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With decreased patrols, town deals with speeding

NEWFANE—With fewer law-enforcement patrol hours in Newfane during the past few months, the Selectboard is seeking alternative methods to deter speeders along Route 30.

Dennis Wiswall, recently appointed to the Selectboard, offered a possible solution: flashing signs displaying a car’s speed.

“People speed because they aren’t paying attention,” and a flashing sign can help deter speeding, Wiswall said.

At the Aug. 12 special board meeting — the regular, Aug. 3 meeting was postponed over a fire at Valley Cares in Townshend that prevented a quorum — Wiswall presented his research into different sizes and types of signs.

Some signs offer data-collection options that record passing traffic’s high, low, and average speed, and how many cars are speeding, Wiswall told the board.

Board Chair Todd Lawley asked Selectboard Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle to put the item on the agenda for the budget portion of 2016’s Town Meeting for voters to decide.

Fewer patrol hours, same price

“One of the reasons I think that we’re having a problem [with speeding] is because a lot of people think we don’t have enough coverage,” Wiswall said.

He acknowledged the challenge of relying on the Vermont State Police to ensure drivers obey posted speed limits in Newfane, especially with the recent decrease in patrol hours.

In July, the Selectboard declined to renew the town’s contract with the Windham County Sheriff’s Department, opting to switch to the Vermont State Police for the town’s law-enforcement needs.

The contract with the Sheriff’s Department was $10,000 per year, and covered an average of 20 hours per month, Meckle told The Commons.

The Vermont State Police’s contract with Newfane is billed hourly, at $10,000 maximum for the year, and provides the town with approximately 13 hours of coverage monthly.

“For that token of $10,000, we’re not going to get the service we’re looking for,” Wiswall told the Selectboard.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #320 (Wednesday, August 26, 2015). This story appeared on page D1.

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