Londonderry board chair Ameden steps down

By Christopher Biddle
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Longtime Londonderry Select Board member and current chairman Jim Ameden, announced on Monday that due to a family emergency he will be resigning from his post effective May 24.

Select Board chair Jim Ameden signs the VSP contract for 25 hours of patrol a week.

Londonderry Select Board chair Jim Ameden is stepping down. Telegraph file photo.

“Due to a turn of events with my family, the time that I foresee it’s going to take me and my family and I to get through this, I think it’s in my best interest to step down from the Select Board,” said Ameden. With visible emotion, Ameden added, “This is very hard for me to do.” Ameden was elected as Town Constable at age 20, and has served the town in one form or another since then. He is also Chief of the Phoenix Fire Company.

Members of the board expressed appreciation for Ameden’s commitment to the town and hoped that he would return to the board. At first, Ameden said that he wanted the board to add an article to the May 23 special meeting to elect a new member until the 2017 Town Meeting, at which point the position would be up for election. However Town Clerk Kelly Pajala pointed out that legally, if the town elected a new member at the special meeting, that person would hold the position for the full term, which ends in 2018.

In an effort to allow Ameden the opportunity to return, the board decided that it would appoint a new member to serve until next year’s town meeting. At that point if Ameden wanted to run to regain his seat, he could. Board member Steve Prouty, who was first to voice the opinion that the board should appoint an interim fill-in, said to Ameden, “I want to give you every chance I can to bring you back.”

In other news

The board signed a Local Emergency Operations Plan submitted by Kevin Beattie, Londonderry’s Emergency Management director. The plan designates who is in charge of functions like emergency management, fire and shelters and where there are high risk populations and vulnerable areas. The document also lists the town’s resources for dealing with a disaster.

Road Foreman Duane Hart told the board that the Vermont Occupational Hazard Safety Administration is adding 16 compliance officers to what had previously been a roster of just four. When asked if he thinks the town has anything to worry about, Hart said, “I think we have some work to do,” adding that policies needed to be put in place in terms of the town’s Work Safe Plan. Beattie added that training programs are also needed.

The board also appointed Sharon Crossman as the new interim Zoning Administrator for 60 days to fill in while the town looks for someone to replace Paul Dexter who resigned earlier this year.

The board chose May 17 for an informational meeting about the purchase of land adjacent to the town’s transfer station. Board member Paul Gordon laid out the arguments for the land purchase, which had originally been presented at the Town Meeting in March. The original article was amended to just a $10,000 expenditure for feasibility and environmental studies, before a petition to reconsider the amended article called for a special meeting. The reconsideration vote will take place on Monday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall on Middletown Road.

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About the Author: Christopher Biddle is a journalist, radio DJ and lifelong Vermonter. He hosts the 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday Rewind show on 102.7 WEQX. In addition to The Chester Telegraph and The Mountain Times he has written for other local publications. His audio work includes stories for VPR and Slate Magazine's podcast network. He collects VHS tapes and knows how to use a chainsaw.

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