Prouty legacy continues on Derry Select Board; VSP cuts coverage, contract downsized

Taylor Prouty represents the third generation of Proutys to serve on the Select Board. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

For the first time in recent memory, the voters of Londonderry completed all its business during Town Meeting before taking a lunch break on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the quick meeting, of note was the fact that Taylor Prouty will be continuing the legacy of his grandfather and father on the Select Board. He was elected without opposition to complete the remaining one year of the three-year term left when chair Paul Gordon moved.

Prouty’s father, Steve, served on the Select Board from 2011 until his death in February 2017. Steve’s father, Clyde, served on the board from 1975 until 2011. And for many years, both served the town in other capacities.

Prouty told The Telegraph that, given his long residence in Londonderry and his family’s tradition of service, he is interested in giving back to the town and community and is looking forward to working with the board. He did not speak at the meeting before being elected.

Board member Robert Forbes was elected to a two-year position. He had been appointed last year to fill Will Reed’s two-year position after Reed resigned. Forbes has been especially active overseeing the building of a salt and sand shed on the Prouty Land.

Tom Cavanagh was elected to a three-year position, after being elected last year to fill out one year of Bill Wiley’s three-year term. Wiley resigned last year. Cavanagh has been liaison between the board and the Transfer Station.

State Rep. Kelly Pajala answers questions from the audience.

In other elected positions, Doug Friant was elected Moderator for the second year. Debra O’Leary was re-elected as a Lister for a three-year term. Roger Sheehan was re-elected as the First Constable for a one-year term. Town Clerk Kelly Pajala nominated Nick Doane as Second Constable for a one-year term, for which he was approved on voice vote. Peter Pagnucco will continue as Town Grand Juror and Alex Alexander as Town Agent, after Sharon Crossman refused her nomination. Melvin Twitchell was re-elected to a five-year term as Cemetery Commissioner. Pauline Davison was reelected to a three-year term as a Trustee of Public Funds and Margot Wright was re-elected to a three-year term as a Trustee of the South Londonderry Library Association.

The only paper ballot was for the Collector of Delinquent Taxes with Assistant Town Clerk Tammy Geist Long challenging incumbent Joan Dayton, which Dayton won with 72 votes to 42 for Long. Every article passed, with one amount being modified.

No positions were open on the Mountain Town RED Board, which will disband on July 1 when the Taconic and Green Regional School District takes over control of Flood Brook and four other elementary schools.

VSP contract slashed with news of coverage cut

The modified amount was for coverage by the Vermont State Police, after VSP Lt. Anthony French recently told the town it can only commit eight hours a week to extra patrol coverage in the coming year. So, instead of $86,000, the contract was changed to $40,000. At $65 an hour, this amounts to about $28,000 for the year. But during Monday night’s regular board meeting, it was agreed that the board would ask for a cushion of $12,000 in case the VSP is able to provide more coverage.

Select Board chair Jim Ameden told voters he believes added VSP patrols have helped curb crime as Town Treasurer Tina Labeau looks on.

The previous two years, the contract was for VSP to provide 25 hours a week of coverage over and above regular patrols, with the town paying only for hours worked. But this past year, Treasurer Tina Labeau said, patrols averaged 18 hours a week. In response to questions about the effectiveness of the patrols and their effect on the opioid problem, Select Board chair Jim Ameden said the board thinks it has made a difference. Marge Fish, a member of the original policing committee, said that the patrols have at least cleaned up public areas such as the shopping center and Pingree Park from drug deals.

Friant broke into two parts Article 13, which asks to see how much the Town will raise for a General Fund, since this year Londonderry is transitioning to a fiscal year of July 1 to June 30. Approved for the six months from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2018 was $750,163. Over the past five years, the town has been saving $500,000 to help cover this expense. Labeau said other funds will make up the difference. These include income for the Transfer Station and highway funds.

Approved for the new fiscal year of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 was a budget of $1,179,855.01. A motion to round up to an even $1,780,000.00 was rejected.

A presentation from Alex Beck, the Workforce and Education Manager for the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies persuaded the town meeting to give the organization a chance to prove itself. A sum of $2,500 was approved for SeVEDS instead of the $5,307 requested. Beck said that regardless of the amount approved, the organization will continue to work with area youth, workers and employers to improve economic opportunities. The town did not financially support SeVEDS the past two years.

Bromley Observation Tower fund to get $5,000

Marge Fish addresses the Bromley Observation Tower.

A division of the house, when voters for and against an issue stand to be counted, was needed before $5,000 was approved for a one-time appropriation to the Bromley Observation Tower fund. Green Mountain Club President Marge Fish said the club had maintained the previous wooden tower for 15 years before it deteriorated so much it had to be removed. It had stood for 35 years with no maintenance. Fish said the new tower will be on state forestry land. The new steel tower will be state owned and maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

After some questions about the need to trust the Select Board to make wise financial decisions, the establishment of a Town Buildings Reserve Fund was approved, along with $100,000 for it. The fund will be used for maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement of town buildings, most particularly the old Town Hall and the Twitchell Building, according to Ameden.

In less controversial action, $1,000 was voted for the Londonderry Conservation Fund, $20,000  for the Champion Fire Company #5 Inc., $6,000 for the Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad and $10,000 for the South Londonderry Library Association.  Exemption from property tax was extended to the Second Congregational Parsonage.

Nay voters stand to take another count on the Bromley tower.

Also, $120,000 was approved for the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund. Labeau said a total of $440,000 has been raised in the past four years. Ameden said this went to a new plow truck and a loader for the new salt and sand shed, with some money still in the fund.

Finally, the town meeting agreed to raise the sum of $28,945, without debate, for the following organizations:
American Red Cross: $500
Flood Brook Athletic Association: $2,500
Grace Cottage Foundation: $750
Greater Northshire Access TV: $2,000
Green Mountain RSVP: $415
Green Up Vermont: $100
Health Care & Rehabilitation Services: $1,513
Londonderry 4th of July: $1,000
Neighborhood Connections: $5,000
Senior Solutions: $850
SEVCA: $1,700
Southeast Vermont Watershed Alliance: $410
The Collaborative: $1,000
Valley Cares: $2,742
Visiting Nurse Assoc. of VT & NH: $7,000
Vermont Rural Fire Protection: $100
Windham County Historical Society: $250
Windham County Youth Services: $315
Women’s Freedom Center: $800

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