“Civil Rights for All” a big topic in small town
by Shannon Haaland
Mar 12, 2018 | 1764 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rep. Emily Long, standing left, speaks at the Marlboro Town Meeting on Tuesday.
Rep. Emily Long, standing left, speaks at the Marlboro Town Meeting on Tuesday.
MARLBORO- On Tuesday the small meeting house quickly filled up with the residents of the town. Across from the Marlboro Town House was a banner reading “Civil Rights for All” on the old church/meeting house, placed by resident Eugene “Woody” Bernhard. Last year, through a proposal by Bernhard and language amended by the town, Marlboro voted that “we, the voters of the Town of Marlboro, Vermont, proudly support the civil rights of all people without regard to their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, or education level.” The banner has also been debuted in Brattleboro and Putney around holidays such as Martin Luther King Day and Indigenous Peoples Day and there are plans for more appearances of the banner in the future.

Last year, Marlboro voted to reject the proposed merger of their school district with surrounding towns under Act 46 and the meeting focused on the school. Starting in the 2018-2019 year, the Marlboro school district will provide public preschool for the first time. The program provides preschool services for 4-year-olds five days a week, and for 3-year-olds three half-days per week. A motion was passed to add solar-powered speeding meters that will flash and show the speeds of those going over the speed limit by the Marlboro school on Route 9 to ensure the safety of its students.  

The school district has projected spending to be 1.2% higher per student than the current fiscal year. This is because the school will no longer qualify for Title 1 revenue since schools with fewer than 100 students are no longer accepted. The school still receives the small-schools grant, which was narrowed down from over 40 Vermont schools to five.

Rep. Emily Long (D-Newfane) made the trip and spoke candidly about the difficulties facing Vermont on the federal level, especially when it comes to special education spending. “We are supposed to be funded for special education by the federal government 40%. We are funded 6%.” Long is serving on the House Education Committee and has been working on a bill to revamp public school special education to improve services and save money.

“What is the Vermont Legislature doing about gun violence legislation?” asked one Marlboro resident.

“Both the House and Senate passed bills this past week,” Long said. “Lots of discussions and long floor debates around this. The Senate passed what they call S.221, which is the extreme risk or red flag legislation, which passed unanimously. The House added a few elements, puts current practice into law which gives a  judge discretion to require any individual who is at risk to himself or others to turn over weapons as a condition of a pre-trial release, empowers the state’s attorney or attorney general’s office to petition a court to issue an order temporarily restricting a person’s access to guns when they pose a threat of danger to themselves or others. We also added into that a domestic violence bill which would allow officers to remove a firearm from the scene if the removal is necessary for the protection of the officer or the victim or another person. We passed that and sent it to the Senate and we feel like the Senate hasn’t really taken it up. It also creates a felony for people on the grounds of a school with a gun with the intent to harm.”  

The Senate also passed legislation to increase the age to buy handguns to 21. The House and Senate are going to work out the differences in the bills in conference committee.

Jonathan Morrison, of Church Hollow Road, said “We are really fortunate to have a very, very responsive delegation including Emily, who I’ve recently had experience with lobbying for an organization I’m involved with, and though they were involved with the issue I was advocating against they were all right on top and I just want to thank you, Emily.”

The new undertaking of the public preschool had one woman feeling sentimental, since it means the Marlboro meeting house will not be used for day care. “I’m going to miss this place, I know times are changing.” She reminisced about the founder, Liza Ketchum (then Liza Murrow), who now lives in Massachusetts and writes children’s books.

The town also pushed through an advisory resolution to address erratic changes in temperature and weather and to help reach the state of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan goals of 90% renewable sources by 2050, showing that the small community is looking at the big picture.   
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