Weston board chair: Town’s quaint identity imperiled

Chair Denis Benson wants the board to consider the regulations it is asked to create. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

At the Weston Select Board meeting on Tuesday Oct. 24, chairman Denis Benson said the town is at a crossroads and gave the board two weeks to consider his thoughts. Benson said Weston is heading down a road to losing its identity as a quaint, rural town.

He added that as people move in from other areas, they want to apply rules and regulations from elsewhere to Weston. Benson said that, at the next meeting, the board will “decide whether we want to start doing every little thing we can do to create more rules and regulations or kinda go back to where — if a person’s got problems — they work it out with their neighbors and do not get the town involved.”

Board member Charles Goodwin then asked about the town borrowing a speed cart from the state, which would tell drivers the speed they are traveling and prompt them to slow down.

Benson cut off that discussion by saying that this is what he was referring about new rules and regulations. The discussion was rekindled later by resident Donald Hart, who said that Chester has at least two signs mounted on poles that display a vehicle’s speed and suggested some information about price and availability could be obtained from the town of Chester. Board member Jim Linville said they cost about $5,000 to purchase.

Linville also said that speed carts can be borrowed from the state for free. Benson said to check with zoning, as neon and flashing lights are prohibited in town. Board member Ann Fuji’i asked if any information was recorded to “give use an idea if it is effective or not.” Linville said some kind of before and after data would need to be collected to know if they are effective or not. Town Administrator Cheryl Barker will ask Marc Pickering if speed carts record speed information.

17-acre parcel sold, health coverage changed

Bids were opened for a 17-acre parcel that Weston had obtained in 1982 for back taxes. The board was unable to locate the descendants of the previous owner. Two adjoining land owners bid $5,000 and $4,000 for the parcel. The board awarded the land to David DiDomenico representing Piper Hill Farm LLC for the higher bid.

Mary Rita Batesole explains town insurance changes.

Fuji’i asked for some action on repairs to the leak in the roof of the town garage. Linville said the year-long delay was because the board wanted to be sure that any roof would be compatible with the installation of solar panels, should the town decide to add them at some point. The board voted to give the roofing job to Fred Watkins Building and Remodeling, who submitted the low bid of $42,482. Fuji’i said the money has been budgeted.

Based on the advice of Northern Benefits insurance agent Mary Rita Batesole, the Weston Select Board agreed to change insurance companies for its four employees from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to MVP starting Jan. 1, 2018. Blue Cross/Blue Shied raised its rates 9 percent and its maximum out-of-pocket expenses by $250 to $2,750 for individuals and by $500 to $5,500 for families.

Batesole said this was because BC/BS has had 80 percent of the insurance market in Vermont and has been paying a lot of claims. MVP, with 20 percent of the market, raised its rates less than 1 percent and has lowered its maximum out-of-pocket expenses, she said. Also, MVP has partnered with Cigna to provide a broader base of in-network providers.

When previous Green-Up coordinator Kirby Foster moved out of town, Town Treasurer Kim Seymour volunteered to take the post, to which the board agreed.

While the board was looking over the current state of the town finances,  Seymour said the budget was “appropriately under budget” for this time of year.

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  1. Marie says:

    I agree with Dennis benson as well. I grew up in Weston great neighbors and friends. Always helping each other. It should stay the same as years ago small town Vermont.i live in Chester know and there letting out of towers run the town. Yes Chester has grown but sure is not the same right down to the police where they helped you get home from a fun night out with friends today they slap you dwi . What’s happening to caring people !

  2. Sue says:

    The only constant is change. One can choose to be proactive about change and create an opportunity to thoughtfully shape their future in the process or one can be reactive to change, burying their head in the sand until forced to address the issue.

    I find Mr. Benson’s comments disappointing. Not all proposed changes or ideas are inherently bad or will have the effect of changing the quaintness of the town, which is unlikely anyone’s intent. But I expect my elected officials to be willing to hear out ideas and proposals, carefully consider them and make an appropriate decision.

    It is unfair to ask the other Select Board members to skip that process or worse, pre-agree the town’s answer will always be no to a proposal or new idea. Each idea should be reviewed on its merits.

  3. Stephen M. Burns says:

    I can certainly relate with Mr. Benson’s comments concerning how Weston used to be, especially where it relates to working things out with your neighbors.

    I was very fortunate to live in Weston back in 1963 up on Piper Hill road at Albert DeCell’s farmhouse. The following year my family moved to Chester. Even though I was very young at the time, I have never forgotten the wonder of the Weston area, because you could see almost all of it from that point.

    Looking down from that mountain you could see fields full of deer every late afternoon. The first people I had the opportunity to meet was Albert and his son Greg. And, as time went on I, was able to meet someone who was a member of most of the families in town. I have never forgotten the town of Weston and the people who were born and raised there.

    I very much hope the town of Weston does not veer to far from its roots because it was build from its families and friends who were also there neighbors.

    You have something very special there. Try your best not to see it become a thing of the past.