By Shawn Cunningham
© 2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC
Voters in Weston passed all of the articles on its warning and returned most town office incumbents to their positions on Tuesday morning during a Town Meeting that went by so quickly that the Little School, which was making lunch to be served, had to scramble to be ready.
Select Board members Denis Benson and Bruce Downer were unopposed and were easily returned to their three and two year seats respectively.
However, the meeting did not go off without a hitch, as a spreadsheet error included the expense for a plow truck but failed to show where that money was coming from. A number of fixes were proposed, including taking money from this year’s contribution to the Bridge Repair Fund or from the Highway Contingency Fund or even leaving the revenue line blank and hoping that good weather would create a highway surplus that would cover the $67,000 difference. In the end, voters decided to add the cost of the plow truck to the budget and increase taxes by the difference, about 3.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on property.
The Select Board also reduced the contributions to GNAT-TV — from $2,000 to $500 — and the Mountain Valley Medical Clinic — from $9,000 to zero. GNAT-TV records video of town meetings (including Tuesday’s meeting) for broadcast on Comcast Cable and streaming online. Board member Charles Goodwin said that the board questioned the GNAT request because its operation is funded by a fee on Comcast Cable bills and that anyone getting cable in Weston was being double-charged. The board also questioned the relative contribution of a small town like Weston compared to one of the larger town.
GNAT Executive Director Tammie Reilly said that 4 percent of the Weston households subscribe to GNAT-TV and that by law Comcast has to provide public access television as part of its cable franchise. In turn, GNAT arranges to cover public meeting in the seven towns it covers and requests (and receives) $2,000 from each to cover the cost of paying the videographer to shoot the meetings. She added that GNAT covered 40 meetings in Weston last year.
Moderator Wayne Granquist gave the meeting the opportunity to revise the amount, but no one made a motion.
The clinic request was a different matter, with several people saying that the money given in years past was to offset uncompensated care to local residents. With its new relationship to Springfield Medical Care Systems, those expenses are covered and the clinic would like to review and revisit the request next spring.
Grafton voters also passed both the $35,000 appropriation for the Fire Apparatus Replacement Fund and an additional $40,112 to close the gap in buying a new tanker. The 1986 tanker is considered dangerous to drive.
Recognizing the time and work put into being a Select Board member, Inn at Weston owner Linda Aldrich suggested raising members’ annual salary from $1,200 to $2,500 and the crowd agreed.
In the end, the voters approved a general fund of $529,107 with $385,468 coming from taxes and a highway fund of $868,399 with $598,335 coming from taxes.
Under the final article, there was discussion of protection against burglaries and other crime and a call for greater enforcement of speed limits in the village. In one of the meeting’s many light moments, a voter suggested pointing hair dryers at traffic to make drivers think their speed is being checked.
Here are the Weston officials and their positions:
- Moderator for a one-year term – Wayne Granquist
- Town Clerk for a one-year term – Kim Seymour
- Town Treasurer for a one-year term – Kim Seymour
- Select Board to a three-year term – Denis Benson
- Select Board to a two-year term – Bruce Downer
- Lister to a three-year term – Howard Brosseau
- Lister to a two-year term – vacant
- Town Constable to a one-year term – Almon Crandall
- Second Town Constable to a one-year term – vacant
- Collector of Delinquent Taxes to a one-year term – Sandra Goodwin
- Town Grand Juror to a one-year term – Wayne Granquist
- Town Agent to a one-year term – James “Lexi” Young
- School Director for the RED District to a three-year term – Debra Lyneis
- Library Trustee to a five-year term – Deborah Granquist
- Library Trustee to a five-year term – Joann Prouty
- Trustee of Public Funds to a three-year term – Ronald Prouty
- Cemetery Commissioner for a five-year term – Raymond Heberts
About the Author: Shawn Cunningham has written a number of subjects -- from food and wine to film, history, politics, zoning and development -- for the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, Museum News, The Westsider, The Chelsea/Clinton News, Menckeniana, Films in Review and the East Village Eye.