Weston resident donates 20kw generator for Little School, town office

By Cherise Madigan
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston resident Gary Bettman has donated a 20 kilowatt generator to The Little School, temporarily resolving the Select Board’s months long deliberations on the subject and prompted the board to approve a future survey of the surrounding town property at its Oct. 27 meeting.

Last December, the Select Board and The Little School agreed to pursue the purchase of a generator that could power the school and town offices during outages. Debate has continued, however, on the ideal type of generator as well as its potential placement considering falling snow, public visibility and legal regulations surrounding setbacks from flood plains.

Board member Jim Linville says the donated generator could handle the needs of the school and town office. Images courtesy of GNAT TV unless otherwise noted

According to Vice Chair Jim Linville, the donated generator, while less powerful than the industrial options discussed this spring, could handle electric loads from both buildings in the event of an outage. He explained that the generator will likely be placed on a trailer in a temporary location this fall. He added that the board should have the property surveyed to determine elevation and flood risk in different locations.

“I think we’ve saved a huge amount of money by getting an existing generator that we know is in good shape and runs,” Linville said, adding that Mike Savage of Savage Electric — who helped to facilitate the donation — has also offered to help install the generator temporarily this fall, then permanently once winter has ended.

“How many months have we been discussing this?” asked board member Anne Fuji’i, “I think we should go ahead with the survey so we know what we’re dealing with and what our options are.”

Calling the survey a “a serious waste of money,” board chair Denis Benson said the town owns the property, and the generator could be put on a platform level with the Town Office. Linville said that the structure may impinge on land leased to The Little School for a playground, and argued that a survey would be beneficial.

“We’re making a decision that’s going to involve a lot of work and we need to know what the options are and understand them,” Linville said. “Without a survey I don’t see how we can do that. Fuji’i’s motion to accept the generator and seek bids for a survey passed 4-1 with Benson voting no.

Solid Waste Implementation Plan

Solid Waste Coordinator Esther Fishman warned that costs may go up after the contract with TAM Waste Managment expires in July.  Telegraph file photo

The board also reviewed the Solid Waste Implementation Plan submitted by Transfer Station Coordinator Esther Fishman, who will be visiting the boards of  Londonderry, Weston, Landgrove, Peru and Windham which are served by the station. The plan covers outreach, reporting, pricing, hazardous waste collection requirements and more, and Fishman said there will be public meetings to get community input.

Fishman warned the board that the transfer station is in the last year of its contract with TAM Waste Management, which was bought by Casella this summer. While Casella will honor the station’s contract until it expires at the end of July, Fishman says that rates will likely go up after that. She added the Transfer Station will put out an RFP for services this spring to see if there is any competition to lower rates.

The board unanimously approved a motion to sign the plan before moving on to discuss health insurance options for the town’s four employees.

Town renews MVP Health contract for employees

Insurance broker Bradley Doyle explains the options for covering the health needs of the town’s four employees

Insurance broker Brad Doyle said that there are just two insurers for small groups like Weston in Vermont — Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health Care — so there’s little competition. While rates from those insurers have continued to go up, the premium increase was smaller than last year’s, with a 5 percent increase across the board from MVP compared to a 6 or 7 percent increase from Blue Cross.

Weston covers 100 percent of town employees’ medical expenses, and increased deductibles next year could open the town up to additional costs. Despite the potential for increased financial exposure, Benson argued that now — with the Covid-19 pandemic — is not the time to make changes to employee health insurance.

Other board members agreed, unanimously deciding to renew its plan with MVP Health Care with a premium increase of just under 5 percent and a 10 percent increase in deductibles.

Weston may see slow moves on internet needs

The board briefly reviewed the annual report of the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District, which Weston recently joined. Linville explained that he and Rusty Davis, Weston’s representative to the CUD, shared concerns that Weston’s internet needs would not be addressed by the organization any time soon. This is because Weston has a higher percentage of residences and businesses with high speed internet access relative to other CUD members reminding the board that membership does not cost the town anything.

“We’d like it to go faster, but all indications are that this won’t cost us a nickel,” Linville said. “If it happens that will be great, and if it doesn’t we’re where we are now.”

After Linville said that a grant opportunity from Consolidated Communications, discussed at the Board’s last meeting, will likely not be moving forward, Fuji’i suggested conversations with regional internet service providers to explore other opportunities. The board agreed.

The Weston Select Board will be hold its next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

 

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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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