadband to the community, as unless we create a co-op, there’s no way of actually making it happen. There was discussion regarding the inter-relatedness of internet and cell services especially with today’s technology. Edwards encouraged the Committee to go out and canvas for other people if they felt there was more work to be done and they felt they needed more assistance.

Edee Edwards made a motion to merge the Broadband and Website Committees in order to facilitate getting internet service and possible cell coverage, with the charter to do what they can to facilitate getting high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet into town, to address questions about possibilities for cell coverage, and to work towards improving the town website. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.

Review Truck Specifications for Replacement of Sterling Dump Truck #3

Brad Rafus explained that one of the specs was for the truck and chassis, and the other was for the equipment. Rafus explained that the fire extinguisher was one the State uses which is made more for being in vehicles. Holtz inquired whether the spec excluded any major transmission manufacturer to which Rafus replied that it did not, and that Fuller is available in all different makes. Rafus explained that it was an 8LL transmission, used more for construction. Holtz asked how this compares with the machine they are replacing to which Rafus explained it is to the exact spec of the last truck they bought in 2007. However, the one they are replacing is 14 years old so it’s a totally different truck because the emissions have changed about three times since then. The GVWR is 43,000 on the one they are replacing. This spec is for a tandem truck. Edwards brought up the discussion of whether or not we really need a tandem. Rafus explained that we would if we are going to haul our own sand and stockpile gravel, especially because of the cost of traveling from Brattleboro to Halifax. On one day of hauling, the guys make 5 trips to Brattleboro. On a single axle they are hauling 40 yards, but on a tandem they would be hauling 70 yards. So, you almost have to haul 2 days with a single axle to do the same in one day with a tandem. This would cost twice the amount in fuel and labor in addition to all the extra wear and tear on the truck. The difference in cost between a single axle and a tandem is $17,000. Edwards acknowledged that those are important points, however, we budgeted some extra to deal with the fact that there were additional emissions related costs, but if we put $67,000 in the reserve fund one year, and we put in $75,000 for the fiscal year that starts in July, have we budgeted enough to get a tandem? Rafus also reminded the Selectboard to take into consideration the money we will get from FEMA for working our equipment the last 6 months, which is around $130,000. Edwards said they will take that into consideration when they look at the overall cash flow picture, but that the town has spent everything in the reserve fund, and they were hoping to pre-fund this purchase rather than tap into the line of credit. Rafus explained that if we were to buy the truck, you would have to pay for the chassis around June/July, and then the equipment takes 6-8 weeks to do, so you would have to pay for the equipment 6-8 weeks after that. Holtz inquired whether we would have to buy new plow blades, or does the present equipment fit on the new one? Rafus explained that the blades and equipment are worn-out as they are 12-13 years old. Edwards expressed concern that these estimates exceed the amount put into our reserve fund by $25,000 (for the non-tandem). Edwards would like Rafus to spec out a non-tandem and the Board can try to do some more cost analysis. Holtz agreed that the Board should do some more cost analysis. Sumner inquired whether these estimates included the municipal discount to which Rafus replied that they did. The figures they are reviewing currently are $183,000 vs $166,000. Edwards inquired whether there is any advantage to holding on to the old truck to salvage parts to which Rafus replied that they will not get any trade-in value for the old truck. The Selectboard will discuss this issue under Old Business at the next meeting.

FEMA – Tropical Storm Irene update

Lewis Sumner reported that we have another new person on board from FEMA, Bob Bass, who just has our town, and should complete everything in 5 weeks. They finished the Stowe Mountain project worksheet (PW), which is not done 100%, but up to now is $200,000. Concerning Green River Road, FEMA is asking questions about the history of this PW as to why is was $2.6 million, then $960,000 modified up again. Sumner reported that $2.6 million is what the Army Corps of Engineers had. Edwards thought she recalled that it was more like $1.8 million spent to date. Holtz expressed that according to an e-mail from Christine, there may have been an issue with the paperwork, and FEMA will have to follow the audit trail.

Sumner gave Joe Tamburrino the ok to go ahead and let SVE know they can go ahead with the Deer Park and Reed Hill bridge project. Joe Tamburrino reported that SVE and Calhoon are working together now and are on the same page.

