OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
March 15, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Patricia Holtz, Earl Holtz, Margo Avakian, Leonard Derby Sr., Peggy Webber, Bradley Rafus, Orrin Isles, Craig J. Stone, Greg Marguet, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Maggie Bartenhagen, Jeff Glazer, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the February 15, 2011 meeting as written.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion with an amendment, on page 3 for clarification add that the PowerPoint presentation she had prepared was about the budget.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ms. Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the February 22, 2011 meeting as written.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ms. Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the March 1, 2011 meeting as written.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
- Reorganization of the Board:
Ms. Edwards nominated John LaFlamme to serve as Chair.
Mr. Sumner seconded the nomination.
The nomination was approved 2-0-1, with Mr. LaFlamme abstaining.
Ms. Edwards nominated Lewis Sumner to serve as Vice Chair.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the nomination.
The nomination was approved 2-0-1, with Mr. Sumner abstaining.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to appoint Phyllis Evanuk as secretary to the Board.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion, which carried 3-0.
The Board unanimously agreed to continue the same meeting schedule for the next year. Meetings will be held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7:30 PM.
The following appointments were approved:
Planning Commission William Pusey Term expires 2015
Zoning Board of Adjustment Brian McNeice Term expires 2015
Road Commissioner Bradley Rafus Term expires 2012
Tree Warden Earl Holtz Term expires 2012
Fence Viewers Bruce Swanson Term expires 2012
Malcolm Sumner Term expires 2012
Carl Barmen Term expires 2012
Inspector of Lumber Craig Stone Term expires 2012
Pound Keeper (Animal Control Officer) Leonard Derby Sr. Term expires 2012
Town Service Officer William Pusey Term expires 2012
Representative to Council on Aging Paula Hendler Term expires 2012
Windham Regional Commissioners Margaret Bartenhagen Term expires 2012
Paul Taylor Term expires 2012
Acting Zoning Administrator Rick Mirucki Term expires 2015
Windham Solid Waste Management
District Representatives Clifton Inman Term expires 2012
Lewis Sumner Term expires 2012
Loan Review Committee Allan Dacey Term expires 2012
Andrew Rice Term expires 2012
ADA Coordinator Lewis Sumner Term expires 2012
E-911 Coordinator Wayne Courser Term expires 2012
Recycling Coordinator Michael Drummey Term expires 2012
Green-up Vermont, Inc.
Coordinator Sarah Morin Term expires 2012
Co-Coordinator Greg Marguet Term expires 2012
Weigher of Coal Rose Alboum Term expires 2012
Emergency Management Director Lewis Sumner Term expires 2012
Citation Ticket Responsibility Leonard Derby Sr. Term expires 2012
Energy Conservation Officer Michael Drummey Term expires 2012
Newspapers of Record Brattleboro Reformer
Deerfield Valley News
Regarding the appointments it was noted that there is a vacancy on the Cemetery Commission. It was also noted that the voters authorized the Selectboard to appoint a trustee to the Whitingham Free Public Library until the next election at which time it will become an elected position. Ms. Edwards advised that she had been speaking with some people regarding this position and there are three candidates for the appointment, Maureen Drummey, Patricia Holtz, and Stephanie Powers. All of these candidates are well qualified. Because the Board has
not had an opportunity to consider the candidates it was agreed to postpone the appointment to a future meeting.
Before the appointment was made to the position of Tree Warden, Ms. Edwards advised that she had suggested last year that someone other than the Road Commissioner should fill that position. She further advised that she had spoken to members of the public and that Earl Holtz had expressed an interest in serving in that position. Mr. Holtz advised that it might be a conflict of interest to have both the Road Commissioner and Tree Warden positions filled by the same person because the Tree Warden has the responsibility to protect trees, and the Road Commissioner has the responsibility to make the roads as efficient as possible and sometimes a tree might get in the way and be indiscriminately cut down. Mr. Sumner advised that many towns and even the state have the same arrangement he did not see it as a conflict. Mr. Holtz advised that he does see it as a conflict. Ms. Edwards advised that her husband had taken a course on tree stewardship and the conflict issue had been raised there. She advised that is why she has suggested separating the positions. Mr. Rafus advised that a few years ago the position was held by someone other than the Road Commissioner. The problem was that it was difficult to line up the work especially if they are not working in the same area, and it was decided to appoint one person for both. It was noted that the Tree Warden is responsible for identifying the problem, assessing the condition of a tree and informing the public, conducting meetings to determine whether there are objections. Ms. Allen advised that the Tree Warden is someone who anyone in town can contact and discuss issues regarding trees. She further advised that the road crew has their job to do and during the course of their work if a tree is in the way, there has been no process of communication with citizens. If they felt it needed to be cut down, was in the way, they just did it. She sited instances in the past and advised if there was a separate person in the position this process would allow the citizens to have a voice. She suggested that they should consider the possible need for professional tree services in the budget, because sometimes the option of removing branches is the better choice instead of cutting the tree down. She noted that the identification and reporting of tree disease is another important part of the job. This discussion was continued after the other appointments were made.
