Town of Halifax, Vermont
March 27, 2013

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 9:02 am in the Town Office.  Selectboard members Earl Holtz, Lewis Sumner and Edee Edwards were present.  Highway Department Supervisor and Road Commissioner Brad Rafus was present.  At approximately 9:15 am John Alexander, Marc Pickering, Meghan Thompson and Steve Ovenden, all from VTRANS District 2 (Agency of Transportation-AOT) arrived.  At about 10:10 am Anthony Summers, Flood Recovery Officer, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation arrived.

Other Business
Because our guests had not yet arrived, those present discussed some follow up items from previous meetings or correspondence.

Lewis Sumner is not going to be able to attend the Selectboard Institute in Rutland.  Edwards will sign up, and Holtz is already signed up.  The meeting will need to be warned.

Edwards mentioned the PACIF Equipment Grants being due April 30, 2013.  Rafus said he was getting estimates for a concrete containment system for the diesel fuel tank, as PACIF said to go ahead and propose this as a grant funded item.  Holtz asked about whether we could include moving the heating oil tanks to the outside area.  Rafus explained that the inside oil containment room could be part of that.  The original design was supposed to have the heating oil tank outside the building under a shanty roof but they put them inside, and now there is not enough room in the oil containment room for all of the barrels that should be stored there.

Rafus inquired whether any Selectboard members were going to Municipal Employment Seminar by VLCT on May 1st.  No one committed to it, but the deadline is April 28, and it is in Montpelier.

Holden Engineering’s work pertaining to the bridge on Old County North Road was next discussed.  The engineering design work was awarded originally based on a bid for about $12,000.  From an earlier meeting when we’d asked Holden to go forward with a new steel beam design instead of the original plan to just replace the decking, there was a note saying that additional design work for a new substructure was estimated at about $12,000; and there was an estimate of $10,000 for construction supervision work.  The estimate for the bridge construction itself was $237,800.

The bridge construction grant is currently set for $140,000, but the engineering design needs to be done by this summer, and the construction work must be done by the summer of 2014, with the current grants.

New Business

Agency of Transportation (VTRANS)

At this point, AOT staff listed above arrived.  We continued the discussion with them of the bridge engineering grant and the bridge construction grant.  Alexander advised that the Town should write a letter requesting additional funding and time extension for both grants, and request additional funding to the maximum of $175,000 of state funds for the bridge construction grant.  The town’s share is still 10%.  We should add an explanation of why the cost and time extension is needed.   Extensions are typically for 1 year.

Alexander also noted that we could get a hydraulic study done by the state through VTRANS, and that we should request Todd Menees of the Agency of Natural Resources come down to see the bridge site soon after the Hydraulic study is completed.  Grant state share was for $9,000; and we’ve been billed and paid for about $3,700 so far.  Alexander said we could get a partial payment of 90% for the engineering so far using the invoice Patty Dow had provided to Lewis Sumner.

The Annual Financial Plan for Town Highways TA-60 (19 VSA Section 306(j)) was filled out.  We put a 55% split for winter maintenance.  The FEMA reimbursement from the 2 plus years worth of Irene recovery work will be credited in the next fiscal year, but that isn’t part of the raise and appropriate amount.  Retreatment costs will be for repaving TH-1 (Green River Road), and Jacksonville Stage Road, and that was estimated at $185,000.  This information is stored at the district, and it is used if we have an emergency that is not FEMA-reimbursable.  The threshold would be if the cost is greater than 10% of our non-winter general maintenance budget.

We also discussed an issue on Rte. 112.  District 1 maintains that.  It was noted that regional planning for transportation is a good idea due to mud season and with the experience we’d had during Irene.  Windham Regional Commission was noted as the best contact for that, and they are in the process of updating their regional plan.  It was noted that we should contact Nick and Maggie Bartenhagen.

Rafus, Alexander, Pickering, Thomspon and Ovenden left the meeting.

Irene Flood Recovery: Economic Development (Infrastructure & Businesses)

Anthony Summers, Flood Recovery Officer, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, was given an overview of the town and the impact of Irene.  Summers is in a new grant-funded 17-month position designed to help with economic development in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

The Selectboard gave an overview of the Irene damage at the municipal level.  Damage at the individual property level has not been as easy for the Town to count.  At least 4 private bridges were damaged; basements were flooded; some acreage was lost for some properties.

The Selectboard noted that there is no retail in Halifax.  We have the K-8 school, the post office, and 2 churches in town.  In terms of businesses, we have the Honora Winery; a firm doing specialty optics; a couple of dairy, beef, and sheep farms; a tree far; small engine and automotive repair shops; gun dealers; bed and breakfasts.  Many are niche businesses.  People work in Brattleboro, Greenfield, Wilmington, and Dover. It’s 20 miles to Greenfield, Brattleboro or Bennington.  We noted that there is still inconsistent broadband or cell coverage in the town, although in 2013 we are expecting that to change between the VTEL 4G LTE, and Sovernet’s FiberConnect.

The Selectboard also noted that the Town Planning Commission is in the process of updating its Town Plan.  We covered some basic demographics of the towns, and concerns about the lack of growth—and of decline in population numbers, along with aging of the population.

Summers walked through a 23-question survey of questions pertaining to businesses in town and flood questions.  He requested data to follow up with the Planning Commission and with individual businesses.

He asked what kinds of business we would want in town, or what kind of services we’d like.  Edwards mentioned the idea of an electronic reader-board for down on Green River Road or in Halifax Center to post town agendas.

We decided to postpone giving Summers a tour of the town due to the length of this meeting.

Hearing of Visitors

No additional visitors attended the meeting.

Other Business

We also finalized a letter to the co-EMDs, and suggested we might meet a few minutes earlier for the April 1st, WASI.  Additional genda items for the regular April 2nd meeting should be given to Edwards by Sunday evening.


The meeting adjourned 11:35 am.

Respectfully submitted,

Edee Edwards, Selectboard Chair