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6/21/19 Cavendish Update
1. Work schedule for 103 for 6/24/19
2. Cavendish Select Board Meeting 6/10/19
3. TRSU/GMUSD: Law Suits & Transparency
4. Cavendish Related News
1. WORK SCHEDULE ON 103 FOR THE WEEK OF 6/24/19: Anticipated Weekly Work Schedule from Pike Industries. All work is subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen delays. Alternating one-way traffic patterns may occur at the location of active construction operations. A speed reduction zone (40 MPH) will be put in place throughout the length of the daily active construction zone. Speed limit reduction signs will be taken down at the end of each work day, and the speed reduction will not be in effect during non-work hours.
Monday 6/24: Driveway hand paving in Shrewsbury working towards Clarendon. Side road paving Chester to Ludlow. Plug and Band Joints in Shrewsbury.
Tuesday 6-25-19:: Driveway hand paving in Shrewsbury working towards Clarendon. Continue side road paving Chester to Ludlow. Plug and Band Joints in Shrewsbury. Rumble Strip Chester to Mount Holly.
Thursday 6-27-19: Continue driveway hand paving in Shrewsbury working towards Clarendon. Side road paving Ludlow to Mount Holly. Plug and Band Joints in Shrewsbury. Continue Rumble Strip Mount Holly Clarendon. Fog Sealing Rumble Strips Ludlow to Mount Holly.
Friday 6-28-19: Continue driveway hand paving in Shrewsbury working towards Clarendon. Continue side road paving Ludlow to Mount Holly. Plug and Band Joints in Shrewsbury. Fog Sealing Rumble Strips Mount Holly to Shrewsbury.
Saturday 6-29-19 – tentative: Continue driveway hand paving in Shrewsbury working towards Clarendon. Continue side road paving Ludlow to Mount Holly. Plug and Band Joints in Shrewsbury. Fog Sealing Rumble Strips Shrewsbury to Clarendon.
2. CAVENDISH SELECT BOARD MEETING 6/10/19: Cavendish Select Board (SB) Meetings are videotaped by Okemo Valley TV and are available at their website. http://okemovalley.tv/cavendish-selectboard-610
In addition, minutes are available at the Cavendish Municipal website. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5967f43a893fc01de256c378/t/5d039deae5f6c70001800913/1560518122489/SB+Minutes+6-10-19+SB.pdf
The following actions were taken at the June 10th meeting:
• Accepted with regret Mike Kell’s resignation as SB member. Effective immediately, he has accepted a full time position as a school administrator in New York. Anyone interested in filling Kell’s position should send a letter of interest to the Town Office by July 1.
• In response to complaints about conditions on Center Rd and culverts, Bruce McEnaney, Asst. Town Manager, noted it would cost about ¾ million dollars to make all of the paving repairs needed for Town roads.
• One of the “affordable” houses on the Proctorsville Green was just sold at auction, as “income restrictions are foreclosed out so you can own a nice home or vacation condo in Vermont that’s affordable.” Because these homes were part of a town effort to make affordable housing available, it’s suggested that if this situation should present itself again, it would be worthwhile to try and better protect income restrictions.
• Approved the renewal of the Garage Construction Bond Anticipation note with Mascoma Bank.
• Town manager Brendan McNamara updated the board on the Aeration System Replacement project, which is underway again and should be completed by October.
• McNamara provided an update on the Depot Street Bridge project. There have been some delays and weather will determine whether the project is completed this season.
• The SB will meet on June 24th at 5 pm in the Town Office to set the new tax rate for the fiscal year
• McNamara discussed the discoloration found recently in municipal water. Water quality has continued to test normal and the source of the problem has been identified and is being corrected.
• McEnaney will no longer be serving the town as Asst town manager but will remain as Town Sexton starting July 1.
• SB member Mike Ripley, and a member of the Ludlow Ambulance, brought up an issue regarding how Cavendish Fire Department responded to a call several months ago. The discussion was stopped as Fire Department issues are not the SB’s responsibility. FMI: Fire Districts Tension Continue at Cavendish Select Board Meeting https://vermontjournal.com/featured-articles/fire-districts-tension-continue-at-cavendish-select-board-meeting/
• The SB met in executive session to discuss a legal matter.
3. TRSU/GMUSD: LAW SUITS & TRANSPARENCY:In the last several months, the Chester Telegraph has written how the Two Rivers Supervisory Union (TRSU) and its related boards-Green Mountain Unified School District (GMUSD) and Ludlow Mount Holly Unified Union School District (LMHUUSD) have failed to meet Vermont’s Open Meeting Law. The Telegraph has filed complaints, with the result being two boards, the TRSU and LMHUUSD, opting to follow a path charted by Superintendent Meg Powden. GMUSD has chosen to follow the direction of Cavendish school board member Doug McBride’s, who is an attorney, recommendation to follow the state mandate. To that end, in Cynthia Prairie’s editorial: “The Public Wins Out at GMUSD Board" wrote https://www.chestertelegraph.org/2019/06/19/editorial-the-public-wins-out-at-gmusd-board/ The Telegraph invites the boards of the TRSU and LMHUUSD to revisit their actions of last Wednesday night and adopt the state-mandated cure. Currently, we are pulling together information for a possible lawsuit against those two bodies. But we’ll drop that just like we have done for the GMUSD board, should they comply with the law.
At the June 13 meeting of the GMUSD, The Telegraph’s Shawn Cunningham raised the issue of the TRSU’s cost over run on legal council as well as the fact that there are two lawsuits against the TRSU. Members of the board, some of whom also serve on the TRSU board, were completely unaware of any suits. While Powden confirmed there were two cases, she said she was not at liberty to discuss the specifics saying this would need to be done in executive session.
However, the suits are a matter of public record, which Cunningham outlines in his article “TRSU Boards Apparently Kept in the Dark About Suits.” https://www.chestertelegraph.org/2019/06/19/trsu-boards-apparently-kept-in-dark-about-suits/ One case involves a child being bitten by a dog while at Ludlow Elementary (occurred in 2013 with the suit filed in 2017) and the second was filed June 2018 by a former TRSU employee claiming Powden violated the Vermont’s Fair Employment Act. Items available via public record are appropriate for public discussion at a board meeting. Why Powden chose not to share this with her various boards is unknown.
As Cunningham continued to investigate he uncovered a potential third case. It appears from the invoices that VSBIT — the Vermont School Board Insurance Trust — is paying the legal expenses above a $5,000 deductible for each claim using “errors and omissions” coverage. What’s curious though is that there are three, not two claim numbers on which deductibles have been added up, so it seems that there may be yet another claim or even lawsuit out there unknown to the boards. It is possible that this third case is an arbitration for which one of the SU’s law firms billed more than $2,500 to prepare former GM Principal Tom Ferenc’s testimony for an unknown hearing on Dec. 20, 2018. A member of the firm then traveled to Chester for the hearing and returned home to Burlington, incurring 12.3 billable hours amounting to a one-day charge of $2,767.50.
Just how much money is the TRSU spending on legal fees? Indications are that it is considerable. As of June 13, the SU has spent a total of $34,811 on legal expenses, though legal expenses were budgeted for $6,000. However, documents secured by The Telegraph under the Public Records Act, show that the total spending on teacher contract negotiations in this fiscal year was $50,383.04.
At last night’s GMUSD meeting, the board, with the exception of Chair Joe Fromberger, had read The Telegraph’s articles and confirmed that the information provided was accurate.
The issue of transparency was very much on this board’s radar and they took action to ensure they aren’t caught off guard again. They adopted additional measures in order not to be in violation of the Open Meeting Laws in the future. The two times they went into executive session, they informed the public the nature of the Executive Session and why it qualified under state law.
They are now requiring that the Superintendent’s report include, among other things, the following: Any time a lawyer is needed to be hired; when an insurance claim is being submitted; issues from community, parents and teachers that have risen to the level of the superintendent and are of concern; and the hiring and firing of personnel. In addition, the board wants to be kept informed about building issues to ensure that physical plants are in good order.
Legal fee invoices are generally submitted directly to VSBIT, with TRSU only being informed of the portion they are to pay. The board has requested that the TRSU provide them with a better understanding of exactly what the legal fees are, not just the portion the TRSU pays.
The board has also requested that they have a meeting with an insurance specialist who can provide information of what type of coverage the TRSU/GMUHS has and if it is sufficient. Are there areas that need to strengthened?
More information on last night’s meeting will appear in the June 28 Cavendish Update.
3. CAVENDISH RELATED NEWS
Congratulations to Trevor Barlow of Proctorsville: The Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC) in Springfield announced that it has hired Trevor Barlow as its first Executive Director. Barlow was selected after a national search that produced over 130 candidates. As Executive Director, Barlow will be responsible for leading the organization and implementing the strategic vision behind its three pillars: the computer science initiative, entrepreneurship center, and distributed workspace. He will lead fundraising efforts, work with regional and national tech employers, and identify resources for and provide mentorship to entrepreneurs growing their companies from BRIC. He began working this week.