Mr. Stone advised that he would hope that people would make a point of telling people who come to Vermont either as second homeowners or vacationers that they should not bring firewood from home, but should use local wood. He further advised that this importing of firewood is the main way that the Asian long-horned beetle is being introduced to this state. He further advised that the infestations are in Worcester which is only 80 miles away.
Regarding the position of Pound Keeper a discussion of whether or not to change the name of this position to Animal Control Officer followed. It was decided to keep the name but note that this position also includes the ACO.
The discussion returned to the appointment of a Tree Warden. Mr. LaFlamme invited Mr. Holtz to speak to his interest in the position. Mr. Holtz advised he feels that it is a conflict of interest to have the Road Commissioner also act as Tree Warden. He is interested in helping the town out by acting as Tree Warden. He further advised he has read about the duties and although he doesn’t have the scope of knowledge that Ms. Allen has, he is willing to learn, and he has shown that he is open to anyone giving him a call on any subject and if they have a problem with a tree he is willing to come out and look at it and help them resolve the issues, call meetings as appropriate, and make sure the trees are protected the way the town and the state had
planned them to be. Mr. Sumner advised that the authority is only for within the town right of way. Mr. Holtz acknowledged this but advised that in regard to disease and infestations he would also contact and report to the state, as it states in the manual.
Mr. Isles advised that because the positions are listed separately they should be held by two different people. Others also advised it should be a different person. Mrs. Bartenhagen advised that it sounds to her like the position of Tree Warden is more comprehensive than just taking down trees. Brad is probably already very busy overseeing the road crew and if Earl is willing to fill the position and has the time, this would be a plus for the town. Discussion of the destruction of old trees commenced. Mr. Marguet advised he thinks that the job is more about aesthetics than about cutting trees.
Mr. Rafus advised that his only concern is if two people are involved a definition of the duties of each position need to be clarified. If a tree is hanging in the road in the middle of the night, does the road crew have the authority to take care of it, or do they have to be given permission by the Tree Warden before they can remove it? Mr. Holtz advised that if it’s a branch hanging they can cut the branch and save the tree. He advised that’s a coordinated effort with both parties.
Ms. Edwards advised that she would like to give it a try, having someone else as Tree Warden, and she moved to appoint Earl Holtz as Tree Warden for a one year term.
Before the motion was seconded Mr. LaFlamme asked if there was any more discussion, advising they are loose with the Robert’s Rules. Mr. Sumner inquired about Mr. Holtz’s response to emergency situations in the middle of the night. Mr. Holtz advised that if they can wake him up and give him good coordinates he has a map and a GPS so he will be able to find and get to the location. Mr. LaFlamme advised that communication between the Road Commissioner and Mr. Holtz to take care of tree issues is a concern to him. Regarding emergency action, Mr. Holtz advised that an emergency is an emergency, and needs to be addressed as such. The emphasis for the Tree Warden is more toward preventing the indiscriminate cutting of trees.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he would second the motion and asked if there was any more discussion.
Ms. Edwards advised that she feels that communication between the two is important and suggested that as Road Commissioner Brad knows where the crews will be working and can communicate the information to Earl as Tree Warden especially if there are trees to be considered in the work area. Mr. Holtz advised
Mr. Stone advised that earlier he heard that a lot of trees could be saved if they were
pruned and he wanted to know where in the budget the money was listed to cover renting an aerial bucket in order to do the work. Mr. LaFlamme advised it is not in the budget.
Ms. Allen advised that the reason she brought that up was that when the town had FEMA money for the storm cleanup they could have opted to hire out to prune rather than destroy a lot of the damaged trees. Mrs. Bartenhagen advised that going forward it might be a benefit to have thoughtful consideration before destroying any trees of significance. More general discussion regarding tree preservation and destruction followed. The general consensus was that trees are a vital part of the community and should be given proper attention when and if they are proposed for removal.
Regarding the motion to appoint Earl Holtz as Tree Warden for a one year term, Mr. LaFlamme called for a vote which carried 3-0 and the appointment was approved.
3. Posting of Roads
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the roads have been posted for weight limitations from March 15th and can last until May 15th if necessary. Limits are 15,000 pounds for 2-axle; 18.000 pounds for 3-axle; and 20,000 pounds for tractor-trailers.
4. Test Results on Town Gravel
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the gravel is in the 37.5mm 1 ½ inch range. He advised that there were only two areas where the gravel did not meet standards – the fines.
