Minutes Regular Meeting
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 6:00 pm
“In accordance with the recent amendments to Vermont’s open meeting law, and in light of the ongoing public health crisis, this meeting will be held via conference call. You can access the meeting at the scheduled time by calling 802-210-4472.”
Present via Remote Conference Calling:
Megan O’Toole, Selectboard Chairperson Daniel Burson, Selectboard Member
Charles McMeekin, Selectboard Member Keegan Haupt, Selectboard Member
Kris Haupt, Cemetery Commission Chairperson Dylan Pratt, Road Foreman Katja Evans, Kimball Public Library Representative Paul Rea, Guest
Present at Town Office:
Loren Bent, Selectboard Member
Janice Russell, Administrative Assistant
Jessica Brassard, Town Clerk/Treasurer
Ms. O’Toole called the meeting to order at 6:00pm. Due to the ongoing COVID crisis in Orange County the Braintree Selectboard has transitioned back to an all call-in meeting format. A roll call was conducted to confirm what Selectboard Members, Committee Chairpersons and guests were in attendance via teleconferencing.
The Board reviewed the agenda with Ms. O’Toole adding a planning discussion regarding the audit and budget planning for FY ‘22 under New Business.
On motion of Mr. McMeekin, seconded by Ms. O’Toole, the Board unanimously approved the minutes from the Regular Selectboard Meeting on November 5.
- Citizen’s comments limited to 3 minutes per person with a 15 minute maximum
- Highway Report – Mr. Pratt provided a written report to the Selectboard. A brief discussion occurred regarding the bid process for the Spring 2021 Lemery Bridge and Peth Road projects with the Selectboard requesting Mr. Pratt start the bid collection process.
- Kimball Public Library Representative – Katja Evans reported that even with Covid-19 the Kimball Library had an effective year. The library was able to provide both in-person visits on certain days, curbside assistance, on-line events, virtual events and programming. There has been very successful programming for children with a Crafts-In-Bags Series that included an age appropriate book along with the craft materials, a quarantined themed magazine and the Safe & Seen Halloween. The Library will be returning to Curbside Services Only on Thursday, November 19th.
- Cemetery Commission Chair – Kris Haupt reported that The Cemetery Commission would like the Town to add a Perpetual Care Line Item to the Budget for the use of cleaning old headstones, especially the marble headstones, in each cemetery. Per the experts who provided estimates the cleanings should be good for 10 – 15 years on the old white marble. The Commission provided a schedule of the cleanings, starting with the Lower Branch Cemetery this year, then lineup Braintree Hill in 2026, then East Braintree in 2029 and then Mountain View. The Town Treasurer, Ms. Brassard, will provide budgetary amounts and information to the Commission and Selectboard for a follow-up on this topic.
- Zoning Administrator – No report provided at this time.
- Old business
- COVID-19 Follow-up
- Restructuring Office For Safety – Mss. Brassard and Russell believe that as it is a slow time for foot traffic at the office, there is no need to close the office to the public. If circumstances change, then a further discussion and decision will occur.
- RAMAN – Mr. Caulfield was unable to attend but provided a report. Orange County is now a hot spot and has moved into the third highest number of cases per capita. Ms. O’Toole reported on the teleconference with Governor Scott, Dr. Levine and Orange County Government Officials that she had participated in on Monday evening. The State and County government is asking Towns to find more interesting and productive ways to get the word out to their citizens on how to prevent Covid Spread. That citizens need to stay diligent in the safety measures and to understand that the spread is now occurring through interactions in small gatherings as well as in large gatherings. Ms. O’Toole will write up a review of the teleconference and post it on the Town’s Website and FB page.
- Town’s options for a potential location of sand needed to replenish the 2022-2023 Stockpile Follow-up – Mr. Haupt stated no updates at this time.
- Town Website Overhaul Update – Ms. O’Toole is gathering the content materials the website designer has requested.
- Laptops for Selectboard Members Update – The laptops purchased had some software and hardware problems that Ms. Brassard is working with Vermont Computing Cooperative to resolve. Ms. O’Toole and Mr. Burson, pulling from their experience using Microsoft Office Family 365, suggested that in the long run getting a yearly subscription to Microsoft Office Family 365 is a better option as updates are automatically received by subscription holders whereas a one time purchase of Microsoft Office would require the purchase of updates or the newest version. Ms. Brassard will have Vermont Computing Cooperative help upload the subscription version of Microsoft Office Family 365 into the laptops.
- Green Mountain Power Permit Application for Primary Underground Wire within the Highway Limits of Braintree Hill Road Follow-up – A discussion ensued that included further clarification on the planned site work on the project and why the dig work, as requested, is needed.
On motion of Ms. O’Toole, seconded by Mr. Haupt, the Board unanimously approved the Green Mountain Power Permit Application for the underground wire as laid out in the application and map provided with Mr. Pratt specifying any additional standards and conditions on the permit based on what was discussed tonight and okay the work happening in the right-of-way.
- New business
- Updates on the Audit and Budget Planning – The Audit is scheduled for early December. The budget numbers have been added to NEMRC and Ms. Brassard will get the numbers printed into the worksheet and sent out to the Selectboard. Messrs. Burson and Pratt will begin working on the Highway Budget.
- No Trespassing Signs Posted on Old Stagecoach Road Town Trail- A brief discussion on what constitutes a legal posting sign along with who has access to the trail ensued. The signs placed by Mr. Justin Poulin on and near the entry gate into the right-of-way are not posted legally and makes it appear that people using the trail are trespassing on private property. The beginning of the trail, located at the intersection of Flint and Braintree Hill Roads near the antennas, has a sign posted that this is a Town Trail and to be used for un-motorized purposes. The Town will purchase another sign reiterating that information and place it next to the entry gate. Mr. McMeekin was authorized to remove the illegal posted signs from on and near the gate on Wednesday, November 18th.
- Possible Changes to Town Meeting Date and Australian Ballot Voting Due to COVID-19 – The State has authorized Municipalities to make changes to the way Town Meeting will be held without the need for a citizens authorizing vote. Several options, including a virtual meeting, moving the meeting to May or June or moving to an Australian Ballot were discussed. Ms. Brassard stated if the Selectboard decides to use Australian Balloting elections, that it be consistent with and held on the same day as the School District Voting. A decision needs to be made sixty days before the normal Town Meeting Date. This topic will be opened up for public comment at the December 1st Selectboard Meeting and so warned on the Town’s Website and FB Page.
- Update on Highway Maintenance Opening – Ms. Russell and Mr. Burson provided information on the advertising of the position and number of applications received.
- Payment orders – Mr. Bent, as the sole Selectboard Member in attendance at the Town Office, reviewed the Payment Orders.
On motion of Mr. Bent, seconded by Ms. O’Toole, the Board unanimously approved the payment orders.
On motion of Ms. O’Toole, seconded by Mr. McMeekin, the Board unanimously adjourned the meeting at 7:28 p.m.
Janice R. Russell