Heather Chase: Increase public participation in town government

Heather Chase2

Heather Chase

©2015-Telegraph Publishing LLC

Heather Chase is a Chester resident with four children. She is also a nurse and the owner of a small business, Corporate Lactation Services,
a company she founded in 1996 to “assist companies in creating environments and programs that would allow women to continue to breastfeed once they return to work,” according to ZoomInfo.

What do you see as the one or two biggest challenges facing the Town of Chester?

Chester, like most small towns in rural New England is experiencing a slow growth period; financial issues are a critical priority at this time.  As the grand list is not presently growing we have important competing financial needs to address in our community, including roads and safety, buildings and community betterments.

 Where do the biggest opportunities lie?

The biggest opportunities lie in Chester capitalizing upon what we already have, which is that we are one of the top 10 most beautiful Towns in Vermont.  It is essential to take care of our town infrastructure so that Chester continues to be a town in which people want to live, employers want to do business and tourists want to visit.

What would be your Top 3 priorities as a select board member for the next three years?

  •  First is to increase community participation in our government.
  • Second is to work within our region to capitalize on the sharing of available resources and expertise.
  • Third is the town water project, which will require a large financial investment and will need to be well planned so that the impact on the community will be efficient and beneficial.

Is there any role for town government to grow the grand list?  If so, what role? If not, why not?

The decisions made by the Select Board  do have an impact on the grand list.  For instance being a “business friendly board” working to maintain current business and to attract new business would create a positive atmosphere that Chester is a good place to live and operate a business.  If the infrastructure of the town is not well-maintained it could drive people away from Chester and thus the grand list would suffer.

What role, if any, should the town government take in promoting Chester and its businesses?

The Select Board can and does promote Chester and its businesses by working with the Springfield Regional Development Corp., the Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce, with groups such as Rotary and Chester Economic Development Corp. We need to recognize that Chester, as part of a larger region, will enjoy financial growth and be a good place to live and raise a family, as long as Chester residents have good employment and education opportunities within our town and around our region.

What role can town government take in slowing the rise or even reducing education taxes?

It would be most beneficial if the Select Board and town management meet with the school boards at Green Mountain Union High School and Chester-Andover Elementary School to discuss the impact of our school budgets on our education tax rate.  The town and the school districts will have tough decisions to make as all of us are involved with how our towns and the state pay for the costs of educating our children.

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