Cavendish hires town manager; addresses manganese in town water Grafton Cheese gets take-away alcohol license for new store

By Cara Philbin
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On Monday, the Cavendish Select Board announced that Rick Chambers has been hired as the new town manager, following Brendan McNamara’s departure to Ludlow. Chambers is a resident of Cavendish and spent over 25 years working for the town of Springfield, where he most recently served as that town’s water/wastewater superintendent.

Chambers begins on Monday, May 15, and has plenty of issues to tackle, including residents’ ongoing questions about why they were not notified about elevated manganese levels discovered in the town’s October 2022 water supply samples.

According to Town Clerk Diane McNamara, “confusion of how the testing lab reporting results led to a delay with state reporting,” and that the state of Vermont did not notify Cavendish officials about the October discovery “until February or March” of 2023. She added that samples from both January and April of 2023 show that manganese levels in the town’s water supply had returned to normal.

The Select Board could not explain why and for how long manganese was elevated in public drinking water before and after the October 2022 report, when the issue was discovered by the testing lab. Because Cavendish’s manganese levels are tested quarterly, it is possible that levels rose right after the July 2022 report and remained high through December of that year.

Manganese is a trace metal naturally found in food, groundwater and the human body, but at high levels its consumption can be harmful. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation lists manganese as a primary drinking water contaminant, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines state that the general population should not ingest water with elevated manganese concentrations for more than 10 days per year.

According to the CDC, manganese toxicity can result in a permanent neurological disorder known as manganism, with symptoms that include tremors, difficulty walking and facial muscle spasms. Further symptoms published by the National Institutes of Health include tremors, muscle spasms, hearing problems, mania, insomnia, depression, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, weakness and mood changes.

When Cavendish resident Daniela Clark asked why the Select Board did not request a representative from the testing lab or the state to appear in front of the Select Board, McNamara said she “didn’t feel comfortable dragging someone in here to speak on television about something he’s not qualified to speak about.”

McNamara said that “the town manager is generally responsible for interpreting drinking water information from the state, the water department, and public.” She added that Cavendish officials are “not qualified to post water sample results” on the town’s website, and that they may consider posting a link to the state’s results, but did not have that link readily available. The Telegraph was not able to find easily accessible information, aside from a June 2022 Consumer Confidence Report issued by the Cavendish Municipal Water System Board of Water Commissioners.

Grafton Cheese to open shop on Rt. 103; Brewery denied outdoor drink permit

The Select Board went on to approve a second class alcohol license request from the Grafton Village Cheese Co., which is opening a store in the former Black River Produce building on Route 103, next to Smoking Bowls, home of the former Neal’s Restaurant space. The license will allow customers to purchase wine and beer to take away.  The new location will be “similar to the store we have in Brattleboro,” Grafton Cheese retail manager Sherri DiBernardo told The Telegraph. She declined to share details about when it will open to the public.

Also, the Select Board denied Outer Limits Brewing’s request for an outdoor consumption permit. The brewery previously held a temporary permit for outdoor consumption, as a relief from indoor capacity restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the seating area was located in a parking lot owned by the town.

Other business included the appointment of Chambers as the Solid Waste Management District manager with Select Board member Stephen Plunkard as his alternate, along with the authorization of Chambers to work directly with the Mount Ascutney Regional Planning Commission on capital expenditure planning.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: CavendishLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.