Chester to host Red Nose Day May 26; Hearse House rehab progresses

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Red Nose SB1

The Gilberts present honorary red noses to Town Manager David Pisha and members of the Chester Select Board. Standing, from left, Pisha, Carol Gilbert, Dan Cote, Townsend Gilbert and Arne Jonynas. Seated, John DeBenedetti and Ben Whalen

There are red letter days and red flag days, but having gotten the approval of the Chester Select Board to hold a walkathon on The Green at the April 20 meeting, a group of local volunteers will bring a “Red Nose Day” to town next month.

Going once again before the board — and again sporting a bulbous  red nose — Townsend Gilbert said that he had spoken with Police Chief Rick Cloud about safety issues and had gotten the go-ahead  requested by the board at its April 6 meeting.

Gilbert told the board that the event would raise money for children in need through pledges and donations to those walking around The Green.

Chester’s version of this international fundraising event will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 26. Participants will walk counterclockwise around The Green and cones will be placed along Main Street to give walkers a safe path. Gilbert also said that participants must have red noses to walk and that they were available for $1 each, which supports the international organization. Some noses will be donated for kids to participate, including 60 noses that were  purchased by Route 103 Auto.

The Select Board voted to approve the use of The Green for the event and, to seal the deal, Carol Gilbert, a guardian ad litem for almost three dozen youths, handed out noses to Town Manager David Pisha and the Select Board and invited them to participate.

Conflict of interest seminar; Hearse House update; antique fire equipment

Pisha told the board that Vermont League of Cities and Towns attorney Garrett Baxter is available on the week of May 16 to conduct a training seminar on conflict of interest. The board had requested the seminar ahead of crafting a conflict of interest policy.

Currently there is only a conflict of interest policy for the Development Review Board although there is a draft policy in the works for town employees. The board scheduled a training session with Baxter for 7 p.m. Thursday May, 19 at Town Hall. The training is an open meeting and members of the public are welcome to attend.

willis hearse house

Lillian Willis of Chester Townscape talks about the progress of the Hearse House restoration.

Lillian Willis of Chester Townscape brought the board up to date on progress in the restoration of the Hearse House at the Brookside Cemetery. According to Willis, work has begun on righting the building, which was leaning, and said the organization has raised enough money to complete the project and to add a foyer with an educational component to the building that would give visitors a information about the town hearse, funeral customs and the cemetery.

The foyer will be constructed by Pete Newton, a local carpenter, using boards to replicate the interior of the building with safety glass panels.

Willis asked the board for the town’s permission to demolish the existing concrete floor  pour concrete over the old floor, which has settled and slopes — and replace it with a new floor. A concrete panel containing the initials of select board members who were present when the current floor was poured will be saved and displayed in the new exhibit. Select Board members told Willis that this was a positive development and approved her requests.

Tom Hildreth told the the board that preparations for this summer’s celebration of the 1766 New York Charter are coming along well, but asked if the board had given any further consideration to an appropriation for the event. Hildreth said he would feel much more comfortable in planning the event if there were funds to back it up. Members recalled discussing $3,000 when they made the celebration an official town event and Pisha told the board he would find that amount in the budget.

Pisha also told the board that he had been looking into storage venues for the historic fire equipment now housed in the Yosemite Fire House. Pisha said that two storage rooms (one 10 feet by 30 feet and another 10 by 20) were currently available at the Burtco facility behind the Heritage Deli. These would cost about $300 per month and Pisha urged the board to move quickly before the rooms are rented out.  Board members noted that the Chester Historical Society is voting on a plan for disposing of the building on April 28 and it might be prudent to wait until that plan is unveiled.

In other action

Pisha told the board that surveyor Deb Daniels has been working on a design for the new section of the Brookside Cemetery and he expects that she will bring her recommendations to the next board meeting.

Within the renewal of the entertainment permit for Pizza Stone was the addition of Tuesday to the allowed schedule. Owner Darlene Doane said that she had made arrangements with River Valley Technical Center to have students in its programs run sound and lighting for shows on those nights. The Select Board noted that the schedule of entertainment nights was set by the Development Review Board and the Select Board was hesitant to change them. Board chair John DeBenedetti suggested that Doane apply for an amendment to the Pizza Stone’s conditional use permit.

During the public comment portion of the meeting Ron Patch, president of the Chester Historical Society,  objected to statements made at the previous meeting with regard to the 15-year lease for the Academy Building.  Patch said that he was not part of the group at the time and that he thought it was unfair of board member Dan Cote “to imply that the previous select board did some impropriety.”

Patch said the general consensus among his members was that the comments were an attempt to void the lease with the historical society. But he said that the group had been “good stewards” of town property, installing a $3,000 alarm system and four dehumidifiers. He added that he thought there should be a 25-year lease without the $1 per year payment. Patch also said that a remark about being held hostage by one individual was unfair, since there is a seven member board that makes decisions for the group. Cote said that he has done nothing but support the group.


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