Pandemic postponed annual meetings take place under sunny skies After 3-month delay, Weston, GM school district meet

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

As the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be winding down, a number of municipalities are catching up with meetings (under sunny skies) that could not be held in their traditional March time slots this past winter.

Voters gather in front of the Weston Playhouse ahead of the postponed Town Meeting on May 25. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

By the time the country was shutting down in mid-March 2020, most Vermont towns had held their Town Meetings and school districts their Annual Meetings but as the year went on it became evident that municipalities would not be able to hold meetings that would meet state guidelines for social distancing in March 2021.

And while the state turned to Zoom for meetings of the Vermont legislature, that vehicle was not considered a legal way to conduct Town Meetings.

So the legislature gave towns and school districts the option of either doing all the business of their annual meetings by Australian ballot or postponing the meetings in hopes that the pandemic would have lifted or the weather would allow for holding them outdoors. Several municipalities including Chester, Landgrove, Cavendish and Peru opted to cast ballots on Town Meeting Day, but others — including the Town of Weston and the Green Mountain and Ludlow Mount Holly school districts — scheduled in-person meetings for the spring.

Weston Town Meeting

Traditionally, Weston’s Town Meeting is held in the auditorium of the Playhouse and is followed by a lunch put on by the Little School. But on Tuesday May 25, the voters of Weston gathered on Park Street in front of the theater with the Select Board in front of the steps and moderator Wayne Granquist at the podium above.

Town Clerk Kim Seymour moves the Vermont state flag away from moderator Wayne Granquist as wind gusts buffeted the meeting

While there were some chairs provided, many brought their own seats and as the sun warmed the day, a number of voters moved back into the shade of the Green. By the beginning of the meeting, there were more than 60 residents present and the temperature was passing 55 degrees.

Articles 1 through 4 concerned the election of town officers. There was only one race – for the 2-year Select Board term that was contested and so paper ballots were issued. Incumber Bruce Downer, who had stated at a previous meeting that he did not intend to seek re-election, received 52 votes to Jeff Yrsha’s 14. Yrsha – who was not present – was nominated by Donald Hart who said he was participating in democracy.

  • 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 – Jim Linville
  • Select Board for a 2-year term – Bruce Downer
  • Lister for a 3-year term – Greg Carroll
  • Lister for a 1-year term – Vacant
  • Library Trustee for a 5-year term – Carrie Chalmer
  • Library Trustee for a 5-year term — Linda Saarnijoki
  • Trustee of Public Funds for a 3-year term – Nicole Pfister
  • Trustee of Public Fundsfor a 3-year term –  Vacant
  • Town Constable for a 1-year term – Vacant
  • Collector of Delinquent Taxes for a 1-year term – Sandra Goodman
  • Town Grand Juror for a 1-year term – Wayne Granquist
  • Town Agent for a 1-year term – James Young
  • Cemetery Commissioner for a 5-year term – Richard Lechthaler
  • Cemetery Commissioner for a 4-year term – Duane Hart
  • Cemetery Commissioner for a 3-year term – Doris Ingram

Weston residents line up to vote for the 2-year Select Board position

The remaining articles passed on voice votes with relatively little discussion. These included appropriations for buying and maintaining highway equipment and fire apparatus as well as for bridge repair, library capital and space planning.

The combined appropriation of $115,463 for public service and charitable organizations passed easily as did the salaries of the Town Treasurer and Clerk and for Select Board stipends as well as the amounts to be raised in taxes for the general fund and highway fund.

Under the final “non-binding business” article most of the discussion was about speeding in Weston and what could be done to slow traffic down. Questions and comments included calls for lighted radar traffic signs of the kind used in Chester and for hiring State Police to enforce speed limits. Select Board chair Denis Benson said that other towns had done that and more locals were ticketed than visitors.

Green Mountain Unified School District

Six of the 11 Green Mountain Unified School District board gathered in front of the high school, observing social distancing for a very brief annual meeting on Thursday May 27.

Moderator Bill Dakin, center left, leads the district’s annual meeting

Moderator Bill Dakin moved the meeting through its 10 articles in as many minutes with the eight residents of the district’s towns electing a moderator (Dakin), a Clerk (Amber Wilson) and Treasurer (Wayne Wheelock.) They also set the annual honoraria for school board members ($1,200), Treasurer ($500) and Clerk ($125).

The voters also authorized the board to borrow money in anticipation of tax revenue from its member towns and approved the annual report of the district. There was no other business under the article that allows it as long as the business does not include expending funds.

The district’s annual meetings – in normal times – are held on the Thursday preceding Town Meeting Day, which is the first Tuesday in March. The board voted to continue that tradition, setting the next annual meeting for Feb. 24, 2022 before adjourning.

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