Weston board OKs backhoe purchase, nears approval of broad-band initiative

By Cherise Madigan
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Weston Select Board authorized the purchase of new equipment and moved closer to joining an initiative to expand high-speed internet access in the region at its Tuesday, Sept. 8 meeting, held via Zoom. See Thursday, Sept. 10 story: Initiative looks to expand fiber optic internet access in Derry, Weston

Weston Select Board member Anne Fuji’i’ wonders why lines have yet to be painted on newly paved roadway.

During an update from Road Foreman Almon Crandall, board member Anne Fuji’i asked why road lines had not yet been painted at the intersection of Route 100 and Lawrence Hill Road, noting that over the week she had seen a number of confused drivers and a near-accident in the area.

Crandall said that the yellow lines were supposed to have been painted a week ago but the town’s contracted paving company, Fuller Sand and Gravel, was having trouble scheduling a painter. The white lines are the town’s responsibility, he explained, and the board agreed that white stop-bars should be painted soon after the yellow lines are completed, while discussion on potential fog lines and parking spaces should continue.

The board also authorized Crandall to purchase a new backhoe. Crandall says the town’s current equipment, a Caterpillar 430, is beginning to age and require increasingly costly repairs. After reviewing a range of options, Vice Chair Jim Linville suggested that Crandall purchase a Cat 440 for $129,500, with money from the town’s equipment fund. This would include a $35,000 trade-in for the old backhoe. The town currently has $418,023.69 available in the fund, according to Town Clerk Kim Seymour. Crandall also noted that the town will likely need a new grader in the next few years.

Later in the meeting, Weston’s potential membership in the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District (DV CUD) was discussed by the board following a presentation by that organization’s Vice Chair Steven John at its Aug. 26 meeting. The DV CUD is a “quasi-municipal entity” consisting of representatives from each member town which aims to ensure equitable access to fiber optic internet.

Vice Chair Jim Linville urges the board to allow Weston to become part of the DV CUD saying, ‘It obligates us to nothing.’

“It obligates us to nothing, and we can vote with no cost or consequence to leave the CUD at any time,” Linville said. “Based on that, I think we ought to join in. … and in the next couple of years it could help us make higher speed broadband more available in Weston.”

Weston will need a representative to participate in the CUD, Chair Denis Benson noted, so the board moved to join the DV CUD pending the appointment of a volunteer representative. If one cannot be found, discussion will continue at a later meeting.

In other business, the board unanimously voted to revise Weston’s zoning fee schedule per Zoning Administrator Will Goodwin’s recommendations. The board also chose to continue designating The Vermont Journal & The Shopper as Weston’s newspaper of record, despite Goodwin’s concerns regarding the difficulty of timing zoning notices properly in a weekly paper.

Though fuel bids for the winter were also discussed, the board ultimately moved to table the discussion until its next meeting in order to collect more information on pricing and logistics.

Despite some hesitation from Benson, board members authorized Seymour to apply for a grant to index the town’s digitized land records, offered by the State of Vermont in the interest of simplifying — and even allowing for virtual — public access to documents.

The board will meet next on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

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About the Author: Journalist and photographer Cherise Madigan specializes in writing about outdoor recreation, the environment and travel. She has roots in Manchester and a history of reporting throughout Southern Vermont. Madigan is a graduate of Nazareth College of Rochester, earning her degree in Political Science summa cum laude in 2015.

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