Mora, Ameden, Cavanaugh win Derry board seats; police contract renewed, salt shed gets voter approval

The new Londonderry Select Board, from left, George Mora, Tom Cavanaugh, Will Reed, Jim Ameden and Paul Gordon. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Attracting more votes than any other candidate, George Mora was elected to the Londonderry Select Board during Town Meeting on Tuesday March 7.

In a face-off with Chad Stoddard for the two-year position vacated by Wayne Blanchard, Mora tallied 125 votes to Stoddard’s 65. Former board chair James Ameden received 109 votes while Emmett Dunbar garnered 79  in paper balloting to decide who would fill the three-year position left open when chair Steve Prouty died on Feb. 6.

Town Clerk Kelly Pajala offers a tribute to the late Steve and Clyde Prouty.

Tom Cavanagh finally locked up 114 votes to Cathy Aragi’s 63 in the fourth paper balloting of the day. But that was only after, in the third ballotting, he came within two votes of the majority needed to win the seat against both Aragi and Dunbar, who had been nominated after he lost against Ameden.  In that vote, Cavanagh got 92 votes, Aragi 52 and Dunbar 40. But 94 votes were needed for a majority and two ballots were spoiled. Dunbar then withdrew his nomination and Cavanagh won.

Cavanagh now takes the one-year seat vacated last spring when Ameden stepped down to take care of family matters. Bill Wylie was appointed to the position on June 20, to serve until Tuesday’s vote. Wylie chose not to seek a full term, in part, he said, because the work load is much higher than when he was on the board many years ago.

Also Town Clerk Kelly Pajala offered an emotional tribute to Steve Prouty and his father Clyde, both of whom died within three weeks of each other and both of whom gave years of service to Londonderry. Pajala said Steve Prouty “decided to serve until he couldn’t serve anymore” and she admired his “stubborn determination.”

State Police patrols to continue; salt/sand shed approved

After a spirited discussion about the value to the town of  the $86,000-a-year contract for 25 hours a week of Vermont State Police patrols, Londonderry voters approved extending the contract another year  on a voice vote.

Select Board member Paul Gordon explains the history of the need of the salt and sand shed.

Bill Wylie objected to the funding, finding only one drug arrest from a Windham County police report and said the town should put the money to better uses. One resident complained about a VSP officer who said the “200 rounds” she had heard shot off the night before, “was probably a poacher.” Emily Underwood, a caretaker, said she cannot enter homes with a burglar alarm sounding until the State Police arrived, which can take up to 90 minutes. And Stewart Oslow said he thought that members of the town’s policing committee were defending the police, but not justifying their presence.

But Rachel Feebie said that two or three years ago, she was leaving Pingree Park  with her two young children when a man who was smoking a cigarette “growled” at her. In the past year, she said, she has not  seen that kind of presence at the park.

Hillary Bachelor of Under the Mountain Road added that she has seen an increased police presence on her road. Laurie Mullen agreed, noting a decrease in drug deals on her road. Carol Dryden said that she felt that “maybe all this presence has deterred people. I think the $86,000 is well spent.”

Salt and sand

Ameden asked why Article 9 was increased by $20,000 to $120,000 for the Highway Equipment Reserve Fund. Board member Paul Gordon said that a grader and a new truck were purchased last year and two more trucks will soon need replacing. The board, Gordon said, determined that $120,000 is needed every year to be able to replace aging equipment on the timetable it has established.

Despite questions about the size of the salt and sand shed and the added expense of keeping sand under cover, the town approved on a voice vote to “a sum not to exceed $200,000 for a Salt/Sand shed to be constructed on the Prouty Land.” Of the total, $160,000 will be financed, leaving $40,000 to come out of current taxes.

The shed was needed after the state last year ended its arrangement with the town to store road salt and sand at its facility in Londonderry. The new building will be a 42-foot by 80-foot wood-frame structure with a metal covering. It will hold about a third of the town’s annual salt supply.  Following Tuesday’s approval, the building will go out to bid, starting with engineering and design work.

Public Works director eliminated

Jim Ameden objects to another full time position in town government.

With Ameden stating that he did not doesn’t “think we need another full-time position,” and several amendments to a motion from Bob Forbes to reduce the budget, the town, on a voice vote, eliminated the position of Public Works director.

But board member Will Reed had argued that additional grants obtained by a full time Public Works director would offset the $63,000 position. The salary and time would have been split between highway supervision and grant writing and follow-up, supervision at the transfer station, and maintenance of town properties.

Votes on other articles led to several more actions.

  • Kelly Pajala will continue as Town Clerk and Tina Labeau as Treasurer. Both are three-year terms.
  • Laurie Kroos Mullen was reelected to a five-year term as a Cemetery Commissioner.
  • Katherine Mosenthal was reelected to a three-year term as a Trustee of Public Funds.
  • After initially stepping down, Charles Cave was voted in to a three-year term on the Mountain Towns RED Board. Stewart Osnow and Bruce Frauman accepted nominations for the RED board and were approved by the town meeting. If the Taconic and Green School Distict is approved, these three will serve for one transition year on the RED Board.

For one-year terms:

  • Geoff Long was voted in as a lister after having been appointed to replace Dodie Crossman.
  • Roger Sherman will remain First Constable.
  • Nick Doane will remain Second Constable.
  • Joan Dayton retained her position as Delinquent Tax Collector.
  • Peter Pagnucco was voted in again as Town Grand Juror.
  • Houston Huzon Alexander III will replace Doug Friant, who is the new Town Moderator, as Town Agent.
  • The Town of Londonderry voted to renew the exemption from property taxes  for five years for two Champion Fire buildings, the Phoenix Fire Building and the Londonderry Rescue Squad Building.

And finally, toward the beginning of the meeting, Elise Smith, a board member of the Mountain Valley Medical Clinic, read a letter asking the town to eliminate its request for a $26,000 appropriation to help defray costs of uncompensated care. Springfield Hospital now owns the clinic and is responsible for funding uncompensated care.

John Barry, consulting with Labeau, read a letter from the Select Board to organizations seeking funding that stated that IRS form 990 was required. All but five submitted this form for non-profit organizations. After some discussion, the vote was to raise the sum of $67,900 minus $26,000 for the clinic. The five organizations will be asked to submit a 990 before checks are written to them. Pajala noted that the Londonderry 4th of July operates under the town’s authority.

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  1. courtney mitchell says:

    I am not impressed by my tax dollars going to police presence that is not there. I could not attend town meeting due to being gainfully employed. However, I had an incident where I called 911 and it took over 2 hours for an officer to get to me, I could have been killed that night but luckily I wasn’t. This is absurd.