Town of Halifax, Vermont



April 6, 2010

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:31 PM.  Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards.  Others in attendance were Timothy Putnam, Margo Avakian, Patty Dow, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Pat Holtz, Earl Holtz, Joan Courser, Wayne Courser, Andy Rice, Lorraine Muha, Keith Stone, Brad Rafus, Tom Rafus, Mary Brewster, Merle Eggert, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. LaFlamme advised that they were going to shoot for 9:30 as the time for adjournment because the Board has more work to do after that before they can go home.  He advised that they would like to hear from all of the visitors and be able to get through the agenda items, so he hoped that people would be aware of that and limit their time.  If the meeting goes too late any agenda items not covered will be continued to the next meeting.

Mr. LaFlamme moved to accept the minutes of the March 16, 2010 meeting with a minor correction on page 4(the word ‘fells’ should be feels).

            Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

New Business


Ø  Spokesperson on the Town of Halifax as a Clean Energy District: continued as the speaker was unable to be here due to unforeseen circumstances.

Ø  Loader, repair vs. replacement: Mr. Rafus advised that he has nothing concrete as far as costs.  He advised that the main problem is that they are losing 3 quarts of antifreeze a week and it’s going through the motor.  He further advised that the average rebuild is at 10,000 hours and they are at 14,000 hours now.  Just to buy a motor and transmission is $21,000 which does not include labor. Another problem is that the bucket has a hole in it and needs to be repaired or replaced.  To purchase a replacement loader is around $105,000 to $110,000.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that due to increased costs they have used some of the equipment fund money to cover fuel and equipment costs so the full amount is not available.

Ms. Edwards suggested they get an estimate for repairs. There is a charge for the estimate ($250 -$300).

Mr. Eggert advised the repair costs were a bargain in comparison to adding over $100,000 to the already huge amount of debt the town is carrying.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that they have not decided whether they will ask for bids on replacement or repair the existing equipment.  They are at the discussion stage only.

Mr. Rafus advised that if all of the necessary repairs are done they might possibly get 5 more years of service from the loader.

Ms. Edwards moved to approve ordering a service call for the purpose of obtaining an estimate for repair of the existing loader. 

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


Mr. LaFlamme moved to approve also requesting bids for the cost of replacement of the loader.

Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.

The deadline for bids was set for May 4, 2010.


Ø  Use of old town garage during Old Home Weekend for tractor pulls, parking on road: Request has been made to allow a lawn tractor pull to take place across the road from the old town garage and to allow parking be marked for one side of the road only, from that site up to the intersection of Whitneyville Road.

Mr. Rice advised that he and Mr. Richardson will be assisting in traffic control to insure there are no problems.

Ms. Edwards inquired if the town normally sent notices to property owners, as a courtesy to advise them of the proposed activities.

Mr. Sumner advised that most of the residents are well aware of the plans and many will be involved in helping.  There has not been a need to send notices.

Mr. LaFlamme moved to approve the use of the property on Brook Road and to allow the parking as requested, in coordination with the Constables.

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


Ø  Vacancy on Cemetery Commission: Mr. LaFlamme advised they received a letter from Clif Inman resigning his remaining year as Cemetery Commissioner and accepting the three year term as Cemetery Commissioner that he was elected to by write-in ballots.

He further advised that they had received a letter from Chris Estep resigning from the Windham Regional Commission.

Mr. LaFlamme moved to accept both resignations.

Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.

These openings will be posted.


Ø  Retirement gift: Ms. Edwards advised that in recognition of Laura Sumner’s 42 years of service to the town she would like to propose that the Selectboard use up to $600 from the Eames Fund to purchase an appropriate gift and a certificate.

Mrs. Dow presented a petition containing 47 signatures of townspeople who would really like to see the gift for Laura Sumner either be a canoe or a kayak.  Mrs. Dow went on to say that Mrs. Sumner had not put in for wages for January and February of this year and even after the money paid to the Assistant Town Clerk the town had saved around $1600, so there is money available in wages to cover a gift.

Mr. Holtz asked why she didn’t submit a request for the money.  Mrs. Dow advised that because she didn’t spend the usual amount of time in the office Mrs. Sumner didn’t feel she had earned it.  Mr. LaFlamme advised she was being very humble.


Ms. Edwards moved in recognition of Laura Sumner’s 42 plus years of service to the town as Town Clerk that the Selectboard use up to $600 from the Eames Fund to purchase an appropriate gift and a certificate.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that as long as there was no problem with using these funds he would second the motion.                                                                                                Mr. Sumner advised that the interest from this fund was usually used to pay the town’s portion of the bond on the building.  If the bond should come due and there is not enough in the fund they may need to take it from somewhere else in the budget.  Ms. Edwards advised that she felt that as the fund had been given by someone who did much for the town, to use the funds for someone else who had given much to the town was appropriate.

The motion carried 2-0-1, with Mr. Sumner abstaining.

Ø  Vermont Mutual Insurance Co. letter re: Insurance claim:  A letter regarding an insurance claim from someone who alleges that his vehicle was damaged by a rock while he was traveling on a road that had been graded.  The incident happened on July 10th and the claim was not made until August 18th.  There is no accident report. Constable Rice will investigate and report back.


Ø  Halifax web site update:  Mr. LaFlamme advised that there are now two people in town who can upload items to the site as well as the webmaster.                                             Mr. Holtz commented that he was pleased with the progress on the site and would like to see the minutes posted more promptly. He also noted that the public forum section can be a wonderful tool for the public.   Mrs. Muha suggested that it would be very helpful if the various zoning application forms could be available for download on the site.  Mr. Rice added that other types of applications could also be available that way.


