Town gets a pair of emergency directors
by Margo Avakian
Mar 28, 2013 | 2537 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- The newly re-organized selectboard, with Edee Edwards now serving as chair and Lewis Sumner as vice chair, met on Thursday evening after the Tuesday, March 20, snowstorm forced the board to postpone its regular meeting. The board appointed John LaFlamme and Ross Barnett as the town’s co-emergency management directors for the coming year. LaFlamme and Barnett will replace Sumner and Justin Berry. Sumner abstained from the vote.

“Every person who applied,” said Edwards, “had some great strengths and every person who applied had some weaknesses.” Edwards thanked Sumner for his years of service in the post, adding, “a great deal of work needs to be done, and I think Irene was a wake-up call.”

Board member Earl Holtz also thanked Sumner. “I know you might not think that,” Holtz told Sumner, “but I do.” “I know who’s going to be more disappointed than I am,” Sumner replied, “is the EMDs in the other towns and Vermont Emergency Management.” Holtz expressed his trust that those people will extend the same co-operation and support to the new directors that they have to Sumner throughout his tenure.

In recent meetings, both Holtz and Edwards expressed concern that little progress has been made in implementing the list of tasks generated by the post-Irene analysis group. Holtz said he takes some responsibility for that and plans to keep a closer watch on emergency management affairs. He asked the new appointees to come to him with any concerns and problems. Barnett and LaFlamme pledged to work together to accomplish the considerable amount of work on their plates.

Road crew member Keith Stone praised Barnett’s energy and work ethic. “One thing I do like,” Stone added, “is keeping it all right here in this town.”

While most other officials were reappointed to their posts, there were a few exceptions. Long-time planning commission and zoning board member Howard Alboum declined to serve another term, and will be replaced by Mark Gunkel, who is also the town’s tree warden. Joan Courser will replace Paula Hendler as representative to the Council on Aging; Everett Wilson will serve as ADA coordinator; Cara Cheyette will represent the town on the Rescue Inc. board, and Sumner will replace Greg Marguet as recycling coordinator. The Deerfield Valley News and the Brattleboro Reformer will continue as the town’s newspapers of record. Although town clerk Patricia Dow has experienced problems in dealing with the Reformer, it is the only daily paper in the area, and the board felt that retaining a daily is necessary to ensure timely publication of legal notices.

Edwards briefly reported on the board’s meeting with the Whitingham Selectboard and area emergency services concerning difficulties faced by the Whitingham Ambulance Service. The board voted to send a letter to the Whitingham board suggesting that the groups hire an independent facilitator to avoid the potential for any personal issues to interfere with the achievement of the towns’ shared goal of maintaining good emergency service.

In other business, the board signed the new state-issued highway codes and standards. They also began discussion of a proposed ride-along policy for town-owned vehicles. Road crew and board members are approaching this task with a good understanding of each other’s needs. Crew members’ safety is sometimes enhanced by the presence of a second person during long winter and spring shifts (as much as 16 hours), and the town needs to ensure the safety of nonemployees riding in town vehicles and to protect taxpayers from potential liability problems. In addition, the board will consider instituting a winter road policy to clarify what can be expected in the way of road service.

Animal control officer Leonard Derby reported on a complex dog issue. Earlier in the winter, a couple residing on Tucker Road turned a dog in to the Windham County Humane Society, claiming that it was a stray. Derby told the board that the animal had in fact been given to the couple, who had driven to Manchester to pick it up from the previous owner. The former owner has agreed to send written confirmation of the transaction. The dog had temperament problems, and it was euthanized after injuring a care-taker. WCHS has billed the town for the associated costs, a total of $175. Despite the question of whether WCHS should have accepted a “Halifax stray” without checking with the animal control officer, the board felt that the town is probably liable for the costs, which it will try to recover from the residents who misrepresented the dog’s status.

Finally, the board voted to give secretary Jessica Bruno a one-time payment of $200 and to increase her annual salary to $2,000.

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