Mr. Isles advised that the two areas in question are what make the gravel- the fines. He advised that the gravel has failed and never should have been used. He questioned where the sample the town had tested came from. He advised that Mel Osborne had collected a sample from the town yard and had it independently tested. He had very different results. He implied that the town’s report was a ‘snow job’. He insisted the gravel the town is using is no good and they never should have used it.
Ms. Allen advised that the road crew has been doing a good job on the roads this winter and she has no problem with that. Her problem was last summer when the new gravel was put down there were big stones in the road. She noted that Kathy McLean wanted to be here tonight but had to work she has a bucket of large stones from the road). She advised that the road installed is different, and it felt like sand and stone rather than the type of gravel roads they used
After more general discussion about the quality of the gravel Mr. LaFlamme advised they needed to move on as they had a full evening.
Hearing of Visitors
- Leonard Derby advised that he has done some checking into the constable duties and he conferred with Andy Rice. He advised that Andy’s answer to him was that he has the authority of a police officer but it would help if he was certified. Mr. Derby went on to say that in order to do certain things in his job and to make his job easier he needs permits. In order to use the blue lights and in order to carry a sidearm he needs permits. He advised that a retired Brattleboro police officer he’s been working with has some equipment such as handcuffs that he is willing to give to him, but his main question is a cruiser. He further advised that this is part of what he ran on and what the people in town obviously want. He asked the Board if the town can appropriate funds for a cruiser or is this something he needs to do on his own.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the constables’ budget has already been set. Beginning July 1st $10,000 will be available. As far as what is remaining in this fiscal year he should check with Patty Dow on the balance.
Mr. Derby advised that he will be using the #M2039 radio call number when he is certified to use the radio. He further advised that he needs to get in touch with the Police academy to see when he can take the necessary courses to become certified. He went
through a list of the equipment owned by the town which had been passed on to him from Andy and advised he would give a copy of it to the Board for their records. He also advised that he doesn’t think he needs all of the certifications that Andy had, he felt he went a little overboard with training. He will get the training and certifications he needs to have. Mr. Sumner advised an important certification to get is for VIN verification.
Mr. Glazer asked what authority Mr. Derby now has. He advised that it sounds like it could be several months before he is certified. He asked Mr. Derby what he could do if there was a crisis if he isn’t certified and can’t use a weapon and can’t use the radio, it seems we don’t have coverage.
Mr. Derby advised that he can go and hopefully talk to them.
- Orrin Isles advised he was again requesting some information that had been requested before. This time it was in writing.
- Earl Holtz advised there are still problems with the website. He advised that if this is the official town website then he would think that the Selectboard would want to assign the workload and insure that it is correct. As the Selectboard has indirect oversight of the Planning Commission they should add those notices and minutes to the sight as well. He went on to say that the people he has spoken with want the convenience of reading notices on the website instead of having to come to the office. This is your communications tool to the whole town. The bulletin board is only the communications tool to those people who are willing to stand in the cold and read it.
Mr. LaFlamme noted that there are those who have good internet and those who do not. There are also those who have no internet.
Mr. Holtz advised that the majority of people he talked to have the ability to get on the web for their information.
Ms. Edwards advised that there are problems that need to be addressed. She feels that if the people who have access to the site are having difficulties there should be someone to help them through it and if the problems aren’t taken care of in a month from now they need to look at ripping the site down and starting a new one.
Ms. Evanuk advised she has a call and an email in to the webmaster and she is waiting for a response with dates and times for a meeting.
Ms. Edwards advised a deadline of April 15th should be met.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he would like to have an open meeting with people who are more knowledgeable than he is regarding websites, and he felt that until we decide how we want to proceed there should not be a deadline imposed on Mr. Teree. He also advised that this is not going to be solved in one meeting but is something we should be working on.
Mr. Holtz agreed and again offered his assistance. He also offered to enlist some of the participants on his unofficial website and offered to put the minutes on his site as he advised it is easier to use his site than the town site.
Mr. LaFlamme advised this will be on future agendas for further discussion.
Mr. Holtz advised that the only other item he had was the topic of an ethics, conflict of interest, and purchasing policies for the Selectboard as had been mentioned at the meet the candidates night and which Mr. Sumner had agreed was a good idea. advised Mr. LaFlamme that he should really set up a discussion date tonight and possibly even a subcommittee to develop it.
Mr. LaFlamme advised they will be working on these items at future meetings and there will be time for public input, but not this evening as it is getting late.
The Board received a copy for review of an ACT 250 application for utility upgrades on Moss Hollow Road. The initial review didn’t raise any questions that could trigger a hearing. The question of whether or not an opportunity for the expansion of internet access into Halifax from this project was briefly discussed with no definitive result.
The Board accepted the resignation of Clif Inman from his remaining one year term on the Cemetery Commission in order to allow him to accept the three year position he had been elected to.
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 10:35 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk