The Annual Town Meeting began on a very somber note when Town Moderator, Mike Ripley, related that former town manager, Rich Svec, had died suddenly that afternoon. For many in attendance they couldn’t remember a time where they attended town meeting and Rich wasn’t present. Through out the evening their were private conversations about the many contributions Rich had made to the town. Wendy Regier, in presenting the completed Cavendish Tapestry to the town, summed up what a lot of people were thinking, The Proctorsville Town Green, depicted in the tapestry, was the handiwork of Town Manager Richard Svec. Without his encouragement and support neither the Green, a community gathering place, nor the tapestry, a shared community art project, would have happened. The tapestry will hang in the Community Library and is dedicated to him. Thank you Richard for giving so much of yourself to Cavendish.
Town: All articles were passed (page 8-9 of the Annual Report). The budget was amended to take $200 from the Red Cross and give it to Black River Good Neighbor. Motions that were made, but failed to gain a majority vote, included the elimination of the Windsor County Sheriff, who primarily provides traffic control, and changing the article for dissolving the position of Town Constable to just changing it for a year.
A number of people voiced their frustration with the Sheriffs in how they carry out their duties. These included lack of courtesy for those being stopped; not getting out of their car to control traffic at the intersection of 103 and 131 during rush hour; and basically targeting locals with unnecessary tickets. Town manager, Brendan McNamara, asked that people bring their concerns directly to the select board so they in turn can see that problems are corrected.
Under “other business,” the voters were asked how many were having problems with Internet. More than half of those in attendance raised their hands. More hands were raised when the question was asked if they wanted fiber wired to the home. However, some people lowered their hand when the question was then posed about whether they would be willing to pay if a bond vote was needed to make this possible. These questions were being asked to help the Telecommunications Committee as they work on trying to bring high speed Internet town wide.
School: All articles were passed (page 59 of the Annual Report). Meg Powden, Two Rivers Supervisory Union’s (TRSU) superintendent and CTES principal George Thomson, made a presentation on the proposed budget. The overwhelming sentiment of those in attendance was that the budget should be voted down for the following reasons:
• Does not meet the promises of Act 46.
• While there are increases in spending for administrators, there are decreases for students
• There was a considerable lack of transparency in the process
• The budget was rushed and not well thought out
There was a handout at the meeting encouraging people to vote no, which summarized much of what people were saying. The over riding point is that people are in support of their school and teachers, yet the process has been rushed to meet dead lines set by those outside the community-e.g. VT Dept. of Education. Basically, the sentiment, as noted in the handout is, We need to slow this process down and work together as parents, community members, voters, teachers and staff to define what models are working now, and what changes can be made to maintain and improve services while potentially cutting costs. This process needs to be led by local stakeholders – the same people impacted by our schools’ performance, budget and long range impact on our communities. People in our towns need time to heal from the Act 46 process and to come together again to build common goals for our children and our communities.
Board member Doug McBride has consistently voted no to the various budget proposals, but Fred Marin, who has voted yes, noted that the budget is not as good as it could be and that the process was severely hampered by lack of time and trust. He thought it could be tweaked however and was in favor of a “yes” vote.
Another issue raised was that are no specific quantifiable goals and objectives for the GMUSD and TRSU boards to help them in setting budgets as well as gauge performance. McBride stated what his over riding goal would be, an exceptional school, not one that’s “just good enough.”
Town Meeting was filmed by Okemo Valley TV and is available on Comcast as well as at their website.