Weston board mulls cell coverage during power outages

From left, Weston Select Board members Ann Fuji’i, Jim Linville and Bruce Downer. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston Select Board members Jim Linville and Ann Fuji’i said at their April 10 meeting that they will reach out to the Planning Commission to see what can be done to improve cell phone service when there is a power outage.

When the renewal of the Local Emergency Operations Plan was brought up, Fuji’i said, “the town was dead,” there was no cell phone communication in town when the AT& T tower lost power. Fuji’i expressed concern for the elderly who might need help, but were unable to contact anyone. Fuji’i said she and others drove around town to check up on people.

Linville said the cell phone tower does have a generator. Linville said the problem is that Markham Mountain blocks the signal from the tower to parts of the village and that a repeater would improve coverage. Board chair Denis Benson also said that on the afternoon of the most recent power outage, Comcast brought in portable generators to power its own phone service.

Fuji’i asked, “Aren’t there some enforcement agencies to force AT&T to” provide a cell signal to the village? Board member Bruce Downer agreed that the original agreement with AT&T was that it would provide coverage for the whole village.

Weston firefighters seek grant for new jackets

Ryan Hart, right, is seeking a grant for high-visibility vests for the Weston Volunteer Fire Department.

The Select Board approved a request from Ryan Hart, deputy chief of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department, to apply for a Vermont League of Cities and Towns grant that would pay 50 percent of the cost of 19 high visibility jackets that cost $290 each.

Hart said two of the jackets would be for the road crew and paid for by the town. Hart said that because the fire department’s insurance is covered by the town, they have to be a party to the grant. Hart also said their 2017 request was denied after the VLCT ran out of money.

The board also accepted the proposal from two Weston Volunteer Fire Department members who said they would like to sell the 1986 tanker truck by advertising on the internet rather than have the town sell it as has been past policy.

On March 28, the board met with the VTrans officials to discuss the annual financial plan. Mark Pickering of VTrans said VTrans will not allow any grants to the town of Weston until the newly installed culvert on Shaw Knoll Road meets all of VTrans and ANR’s specifications.

Linville said he agreed that that is what Pickering said, but is not sure that the statement is accurate. It was also said at that meeting that Weston would need to spend $23,000 or more, which is 10 percent of the winter road budget, to qualify for a state emergency grant.

Benson said it forces the town to purchase new equipment and pay for it in one year rather than spread it out over the life expectancy of the equipment. The board will continue talks with VTrans to see if other options are possible.

In other business:

  • Road Foreman Almon Crandall said as far as he can tell, there is no reason not to allow David Chioffi to name his driveway as a private road.  At the last Select Board meeting, Chioffi asked permission to name his driveway Cascade Farm Road. Linville said Crandall will contact Chioffi to tell him he can erect the sign.
  • Crandall said the 2014 plow truck is back in service after a rear end differential bearing was replaced. Crandall attributed the bearing failure to the stress of having to pull out of ditches, which he said happened a lot during the 27-inch snow storm. The $5,000 bill also included repairing the defroster.
  • The board voted to accept a $8,000 grant from Better Back Roads to conduct a road inventory with the help of the Windham Regional Commission.
  • The board voted to put off until the next meeting approval of the minutes of the March 27 and 28 meetings so board members can listen to the recordings and be sure what was actually said. The minutes for March 27 said the board voted to allow the first constable to ban law enforcement. What was meant to be said was that the board would limit the law enforcement authority of the first constable, according to Linville, Fuji’i and Goodwin.
  • And the board approved a request from the Weston Community Association to close the parks for an annual event on May 26.


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