Chester board continues work on manager search First select board meeting in refurbished town hall

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Chester Select Board took another step toward conducting a search for someone to replace Town Manager David Pisha, who will step down from the post on Town Meeting Day next year.

Town Manager David Pisha will retire after next year’s Town Meeting Day Photos by Shawn Cunningham

Acknowledging that the window for conducting the search is growing smaller, the board approved an agreement with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to conduct the search. The board also reviewed the job description for the post. Board chair Arne Jonynas also asked about finalizing the membership of the search committee. At the time of the meeting, Jonynas and member Heather Chase had said they would serve on the committee representing the board. Executive Assistant Julie Hance and Water/Wastewater Foreman Jeff Holden would represent town employees but three members of the public were yet to be chosen.

Hance told the board that a number of people had stepped forward to be on the committee, but she was uncertain how they would decide which three would serve. Board member Lee Gustafson said he would like to see some younger people in town get involved.

The deadline for sending a letter of interest/qualifications to serve on the Town Manager Search Committee is Oct. 15. The board will consider the letters of interest and decide on Oct. 16. The goal is to begin advertising for the position by Nov. 1.

Role of Health Officer

For the past several months, Chase has asked that a discussion of the role of the Health Officer be put on an agenda. At the meeting Chase – who serves in that role – said that the position has been evolving over the years and is much larger than she had anticipated.

Board member Heather Chase explains that she wants to step down as the town’s Health Officer

The Town Health Officer is a position created by statute to investigate possible public health hazards and risks within the town  and to enforce health laws, rules and permit conditions.

Board member Leigh Dakin noted that over the past 25 years, there have been changes in what’s expected of the position, adding that it has become “very complicated.” Pisha agreed telling the board that he and Chase had gone on an apartment inspection recently and that the report required by the state was 12 pages long.

The board noted that the $1,000 annual stipend did not seem sufficient for the amount of work it may entail. And since the Select Board can be asked to hear complaints about the health officer, Jim Carroll, the town’s attorney, has advised that it’s not a great idea to have a board member as health officer.

Chase said she intends to resign by the end of the year or sooner if a replacement could be found. She noted that Amanda Silva, who serves as deputy health officer, is on maternity leave and will return late this year but she was not sure whether Silva would want the position.

Chase asked Pisha to come up with a plan to replace her.

Waste water treatment inspection report

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jeff Holden explains the results of the state inspection of the wastewater facility

Water/Sewer Superintendent Jeff Holden, presenting results of a recent state inspection of Chester’s wastewater treatment plant, said the facility earned a rating of “acceptable,” the second highest of the five tier rating system. The inspector pointed to some e. coli violations “stemming from soaps and waxes used at the local car wash” as the basis for the rating rather than “excellent.” The inspector  also noted that the situation had been remedied.

While the inspector suggested that greater attention was needed in transcribing data into reports that go to the state and the federal government, she praised the work of the Chester crew, writing,  “I am impressed with the hard-working, dedicated staff at the Chester WWTF – Jeff, Chris and Gary are thoughtful operators and should be commended for their dedication to protecting the water resources of Vermont.”

The inspector also noted that the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission staffing guidelines recommend 4.5 full-time staff for the facility while Chester’s plant is operated by three.

Holden told the board that the inspector had good suggestions and that he hoped the plant would get a grade of “excellent” next time around.

On snowmobile trails, Palmer Bridge repair

Snowmobile club President Dick Jewett requests the use of portions of several town roads this winter

Dick Jewitt  Jewett of the Chester Snowmobile Club brought the annual request for using portions of town road to connect snowmobile trails. The board voted to allow the use of portions of Marcs Drive as well parts of Smokeshire, Blue Hill, Old Forge, Ethan Allen, Nudist Camp and Williams roads.

Jewitt Jewett told the board that due to the sale of property on Williams Road, in the future the club will not need to ask to use that. He also noted that the new owners of the former Tomasso property have been cooperative with the club, which will be able to continue to use that trail.

The board signed the loan documents for the temporary repair of Palmer Bridge. According to Pisha, the $96,000 loan will have an interest rate of 2.95 percent and will be payable in a year. If however, the voters agree at Town Meeting in March, the loan can be converted to a four-year term with smaller annual payments.

The board meets in the refurbished second floor

Hance announced that the town had received a recreation grant from Vermont’s Department of Buildings and General Services to fund the Brookside Cemetery hiking trail and bridge across Lover’s Lane Brook. The grant is for  $25,000 and requires the town to match it with $25,000.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first for the select board since the second floor of Chester’s Town Hall was repaired and refurbished. Board members and those attending the meeting remarked on how good the space looked. The included in the work done on the building was a new slate roof, repairs to the cupola, a new ceiling for the second floor, removal of the stairs to the mezzanine, a new bathroom on the second floor, refurbishing the kitchen, paint and upgraded lighting.

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  1. Tim
    Thanks for the correction (insert embarrassed face here) and for the kind words.
    Our apologies to Dick.

  2. Tim Roper says:

    I’m sure that Dick Jewett must be tired of seeing his last name misspelled here by now, but is apparently too polite to mention it. {Insert smiley face here}

    Otherwise, thank you for keeping us informed on local news items, Chester Telegraph.