Baltrus to resign, board pushes off funding request
by Lauren Harkawik
Oct 09, 2017 | 2598 views | 0 0 comments | 120 120 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tom Baltrus
Tom Baltrus
DOVER- Board member Tom Baltrus announced his impending resignation at the Dover Selectboard’s Tuesday evening meeting. The board talked to a representative from the Windham Solid Waste Management District about their potential decision to leave the district.

In other matters, the board heard from police officer Sam Morse, who recently completed specialized drug training; denied a request from Becky Arbella to receive money from the town’s 1% funds for Support and Services at Home; and approved a plan by the Dover Free Library to use painting and signs to ease parking concerns at the library. And in a surprise blast from the past, the board received an update about Buckshot, the dog who was removed from the town after a vicious dog hearing last year.

Chair Josh Cohen read Baltrus’ resignation letter aloud. It said, in part, “Considering several personal issues, I have decided I no longer want to spend winters in Vermont.” Baltrus will leave following the board’s November 7 meeting, at which he will officially resign. The board decided to post a vacancy notice so they may appoint an interested party to finish Baltrus’ term, which ends in March.

Arbella asked the board for $15,000 from the town’s 1% economic development fund to assist Support and Services at Home (SASH), which provides in-home care to Medicare patients. She said it currently serves 150 people in the valley, with a waiting list of 22 people, and the funding the group receives from Medicare is not sufficient.

“We just had a little incident with funding from 1%,” said Baltrus, referring to the board’s decision to award Deerfield Valley Rescue $30,000 out of the 1% funds for help with a new building. “There are constituents that couldn’t make the six degrees of separation to an ambulance squad being economic development.”

Economic development director Steve Neratko said he felt SASH would be a worthy use of economic development funds, but that he had concerns.

“The funds we have have been outlined for specific uses up until this point, and this doesn’t fit into that,” says Neratko. “That’s not to say that we can’t change that, but we should change it before we start funding things. I think something like this that’s community development, it’s a more than worthy use of the funds but if we’re going to do that, we need to make it open to the whole community.”

The board encouraged Arbella to discuss the matter further with Neratko and to petition for an appropriation to be voted on at Town Meeting.

“The townspeople will likely support it,” said vice chair Vicki Capitani. “They’re very supportive of many agencies. The best way to get it is to get it in front of the voters.”

Bob Spencer from the Windham Solid Waste Management District was present to answer questions from the board about the town’s pending vote on whether or not to leave the district. Most of the conversation centered around cost, with the board hoping to get a sense of how much they would pay in fees given the closure of the district’s recycling center and the construction of a solar array at the district. Without the district, the town would be required to take on several waste-related tasks on its own, such as the town’s solid waste implementation plan, education and outreach, and hazardous waste disposal. Spencer said he couldn’t give an exact figure without the district’s budget done, but that the board could use what they paid this year, approximately $10,000, as a baseline.

“But that will likely go down,” said Baltrus. “Unless you do what you tried to do to us almost a year ago, which is make us pay on the grand list. That did not go well in this town.”

Last year, the district considered moving from a population-based fee system to one based on the grand list. The move was ultimately defeated by members of the district.

Capitani echoed Baltrus’ concerns, but said that if the district did make a move to go to the grand list again, Dover could withdraw at that time. Spencer said he would get the board additional information, such as any fees they may have to pay to leave the district, before their next meeting.

Police chief Randy Johnson introduced Morse, who recently completed drug recognition expert training. “Eventually the legalization of marijuana is going to happen, and Sam showed interest in being a DRE,” said Johnson. “And there are very few DREs in Vermont.”

Morse described the training as intense. “Graduation culminated when we went to a prison in Arizona,” said Morse. “We had to evaluate 12 subjects and be correct on nine, and they took urine samples to ensure we were correct.”

Morse’s training will be reimbursed through a state grant, as will his salary while doing DRE work. “If a town needs a DRE, because the state paid for him, if there’s nobody available, Sam will get called out,” said Johnson. “He can go as far as Manchester, over to White River, and all points south of there.”

In other matters, the board approved the Dover Free Library’s plan to add parking spot paint, a no parking zone, and signage to mitigate issues with idling cars outside its building, which it shares with Kids in the Country Child Care.

The board also received an update about Buckshot, the dog that was banished from the town last fall after a vicious dog hearing.

Though the board initially ordered the dog be put down, they later agreed to a plan from attorney James A. Valente, who found a rehabilitation trainer for the dog, Kevin Behan, of Newfane. Behan was to work with Buckshot and determine whether the dog was adoptable.

“The good news is, he is adoptable,” said assistant town clerk Jeannette Eckert. The update came after what Eckert called a series of miscommunications, which started with a phone call between Behan and animal control officer Sandy MacDougall in which Behan sought funds from John Green, Buckshot’s owner, who was responsible for funding the training.

“It’s a lot,” said Eckert. “The dog has been with him for 327 days.” Eckert said that Green had already paid a portion of the owed funds to Behan.

The board, though happy to hear Buckshot had made progress, asked Eckert to craft correspondence to Behan explaining that the town should have no role in managing the matter.

“The only two people who should be in communication are Mr. Green and Mr. Behan,” said board member Joe Mahon. “It should have nothing to do with Sandy, with the police chief or with the board.”

Johnson said that as a favor to MacDougall, he had put out a call to the police academy to see if anyone may be interested in adopting Buckshot, but that he hadn’t heard back yet.
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