Approved as Amended on 5.1.2023
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BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Ann Golob, Katy Johnson-Aplin, Jeffrey Chevalier, and Mike Fitzpatrick (Phone) Absent: Angela Sanborn
OTHERS PRESENT: Marion Dowling, Jane Douglas (Planning Commission), Kate Gehring (Planning Commission), Cina Friend, Carol Hesselbach (Town Clerk), Chris Druke, Meredith White, Christine White, Deborah Luskin (Town Moderator), Hendrik van Loon, Katie Powling, Mark Powling, Sarah Walker, Sarah Taylor, Jon Julian, Steve Levine (Williamsville Hall Committee Chair), Deidre Scherer, Bruce Rosow, Kate Conway (Williamsville Hall Secretary), Timothy Shafer, Austin Rice (BCTV), and Wannetta Powling (Administrative Assistant.)
Zoom: Jay Wilson (Road Foreman), Juliette Carr, Beckley Gaudette (Lister), Priscilla Cotton (Chair-Board of Civil Authority), Walter Dadik (Development Review Board)
CALL TO ORDER:
The meeting was called to order at 6:03 pm by Selectboard Vice-Chair Ann Golob.
CONFIRM PROPERLY WARNED:
Powling confirmed the meeting had been properly warned.
ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO AGENDA:
Johnson-Aplin requested that the minutes from the March 6th, Regular Meeting and the March 13th Board of Liquor Control be added to the approval of minutes.
Johnson-Aplin requested adding the Planning Commission to the Committee Reports.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
- March 13, 2023, organizational meeting minutes.
Powling requested that the minutes from the March 13th Organizational meeting be amended to add the appointment of Walter Dadik for a three-year term to the Development Review Board.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the March 13th organizational minutes as amended. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion. Motion passed 3/0/1. Chevalier abstained.
- March 6th, regular meeting minutes.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the March 6th regular minutes. Chevalier seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
- March 13th Board of Liquor Control
Johnson-Aplin made a motion to approve the March 13th Board of Liquor Control minutes. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 3/0/1. Chevalier abstained.
With many people in attendance, the Board agreed to move Unscheduled Members up on the agenda.
A gathering of over twenty concerned citizens was in attendance and on zoom to offer support and share their thoughts and disapproval of the Selectboard’s recent treatment, including the intent of disciplinary or dismissive action against Administrative Assistant Wannetta Powling.
Prepared statements were read to the Selectboard from Marion Dowling (former Selectboard Chair) read a prepared statement that she had, along with a letter from Sydney Johnson. Letters submitted from Ken Estey (former Planning Commission Chair) and Erica Walch (Development Review Board) were read by Deborah Luskin (Town Moderator), who then requested additional time to speak on her own behalf.
Additionally, Chris White, Bruce Rosow, Steve Levin, Sarah Taylor, Carol Hesselbach, Chris Druke (former Selectboard member), Juliette Carr, Kate Conway, Kate Gehring (Planning Commission), and Mike Fitzpatrick, all voiced that Powling while working under a tremendous amount of stress is still committed to her duties and responsibilities as the Administrative Assistant and to the Town of Newfane.
Golob thanked everyone that came to show their support for Powling. The Selectboard was unable to respond to any of the comments due to employee confidentiality.
Golob asked for a three-minute break.
ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT:
- I have sent over the TA-60 and Certificate of Compliance from VTRANS for the board to sign.
- The storm this past week and the large number of trees and power lines down made for a tough week. The equipment made it through with just some fairly minor repairs.
- The box culvert on Depot Rd. is out to bid. The bids must be by April 10.
The States will take the bids first to review, and bidders will need to be on the States approved list to bid.
- There is nothing new to report on the sand/salt shed.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept the Road Foreman’s report. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.
Golob asked questions regarding Green Mountain Power’s handling of the recent storm. Wilson said that it was a significant amount of damage on every road. Green Mountain Power had to get information on the damage and organize the work crews.
Hesselbach said that Emily Long has plans to meet with Green Mount Power to discuss the handling.
Johnson-Aplin wanted to thank all the regular snowplow drivers for helping clear the town roads that the road crew could not reach due to the down trees and power lines. The Selectboard agreed with the statement.
The vote was called:
Motion passed 4/0
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT:
- The Planning Commission (PC) Public Hearing on the Floodplain and River Corridor Bylaw revision is scheduled for Thursday, March 23, at 6 pm here at the Town Office. They are requesting that the Selectboard will be able to attend this hearing; the Selectboard will need to follow up with its own public hearing at a date to be determined.
- I have started writing letters for re-appointment to the various committees and organizations.
- Doris Knetchtel is willing to accept the one-year appointment as a Lister.
- I have not been able to connect with Shelly Huber on the re-appointment to the Windham Regional Commission.
- The Policies are available tonight for readopting and the Selectboard signatures.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept the Administrative Assistant’s report. Chevalier seconded the motion.
- Fitzpatrick made a motion to appoint Doris Knetchtel to a one-year term as a Lister. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
- Shelly Huber confirmed that she would be willing to accept if no one else was interested in the WRC. Golob mentioned that she would check with the PC or the DRB to see if there was anyone that would like to serve.
- March 23rd PC Hearing; Jane Douglas said that this would be rescheduled (TBD) for a later date in April.
- Golob made a recommendation to table the Personnel Policy until VLCT could review the current policy to see if laws had changed and to allow time to make recommendations.
Fitzpatrick made a motion to re-adopt the Bidding Policy. Chevalier seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Fitzpatrick made a motion to re-adopt the Financial Policy. Chevalier seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Johnson-Aplin made a motion to re-adopt the Purchasing Policy. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Fitzpatrick made a motion to re-adopt the Conflict of Interest. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
Chevalier made a motion to re-adopt the Rules of Procedure. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0
The vote was called.
Motion passed 4/0
**Recommendation from the Selectboard was to have procedures and Emergency information placed on the Town Website, such as the warming station at NewBrook Fire Department. You can also get water, use the bathroom facilities, charge your cell phones, and cook your own food in the kitchen.
Traffic Calming Committee (TCC) updates (Johnson-Aplin) the next meeting of the TCC has not been set.
Golob mentioned that the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) had sent information from the VT Department of Health asking if there was an interest in being involved with a pilot project, Walk-ability in communities with pedestrian improvements. This information should be shared with the Newfane Calming Committee, and it was recommended that Johnson-Aplin contact Max at the WRC. This information will be shared at the next TCC meeting.
Planning Commission (PC) Jane Douglas mentioned that the PC is having an organizational meeting on Thursday, March 23. The PC asked if they could have permission to use the Town Office Zoom account for their Thursday night meetings. The Selectboard gave permission, and Powling offered to set up the calendar for them, like the Selectboard highbred meetings. The Board agreed.
The Planning Commission has a new vacancy and is looking for a few people who would like to join them.
Kate Gehring shared that they were going to be reviewing the information on the Flood Plain and River Corridor and would be ready to start looking at the By-Law Modernization Grant information, currently working with WRC.
SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
Chris Druke wanted to discuss a few things that became obvious during the recent storm. Was the Board aware of the level of work needed to assist the Road Forman and Road Crew to pull resources, including lead guys and the tree cutters, in removing the down trees to allow the road crew access to open these roads? It is not about restoring power, which is secondary to the safety of limited residents.
A calling chain is important for checking on our vulnerable neighbors and residents.
It also helps us to find who is available or what resources are available. Having a lead guy, with tree cutters to help the Road crew function and access other parts of the Town. I would like to know if the Emergency Management level is properly coordinated. Jay Wilson has dual roles as Road Foreman, Emergency Management Coordinator, and First Responder. The Selectboard needs to be aware of its responsibility.
Golob asked if Jay needed more support or if it was an issue of responsibilities.
- Get help at the NBFD Warming Center, Charge cell phones, get water, and use the restrooms.
- Contact information referral sheet.
- Remind people ahead of the storm’s need for preparedness.
- Phone Tree – get to know your neighbors in good times before the bad/unexpected happens.
Cannabis Updates: (Johnson-Aplin) None
Town Beautification (Chevalier) None
Discuss ideas for a 250-year celebration of Newfane’s founding. (Johnson-Aplin)
Jane Douglas Newfane Anew would like to offer help with ideas for the celebration. Jane Douglas was unsure when the celebration was.
Updates on future Newfane Anew meetings will be announced.
FEMA Buy-Out of the South Newfane General Store – (Golob)
No updates from FEMA.
ARPA: No updates. Golob mentioned that the current information has been updated to the Town website.
Priscilla Cotton brought up the need to address the trees and who is responsible for the removal prior to bad weather that would take power out.
Golob said GMP hires ASPLIN to do trimming along the power lines. Trees can be reported to GMP, or call and inform the Town of the situation or concerns.
Powling reminded the Selectboard of the information that was provided regarding the Emerald Ash Bore. This would be a perfect time to address removing dangerous trees or cutting back along the Town right of way. People may be more in tune with the trimming with the events of the past few days of not having power or roads being blocked due to trees falling onto the road.
“Rising from the Ashes” is a company in Springfield, MA. that would come to remove these trees; Chevalier mentioned that he would make contact to see if there was still a program that Newfane could work with for this purpose.
Powling was asked to contact Wilson about the trees along the Right of Way. This should be discussed at the next meeting.
CORRESPONDENCE: Chris Druke –Improved procedures for other officials within the Town Government to be able to work together, communicate, and be aware of the needs and resources for response to emergency situations.
Mike Fitzpatrick attended remotely, withdrew, and left the meeting at 7:58 pm.
- Payroll Warrant # 11612 Amount $ 6,156.38
- Payroll Warrant # 11613 Amount $ 9,853.00
- Account Payable # 23020 Amount $ 44,834.73
- Account Payable # 23021 Amount $ 58,765.62
Johnson-Aplin made a motion to approve Pay Orders. Chevalier seconded the motion.
Motion passed 3/0
Johnson-Aplin made a motion to adjourn. The meeting adjourned at 8:12 pm.
Wannetta Powling, Administrative Assistant