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Brattleboro Selectboard roundup

Absentee voters to vote on referendums

BRATTLEBORO—BRATTLEBORO— Voters will tick the boxes on two new referendums slated for the March 1 town ballot.

Absentee voters, however, who cast their ballots before the referendums’ supporters submitted their petitions on February 10, can expect to hear from the Town Clerk.

Town Clerk Annette Cappy said she urges absentee voters to contact her office. She added she would also send a letter explaining the situation next week to the approximately 60 absentee voters.

One of the referendums appearing on the ballot asks voters if they want to increase the Selectboard from five to seven members.

The other asks whether Selectboard members should serve either two-year or three-year terms instead of the current one and three-year terms.

The referendums grew out of a Special Town Meeting held Jan. 22 and Feb. 5 where Town Meeting Representatives voted on proposed changes to the town charter developed by the Charter Review Commission.

In a close 53 to 43 vote, representatives said “nay” to expanding the Selectboard. They also voted down doing away with the one-year terms.

After the meeting, Charter Review Commission members Spoon Agave and Larry Bloch circulated petitions to put the two changes to a town-wide vote.

Bloch said after the Special Town Meeting that the two questions should go to a town-wide vote considering the Town Meeting vote had been so close.

At the time, Bloch said he thought the no-votes reflected a resistance to change.

“Certainly do your homework before you cast you’re vote,” said Selectboard chair Dick DeGray at the Feb. 15 Selectboard meeting.

DeGray went on to say that an affirmative vote would have a deeper impact on the town than appeared on the surface. DeGray spoke against both suggestions at the Special Town Meeting.

A yes vote for either referendum, means Brattleboro voters approve adding these two changes to the charter, said Cappy.  But, the changes will remain suggestions until approved by the Legislature.

According to Cappy, absentee voters can vote on the referendums in person at the Town Clerk’s office or at the polls March 1. Voters can also mail in their ballots if time permits. Absentee voters can contact the Town Clerk’s office at 802-251-8157 or acappy@brattleboro.org.

Luna Azul to open on Main St.

BRATTLEBORO— Luna Azul, an upscale Mexican restaurant, will open its doors at 39 Main St., across from the Latchis Theatre, on Feb. 23.

Owner-Chef Laura Fidler describes the 25-seat restaurant as “casual fine dining.”

“I love Mexican food,” said Fidler, who thinks the cuisine is the perfect blend of refined flavors and comfort food.

Fidler said she many people when they think of Mexican food they’re thinking Tex-Mex. She is aiming for more authentic Mexican food.

One of the dishes gracing the menu is a chicken crepe with almond mole sauce. Fidler has also planned a number of vegetarian and vegan meals.

Luna Azul is located at the site of the former 39 Main restaurant, which Fidler also owned. She said she chose to close 39 Main when the economy went “haywire.”  Now, after renovations, the space has a new culinary life.

Reservations are encouraged but not required. To contact Luna Azul, call 802-254-3997.

Survey data helps adjust Brattleboro’s recycling rate

BRATTLEBORO— New data shows that Brattleboro’s recycling rate has rise from 18.8 percent to 23.2 percent, according to town recycling coordinators Moss Kahler and Cindy Sterling.

According to Kahler and Sterling, the 23.2 percent includes recycling residents bring to the Windham Solid Waste Management District’s (WSWMD) Fairground and Old Ferry Road drop-off sites in addition to curbside pickup.

The 18.8 percent has only factored for curbside pickup provided by the town.

“It’s not something phenomenal but it is significant,” said Kahler.

The Recycling Coordinators and volunteers surveyed people dropping materials for recycling at the Old Ferry Road and Fairground Road sites.

Residents cited convenience as the main reason for using the drop-off sites over using curbside, said Kahler.

Contributing to the sense of convince were living close to the drop-offs, not having enough storage space to wait for a bi-weekly pickup, or confusion over pickup dates, said Kahler.

Sterling said before seeing the adjusted recycling rate, she and Kahler had a goal of a 30 percent recycling rate. Now, she thinks they might aim for 35 or 40 percent.

“A 35 percent rate is no problem. We may want to go higher,” she said.

And she thinks Brattleboro residents can achieve the higher goal once they take better advantage of the district’s commercial organic waste program, Project COW.

According to Kahler, organic waste often weighs the most of all types of trash, because it contains the most liquid.

Project COW accepts a multitude of organic waste including vegetable peelings, meat, pet waste, waxed cardboard and paper towels. It is open to everyone living within WSWMD.

The WSWMD’s Old Ferry Road site hosts Brattleboro’s only Project COW dumpster. Sterling said she would like to see composting downtown soon as well.

Sterling hopes eventually the town will provide organic waste curbside pickup.

The next step for the Recycling Coordinators is learning all they can about Brattleboro’s recycling habits, service needs and wants.

To that end, they will be sending out a short survey to all area households. They have also posted the survey online. Only one survey should be filled out per household. Surveys returned before March 13 will be entered into a raffle to win a prizes donated by local businesses.

The coordinators have included with the survey mailing, educational materials to prepare residents for the enforcement of Brattelboro’s recycling ordinance beginning April 1.

After April 1, residents must properly sort their recycling. Also, they cannot put recycling in plastic bags, which can gum up the WSWMD’s machines. Triple-T Trucking & Hauling, the hauling company contracted with the town to pick up recycling, will leave behind recycling not fitting these criteria, said Kahler.

Trash bags containing recyclables will also be left behind after April 1.

Kahler said he knows the new policy will be a pain for residents so he hopes everyone remembers April 1 is “headache day.”

In a previous interview with The Commons, Kahler said, one reason for the April 1 deadline is because the town’s recycling ordinance doesn’t mean anything without enforcement.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #89 (Wednesday, February 23, 2011).

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