Squeaker of a write-in contest for Grafton Select Board; sale of Town Garage OK’d

It was a quite day during Australian balloting in Grafton on Tuesday. Photos by Shawn Cunningham. Click photos to enlarge.

It was a quiet day during Australian balloting in Grafton on Tuesday. Photos by Shawn Cunningham. Click photos to enlarge.

It was a quiet day for Grafton officials as voters met at the Grafton Elementary School Tuesday for a less than hourlong Town Meeting, then sporadic visitation during daylong Australian balloting.

The Grafton Select Board will have a new member with the write-in candidacy of Ron Pilette, who won a tight race 69 to 67 over another write-in candidate, Al Sands. He replaces Peter Jeziorski, who did not seek re-election. Three other races had write-in winners, but without contested elections. They are Rod Lawrence, who received 37 votes for a three-year term as Grafton Town School District director; and Jack Bryar, who received 25 votes for a two-year term as Grafton Town School District director. Bryar also got 33 write-in votes for a one-year term as director for the Bellows Falls Union High School.

Ten positions were uncontested and their incumbents were re-elected. That list is at the bottom of the article.

Also by ballot, voters approved 115 to 47 the appropriation of $7.235 million for school maintenance for the Union High School District 27 and, in a 127 to 35 vote, approval of $2.7 million for River Valley Technical.

During Town Meeting, Grafton voters OK’d raising $139,000 for the capital budget (Article 4), broken down to $100,000 for equipment, $4,000 for guard rails, $10,000 for highway structures, $15,000 for a fire truck and $10,000 for Town Hall.

A Grafton voter picks up ballots around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

A Grafton voter picks up ballots around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Voters also approved Articles 5 through 10 that will apply “excess surplus” of $88,654 to the Capital Budget Equipment Reserve; raise $509,000 for highway and bridge maintenance; raise $206,139 for the select board’s budget; raise $9,000 for ambulance service; raise $23,000 for the Firemen’s Association operating expenses and $9,000 for the Grafton Rescue Squad operating expenses.

Article 11 – the humanitarian issues – were approved to set aside $674 for the Bellows Falls Senior Center, $600 for Health Care and Rehabilitation Services of Vermont, $100 for Parks Place, $650 for Senior Solutions, $650 for Southeastern Vermont Community Action, $105 for the Vermont Center for Independent Living; $1,000 for Grafton Cares, $2,300 for the Visiting Nurse Association, $1,052 for Valley Cares; $160 for RSVP, $250 for the Current bus services, $600 for the Women’s Freedom Center, $100 for Youth Services and $1,500 for Grace Cottage.

The Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, an organization that promotes economic development, sought $2,037, but lost on voice vote as it did in Londonderry – where it was “overwhelmingly defeated.” It had sought $5,300 from Londonderry voters. (Article12)

Voters also approved selling the Town Garage at 778 Route 121. That vote was 49 to 7. And they approved applying budget surplus of up to $100,000 to finance a new Town Garage, which will be placed on town property away from the Saxtons River. (Articles 15 and 16)

On a 59 to 3 vote, Grafton voters also approved the Athens/Grafton Joint Contract School District budget for K through 6th grade of $1.477 million including compensation of $500 for each director. And it approved raising $977,522 for educating its K through 8th grade students for one year beginning July 1, 2015. $750 was also allocated as compensation for the Town Treasurer in that article. (Article 18)

Uncontested races and their incumbents are: Gus Plummer in a two-year term as Select Board member; David Ross for moderator; Nancy Merrill for a three-year term as lister; Kimberly Record for a three-year term as Trustee of Public Funds and Trustee of the Campbell, Woolson Funds as well as a one-year term as town agent; Andrea Dunmire in a two-year term as public library trustee; Patricia Mack as auditor for three years; Kent Armstrong as town grand juror for one year; and Barbara Nolan in a two-year term as Grafton Town School director.

— Cynthia Prairie

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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