Town of Halifax, Vermont


May 1, 2012

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM at the town office.  Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards and Earl Holtz.  Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Joe Tamburrino, Phyllis Evanuk, Raymond Combs, Charlene Martynowski, Laura Sumner, Brad Rafus, Margo Avakian, Len Derby, John LaFlamme, Ronald Gouin, Justin Berry, Mariha Berry, Wayne Courser, Patricia Dow, Joan Courser, Orrin Isles, Craig Stone, Tim Putnam, and Christina Moore.

Approval of Minutes

Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the February 7, 2012 regular meeting as written.  Edwards seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Holtz abstained), and the minutes were approved.

Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the April 17, 2012 regular meeting with a few corrections. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the April 19, 2012 special meeting.  Holtz seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained), and the minutes were approved. 

Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the April 21, 2012 special meeting. Holtz seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained), and the minutes were approved. 

Holtz moved to accept the minutes of the April 23, 2012 special meeting. Edwards seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained), and the minutes were approved. 

Holtz moved to accept the minutes of the April 24, 2012 special meeting. Edwards seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained), and the minutes were approved. 

Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the April 26, 2012 special meeting with a few corrections. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Holtz abstained), and the minutes were approved.

New Business

Bridge Engineering Bids

The Selectboard opened the three bids they received for bridge engineering for the 37 Old County North bridge.

Edwards opened a bid from Holden Engineering & Surveying, Inc. They have two offices, one in Concord, NH and the other in Bedford, NH. The total project cost is $12,811. The hydrological evaluation is $620 and is included in the total. The project schedule states that they would submit final plans and costs by July 2, 2012.

Sumner opened the bid from SVE Associates. The hydrological study is $3,650, the bridge study is $16,500, for a total of $20,150.

Holtz opened the bid from Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. from Albany, NY. The total cost is $20,000. The breakdown is by hours, and the hydrology is 33 hours.

The original grant was for $10,000. The grant stipulates that the town pay 10% of the actual cost, and the grant would cover up to $10,000.

The Selectboard agreed that they would review the bids in more detail and come up with questions they might have.

Emergency Management Director Appointment

Holtz moved that Edwards and Holtz would enter into executive session. Edwards seconded the motion which passed 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained). Came out of executive session at 6:55 pm.

Edwards expressed that she knows people in town have expressed unhappiness that in the course of this process we didn’t go with the flow and re-appoint our long serving EMD as was done successfully so many times before. Though a valid perspective, she acknowledged that Irene was a game-changer not just for our town, but also for the State. As much as we want things to continue the way they have, life is getting more complex and we need to adapt to that. Others in town have expressed concerns that the overall process for appointments needs to be clearer and more inclusive, and she thinks that perspective is also valid. While we made some strides in this direction, that didn’t come without some costs in terms of a large investment of time and energy from a lot of people, and she thanked those people that were participating in that.  She believes that after this process is over, we may need to sit back and assess the sustainability of putting that much effort into these methods that we have been trying. She thinks it’s pretty important to say that if you have questions or concerns about the process, she expects they be directed to herself, to other Selectboard members, or to the town in general at a Selectboard meeting. If you have any hard feelings about changes, she would respectfully ask that those not go to any of the candidates for this position. Irene was really hard on us, but we were really lucky and really pulled together, and we had a bunch of success in responding. That had really planted a seed in her mind asking how can the town do better next time? She felt that we really needed to go through this process and understand that. We need to stick together as a town. Regardless of their decision and the outcome of their deliberations, every person who applied for this position is a sincere and hard-working person. Everyone is devoted to our town and to emergency management. We had really good candidates, and we did our very best to pick the best candidate.

Holtz thanked Joeseph Tamburrino, Brad Rafus, and Linda Lyon for their support in helping the Selectboard get through this process. He noted that six people applied for this position (three before town meeting, and three after), and all were very good candidates.

Holtz made a motion to appoint Justin Berry as the Halifax Emergency Management Director. 

Edwards made a motion to appoint Lewis Sumner as a Co-EMD (Halifax Emergency Management Director). The motions were modified and combined as follows:

Edwards motioned to appoint Justin Berry and Lewis Sumner as Co-Emergency Management Directors for the coming town meeting year starting May 1, 2012.Holtz seconded the motion. 

