Office appointments, Fall Fest and ‘EV’ charging at special Chester board meeting

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With just three members present and an agenda shortened by last Wednesday’s snowstorm, the Chester Select Board’s special meeting on Thursday, March 15 was mostly housekeeping. Town attorney Jim Carroll’s visit to go over a list of legal questions was postponed again by snow, this time until April 5.

Since it was the first meeting after Town Meeting Day, Town Manager David Pisha opened the session and presided until Arne Jonynas was elected to the chair. The board then went on to re-appoint town officers including representatives to regional organizations. The only change from the appointed officers on page 3 of the town’s annual report is Jack Cable replacing Leon Spaulding as a Fence Viewer.

Board member Lee Gustafson questioned the need to have offices like Weigher of Coal and Inspector of Lumber, Shingles and Wood. Executive Assistant Julie Hance told the board that those offices were created by statute and getting rid of them would be more work than leaving them in place. She noted that while some positions have no function today, fence viewers can still handle fence-related disputes.

Fall Festival request

Nancy Davis, left, and Nancy Rugg request the use of the Green and Common Street for the Rotary’s Fall Festival in Sept. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Rotary members Nancy Davis and Nancy Rugg asked the board to approve the use of the town Green and Common Street for the 44th annual Chester Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday Sept. 15 and 16 as well as for set up on Friday evening Sept 14.

Jonynas speculated that the Fall Festival was is the biggest event in Chester each year.  avis and Rugg agreed that they had never seen so much traffic as last year and hoped that with good weather they could see another busy event. They also asked the town to contact The Current again this year to provide a bus to help move people to and from off-site parking.

Davis and Rugg also said that the event could use a few volunteers to help with the promotional efforts toward the end of August. Anyone wanting to “join the team” can contact them at

Before leaving, Rugg handed out invitations to the Rotary’s annual dinner and auction to be held at the Fullerton Inn at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24.  The event supports the scholarships that Rotary gives to Green Mountain High School seniors. Tickets can be reserved at the email address above and auction items can be seen at

The board approved the Rotary’s requests.

Electric car recharging, new antenna tower

Hance told the board that a last-minute opportunity had come up for a grant to build a charging station for electric vehicles and that she would need board members’ approval to apply for it. The idea of an EV charger was envisioned by the Village Center Master Plan.  The plan is to create overflow parking for the Green near Cobleigh Field, at the site of the old skating rink, which was replaced with a new one at the Pinnacle.

The grant is offered by the Division of Community Planning and Revitalization, which is in the state Department of Housing and Community Development and is aimed at Designated Downtowns and Village Centers. Chester is a Designated Village Center. According to Gary Holloway who administers the application process, there is a maximum of $20,885 available in this round and towns must provide a 25 percent match – either in cash or in-kind services.

Board members, who were generally supportive, noted that the nearest station is in Springfield. But they asked a number of questions about how the station would operate. Hance said it would be a Level-2 station that would fully charge a car in 3 to 4 hours. A Level-1 charger will do it in about half an hour, but would be a much more expensive rig to build and operate. Hance said that the Level-2 charger could be installed by a local electrician.

The idea is to have a setup for charging two cars at the same time and, while they wait, the cars’ owners could visit the Green and other parts of town. Hance noted that the grant would also pay for signage to direct drivers to the charger.

The board wanted to know who pays for the electricity, and Hance told them that – at least in the beginning – it would be more expensive to install the technology to receive payments than to give the electricity away. A consultant told the town that the cost would be as little as $50 per month at a low level of use.

It was suggested that the construction include an electric meter so the town could isolate the usage to decide when charging for the power would make sense. Hance said that there is a Green Mountain Power program that might be used to match the grant. She added that town employees can do the site work, which would go toward the match.

The board approved the application for the charger, which was due on March 19 with a decision around April 23. If awarded, the project would have to be completed by Nov. 23, 2018.

New cell/radio tower nears completion

The original US Cellular tower on the right with the larger new tower on the left.

Pisha told the board that the new AT&T contract for using the town’s tower behind the Pinnacle is a benefit for the town. The previous contract – from 1997 – had no provision for raising the annual rent of $6,000, but the new agreement starts at $11,000 per year and goes up 3 percent per year for 20 years.

In the past, cellular companies and others have vied for space on the tower, which US Cellular built for the town 20 or more years ago in return for free rent. As the tower reached the limit of the equipment it could carry, the Vermont Electric Co-operative offered to build a new tower, about 10 feet taller than the older one,  for its equipment. The new tower provides more weight capacity for additional cellular and radio tenants. The new tower will also help improve radio communications for town departments including police, fire, ambulance and highway.

Ownership of Yosemite nears

Pisha told the board that Jim Carroll’s quiet title action to establish the town’s ownership of the Yosemite Fire House has been approved by the judge, but that there are still some steps – including advertising the decision – before the town’s title to the property is final.

If snow holds off long enough for Carroll to make the April 5  April 4 meeting, he will brief the board on issues including a draft junk yard ordinance, an opinion on how to form a budget committee and questions on how a zoning administrator can be evaluated and supervised.

Hance announced that a second grant had been approved that will make it possible to replace the failed culvert on Popple Dungeon Road with a bridge (rather than another culvert) with the same amount of matching funds.


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  1. You are correct. For some reason I wrote 5 instead of 4. Thanks for the eagle eyed catch.

  2. Tim Roper says:

    April 5th is a Thursday and select board meetings are usually on Wednesdays. Is this a special date, or a typo?

  3. G. Gustafson says:

    I am confused as to why the town would provide free electricity for owners of electric vehicles. Will they also provide free gasoline and diesel for those taxpayers who don’t have electric vehicles?

    Also, based on the zoning map and bylaws on the town website, Cobleigh Street is in the Village Center district, which does not allow automotive fuel/sales/service as a permitted or conditional use.

    It seems that the town should be spending our money to repair and maintain the infrastructure that we currently have. Our town employees work hard to keep up with the roads and bridges and buildings and land in our town. Why should we be adding more to their plates? EV stations, parks, trails, disc golf courses, solar farms, etc are all great things for a town, but lets not let what we have get run down while chasing after the latest “green” and trendy ideas.