Edwards asked everyone to note that the Special Selectboard meetings on 4/12 and 4/26 at 2pm, will focus on Irene issues. She would like to invite Joe, Brad, Christina and Patty Dow.

Joe Tamburrino mentioned he got an email from SVE regarding a cost increase. He will discuss it with SVE but wanted to bring it to the Selectboard’s attention.

Town Highway and Bridge Grants

On the Old County North bridge, it was noted that the engineering will have to go out to bid. Sumner inquired whether Joe Tamburrino could get involved in that purchasing related work. Edwards noted that Joe Tamburrino was hired to help with Irene related purchasing, and that if we were to hire him for this project, it would come out of the town bridge budget. As he is already an employee in that role, Sumner acknowledged that he would just have to separate that work. Joe Tamburrino was willing to do this work and submit separate purchase orders for that work.

Brad Rafus helped the Selectboard complete the AOT town highway and bridge grants.

Lewis Sumner made a motion to apply for a grant for the bridge structure and blacktopping. Edee Edwards seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.

Hearing of Visitors

Len Derby expressed that there are trees on the south and southwest side of Green River that are still falling into the river. In high water these trees could form a dam. Has any consideration been given that they may have to remove these trees, or has any conclusion come in regard to that issue? The bank is eroding and the trees are sliding in, so they probably should be removed. There was discussion as to whose responsibility the trees are (landowner versus the State).  Edwards suggested someone ask about whether this would be covered by a grant for debris removal. Sumner reported that he talked with Windham Regional concerning this and they said they would get back to him, but he has not heard from them. Maggie Bartenhagen added that if trees are really undermined, it’s good to keep in mind that root systems do hold soil, so if the trees are removed, more soil will fall into the watercourse. Maggie Bartenhagen also mentioned that she did a report on this that is on file, and offered to follow up with Windham Regional. The Selectboard also discussed finding out whether any mitigation or grant funding is available for the bank erosion. Maggie Bartenhagen offered to research this and get back to Lewis Sumner.

Carol Wright offered thanks and appreciation from herself and her neighbors for the temporary bridge on Deer Park Road. She expressed that it has reduced stress for the residents considerably.

Kevin O’Donnell offered his thanks and appreciation to the road crew and the awesome job they do.

Nick Bartenhagen offered his thanks for the bridge noting that traffic is much less congested.

Maggie Bartenhagen asked whether the Selectboard had discussed the EMD position and job description. The Selectboard said they would discuss this issue during Old Business.

Greg Marguet expressed that he felt there was no advance notice or assistance during or after emergency weather conditions during the tornado, earthquake, ice storm, rainstorm etc. When making the EMD job description he asked that the Selectboard keep in mind that there are a lot of types of emergency situations. Everett Wilson noted that the job description he put together included all of that. Lewis Sumner noted that the job description was still in draft. Brad Rafus expressed that a good way to be alerted of severe weather would be to have a weather radio. Earl Holtz noted that Wayne Courser will get one out to you if you inquire about one with him.

Charlene Martynowski reported that the town finally has a new tax map that just needs to be printed. She believes it will be available in .pdf format. Residents will be able to obtain printed copies, but the cost has not been determined yet. She also added that the map shows the property parcels as well as which parcels are in the flood zone.

Greg Marguet asked if the Selectboard would consider having sandbags available for residents in case of a flood and who would pay for the inventory of sandbags?

Old Business

Emergency Management Director (EMD)