Discussion about the motion to appoint co-EMD’s:

Justin Berry introduced himself. He mentioned that he grew up in Whitingham, is the chief of Whitingham Ambulance, and works part time for Bennington rescue. He has a lot of time to commit to the town and hopes to get things coordinated for us.

Martynowski stated that there are roughly 21 appointed positions in the town, and she hopes they will follow these procedures for every one of those appointments now.

Edwards stated that she has a concern that in a three person Selectboard, this level of effort for every position would indeed be a challenge for us. She would argue that one of the reasons that they spent a great deal of time for this position was because of its importance to our community, and it is the most highly paid appointment that we have. It behooves us to spend that money wisely. She has stated in the past and will state again that she believes all of their paid appointments should have position descriptions and should be posted. It has not happened in the two years prior since she has been on the board, but would argue to do it in future years. She agrees it needs to be fair and open to everyone. It would be great to have additional candidates for other appointments, and she encourages community service from all people. We need to reevaluate the process and decide how to do this as a small town.

Martynowski wanted to make it known that the town does not pay the $20,000 EMD stipend. Edwards acknowledged that the $20,000 is part of the VT Yankee grant and that other towns may not fund their EMD position directly.

What mechanisms are you going to employ to adequately compensate both of your selected candidates? Edwards replied that compensation will be split evenly.

What happens if VT Yankee doesn’t want to pay it anymore? Edwards said that from her perspective as a citizen, we have learned how important this position is. The town really needs to think about how we would fund this going forward. Other EMD’s outside of the VT Yankee area are not necessarily paid positions, but there was a lot of work for a lot of people this past year.

Will all the other appointed positions be advertised? Edwards highly recommends, for the paid positions in particular, that we do that for the next March term. Holtz expressed that it’s important to advertise in order to get the best available candidates.

The motion was made earlier to appoint Justin Berry and Lewis Sumner as Co-Emergency Management Directors for the coming town meeting year starting May 1, 2012, which passed 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained).

The Selectboard thanked all of the candidates.

Weir Road Bridge

We still have questions about Weir Road and its status. A letter of correction will need to be sent to the State mapping department. Edwards drafted a letter apologizing for delays in our response and to let them know we are doing our best. The letter will state currently known information and then state that we will continue to do more research. There may have also been a discussion about Weir Road bridge and revised highway mileage at the February 7, 2012 Selectboard meeting. Edwards will go back and review the audio recording.

Edwards made a motion that the town respond in writing to the mapping division of the State of Vermont. The Selectboard would like the State to accept a designation of T-57, a .06 miles road we have subsequently claimed as Weir Road and its bridge. We have maps from 1980 indicating it as a provisional road. Also, for the State of Vermont to accept T-55 Sumner Farmhouse Road for .04 miles and its bridge as listed on the 1980 map as provisional as well. The town has historic ownership of these two roads and their bridges and has maintained them. Holtz seconded the motion, and the motion carried 3-0.

Highway Department Record-keeping

Edwards noted that in order to help ourselves going forward, we need a record to help us understand what maintenance is going on and on which roads or equipment, and low long to expect it to take, etc. We can use that information in many different ways. The road crew is presently doing that, but how do we develop a system so we don’t have to do the data entry three different times, in three different places? How do we turn the data we have now into records we can utilize more without it being burdensome.

Rafus explained that he currently uses Excel to track hours. He gets payroll information from Patty Dow and reconciles his records to hers. He expressed the importance of having the data in more than one place as part of a system of checks and balances.

Edwards asked Rafus to check with neighboring towns to see what they do.

Edwards will sign up for a Listserv about roads.

Edwards inquired whether there was something existing in QuickBooks or NMRCK that they could use? Bruno offered to show the Selectboard what QuickBooks can do as she has been a QuickBooks Professional Advisor since 2004.

Locations and categories (including maintenance and administrative time) should be tracked so we can use the data for reports and analysis.

Hearing From Visitors

Craig Stone wanted to know if the town had any plans for the bridge at the foot of Hubbard Hill, and are we grinding the blacktop off the top? Can we get some patch in the holes until we grind it off?

