Town of Halifax, Vermont



April 5, 2011

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 PM.  Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards.  Others in attendance were Jesse Ferland, Marilyn Allen, Mary Brewster, Pat Holtz, Earl Holtz, Patricia Dow, Mitchell Green, Greg Marguet, Nathan Isles, Orrin Isles, Leonard Derby, Margo Avakian, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.

Approval of Minutes

Ms. Edwards moved to approve the minutes of the March 15, 2011 meeting with two corrections. Add Jeff Glazer to the list of attendees and the change spelling from there to their on page three. 

            Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.

The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

Before addressing the agenda items Mr. LaFlamme advised he planned to adjourn the meeting at 9:30, as they still have bills and paperwork to complete after the hearing of visitors.  He further advised that they spend at least another hour completing the paperwork.

New Business

Ø  Bridge and Blacktop grants

Mr. LaFlamme advised there are some guidelines the state wants towns to comply with in order to take full advantage of highway and bridge grant money.  Ms. Edwards gave a summary of the recommended road standard changes as a result of Act 110, which relate to requirements for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges.  The new provisions have some specific “how to” directions regarding ditches.  Culverts for both driveways and roadways remain the same.  Regarding bridges a hydraulic engineering study may be required in some cases.  Specific directions regarding headwalls and wing walls to alleviate erosion are also new in this edition, as well as some guardrail requirements.    Ms. Edwards advised that she saw nothing in the provisions that would prevent them from adopting this recent edition.  She further advised that if they don’t adopt the new standards they would not get the full amount of money from the state if they apply for grants.   They would be responsible for 10% more of the cost of a project than if they are in compliance with the state standards. It was noted that the town is already following most of these guidelines so there should not be a great burden on the budget as they continue to implement the policies.

Ms. Edwards moved to adopt the January 4, 2011 road and bridge standards.

            Mr. Sumner seconded the motion which carried 3-0.

Ø  Returned check policy

Mrs. Dow gave the Board a copy of a draft returned check policy.  She advised that she modeled this policy after one used by the city of Barre.  She has been charging $20 for any returned check, which covers the bank charges and mailing a letter to the check writer.  She has listed the fee in this policy at $25 which would cover the cost for sending a certified letter with return receipt.  The fee is to insure that the taxpayers don’t incur any expense as a result of the returned check costs.  Ms. Edwards advised she had attended workshop on developing policy and noted that there is a difference between a policy and an ordinance.  If they are to have any legal recourse she believes that an ordinance needs to be in place as well as a policy of how the town will handle a situation. It was suggested that the town attorney review this before any action is taken.  Mrs. Dow will contact Bob Fisher and ask him to review it.  Further discussion was tabled to the next meeting to give the Board members a chance to review the proposal.

Ø  Halifax web site


Mr. LaFlamme advised that he had sat in on a telephone training session with the two people who work on uploading items to the site.  He noted that the 2011 Selectboard notices have been posted and the older minutes will be uploaded when there is more time.  He also noted that it is still difficult to upload without Broadband.

Ms. Edwards asked if it was any easier now than it has been in the past, and also wanted to know about having additional information, such as the Broadband Committee announcements and minutes on the site.  She advised they have been posting them on the “unofficial site” so that they are at least available for people.  Mr. LaFlamme advised that any requests should come to the Selectboard and then to one of the people who upload information.

Mr. Holtz advised that they have been posting them in both Word and as a Text document.  He advised this allows people with dialup to download them more easily.  He suggested that the “official” site should do the same thing.

Mr. Marguet suggested that the town hire a professional website technician to do all of this so that it is done correctly.

After the short discussion that followed, Mrs. Dow advised “with our new found knowledge that we just got last Saturday, I would like you all to give us a chance to do it”.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that there is also a widget on the site for Face book.  He advised this might work out and actually replace the public forum section on the website.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that he had put many items on the agenda, but didn’t know how many they would get to this evening.  If they do not cover the remaining items tonight they will be put on the next agenda under old business.  He advised they would now hear from visitors.

Ø  Ethics policy

Continued at a future meeting under old business

Ø  Purchasing policy


Continued at a future meeting under old business

Ø  Conflict of interest policy


Continued at a future meeting under old business


Ø  Wellness discussion for employees


Continued at a future meeting under old business


Hearing of Visitors

1.  Mary Brewster advised she would like to take some time to address the policies issue.  She advised that she could not be at the next meeting when the different policies would be addressed and would like some written materials that she will read from to be attached to the minutes for reference. She read a prepared statement giving a synopsis of the events that had occurred regarding a complaint to her by Cliff Inman.  This included her conversations with various state officials and her decision to contact the Attorney General.  She proceeded to read her letter dated May 7, 2010 to Assistant Attorney General Mike McShane regarding Conflict of Interest and Open Meeting Violation.  She continued by reading her two follow up letters to Attorney McShane dated January 19, 2011 and January 26, 2011.  She then read the February 25, 2011 response letter addressed to her from Assistant Attorney General Michael McShane.

