Town of Halifax, Vermont

June 4, 2013

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:32 pm.  Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner and Earl Holtz (Edee Edwards was absent).  Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, Len Derby, Steve Towne, Ray Combs, and Jessica Bruno. Emilie Poulin, Dawn Roske, and Sue Kelly arrived at 7:00pm.

Approval of Minutes

Holtz moved to accept the minutes of the May 21, 2013 regular meeting with a small correction.  Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.

Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the May 22, 2013 special meeting with a small correction. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.

Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the May 24, 2013 special meeting with a name correction.  Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.

New Business

Contract with Windham Regional Commission

Sumner made a motion to accept the contract with the Windham Regional Commission for consulting on the town plan not to exceed $8,000. Holtz seconded the motion, which carried 2-0-0.

Towne reported that he believed the majority of the money would be used for updating the town maps and for statistical work.

The Selectboard signed the contract.

Irene Update

Holtz reported that Mark Gunkel resigned from his appointments of Tree Warden, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board. Holtz will be filling in as tree warden for the remainder of the term. The Planning Commission and Zoning Board vacancy will be posted.

Holtz reported that work on the Hale Road Bridge starts on Monday 6/10. The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to get paperwork done. Holtz contacted approximately 10 landowners to update them on the project. He also contacted ANR and posted the required documents. Rescue, Inc. was also notified. The road will be closed starting Monday for up to approximately 45 days.

Sumner reported that Deer Park Bridge is completed, the temporary bridge is down, and the guardrails are up.

Update on Town Garage Roof

Holtz received the specifications from the designers of the roof. They advised to make sure the fasteners were installed properly as thermal expansion could cause 60 ft of roofing to move ½ inch. He was advised to look for gaps at the screw heads to see if the fasteners are installed correctly. It was also noted that Rafus met with an HVAC contractor and the cost to bring a cold air pipe into the furnace room to address part of the carbon monoxide issue would be approximately $300.

Hearing on Dog Issue

Katherine Bak submitted a letter of concern to the Selectboard regarding a dog owned by Emilie Poulin that bit her daughter on May 2, 2013. She requested that both dogs owned by Ms. Poulin be removed (even though only one was involved in this incident). A copy of her letter can be found attached which explains her understanding of the incident.

Ms. Poulin was asked for her comments regarding Ms. Bak’s letter and the incident. Poulin explained that she owns two dogs that are registered with the town. Loki is a Great Dane/ Irish Wolfhound mix, and Lobo is a Siberian Husky. She noted that she is re-homing the Husky in the next week or so (the Husky was not involved in this incident). Poulins recollection of the event is as follows:

Poulin put her dog Loki outside on his lead as she was getting ready for work. She explained that Ms. Bak’s dog is consistently running free and coming into her yard and they have no control over their dog. When the neighbors dog showed up this time, the neighbors daughter Abigail came over to retrieve the dog with a raw bone, which she tossed toward the dogs. Loki bit Abigail, and she went to the hospital and is recovering. A meeting was held with Len Derby and other townspeople. All agreed to keep their dogs on their own property. Poulin agreed to move the lead to the back of the house, and post a beware of dog sign. She will also exercise and keep her dog on her own property. She expressed that the letter Ms. Bak submitted contained a lot of misinformation and exaggeration. Poulin explained that the dog Loki weighs 127 pounds and she does not have a malamute. Ms. Bak’s dog coming on her property is not a one time incident- her dog comes on her property continuously and she does not have control of her dog- the dog does not come when called. Abby has come over to her property to retrieve her dog Shiloh which she believes is a beagle/great pyrenees mix that weighs approximately 100 pounds.  Her opinion was that is was very poor judgment by Abby to put a raw bone between the dogs.  Poulin explained that she saw the whole incident and Loki did not scratch or rip her clothing, and her boyfriend had nothing to do with the incident. By the time he came over, the dog was already in the house. She received two bites, one on the leg and one near her elbow.  She was also wearing a plaid flannel shirt with a tee shirt under it- she did not have a jacket on. Poulin expressed that the safety of her son is her concern. He has lived with the dog his whole life and is in no danger. It was also noted that Loki never killed any pets. Her other dog did attack and kill one of her cats when she first got him as she had not realized his prey drive yet. This is the husky that is being re-homed. Loki has no problems with cats, small animals, or people. She expressed that she has trained Loki, he comes when called and does what he is told to do. The incident happened because of poor judgment. The neighbors need to control their own dog and they don’t.

Dawn Roske is Ann DeWitt’s niece. Roske rented the cottage to Emilie and is impressed with the dog and how it is trained. She commented that Ann has never been in jeopardy. She got calls from Brewster and Bak asking her to get rid of Emilie. Roske expressed that everyone lets their dogs out. This is an isolated incident and the person that got bitten takes responsibility for her actions. She also noted that there are frozen raw bones all over Ms. Baks yard and the dogs fight over them. She told Ann the whole story, and Ann is not threatened by Loki. Roske explained that she agreed to one dog when Emilie moved in. She did not agree to two dogs, so that is why Emilie is re-homing Lobo the Husky. She also noted that Emilie’s dogs are always on a leash whenever she sees them. She agreed that it was very poor judgment to reach between two dogs with a bloody bone. It was noted that Brewster resolved his issue (as noted in the letter) by installing an invisible fence. Roske sent Bak an email and Bak agreed to drop the issue. Sumner expressed that he received a call from Katherine Bak this afternoon and she is dropping the issue.

Holtz inquired regarding the incidents involving Littlefield and Hudson. Poulin expressed that she never heard anything about the Littlefield incident. Hudson was bitten by Lobo the Husky when she entered Poulins house. Poulin was helping Ms. Bak in the woods and her car got stuck. Ms. Bak suggested that her dog walker Hudson go over to her house to check on her son. Poulins son and Lobo were alone in the house. Hudson did not know Lobo and when she entered the house, Lobo was protecting her son and bit Hudson. No one present was aware of the Littlefield incident.

Sue Kelly expressed that she is the veterinarian for Windham County Humane Society and town health officer. She explained that Loki was resource guarding. She noted that she just heard about the dog bite weeks after it happened and she should have been notified as health officer. Kelly explained that at the shelter they look at whether the bite was provoked. Resource guarding is a provoked bite especially if it involves a non-owner. Her opinion is that it was a totally justified bite. The dog was restrained and on your own property, and you were not asked to retrieve your dog. It was preventable if your neighbor had done the correct thing. Loki is innocent and no action should be taken against you. Kelly believes there are no grounds for requesting termination or removal of any kind. Poulin appears to be a responsible owner and the dog was provoked. Kelly expressed that if the neighbors stop leaving out bones, there will be a lot less aggression. Even the most well trained dogs would be aggressive. Kelly explained that she would never let a stranger take a resource away from her own dog. Derby expressed that he does have current rabies certificates for both dogs.

Bruno inquired what is being done to keep the other dogs on their own property? Roske explained that Ms. Bak fixed a chained fence enclosure, which had a hole in it. Sumner explained that Bak told him she would be taking better care of her dog.

The hearing was closed.

Combs explained that he had a pet containment system called Pet Safe that is wireless and works really well (but he noted that you still need to train your dog).

Hearing of Visitors

Old Business

Other Business

Holtz reported that they received a letter from VTel regarding the Cellular Resiliency in Natural Disasters grant. The letter names Halifax as added to the grant, but we don’t know our involvement yet. Whitingham, Halifax, and Bennington are participants. There is a meeting on Friday to get more information from the Board of Directors of VTel, which will be held in Bennington.


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 8:08 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno
Selectboard Secretary