Rafus said they patched it once already, but when it rains it comes right back out.

Edwards noted that the guardrails are a problem there as well.

Stone commutes around town 25 miles a day, the holes there can cause tire damage and he would like to see some patch in there. That bridge is as important as a temporary bridge at the other end of town.

Tamburrino mentioned another way of possibly having it ground and blacktopped is to inquire whether Lane Construction can do it when they come in to blacktop the roads. We might be able to save a lot of money that way if Lane can do it at that time. Rafus has a meeting with Lane next week. Lane Construction is shooting for a start in the middle of May.

Derby asked if we can straighten the approaches to the bridge? The board replied that is design work and is very expensive.

Christina Moore brought a project worksheet to be signed by the Selectboard for Collins Road that includes Branch Road.

Moore presented a letter from the Natural Resource Conservation Service concerning the town’s request for potentially damaging debris removal assistance from Irene (see attachment). The letter states that the Emergency Watershed Program requires a 25% match which the town may meet with either cash or in-kind services.  Edwards noted that they will do a survey on Green-up day of the debris.

Moore presented a project summary (see attached). Sixteen project worksheets were completed in four weeks for about $900k. Approximately $600k is due to the town. The cap of $38k that was discussed at the town meeting may not come to us for a year or more. We may be carrying about $1 million in short-term debt between the time of construction and when the State closes the financial gap down to the $38k. We may look at municipal bonds or discuss with local banks to get funding. She had written to Beth Pearce, State Treasurer, asking if the State knows this gap exists.

We are in queue for payment for Brook Road and Stowe Mountain Road. Green River Road will now require a congressional review because it exceeds $1 million. Congressional reviews take 4-8 weeks. Seeing money come in for Green River Road this spring or summer is not realistic in her opinion.

Edwards discussed the line of credit and asked if Patty Dow needs to ask for an extension on the line of credit. Moore replied that they are ok for the next days and weeks. Edwards sees that based on her cash analysis, problems could occur in June.

Moore noted that they are looking to spend $1.8 million more in the next few months (by Thanksgiving).

At 18 months you can file for extensions to perform the work. The Board will need to discuss what should get done by this fall. They don’t have bridge bids back yet. They will have to discuss the town’s priorities at the next FEMA meeting.

Edwards now brought up a discussion about the direct administrative costs for the Green River Road project amendment. She was uncomfortable with the $48k additional administrative costs. Moore explained that they can not anticipate how long the project will take. Right now she is working on Green River full-time, they are nine months into the project where that has been most of the work. If the project continues to bog down, we don’t get to adjust that number going forward. It is fair to assume that over the next 18 months to 2 years or however long the project takes, we will continue to incur administrative costs, and this is the catch all basin for those costs. It was decided to add the $48,750 to the amendment letter for additional direct administrative costs. Bruno read the Green River Road project amendment letter to the State for a change in scope and costs to the Selectboard, and they agreed it should be signed tonight and sent to the State.

A special meeting was scheduled for Friday May 11, 2012 at 2pm to discuss FEMA and Irene recovery issues.

Old Business

Purchasing committee recommendations were postponed.

Other Business

Green-up day is Saturday May 5, 2012. Bruno will add a note to the town website: people which want to participate in the river debris surveying should contact Edee Edwards via e-mail at

Holtz would also like Bruno to add his contact information to the town website on the contact page.

Holtz sent an e-mail to Dave Miller stating that we had signed up for the flood insurance. He wrote back and apologized. They had provided a list of towns to FEMA that are already in the process of enrolling in the program, and unfortunately your town got the letter anyway. As far as I know your application is being reviewed by FEMA and we’ll let you know if anything else is required. Phyllis Evanuk also followed up on this as well.

Sumner asked that the Selectboard attend the VT Yankee drill at the firehouse on Wednesday May 16th. Following that drill, there will be a Selectboard Special Meeting, tentatively at 11am, to discuss EMD goal setting. Mr. Berry will be invited to the drill and the following meeting. This meeting will potentially be an executive session.


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 9:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno

Selectboard Secretary