Sunday, March 5, 2017

Weathersfield Town Meeting Report

Cover photo from this year's Town Report

March 4, 2017
Weathersfield Elementary School
Ascutney, VT

The residents of Weathersfield gathered at the Weathersfield Elementary School on Saturday, March 4 for their annual town meeting. This time honored traditional of citizen control over their local finances has changed from the original town meetings where all town business was conducted by voice vote in the local meeting house.


For the voters of Weathersfield, most of the items on the voting agenda will be decided on in the voting booth at the Town Office on Tuesday, March 7 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The elections of town and school officers and the decisions on budgets and spending are decided by Australian Ballot. This leaves only a handful of articles to be decided on by voice vote.

This doesn't stop the discussion though, and this is where it gets interesting. You get to hear what your neighbors think about how the school board and select board members are running things.

And it you don't like how they are doing I urge you to run for office next year. All officers up for election this year are running unopposed. In fact, one of the school directors positions for a three year term is vacant.

The day began at 10 a.m with the annual school meeting (this reporter did not attend this meeting.)

This was followed by a meeting to discussion the Fire Departments in town at 1 p.m. The options on how to work with the two non-profit fire departments in town were discussed. The Wood Report and the survey conducted last year show that the town residents would like to find a solution to the town having two fire departments.

Most of the discussion focused on the possible Fire District Model which received 97 of 173 votes on the 2016 survey. This option would create a new level of town government and this department's budget would be voted each March.

Josh Dauphin, West Weathersfield Fire Department Chief spoke to the voters "I feel the service we've provided to the residents has been excellent." Ascutney Chief Darrin Spaudling agreed with Dauphin and spoke of the increased drug activity in town and with it the need for first responders to have additional training.

Former select board member John Arrison noted that "the current contract (with the two fire departments) expires on June 30." He also spoke to the amount of time this select board and previous select boards had spent working with the fire departments.

"I think the two fire departments know what's best for the town, I want to hear from the fire departments. They know what's best. They should make the decisions and we should support their decision" said Alicia Jenks, co-owner for Green Dragon Farm.

This discussion was halted in order to start the town meeting at the warned time of 1:30 p.m.

Time to open your Town Report. You can download it from the town's website: HERE
Article 1: Accept the town report (with a few missing department reports)-motion carries.
Article 2: Borrow money if necessary-motion carries.
Article 3. Expend grant monies, gifts, bequests-motion carries.
Article 4 : Exempt tax on West Weathersfield Fire Department land and building (renewal)-motion carries.
Article 5. TransCanada Dam Resolution. Nancy Heatley of the Connecticut River Joint Commission Rep. spoke to this article and the resolution passed unanimously.

Article 6: transact other business...

Vermont House Representative, Annmarie Christensen spoke briefly.

Vermont State Senators from Windsor County Alice Nitka and Dick McCormack spoke.


Alison Clarkson arrived during the budget discussion and listened from the audience.

Town manager Ed Morris presented a slide show about the budget proposal.

Former select board member, Dave Fuller spoke and urged voters to vote no on Article 8.
"I think this budget was put together in a hurry...go back to the drawing board."


Not all people in attendance were debating the spending proposed by the select board.


Before the discussion of the small appropriations articles was discussed, Town Moderator Peter Cole recognized Rick Bates, chair of the Weathersfield Proctor Library Board of Trustees. Bates briefly discussed the plan to expand the children's room at the library and receiving a $15,000 matching grant from the Bryne Foundation for the construction cost.

Bates invited Ernie Shand to the podium to thank him for his many years of service to the town and specifically, thanked him for his countless hours spent as a library trustee.

More photos from town meeting 2017 CLICK HERE

Voting for the school and town warnings will be held Tuesday March 7 at Martin Memorial Hall in Ascutney from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

A lunch Soup-A-Thon was hosted by Windsor Country Partners as a fundraiser for their organization that matches young adults and children with mentors.

For dessert the Girl Scouts were on hand selling their cookies.

And if you were so tired after town meeting and didn't want to cook, The Ascutney Volunteer Fire Department hosted a Turkey Supper at Martin Memorial Hall.

Mark your calendars for the first Saturday in March 2018 for next year's meeting.

Update: Results from the March 7 Town Voting: http://photosbynanci.blogspot.com/2017/03/town-meeting-voting-results-from.html