BRAT Hosting Cyanobacteria Monitoring Training: The Black River Action Team is hosting cyanobacteria – toxic blue-green algae – monitoring training session Thursday, July 18 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Springfield, Vt. Directions and parking information will be given upon registration with Angela Shambaugh by emailing email@example.com or by calling BRAT Director Kelly Stettner and leaving your contact information at 802-738-0456. If you or anyone you know goes swimming, boating, fishing, tubing, wading, or otherwise recreating in a lake, pond, or even slow section of river, you need this information. If your dog goes in the water, you need this information. A cyanobacteria bloom can be harmful to your health and your pet’s health. Everyone is welcome, and information is not limited to just Vermont. FMI: www.blackriveractionteam.org
Free solar energy assistance available from SEVCA: Southeastern Vermont Community Action’s new 110 kW solar array, located at its Westminster office, is now complete, and the organization will soon be selecting approximately 50 households with low incomes and high-energy burdens to receive free credits from the power produced by the array. Households in Windham and Windsor counties that have a Green Mountain Power account are invited to apply during an open application period up until July 15. SEVCA will then select program participants according to criteria that include household income, energy burden, and housing cost burden. The households selected will receive credits on their GMP electric bill based on the power produced by the solar array, which will reduce their electricity costs. Applications will be available at all SEVCA’s office locations, and can also be accessed from its website: www.sevca.org. The application and supporting materials must be received by the deadline in order to be considered for the program. To find out more, contact Daniel Quipp at 802-254-2795, ext. 103, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-464-9951 and speak to the receptionist. VT Journal https://vermontjournal.com/news/free-solar-energy-assistance-available-from-sevca/
Health needs assessment survey due July 9: The Springfield Area Community Collaborative is conducting a community health needs assessment and encourages participation by residents in all area communities including Cavendish. The Collaborative is a workgroup that includes several area agencies: Chester-Andover Family Center, Edgar May Health & Recreation Center, Greater Falls Connections, HCRS, Neighborhood Connections, OneCare VT, SEVCA, Senior Solutions, Southern Vermont AHEC, Springfield Medical Care Systems, Valley Health Connections, Vermont Agency of Human Services, and Vermont Department of Health. Online completion of the survey is encouraged through the www.surveymonkey.com/r/BK5GY5Q. If paper copies are preferred or needed, please call 802-885-7686 to request a supply. All are encouraged to complete the survey. FMI: Anna Smith, Springfield Medical Care Systems at 802-885-7621 or email email@example.com.
Vermont now has nation’s broadest single-use plastics ban: Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into law on Monday that gives Vermont the distinction of having the most comprehensive restrictions on single-use plastic of any state in the U.S. The bill prohibits retailers from providing customers with single-use plastic bags at checkout and plastic stirrers starting next July. VT Digger https://vtdigger.org/2019/06/17/vermont-now-nations-broadest-single-use-plastics-ban/?is_wppwa=true&wpappninja_cache=friendly
Online Tool Tracks Vermont School Performance: Secretary of Education Dan French unveiled a long-awaited new online resource to help track public school performance. The Annual Snapshot site https://schoolsnapshot.vermont.gov/ went live at 4 p.m. Thursday. It allows community members to easily compare and analyze academic proficiency in every public school and school district in Vermont. NBC 5 https://www.mynbc5.com/article/new-online-tool-tracks-vermont-public-school-performance/28125008
JUNE 29 (SATURDAY): Car wash to benefit the family of Drew Kauffman. Reading Fire Department 9-2
• Lace Up for Laura Memorial 5 K Walk/Run https://www.laceupforlaura.com/
JULY 27 (SATURDAY): 9th Annual Cavendish Town Wide Tag Sale. 9-2 http://cavendish-connects.squarespace.com/blog/2019/4/20/cavendish-town-wide-tag-sale-2019
SEPTEMBER 14 (SATURDAY): VT Golden Honey Festival. 10-4 Part craft fair, part food festival, the VT Golden Honey Festival is a community favorite. Located on the lawn of the Golden Stage Inn, 399 Depot St. in Proctorsville. Proceeds of this event will benefit VT Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth (Ludlow and Proctorsville. For vendor and other information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-226-7744 (Julie).