Grafton Select Board OKs liquor license for new market owners, allows Fire Department to use FEMA house for rescue exercise

The Grafton Select Board from left, Skip Lisle, Gus Plummer, Ron Pilette, Sam Battaglino and Noralee Hall in the Town Office meeting hall. Photos by Cynthia Prairie.

The Grafton Select Board from left, Skip Lisle, Gus Plummer, Ron Pilette, Sam Battaglino and Noralee Hall in the Town Office meeting hall. Photos by Cynthia Prairie.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On Monday Aug. 17, the Grafton Select Board met in the picturesque Town Hall for the first time in more than a year since the meeting moved to the Grafton Elementary School. At that brief, 19-minute meeting, it found a useful purpose for a FEMA house and began the process of bringing new life to the Grafton Village Store building.

The Select Board agreed to allow the Grafton Fire Department to use a FEMA house for a fire exercise.

Grafton Fire Chief Rich Thompson had asked the board for permission to use the Village Pump house on Kidder Hill Road at Pleasant Street for search and rescue practice before it gets torn down.

A smoke simulator from a neighboring fire department will be used for the exercise, Thompson said.

The building along the Saxtons River was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and is part of the FEMA buyout program.

The Grafton Fire Department will use this house for a search and rescue exercise.

The Grafton Fire Department will use this house for a search and rescue exercise.

“We have a young crew that doesn’t have a lot of experience with these types of operations. This would be a really good opportunity,” he told the Select Board.

Residents asked if the road, which is right off Main Street in downtown Grafton, would be blocked during the exercise. Thompson said it was likely but they would conduct the exercise on a Saturday morning. “It would be better to block off the road,” he said. “It would be for a few hours.”

Town Administrator Rachel Williams says the best time to use the building would be in October so the property can be cleared park before winter sets in.

High fives from Alexandra Hartman, left.  and Junelle Lupiani upon learning they have their liquor license.

High fives from Alexandra Hartman, left. and Junelle Lupiani upon learning they have their liquor license.

The board also unanimously agreed to a give a liquor license to the new occupants of the former Grafton Village Store. Alexandra Hartman and Junelle Lupiani were seeking a first class liquor license to sell and serve beer and wine at the store.

The pair weren’t at the meeting because they were down the street at the outdoor seating area adjacent to the store serving home-baked cookies, fresh watermelon and lemonade to about 50 residents. Hartman and Lupiani were conducting face-to-face market research to find out what residents hoped to see served and sold at the new shop and eatery, which will be known as MKT at Grafton. MKT is short for market.

When told that their liquor license had been approved, Hartman and Lupiani gave each other a high-five.

In other news, board chair Sam Battaglino said that the town is owed $72,000 in delinquent taxes. “Payments are being made on almost 100 percent of these,” he said adding that the town has been “pursuing timely payment plans for all of these taxpayers.” But, he added, “being in arrears $72,000 for a community this size is unacceptable.”

Also, Williams told the board that the town’s contract for salt from Cargill will rise by slightly more than $6 a ton. She said the cost is negotiated by the state. Last year, Grafton bought 700 tons at $78.65 a ton, and had to buy more during the long harsh winter. This year, the town will buy another 700 tons at $85.13.  The town has budgeted $55,000 for salt this year, already putting it behind by $5,600.

Finally, Select Board meetings will return to the elementary school, 58 School St., at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, when it will hold its regular Monday meeting on Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday. The board added that the Planning Commission meetings also will be moving to the school. The  2nd floor meeting space in town hall is neither air conditioned nor handicapped accessible.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has 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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