Grafton Select Board updated on break-ins, drug use

By Mark Burbela
©The Chester Telegraph – 2014

The Grafton Select Board met Tuesday Sept. 2 to discuss local crime and getting more publicity for its town-maintained covered bridge.

Capt. Robert Lakin of the Windham County Sheriff’s department was to lead a discussion on narcotics use, local crime connected to narcotics and how communities are affected. Lakin was unable to attend but updated Select Board member Sam Battaglino about drug usage and community awareness.  Battaglino told the 15 residents in attendance that Lakin was concerned over a rise in the use of nitrous oxide, commonly found in whip cream cans and called “whip its,” and the use of “bath salts.”

People are inhaling the gas in pressurized cans, which cuts off oxygen to the brain, causing a short-lived high but effectively suffocating the brain. “Bath salts” are not the traditional bath salts based on Epsom salt. Instead, they contain the man-made chemical mephedrone. People are smoking, swallowing, snorting and injecting these compounds, which are labeled “Not for human consumption.” These products are often sold as glass smoking device cleaners, plant food and insect repellant. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of calls to poison centers concerning “bath salts” rose from 304 in 2010 to 6,138 in 2011.

Lakin, according to Battaglino, said that there have been a number of break-ins and burglaries in Grafton and encouraged residents to report suspicious behavior. Lakin also encouraged people to report possible crimes even if they have outstanding warrants against them, Battaglino said, adding that Lakin said that, “If you report a crime and have warrants, we will not arrest you or take action against you.” The emergency number for the Windham Sheriff’s department is 802-365-4949 or call 911. For non-emergency calls use 802-365-4941.

Publicity for covered bridge

Kidder Hill Road Covered Bridge. Photo by Joe Nelson, 1997. Vermont Covered Bridge Society.

Kidder Hill Road Covered Bridge. Photo by Joe Nelson, 1997. Vermont Covered Bridge Society.

The Select Board also voted unanimously to agree to a request by the Vermont Covered Bridge Society, which asked permission to put Grafton’s 1870 covered bridge — on Kidder Hill Road across the South Branch of the Saxtons River — on its website.

The Select Board agreed that listing the bridge could potentially draw money into Grafton through tourism. The board also thought other Grafton businesses could gain revenue through and increased number of visitors.

UPDATE: In speaking with Joe Nelson of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society on Wednesday afternoon, he stated that all the state’s bridges have been on its website, which dates to 2000.  Instead, he said, he was asking for permission to place a laminated 4 inch by 4 inch QR code on the bridge to allow visitors with I-Phones to easily access the society’s website, which will then have a link to the town’s official website at the beneath the bridge’s photo.

He states that he has received permission to place the QR codes at five bridges thus far.

Junk ordinance referendum

There will be a special meeting at the Grafton elementary school at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24,  for Grafton voters to vote up or down on the newly passed junk ordinance, which was petitioned to referendum. The ordinance limits the number of unregistered vehicles stored at residences and lists regulations concerning where and how personal property can be stored. The ordinance also contains regulations regarding fences or other viable options to hide junk from neighbors and major roadways.

The next Grafton Select Board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 15, also at Grafton Elementary School.

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