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Town roads survive mud season

Town roads ‘pretty good,’ road boss says

NEWFANE—NEWFANE— According to the Road Foreman’s and Road Commissioner’s report submitted to the Selectboard for its April 20 regular meeting, 90 percent of the roads in town “are pretty good,” said Todd Lawley, Selectboard chair and road foreman.

“As the roads dry out we will shape them up,” Lawley’s report said.

Otis Lane was closed to all but local traffic, Lawley said, explaining, “water went under the road all winter, and once it thawed out, it collapsed."

While some of Newfane’s roads are still muddy and some need grading to remedy potholes and washboarded stretches, the town’s road crews have been working to put gravel down on the muddiest patches.

“Fitzpatrick’s have hauled 3,000 yards of crushed gravel to the town garage stockpile,” noted the report, and Lawley estimated it’s expected to last until the summer.

Grading was slowed by some equipment issues.

“The grader kept dying on the road,” Lawley said, adding Nortrax, the John Deere dealer, had recently made repairs on a bad sensor and wiring issues to the truck’s computer, and “it seems to be better so far."

Wanna buy a truck?

NEWFANE— In the town’s efforts to sell its 2007 Ford F-350 truck, the Selectboard elected to award the truck to the highest bidder.

At the time of the regular April 20 Selectboard meeting, Selectboard Chair Todd Lawley was concerned some bids might be waiting in the post office box. Once bids are collected, Lawley and Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle will manage the sale.

The town had tried to trade the truck in, but Lawley —€• who is also the town’s Road Foreman — reports the dealer offered $5,000.

“The truck is worth at least $11,000. The Blue Book for a high-end [truck] is $12,000,” Lawley said, noting this truck has a dump body and no plow.

Scuffle over state surcharge on property tax bills

NEWFANE— Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle has told the board that the town has received notice of the state’s intention to attach a $25 surcharge on each property tax bill. The surcharge, related to H.526, the Shorelands Protection Bill, will fund “extra state positions,” Meckle said.

“We still have to pay the state even if we haven’t collected the tax,” Meckle said. “The Kenolie Village campers would have to pay $25 on a $20 tax bill.”

The Legislature has yet to decide on the proposal, and the Selectboard hopes to sway state lawmakers against the idea.

Selectboard member Rosalind Fritz suggested the Selectboard draft a template letter for residents to send to the state, and she volunteered to compose it with Meckle’s assistance.

Carol Hatcher, Selectboard Vice-Chair, recommended doing this “as soon as possible because the Legislature is adjourning soon."

Sewers and junk subject of dispute

NEWFANE— The ongoing Augur Hole Road junk ordinance/sewer violation issue continues between the town, property owner Jonathan Sparks, and his tenant.

Sparks has been in contact with the town regarding complaints made about his tenant’s health code violations. Sparks asked for help in moving his tenant off his property by June 30, the deadline the town gave Sparks to clean up his land.

Shannon Meckle, Selectboard administrative assistant, reported at the April 20 Selectboard Meeting that she told Sparks the board doesn’t have that authority and the town can only “enforce the junk ordinance violation and the health issue."

Sparks told Meckle he was concerned he could not comply with removing “all of the junk” by June 30, and asks the Selectboard to “work with him."

Meckle said she will send a letter to Sparks letting him know the Selectboard will revisit this issue “on or around June 30,” and they will need to schedule a site visit near that date.

Sheds on Dover Road to be demolished

NEWFANE— The Selectboard is ready to send out bids for the demolition of the two remaining sheds at 279 Dover Rd. A house formerly on the property has already been removed.

Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle said the town will have the sheds tested for asbestos before they are removed.

“I have contacted three environmental engineers that are licensed to do asbestos testing and will get three quotes,” Meckle said, noting the town received a grant for asbestos testing and the sheds’ removal. The grant also covers filling the hole where the buildings once were, and putting seed and dirt down on the property.

“We will send the bid for demolition out after we get the results of the asbestos inspection,” Meckle said.

Emergency planning

NEWFANE— In order for the Selectboard to be in compliance with the National Incident Management System, all members must take the ICS 100 (Incident Command System) course. Selectboard Chair Todd Lawley said Selectboard members can take the course online, but “there are courses in the area if you aren’t comfortable doing it on the computer."

After some Selectboard members expressed wanting to take the class locally to have the opportunity to ask questions, Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle said she will research local classes.

Meckle also noted she has a draft of the Local Emergency Operations plan and will work with Emergency Management Coordinator Jay Wilson to finalize and submit it.

Mowing the town

NEWFANE — Marc Gray submitted a bid to the Selectboard to continue mowing and trimming the various town properties, including cemeteries and the town common.

“He hasn’t changed his rate in three years,” said Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle.

“He’s very reliable,” noted Selectboard member Rosalind Fritz.

The Selectboard agreed unanimously to accept Gray’s bid and retain his services for another year.

Dogs, and other vacancies

NEWFANE — “Todd, you were named Animal Control Officer,” Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle told board chair Todd Lawley at the April 20 meeting.

“I was named incorrectly,” Lawley noted.

“Who’s the Animal Control Officer?” Hatcher asked.

“That would not be me,” Lawley said.

With that, the Selectboard announced current committee vacancies: Planning Commission (but, the Selectboard noted, they do their own search), Development Review Board, Conservation Committee, Town Agent, and the elusive Animal Control Officer post.

Selectboard Vice-Chair Carol Hatcher asked Meckle to email the list of vacancies to the Selectboard in the hopes that “maybe we have a friend we can coerce” into taking a position, she said.

“They won’t be a friend for long,” Lawley said.

FEMA closeouts not closed out

NEWFANE— At the April 20 meeting, Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle reported on the remaining projects awaiting completion, then on pay-outs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Meckle listed the projects: the Hunter Brook bridge, the Lynch bridge, Brook Road, and a portion of South Wardsboro Road.

The Selectboard, and Meckle, expressed frustration with the FEMA website and its procedures.

Morris Ale seeks, gets approval

NEWFANE— The Selectboard will permit the Marlboro Morris Ale permission for its participants to dance in town on May 24 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The group’s website explains its “invitational Whitsun-type Ale (a traditional springtime gathering of British folk dancers)” as “various styles of ritual dancing, including Cotswold, Border, Clog, Rapper, and Sword,” complete with “flying ribbons, ringing bells, flashing hankies, and crashing sticks."

As they have done every Memorial Day weekend since 1976, Morris Ale dances in locations around Windham County, and hopes to do so in town “on the beginning of West Street, near the courthouse lawn,” the request noted.

The group’s organizers expect 150 guests, and will be responsible for contacting the Windham County Sheriff’s Department for crowd control. Marlboro Morris Ale will also assume responsibility for injuries, portable toilets, and cleanup, according to the request.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #303 (Wednesday, April 29, 2015). This story appeared on page C1.

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