Town of Halifax, VT

Minutes – Special Meeting

March 27, 2012

Call to Order

A special meeting of the Halifax Selectboard was held at the Town Office, called to order at 2:31 p.m.  Present were Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz and Edee Edwards.  Members of the public present included Margo Avakian, John LaFlamme, Marilyn Allen, Brad Rafus, Joe Tamburrino, Maggie Bartenhagen and Nick Bartenhagen.  At 4:15, Christina Moore arrived for her interview.

Hearing of Visitors

•          Halt on bridge design work

Joe Tamburrino in his role as purchasing agent shared a letter from Barry Cahoon, Department of Environmental Conservation, Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), explaining concerns ANR had about the project worksheets and designs for the Reed Hill Road and Deer Park Road bridges.  He advised that he also heard from SVE.  Cahoon is concerned about the plans with one bridge abutment remaining and that the PWs may not represent the work required to meet State Regulations and VTRANS standards.

The Hale Road bridge has been approved by ANR to move forward.  SVE is about 85% complete on Reed Hill bridge.  Borings were taken on one side only for the Deer Park bridge, but design is not as far along, so that will require less potential re-work

Lewis Sumner made a motion to have Joe Tamburrino tell SVE to put a hold on further design work on these two bridges.  Earl Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.

Joe Tamburrino was requested to forward this information to Christina Moore to ensure our FEMA PA Rep is notified.  The ground borings were only taken on the East side for the Reed Hill bridge, so that may mean additional work, time and cost, but on Deer Park bridge, borings were taken on both sides.

Brad Rafus stated that the state wants the abutments to be out of the river, and wants them all further out of the river.

•          EMD hiring process

Linda Lyon had submitted a letter about the process for hiring an Emergency Management Director which Edee Edwards read into the record and is incorporated herein as an attachment.  The letter expressed concern that the EMD position was not widely advertised, was not based on a clear job description, did not have solid selection criteria, and did not have a review process.

Maggie Bartenhagen delivered the final report from the Irene Lessons Learned Task Force to the Selectboard.  She clarified Edee Edwards’ question about whether the prioritization of the bullets followed the original Lesson Learned meeting.  Maggie said no, the items listed were grouped and consolidated, but not prioritized.

Earl Holtz noted that Everett Wilson did confirm that he would help write an EMD job description.

Lewis Sumner noted from he had spoken with some folks from the state and they had not been receptive to moving the Emergency Operations Center.  Holtz and Edwards each questioned the reasoning of the state.  Lewis Sumner advised that they would have to move the radio, or add an antenna.  Discussion ensued about problems with being able to hear or have conversations, but Edwards suggested we postpone full discussion to another Selectboard meeting.

Earl Holtz advised that we haven’t gotten other feedback on the committee’s work, and we that didn’t have a job description.

Marilyn Allen stated that she had spoken with 2-3 other people, and felt that people don’t know about the open application process.

Further discussion was held about the job descriptions available, and the posting process.

Lewis Sumner noted that the State Vermont Emergency Management job description states that if the Selectboard did not appoint an EMD, that the chair of the Selectboard is the EMD.

The Deerfield Valley News article did garner interest from one other resident, who chose not to apply in the end.

Edee Edwards asked how Marlboro advertised for their EMD position.  John LaFlamme stated that they had advertised the position in the Brattleboro Reformer and on their website.

Earl Holtz asked how you can advertise the position without a job description.  Maggie Bartenhagen read from the State Job description which seemed to indicate it should be town-specific.  Joe Tamburrino felt writing a job description would take 8-10 months, and he felt appointing someone now would be best, and then having that person write a job description.  Edee Edwards made note that the email from the newly-hired Marlboro EMD made it clear that he was given the State job description, and has been subsequently revising the job description, which has not been approved yet.

Edee Edwards advised that she wanted a thoughtful process, but not a three-month process.

Further discussion was about the length of time to write a job description, who should write the job description, the content of the job description.

Edee Edwards made a motion that the Selectboard continue with interviews of the candidates who were expressly asked here today for that purposes, while in parallel advertising the position in the newspapers of record, and asking Everett Wilson to developing a job description with a first draft by the next Selectboard meetings.  Earl Holtz seconded the measure.

