Chester’s final fiscal articles set; no formal challenges to incumbents, seven contests vacant

By Cynthia Prairie

Chester town voters will be addressing expenditure requests for 14 articles during Town Meeting, 10 of those requests from petition drives mounted by organizations. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday, March 3 in Town Hall, 556 Elm St. in Chester.

As for the elections on Tuesday, March 4, the roster will be made up solely of incumbents with no challengers and seven positions with no candidates running at all. Write-in candidates are still possible for all positions (See below). But candidates seeking a position on the ballot had until Monday, Jan. 27 to get their petitions into Town Hall; fiscal request petitions were due last Thursday, Jan. 23.

Besides the operating budget, Chester town government is requesting capital expenditures in the amount of $384,761, a third of which would be to purchase a new dump truck ($125,000) and $85,111 to continue the lease on the new fire truck, which the Chester Fire Department took possession of at the end of 2013. Also among Article 3 are requests for:

  • $60,000 for sidewalk replacement;
  • $39,000 for a new police cruiser;
  • $22,000 for a new pickup truck for the town Highway Department;
  • $14,650 for air packs for the Fire Department;
  • $12,000 for an ambulance defibrillator;
  • $8,000 for ambulance radios
  • $8,000 for a cemetery tractor
  • $6,500 for a cemetery survey; and
  • $4,500 for a hose tester for the Fire Department.

Whiting Library repair and other fiscal requests

The town is also requesting $119,820 minus any grant money received to restore the town-owned Whiting Library building. The Whiting Library Board of Trustees and the Chester Select Board have already allocated $10,000 each for the repairs. If the USDA grant comes through, it would fund 35 percent of the total ($41,937), leaving the town to secure a loan of $57,883 financed over not more than five years. The vote is to approve the loan.

A report by Keefe & Wesner Architects of Bennington outlines the work that needs to be done to the entire building and prioritizes the work. Outside repairs such as woodwork, brick pointing and drainage are the most urgent, the report says, since certain types of weather can accelerate deterioration to the whole building.

Town librarian Sharon Tanzer said she could not find out when repairs were last made to the outside of the building. “We have no record … But I’ve found documents dating to 2004 stating the need for it,” she said in a recent interview.

The town also is requesting that the Gassetts Grange No. 327 continue to be exempt – for five more years – from municipal and education taxes.

Ten charitable organizations petitioned the town for votes on a total of $31,501 worth of services. They are:

  • Article 7: $1,800 for the Community Cares Network of Chester & Andover. The nonprofit provides services to senior citizens to help them stay in their homes longer and safely;
  • Article 8: $1,200 for Senior Solutions the Council on Aging to serve elders;
  • Article 9: $3,000 for the Chester-Andover Family Center for individuals and families in need;
  • Article 10: $2,700 for Meals on Wheels Program for hot and cold home-delivered meals and other nutritional needs to Chester residents;
  • Article 11: $2,250 for Connecticut River Transit for Windham and Southern Windsor counties;
  • Article 12: $800 to Windsor County Partners for youth mentoring services;
  • Article 13: $400 to Green Mountain RSVP & Volunteer Center of Windsor County to develop opportunities for people 55 and older to positively impact the quality of community life through volunteer service;
  • Article 14: $13,807 for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of VT & NH to support home health, maternal and child health and hospice care.
  • Article 15: $3,044 to help support outpatient, mental health and substance abuse services by Health Care and Rehabilitation Services Inc.;
  • Article 16: $2,500 for Southern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) to assist Chester in responding to emergency needs.

Who is running for what

The elected positions that remain without candidates are for a three-year term for Lister; an unexpired one-year term for Green Mountain Union High director; a three-year term for Chester Town School director; and four three-year terms for Chester Town Budget Committee.

Here’s a rundown of  who is running for which seats:
Long-time Chester town moderator and Chester town school district moderator William Dakin is seeking re-election to one-year terms in both seats; Deborah Aldrich is seeking re-election to three-year terms as Town Clerk and Town Treasurer; Deborah Trent is seeking to fill an unexpired two-year term as Lister and no one is running for the three-year term of Lister.

Incumbents John DeBenedetti, Tom Bock and Arne Jonynas are all seeking re-election to the Select Board unopposed. DeBenedetti holds a three-year term, Bock and Jonynas hold one-year terms. DeBenedetti is again seeking a one-year term as Town Grand Juror. Jo-Anne DeBenedetti is seeking re-election to a one-year term as Agent to Defend Suits. Michael Leonard is seeking a three-year term as a director of the Green Mountain Union High School board and no one filed to run for an unexpired one-year term on that board. Tonia Fleming is seeking re-election to the Chester-Andover Elementary School union board, for a three year term.  A three-year term as a director on the Chester Town School Board remains open.

Jack Cable is seeking a three-year term as an auditor. Sandra Walker is seeking a three-year term as Trustee of Public Funds. And Mary Lou Farr and Kathy Pellett are both seeking three-year seats back on the Whiting Library’s Board of Trustees. Four three-year seats on the Budget Committee remain open.

Concerning write-in candidates, the Vermont Secretary of State’s office quotes 17 V.S.A.: In order to be elected as a write-in candidate in an Australian Ballot election when no other candidate has received a greater number of votes, a candidate must receive 30 votes or the votes of 1% of the registered voters of the town, whichever is less.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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