Ms. Brewster then read from her prepared statement summing up her reactions and conclusions from the “lack of closure to this complaint”. She feels that because the Attorney General has refused to investigate and bring closure to this complaint the citizens of Halifax are left with no way of knowing if the complaint is true or not true, and it has undermined their confidence in the work of town government and our town officials.  With policies in place we can protect our work and protect the town. (copies of the four letters read were submitted for reference but her prepared statements were not with them).

Mr. Marguet suggested that they should consider taking a polygraph test.

Ms. Allen advised she thought it was important for the Board to understand that if they have specific policies in place they would be protected from these situations in the future.

Mr. Ferland asked if either current Board member who was involved had anything to now say that might enlighten the public.

Mr. Sumner advised that if they want to discuss the meeting in question they should have Mr. Inman, Mr. Rafus, and Ms. Brewster all here.  He further advised that he has questioned Mr. Inman at length and Mr. Inman denied it.  Mr. Sumner advised he doesn’t know who is telling the truth and who is not.

Ms. Brewster advised she has a witness to Mr. Inman’s statements to her.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that he had a couple of things that he would like to correct.  In so far as the work session issue he hopes they have corrected that issue.  He advised that it was a different night that Mr. Inman was involved.  Mr. Rafus was collecting bids he was the one who decided who actually was awarded the work. “Originally Cliff and I agreed to do half each.  He started on Thomas Hill and then moved over to Pennell Hill.  And I started up off of Jacksonville Stage Road.  He started getting busier in his other business and didn’t get as much progress done throughout the work.  He completed at least three cemeteries”, two on Thomas Hill, one on Pennell Hill, and he was supposed to do a few others.  He was informed of the deadline for completion, and when it was known they wouldn’t meet it they applied and were given one extension.  The cemetery in the center of town still has yellow caution tape on some of the trees that were supposed to be removed by Mr. Inman.  He never completed the work.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that regarding the sale of wood from the cemetery work, he did not sell any wood. He left it with adjacent landowners.  He further advised that at Town Meeting he had all of the information regarding the breakdown of work and compensation but no one asked for it so he recycled it.

Mr. Sumner advised that at a meeting a few weeks ago he had given Mr. Ferland the complete folder on the work orders and payments for the FEMA ice storm project to review.

2.  Earl Holtz advised that as the Tree Warden he had participated in three calls.  He approved removal of five trees.  He gave the Board a copy of the form he is using to document his authorization to remove a tree.  He further advised that he has been in conversation with some people regarding the Asian long horned beetle. There is a movie available that he can bring to the town for a public showing.  He advised that it would take up too much of their time to show it at a Selectboard meeting, but he would like to invite them to be there.  He wants to know where they could show it.  Mr. Sumner advised he should contact the school principal to reserve the multi-purpose room.

Mr. Holtz advised there are some trees along Green River Road that have their root balls showing and with the heavy rains he is concerned they may fall across the road.  They are not in the right of way so he technically can’t do anything about them.  He plans to contact the property owner and advise of the situation.  He will also let Brad know about them as they may present a safety issue.

3.  Leonard Derby advised there is a conflict of scheduling because the workshop for animal control and the appointment he has at the Police Academy are the same day.  He wanted to know if someone could go in his place and then let him know the information.  Mr. Sumner advised that they hold the workshops periodically so he can attend one at another time.  Mr. Derby then gave a summary of what he has ordered in the way of equipment and submitted a bill to the Board.  He advised that according to the Treasurer he has $2,966.56 remaining in this year’s budget.

4.  Orrin Isles inquired about progress on his request for information.  Mr. LaFlamme advised that the information has been put together and he should be receiving it from the Town Clerk soon.

5.  Greg Marguet suggested they should have an inventory of all of the various materials currently at the town garage and get an independent appraisal of its value.  Then they should “draw a line in the sand” so to speak and go on from there.

Old Business


Other Business

Ms. Edwards suggested that they schedule each of the policy agenda items on separate meetings.  She suggested that the Ethics and Conflict of Interest policies could be combined and looked at.

Mr. Green requested that they make copies of everything they are reviewing available to the public, and he wants copies and two weeks to review and absorb the information before they put it on the agenda for discussion.

Ms. Edwards advised that while she agrees the public should have access, she doesn’t feel that the Board should delay working on developing the policies to accommodate people outside the Board.

Mr. Holtz suggested that the Board should develop a working draft that they feel addresses their needs and then before any adoption of the policy present the draft for discussion and public comment.

It was agreed to combine the Ethics and Conflict of Interest policies and work on them at the next meeting.  The Purchasing policy will be on the meeting after next.

Ms. Edwards also requested that they consider and appoint a Library Trustee at the next meeting.  She advised that Pat Holtz had withdrawn as she felt the other two candidates were well qualified.  Mr. LaFlamme added it to the next agenda.


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 9:48 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis H. Evanuk