Further discussion was held about timing and how to post the job ad, and the advisability of having a second person in the chain of command.   Lewis Sumner noted that most towns have an assistant EMD, whereas Brattleboro has co-EMD.  Edee Edwards had checked with Vermont Emergency Management and it is up to the town to have 2 people and how to structure compensation.

The measure passed 2-0-1, with Lewis Sumner abstaining.

Edee Edwards suggested that if each interview were trimmed to 25 minutes we could continue with the interviews today

Earl Holtz made a motion to go into executive session at 3:35 to interview position candidates.  Joe Tamburrino and Brad Rafus were invited into executive session, as was Lewis Sumner.  Edee Edwards seconded it.  This passed 2-0-1, with Lewis abstaining.

At approximately 4:00 pm, Lewis Sumner left the Executive session and John LaFlamme was asked into Executive session.

At approximately 4:25 pm, John LaFlamme left Executive session and Christina Moore was asked into Executive session.

At 4:52 pm, Earl Holtz and Edee Edwards returned from Executive Session.  No decisions were made.

One more brief Hearing of Visitors was requested.  Earl Holtz, Edee Edwards, Joe Tamburrino, Brad Rafus, and Christina Moore were present.

Christina Moore stated she had just shared this information with Lewis Sumner on her way to this.  She had had a conversation with Jeff Kirkland from FEMA, and he is no longer assigned to Halifax.  Bob Bass is the new FEMA PA, and he has said that he 100% dedicated to Halifax for 5 weeks.  Christina has invited Bob Bass to meet with her at 2 pm on Thursday afternoon at the Town Office, and she offered that the Selectboard might schedule a public meeting.

Christina Moore gave an update about the PW status generally.   Brad Rafus noted that he had data for Stowe Mountain Road PW.

Edwards decided that she could call this Thursday 2pm as a special meeting to meet with FEMA, and do the meeting logistics, including notifying Lewis Sumner.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:02 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Edee Edwards, Selectboard Vice Chair

Linda A. Lyon

614 Green River Rd

Halifax, VT 05301

26 March 2011

Open Letter to the Halifax Select Board

I regret that my schedule precludes my attending the special session of the Select Board that is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  In lieu of being able to attend the meeting, I would like to submit this letter to the record.

As a credentialed Federal Emergency Response Official and a resident of Halifax, Vermont, I am very interested in the position of Emergency Management Director (EMD) for Halifax.  I am not interested in applying for the EMD position, but rather in ensuring that the Select Board uses an open, fair, professional, and well-documented process to fill this important position.  Only today did I become aware that the only public notice about this position is on page 37 of the 84-page Annual Report, Town of Halifax, Vermont, for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011.  The report states simply that “Persons interested in an appointed position, please give your name to the Select Board or the Town Clerk.”  I do think that Halifax can do much better in soliciting for interested and qualified candidates for the critical position of EMD.

In recruiting and hiring an EMD, the Select Board  should publically document the process by providing information such as (1) specific duties of the position, (2) application procedure, (3) objective criteria for evaluating applicants, and (4) methods to assess the success of selected candidates in meeting the requirements for the position.  This should be done with sufficient thoroughness to reasonably ensure that all interested and qualified candidates have a fair opportunity to learn of and compete for the position.  Clearly this entails more than the one sentence in the town report.  To be successful in this position, the candidate must have myriad talents including leadership, organizational skills, effective delegation, computer literacy, budgeting, data management, communications, and writing.  Applying for, and being considered for, the position should be open to all regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, who one knows, or how long one has lived in Halifax.

I hope that the Select Board will review the findings and recommendations of the post-Irene task force, make this information available to the community, and advertise for and select an EMD based on an open, transparent, and systematic process.  Doing so will lead to a defensible and well-documented decision.  In addition, your constituents will benefit as the Select Board enhances open government processes that provide opportunities for ALL residents to understand the decision-making challenges of our elected officials.

In closing, I very much appreciate the Select Boards dedication to public service on behalf of the residents of Halifax.  Each of you has my most sincere respect.

/s/ Linda A Lyon