Weston voters OK paving, dam removal funds

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston resident Tom Ettinger casts a ballot before the meeting begins. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The 2019 Weston Town Meeting got it just about right. The town business was taken care of quickly and efficiently, there were a couple of opportunities for community celebration and just enough political wrangling to keep everyone’s interest. In the end, all the articles passed and the meeting wrapped up at four minutes to noon with lunch ready downstairs in the Weston Playhouse.

While residents asked questions about a number of the 22 articles voted on, including why a special reserve fund was needed for the Wilder Library and how much should the town put away each year for the next fire truck, only two rose to the level of being contentious.

On Article 8, which appropriates $25,000 for the Highway Maintenance Fund for paving, Duane Hart rose to ask when Lawrence Hill Road would be paved, noting that the town keeps “socking money away but not paving.” Page 12 of the Annual Report lists a balance for the fund of $93,122.08 including the money in Article 8.

Select Board chair Denis Benson said that the town would not be getting matching funds from the state this year, that the town has few paved roads and the Planning Commission has said they don’t need any more.

Moderator Wayne Granquist gavels the meeting to order.

Carrie Chalmers noted that Hart was only talking about paving Lawrence Hill not new paving of dirt roads.

Hart said that Benson had misspoken since matching state aid is only for Class 2 roads and Lawrence Hill is a Class 3 road. It was subsequently clarified that the paved portion of the road is actually both Class 2 and 3.

“There’s no sense in waiting,” said Hart. “Let’s pave it.”

At that point Donald Hart stood to be recognized.

“Having been around here since 1938, I have an opinion,” said the elder Hart. “It looks like the snowplow crew decided to remove the pavement and put it into the ditch. The road (surface) looks like a ‘W’ not a crown and it’s past due for paving.”

Donald Hart also suggested switching the amounts to be appropriated between Article 8 (paving) and Article 16 (Cold Spring Brook dam project.)

“If $25,000 is not adequate, take the $55,000 from the aesthetic project and switch those around,” said Hart, who went on to make a motion to that effect. Moderator Wayne Granquist ruled out of order because it was a significant change from the warning. Article 8 passed in its original form.

That dam project

Donald Hart’s “aesthetic project” comment set the stage for a discussion of Article 16, to partially fund the removal of the lower dam in the Cold Spring Brook Park and restore the stream bed. The lower dam was breached during Tropical Storm Irene.

ACA member Mark Reffner explains the dam project

Mark Reffner of the Weston Community Association, which owns the park, walked the audience through the problem and the process that a group made up of WCA and Conservation Committee members went through to reach their conclusion. The project includes removing the dam, installing “steps” to slow water down and landscaping to stabilize the stream bank at a cost of $110,000. The group was requesting $55,000 but Reffner noted that they would be applying for $90,000 in grants, which could reduce the amount they would need from the appropriation.

Reffner said the state is promoting dam removal rather than repair and it was doubtful they could even get permits to replace the dam.

Several voters spoke for the project and Deborah Hennessey of the Conservation Committee said that the contractor – Ameden Construction – had done good work for the Trout Club. Hennessey also read a resolution from the Conservation Committee recommending the project.

Donald Hart drops his ballot on the Cold River Brook dam project.

“Another storm comes through and the library could have running water,” quipped one resident, referring to an earlier discussion of problems the library board is working to overcome.

Benson asked Reffner how the dam had been maintained since the association took it over and whether they had opened the floodgates in anticipation of Irene. Reffner said that on both questions, he didn’t know.

David Raymond, who served on the dam task force, challenged Benson saying “You know (the floodgates) haven’t worked in 40 years. It’s been rusted closed for years, so I don’t know what point Denis is trying to make.”

A paper ballot was requested and the article passed 109 to 23. A recount later found that the article passed by a vote of 79 to 23.

Elected offices

The first four articles on the warning were the election of public officials. Granquist quipped that he had become Grand Juror in the past because “nobody wanted it” and that “crime has decreased dramatically.”

Moderator for a 1-year term – Wayne Granquist
Town Clerk for a 1-year term – Kim Seymour
Town Treasurer for a 1-year term- Kim Seymour
Select Board for a 3-year term – Charles Goodwin
Select Board for a 2-year term – Bruce Downer
Lister for a 3-year term – No nominations
Library Trustee for a 5-year term – Kieran McKenna
Trustee of Public Funds for a 3-year term – Mimi Neff
Town Constable for a 1-year term – Almon Crandall
Collector of Delinquent Taxes for a 1-year term – Sandra Goodwin
Town Grand Juror for a 1-year term – Wayne Granquist
Town Agent for a 1-year term – James Young
Cemetery Commissioner for a 1-year term – Mimi Neff

Rudolph Johnson Memorial prizes

Nicole Pfister, a Trustee of Public Funds, and Carrie Chalmers handed out the Rudolph Johnson prizes of $150 each to seven eighth-graders who will be leaving middle school for high school next fall.  Rudolph Johnson, principal of the Weston Town School, left money to the town for the awards and a fund in his name is managed by the trustees. Awards went to, pictured from left in the photo:

  • Maxwell Borhek
  • Kylee Prins
  • Carl LaVallee
  • Knight Okie
  • Emmett La Rue

Isabella Lindgren and Rorie Mara were ill and unable to attend.

Many of the students said they would use the money to help buy laptops for school, while boarding a horse where she could train in the winter and seeing more plays at the Playhouse were also mentioned. Knight Okie, a ski racer who has qualified for the state championship next week, said he would give his prize to the Stratton Foundation to help another kid get into skiing.

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