Furnace, wall replacement, chimney repairs in store for Weston

By Sophia Veltrop and Cynthia Prairie
©The Chester Telegraph — 2014

At its Tuesday, Oct. 14 meeting, the Weston Select Board decided to contract with Piper Hill Plumbing and Heating to install a new dual oil/wood furnace in the town garage, repair the chimney at the Wilder Memorial Library, continue working on an employee policy and switch to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Gold policy plan for town employees, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Two companies had bid on the town garage furnace proposal, both offering a combination oil/wood furnace: HB Energy Solutions bid $12,570; Piper Hill Plumbing and Heating bid $7,628.  The Select Board decided to grant the bid to Piper Hill, pending clearing up some confusion as to whether each proposal has met BTU requirements from earlier recommendations.

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Cover and inside photo by Beth C. Bryan http://unskinnyboppy.com. Effects by Cynthia Prairie

The Select Board also discussed proposals to replace the stone wall along Lawrence Hill Road.

Hill Construction submitted two proposals. Both would be a traditional hand-stacked wall from stones blasted out during the winter. It would have a base of large stones on the bottom, moving to smaller stones at the top. The first would cost $330,000 and would close the road for the duration of the project, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 1, 2015. The second would cost $377,000 and keep one-way traffic along Lawrence Road open for as long as possible. The approximate end date for this proposal is Oct. 1. Gurney Brothers Inc. submitted a proposal using guillotined wall stone that would cost $359,000 and is targeted to start in early April 2015 and end by July 4, 2015.

Select Board members want the project to be completed before the July 4 holiday, and asked stone mason and landscape architect Scott Wunderle, who is representing Hill Construction, why its proposals would take so long. Wunderle said that the stone would be blasted out over the winter, then would have to be graded from small to large.  “It’s important to the integrity and look of the wall,” he said, adding that “It’s (also) weather-contingent” and it has to be done by hand, in the open.

The Select Board did seem concerned, however,  that Gurney Brothers’ guillotined wall stone may sacrifice the natural aesthetics of the wall, which — along with a rapid completion — has been a priority of the board. Wunderle told the board that while his plan would cause inconvenience for a number of months, it would also be the look that the town could be proud of for several hundred years. The board recessed this portion of the meeting to discuss the appearance of the wall proposals at a subsequent meeting.

  • In other action, Wilder Memorial librarian Kerri MacLaury told the board that the library’s chimney is in need of repair. Vermont Master Chimney Sweep, she said, inspected the chimney and found it out of code, with an unlined flue, a busted thimble and a possible back draft of carbon monoxide. The cost estimate was $2,360. The Select Board agreed that this needed immediate attention and unanimously approved the allocation. Select Board chair Denis Benson asked that the cost be written into the 2015 budget.
  • The health insurance plan for employees will be kept through December, then transferred to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Standard Gold Plan for 2015. This new plan most closely resembles the old health insurance plan.
  • Finally, the Select Board discussed creating a personnel policy that would set rules for how town jobs are paid. This discussion was prompted earlier in 2014 when two employees of the town contested their salaries and requested that the Select Board write a clear policy for how town employees shall be compensated. Select Board member Betty Currie said she believes that the process of writing such a policy is too complicated to pursue. But member Ann Fujii stated that despite complications, it is the board’s duty to create a policy as requested by town citizens. Currie will send drafts of similar policies to Fujii, so that the board can review and learn more about related policies.

The next Weston Select Board regular meeting will be held at the Town Hall, 12 Lawrence Hill, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28.

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