Town backs employee in case of spoofed email

Village, Town Attorney calls messages ‘attempt to discredit’ BF Village Clerk

ROCKINGHAM — At their respective May 28 and June 4 meetings, both the Trustees and the Selectboard read a statement into the record prepared by the Village and Town Attorney Ray Massucco.

It had come to their attention that emails had been sent to local elected and former officials, “critical of other local residents doing so using the name of Bellows Falls Village Clerk Kerry Bennett.

“This is an attempt to discredit Mrs. Bennett and to make it appear that Mrs. Bennett is the one making the offensive and inappropriate comments. Many of the emails are libelous and contain gross untruths or falsehoods,” the statement read. “This amounts to impersonating a public figure and should be condemned by all residents of the Town of Rockingham and the Village of Bellows Falls.”

Village President Roger Riccio made note when reading the statement before the Bellows Falls Village Trustees' May 28 meeting that his business had also been targeted in the emails, and in his opinion, “this behavior is a clear case of bullying, and the Board “should take the same stand as the school: zero tolerance.”

Hiring a constable?

Both the town and village are slated to discuss hiring a constable at the next joint board meeting, July 30. The Selectboard signed a warrant for unlicensed dogs on June 4, and Selectboard member Ann DiBernardo requested that hiring a constable be put on the agenda.

It was noted that Police Chief Ron Lake does not have to be trained and is willing to take on the role, according to DiBernardo.

The board upheld the warrants, noting that only eight dogs are licensed.

Windham County Sheriff Chief Keith Clark will be given a list, and has been tasked with following up on unlicensed dogs, going door to door to collect fees so the dogs become licensed.

DiBernardo warned the board that the warrants are essentially a “license to humanely euthanize unlicensed dogs at the sheriff's discretion,” and was the one dissenting vote in passing the warrants.

Vilas Bridge meeting 'camp out'

In discussing updates on the status of the Vilas Bridge with Development Director Francis “Dutch” Walsh last week, Tom MacPhee suggested that the board hold their next bridge meeting with officials on the bridge.

“We have to do something to bring attention,” MacPhee said. He mentioned the idea had come from Windham-4 representative Carolyn Partridge to “camp out” on the bridge.

Walsh said it is falling to Vermont to meet New Hampshire halfway to share the cost of repairs on the historic bridge. There is a precedent with several other bridges in Vermont of sharing half of similar high-cost interstate bridge repairs.

He noted that the deck and the roadway are the items in need of repair. According to a 2012 New Hampshire Department of Transportation bridge assessment, the Vilas Bridge spandrels are in good shape.

$65K library project shortfall seen

Stearns told the board the library project was likely to run some $65,000 short in renovation costs, and explained that the architect's plans and practical application were “two different things.”

He said he is in daily contact with the supervisor of the project, and that the resulting “change orders” that would “only cost five hundred here, or five hundred there,” did not sound like a lot, but added up. When questioned by the board for details of what that meant, he cited several examples, and they were satisfied.

Stearns also noted that the Vermont Department of Public Safety is doing thorough inspections “on everything.” Because “preexisting conditions” no longer apply, each step must be inspected and approved.

And he said, “We're under their eyeball of public safety because ADA compliance has been made a public issue.”

Stearns said the library should reopen immediately following the Aug. 30 renovation completion deadline, as soon as “areas have been reloaded and (are) ready for occupancy.”

FEMA funds coming down to wire

Stearns told the board that if FEMA funds for debris removal did not come through in time, Rockingham could be “$713,000 in the red” at the end of the fiscal year. He noted that the general fund stands at $400,000.

Note was made at the end of the board meeting that electric bills, following the installation of LED lights in all the street lamps in town, had not resulted in a change in the billing.

Stearns said the Conservation Committee would look into that.

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