Ø  Broadband update:  Ms. Edwards advised that there was an article in the Reformer about broadband access and the proposed project to bring it to more rural areas of Vermont.

Ms. Edwards moved to approve submitting a request for Halifax to be considered as one of the 24 towns to be included in the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project.

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

A short discussion of options followed.  It was noted that there is a Fairpoint website where you can advise them you want broadband through them.  It was suggested that the site address and a link be put on the town website so that people are aware of it and can register.


Hearing of Visitors

Mrs. Muha was in attendance to request renewal of the alcoholic beverage license for Avigliano Catering to allow them to serve vinous and malt beverages at functions at the Honora Winery.

            Mr. Sumner moved to approve the renewal for Avigliano Catering for one year.

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

Mr. Rice submitted a copy of the corrected paperwork for the radio grant, which needed to be signed and mailed.  He also submitted his request for payment.

Mr. Rice then gave a synopsis of the problems he has been dealing with.  He thanked the Board for the success of the ICS Training they had sponsored and attended.  He advised that he had attended another training and has learned that in the event of a disaster when people have to evacuate, the town is not only responsible for providing a shelter for the people, but must also provide for their pets.  He advised that during Katrina people refused to evacuate if they could not bring their pets.  To insure that people will leave in dangerous situations, they must know that their pets will be taken care of also.

On another note, Mr. Rice advised that the Loan Review Committee is seeking legal counsel due to a property, not in Halifax, that is slated for tax sale.  If the sale should go through and the owner doesn’t redeem it within a year, the loan fund will be out whatever the balance on the rehab loan is.  One option they are looking at is to pay the taxes to protect the investment and then add that amount on to the loan.

Greg Marguet advised he had arrived late and was wondering what about the loader.  He suggested that they should “get a used loader, an el cheapo” to have as a backup.

Mary Brewster asked for clarification on the Rehab Loan committee situation.

Mr. Rice explained the options the consortium has to consider.

Mr. Eggert advised that the town in which the property is located is the only one that would lose if there is a default.

Mr. Rice advised that is not so, that as a consortium the three towns lose equally and that the rules and procedures were put in writing a couple of years ago at the request of Whitingham.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that although this was all good information he would like to continue the Selectboard meeting as they still had more visitors to be heard and much work to do.

Mrs. Courser thanked the Board for approving the tractor pull and parking proposal.

Mary Brewster advised that at the organizational meeting someone was interested in the fiscal year versus the calendar year.  At that time it was suggested that if someone had a problem they wanted the Board to consider they should gather information and bring it to the Board.  In light of that conversation and suggestion she asked if the town has written policies regarding ethics, purchasing and conflicts of interest.  She advised if they don’t have them she is very interested in seeing the town adopt written ethics, purchasing, and conflict of interest policies. She is aware that most towns do this. She offered to do research and contact the Secretary of State and VLCT to get information on what should be included. She wants to see these topics addressed and a written policy be adopted.  It is important to have a legally binding document for the town.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that they follow the state statutes which basically spell out rules of ethics and conflict of interest, but they do not have written rules specific to Halifax.  He further advised he would like to see examples from other towns before considering policy for the Board.

Mr. Eggert asked about the weight limits on the roads.  He advised that all winter long there have been log trucks traveling the Green River Road at all hours. He was concerned that they were in violation of the weight limits. He advised a lot of them were Canadian but he hadn’t seen them in the past three weeks or so.

Mr. LaFlamme advised they had not posted the roads until three weeks ago.

Mr. T. Rafus advised he was in attendance to see the result of the petition presented regarding a gift for Mrs. Sumner.  He advised he couldn’t understand why anyone would not want to give a gift to a person after 42 years of service to the town.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that Ms. Edwards had some information on the recent and upcoming activities of the Board.

Ø  Update on Selectboard activities:


1.      Bridge on Old County North: She advised that they are getting estimates for repairs to the bridge in preparation for applying for a grant.


2.      Incident Command System training: She advised this was very good training in the procedures and chain of command in the event of disaster or any emergency incident. It was attended by 23 people.


3.      Selectboard Institute:  She and Mr. Sumner attended this full day event presented by VLCT. It gave her good background information.


4.      L.E.P.C.  VI Tabletop Exercise on April 10:  Local Emergency Planning                                    Committee District 6 is meeting on April 10.  A tabletop exercise is a role-

                        playing type of training.  The participants are given a fictitious situation and they                           have to develop a plan to handle the situation.

Old Business

Ø  Windham County Humane Society – continued

Other Business

Ø  Municipal Planning Grant: Mrs. Evanuk asked the Board to approve applying for this grant which needs to be completed on line and by April 30th.  She advised that there is less money this year, and there are no guarantees that they would get it, but it would be helpful in covering the costs for mapping and other technical data collection associated with the new Town Plan.  She advised that she would speak with Jim Matteau at Windham Regional Commission to verify if they are now eligible to apply. The town has approved re-adoption of the plan, but it may still need to go through the process with WRC.

Mr. Sumner moved to approve applying for a Municipal Planning Grant.

Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.

Ø  Agenda items for next meeting –

1.      WCHS contract

2.      Bookkeeper

3.      Cemetery Commissioner

4.      Windham Regional Commissioner

5.      Broadband Committee

6.      Consider if the town would like to appoint a Trustee for the Whitingham Public Library

Ms. Brewster asked about the progress on arranging quarterly meetings with the Treasurer, Auditors, and Selectboard that is open to the public.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that the Auditors are just now getting organized and once they are in order with their meetings that prospect can be presented.  He suggested that once things are running smoothly and they are receiving monthly reports on the budget they could attach them to the minutes and they would be available to the public.


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 9:25 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis H. Evanuk