Edwards explained that when they met to do the interviews for the EMD, they determined that they wanted to move ahead with doing the interviews with the candidates they have, with advertising the position more widely, and getting a Halifax specific version of the job description rolling at the same time. She reported that she had a sample of how she thought the job advertisement should read, but had missed the deadline for Deerfield Valley News for this week. She has not spoken with the Brattleboro Reformer yet regarding their costs and deadlines. She has drafted a timeline in order to move forward quickly. By Thursday April 5th, she would like to prepare any paper handouts they might have for applicants such as a draft job description, the chapter of the position description from the book, or anything else they might want the applicant to have, and get the advertisement posted to bulletin boards and website. She would also like to get the print ads into the Brattleboro Reformer for the next two weekends, and get it into Deerfield Valley News by April 10th at 9pm for the paper coming out on April 12th (noting it would only be in there for one week). Edwards would like an application deadline of end of day April 20th. Then, review resumes on April 21st and set up a Special meeting to do that (making sure to go to the post office first to gather any additional resumes that came in after 3pm Friday, April 20th). Then, interview any new candidates if we have them and do second interviews with existing candidates between now and then. This would allow us to make a decision at the May 1, 2012 Selectboard meeting. Edwards proposed using a standard advertisement, but also drafted what she thought they should put about the position on the Halifax Vermont web page. She believes it should include links to the VEM guidebook- chapter 2 position description, a link to radiological emergency response plan at the Vermont Emergency Management site, a link to the Vermont Emergency Management certification program, etc. How to apply would be to send it via e-mail to the Town Clerk, or paper copies to the town PO Box. Edwards would like approval on the advertisement so she can continue to follow through with the details.

Ray Combs expressed that he felt we should stay local and why should we get someone from out of town that doesn’t even know the town? Edwards expressed that they wanted to make sure that all town residents know about the position. The employee handbooks states that we do weight local candidates a little more favorably and heavily than we would weight outside candidates, and it would be part of our decision criteria.

Joe Tamburrino asked whether all of the requirements would be posted in the newspaper? Edwards proposed that the ad would read:

Emergency Management Director
Town of Halifax
Paid appointment by Selectboard.  Responsible for managing town’s emergency preparedness: Identify risks, vulnerabilities, capabilities; coordinate response/recovery; prepare plans; maintain training. Town is considering EMD; co-EMDs, or EMD plus assistant EMD.  More info at, or call 368-7390.  Application deadline:  April 20, 2012.

Edwards noted that she took major bullet points from the State job description, and put them into classified advertisement format. It will cost about $12 in the Deerfield Valley News.

Charlene Martynowski inquired why the Selectboard is looking to replace Lewis Sumner if he is the current EMD, and is not looking to step down, and has been doing the job and is qualified? Holtz replied that by law, it is an appointed position and you are supposed to make it available for anyone to be able to apply. Every year the position becomes available, as it is an annual appointment. Edwards added that it is always in the Town’s interest to consider all possible qualified candidates and get the best, qualified person available for all of the appointments.

Many townspeople expressed that this position should be appointed to someone in town, and not to someone out of town, and wanted to include ‘Halifax Resident Only’ in the advertisement. A lengthy discussion took place regarding division of the job, residency of the applicants, qualifications of candidates, salary of the position, and similar issues. As the personnel policy states that there is stronger consideration for Halifax residents, it was not agreed by all members of the Selectboard that “Halifax Only” should go into the advertisement. This policy can be put onto the website.

Edwards proposed scheduling a meeting on Saturday, 4/21 at 9am to review resumes. This was confirmed. The Selectboard also agreed to pre-arrange interviews with the current candidates.

It was confirmed that Lewis Sumner as the Chair, is the current EMD and he will be paid one month’s salary.

Other Business

VLCT Training Report (Holtz)

Earl Holtz reported that he attended the Montpelier VLCT meeting for Selectboard members regarding open meeting law. Some important items to note about open meeting law are:

-Task force meetings are open meetings. Therefore, notes will be taken, discussions of citizens who are there will be allowed, and it’s open to the press.
-Every e-mail is part of open record law (even at home).
-There was strong emphasis on having a separate e-mail address for town official work. You are not required to create records, only required to produce records that already exist.

He also reported that there was a discussion on embezzlement. He sat in on a discussion on Vermont local roads. He attended the VT Emergency Management meeting, and discussed our well-known pie plates!

Earl Holtz will be attending one other seminar on Incident Command System (ICS) for forestry (for pests).

Sign updated Town Highway Closure Resolution (Voted March 2, 2012)

Edee Edwards did not bring a new copy to sign. She will print out a new one to sign, and since they had already voted on it before, they will sign it as an administrative function.


The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.

Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment

The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno