Selectboard Minutes Monday June 7, 2021

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BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:  Angela Sanborn, Shelly Huber, Ann Golob and Katy Johnson-Aplin

VIA Phone: Mike Fitzpatrick

OTHERS PRESENT

Jay Wilson, Rachel Worthington, Gloria Cristelli, Chris White, Jane Douglas, Ken Estey, Dan Dewalt, Keats Dieffenbach, Thomas Abbotts, Erica Walsh, Bahman Mahdavi, Fiona Creed Chevalier, Ben Wilson, Kate Gehring, Apple Gifford, Samantha Kilmurray, Pat Halloran, Robert Hamm, Jon Mack, Tim Maddalena, Emily Houle,  Jenny Ray –Commons, Chris Mays – Reformer, Austin RiceBCTV and Wannetta Powling.

CALL TO ORDER:

The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Selectboard Chair Angela Sanborn.

ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO AGENDA: 

Shelly Huber made a motion to move WRVMA Anti-Bias Training off the list as not being a Town matter. Mike Fitzpatrick seconded.  Vote taken 2-3; motion did not pass.

Shelly Huber made a motion for placing this on the Ballot for Town Meeting.  Motion was not seconded.

Shelly Huber made a motion for changing the order of items on the agenda, Seconded by Mike Fitzpatrick.

Shelly Huber made a motion to have the WRVMA working group and scheduled members of the public follow the approval of the minutes and the Road Forman’s report. Mike Fitzpatrick seconded.

Motion passed.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

  1. May 17, 2021 Regular Meeting

A motion was made by Mike Fitzpatrick to accept the minutes of the May 17, 2021 regular meeting. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

 2. May 26, 2021 Special Meeting Monroe Bridge

A motion was made by Katy Johnson-Aplin to accept the minutes of the May 17, 2021 regular meeting. Shelly Huber seconded the motion.  Ann Golob and Mike Fitzpatrick abstained. Motion passed.

 3. June 2, 2021 Special Meeting Road Issues

A motion was made by Ann Golob to accept the minutes of the May 17, 2021 regular meeting. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.   Shelly Huber abstained.  Motion passed.

ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT:

  1. The rubber membrane on Monroe Bridge is going down on one lane today.
  2. The Depot Rd Culvert update: Still waiting on easement
  3. The Sand/Salt shed update: Nothing new to report.
  4. There will be a delay on painting crosswalks, speed limit and stop bars due to the paint shortage.
  5. We had a zoom meeting and then I walked West St. with Rachel from the VT Food bank for a location for the Veggie truck. We couldn’t come up with an alternate site. I think with a few adjustments as it goes along, they may be able to make it work. A sheriff’s deputy will be onsite to assist.

 Rachel Worthington was able to give additional information on the plans for the set up for the monthly food distribution process. Grace Cottage Hospital is the host sponsor with volunteers available to assist. This is going to be a drive thru process until spring and hopefully then it will become a walk up. This event is held on fourth Thursday of the month from Noon – one (1) pm.

6. Guardrail work will be going on later this week.

7. Paving will be going on this week on Dover Rd. and on Monroe Bridge.

8. It looks like we have enough money in the sign and traffic safety budget to order another solar radar sign that can be used on RT 30 if you want to do that.

It was agreed that a new solar radar sign would be purchased.

9.      Houle – Access permits @ 289 Wiswall Hill Road.

This application & site was reviewed by Christopher Williams, Road Commissioner and Jay Wilson, Road Foreman. Recommendation was made that off the road the access needs to be a flat twenty feet, and there was no need to install a culvert.

 Mike Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve access permit on the Road Foreman’s recommendation.

Shelly Huber seconded the motion.   Motion passed.

 Mike Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept the Road Foreman’s Report. Shelly Huber seconded the motion.   

Motion passed.

SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:

Alice Flanders –was invited by Shelly Huber, to address the proposal for anti-bias training. Ms. Flanders discussed her life achievements attained through hard work and overcoming personal struggles while raised in a newly integrated south in the 1960’s.  She had a career as a Navy Officer- Specialty in Base Systems Operations and served on the Navy Staff at the Pentagon. She was a physics major and mathematics major and later worked at the MIT Lincoln Lab. In 2020, Ms. Flanders was a candidate for the Vermont State House of Representatives. She met her husband, a Native Vermonter, in 1976 and that is what brought her to this state.

Ms. Flanders would prefer to be looked at for her achievements as an individual rather than to be pitied for being a woman or even as black woman.  “We can all over come whatever life gives us if we want to.  Nothing needs to hold us back.  Education was a door that I saw as a way to make my life better.” Ms. Flanders believes that all of our kids need to understand equal opportunity is the law of the land. In contrast she said that she does not support equity because it takes hours of hard work to become proficient spending long hours of studying to gain confidence “If they put in the effort they will get the results.” Everything worth achieving is worth fighting for and you develop confidence in yourself and the performance will speak for itself.”

Ms. Flanders concluded, “I am concerned with “anti-bias training;” this is a land of equal opportunity; it is the “law of the land.” If we make it separate but equal, how will we ever know if someone is truly capable and knowledgeable to perform as a surgeon or in other capacities? If we strive to compete it will lead to success and that will lead to more success. I was goal driven, this is something we need to encourage in our children and to encourage them to achieve and be the very best they can.”

“Can we all just be HUMANS and sign up for that team?  There will always be those that have biases, we should let competence speak for itself.

Following Ms. Flanders, there was a discussion regarding the proposed anti-bias training.

Ann Golob -suggestion

At our last Selectboard meeting we discussed whether the town should support and encourage our staff, Selectboard members and commissioners to enroll in non-bias training. On a personal note, I strongly support such training and have taken several over the years as part of my jobs in the corporate and not-for-profit worlds. They were enormously helpful and insightful  some were definitely better than others but all had value. Since that time these types of training have become much more common in all settings – government, not-for-profit, commercial, etc. I wasn’t aware of just how usual these programs had become until I started talking to several people in the community and each and every one mentioned that they had taken a similar course in connection with their employment.

Vermont state law, as it was explained to us by VLCT, does not give a town authority to mandate such training to their employees. But we can strongly suggest and encourage it. I would like to recommend that we do so.

Recognizing that the quality of programs varies tremendously and that the focus of different courses varies, I was interested in the fact that VLCT is offering a course that was developed by the National League of Cities. It is a three-part online diversity, equity and inclusion training available to VLCT members. They describe the course as providing a training program aimed at eliminating racial disparities, healing racial divisions and building more equitable communities. The course will be taught in 3 two-hour sessions on June 21, June 28 and July 14. I have signed up to take it. I strongly urge all town employees, Selectboard members and commissioners to take a look at their offering and sign up as well.

At the first Selectboard meeting after July 14, I would suggest that we schedule a discussion of the course and evaluate if this course meets our needs and if it does, I would recommend making an official proposal urging town employees etc. to sign up. If it doesn’t meet our needs, I would recommend that we evaluate other opportunities.

As a final comment, I would like to request that all Selectboard members in particular consider signing up for the VLCT course. I know not everyone agrees that this is needed and some feel that it may not be relevant for them personally. But in this case, we are evaluating it for the town employees and as such I feel strongly that the opinion of ALL Selectboard members is important in that evaluation. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. A good course should talk to all of us and be respectful of our differences. We as a Selectboard have many different points of view. That’s a good thing. I applaud our differences and the fact that we can work together productively and in a collegial manner to address the issues in the town that we all care about.  This is one more example where everyone’s input would be a strong positive toward doing the best we can for our town.

Apple Gifford – WRVMA working group

At the May 17 Selectboard meeting,  the West River Valley Mutual Aid working group was asked if they would submit materials about Anti-Racism, Anti-Bias, and/or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training options, and provide information about towns and municipalities that have engaged in anti-racism training and work. After talking to Newfane neighbors, friends, and colleagues, and reaching out via the West River Valley Mutual Aid’s email lists, we have started to compile a list of offerings.

There are nine (9) municipalities that have equity committees or an equity position.

We believe that Newfane has a wonderful opportunity to tap into the work that has already been done in the state to help make our community as welcoming and inviting as possible.  It is an acknowledgement that we all wish to learn and grow, and, especially, to avoid accidentally making mistakes – especially when it comes to town affairs and rule-making – anyone in our community should not feel unsafe or unwelcome. Likewise, the assertion that the widespread adoption of anti-bias training in municipalities, school districts, libraries, and many other public and private entities across the state is “political” is in error: these efforts are explicitly nonpolitical, and are aimed directly at supporting community cohesion and growth.

We have included an updated list of signatures for our initial letter. At the time of this submission there are 191 signatures 128 of which are Newfane residents.

Ken Estey – Planning Commission

At the May 13th meeting the Planning Commission passed a motion to support trainings for its Commissioners and encourage the training for all who are interested. Ken quoted from the statement the Town of Newfane Selectboard made in September 2020, and thanked the Board for making such a statement and having it posted on the Town website. On page 60 of our Town Plan it states that “we uphold the value of the Common Good and human dignity.” Let us uphold this, he concluded.

Discussion continued and several public comments were made in support and in opposition to Newfane needing to offer the anti-bias training.

Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) is offering a three (3) part diversity-equity –inclusion trainings. Three members of the Selectboard have signed up to take this training. Other town employees and volunteers are encouraged to do the same if they are interested. A discussion of the training will be added to the Selectboard agenda at the first meeting after the last of the three sessions.

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT:

  • Walter Hagedorn has worked on the flower gardens here at the Town Office.  Anson Baldwin the new owner of D& E Tree donated the mulch and Paul Dutton at Dutton’s Farm Stand & Green House in Newfane donated some beautiful flowers.  I wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Dutton for their generosity.

It was agreed that the Selectboard would send thank you notes sent to Mr. Dutton, Mr. Hagedorn, and Mr. Baldwin.

  • On May 10th, there were two separate incidents involving dogs. I have included these memos to refresh the Selectboard.
    • The first incident on River Road has been able to settle this matter.
    • On Blueberry Circle I have made (Seven) attempts to contact the Dog owners by phone with no results. This was a dog on dog attack, and I would like to get further directions from the Selectboard to help deal with this incident.

Katy Johnson-Aplin will assist the Administrator with efforts to contact Dover Animal control to see how this could be handled.

A motion to allow Katy Johnson-Aplin to contact the Dover ACO and follow up with needed remedial action. Motion Passed.

  • Sheriff Mark Anderson will be attending the June 21Selectboard meeting to discuss the Regional Animal Control (RAC) program that will begin July 1st.
  • I have been asked if the link for the quarterly publication of the Newfane / Brookline Newsletter be available on the Newfane Website.

The Selectboard agreed that this should be available to go on the Town website.

  • We received delivery of three (3) new set of shelves for the upstairs storage area. There is currently some old printers & keyboards that we would like permission to dispose of or to donate to the Tech class at LGHS.

Katy Johnson-Aplin made a motion to donate used equipment to the LGHS Tech class. Ann Golob seconded. Motion passed.

  • Additionally, I have provided you with information that came in today from Sullivan & Powers (Town Auditors). This is something the Selectboard may like to consider putting out for bid unless Sullivan & Powers would agree to the same price as last year $16,000 (which is in the budget) rather than the proposed price for the next fiscal year which is increased by $1,100.

It is the consensus of the Selectboard to contact Sullivan & Powers to negotiate a contract for the same price as last year.

A question was raised about scheduling updates from the different town committees to the Selectboard. The Selectboard asked to have an additional email sent in order to follow up with the committees to schedule meetings with Selectboard to update and discuss the current events.

Shelly Huber made a motion to accept the Administrative Assistant’s report. Mike Fitzpatrick seconded the motion.  Motion passed.

 COMMITTEE REPORT

Ken Estey – Chair of the Planning Commission reported that at the Planning Commission’s June 3, 2021 meeting a motion was passed to review and create an updated 2021 list of “Key Priorities” and then organize two (2) or three (3) meetings to present them to the Town for public input. The commission would then return with the proposed project list to the Selectboard for approval and to begin the process of scoping out the projects, applying for funding or using the ARPA funds for that purpose.

Suggestions were made to plan to have a consultant hired to manage the projects.  Working with the Planning Commission and Selectboard discussion the Town Plan is in effect progress.

There was a discussion about selecting someone to be the authorized representative for the town.

Katy Johnson-Aplin will follow up with VLCT to clarify the selection process for the representative.

UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:

OLD BUSINESS:

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) -Ann Golob & Katy Johnson- Aplin

On May 18, Vermont League for Cities and Towns held a session to discuss what is known so far about the distribution of ARPA funds. On the next few pages are copies of some of the screen shots that I found the most helpful.

A few key points:

  • We don’t have to rush to decide how to spend the money that will be coming to Newfane. We have until the end of 2026 to spend the money but that by the end of 2024 we should have decided where we plan to spend it.
  • There are several categories of funding that where we can use the monies. You’ll see the first several pages detail some of the categories that will be accepted.
  • There are a few categories that are ineligible for funding – those are listed too.
  • They recommend that the Selectboard do the following but I don’t think there is any urgency in doing these immediately.
    • Appoint an authorized representative
    • Engage the public in discussion of priorities and options
    • Once decided, publish the intended use of the funds
    • Be patient and be deliberate

The folks at VLCT are setting up a group to work with towns every step of the way. So, we will always have someone to contact to answer questions and advise us.

If you are interested in watching the Zoom session, it is available on their website:

https://www.vlct.org/resource/intro-coronavirus-local-fiscal-recovery-funds

There will surely be many more informational sessions over the next few months.

Animal Control Update

Blueberry Circle – this was discussed in the Administrative Assistants Report.

NEW BUSINESS:

Board Policy for Vacant Offices and Committees- Shelly Huber

The Selectboard needs to consider how the current vacancies can be handled in order to fulfill our committees and groups organizations.  It was agreed that Shelly will draft a proposal.

Newfane mask mandate – Shelly Huber

BCTV officials will be contacted to see if the protocols have amended or changed. Depending on their response, the Selectboard will consider if the town of Newfane will change its COVID restriction policy.

CORRESPONDENCE:

1.      Christine Druke – Opinion

2.      Chris White -Opinion

3.      Mario Dupigny-Giroux – VT Agency of Transportation Operations & Safety Bureau

4.      VT Land Trust-Green MT Conservancy

PAY ORDERS:

  1.  Payroll Warrant No #11515                Amount $ 5,318.43
  2. Payroll Warrant No #11516                 Amount $  5,107.23
  3. Payroll Warrant No #11517                 Amount $    4,932.85
  4. Account Payable No # 21024              Amount $   642. 42
  5. Account Payable No # 21025              Amount $   92,238.68

Katy Johnson-Aplin made a motion to approve pay orders Shelly Huber seconded the motion.

Motion Passed.

ADJOURN:

Katy Johnson-Aplin made a motion to adjourn. Meeting adjourned at 9:07pm

Respectfully Submitted

Administrative Assistant

Wannetta Powling