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Voters Approve Plow for Newbury, Reject Sidewalk Maintenance Plan



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Newbury, Vt. — Vehicles, like people, become eligible for retirement after many years of hard work. With that in mind, residents voted on Tuesday to appropriate $181,000 for a new plow truck to replace a predecessor that logged more than 300,000.

“That was our first 10-wheeled truck,” road foreman Bob Beaulieu said of the 2006 purchase. “It proves they last longer than six-wheeled trucks.”

The plow vote was something of a formality, considering the money had already been approved in the form of annual contributions to the Highway Equipment Reserve Account. Selectboard member Brian Emerson made a motion on Tuesday that would allow the board to make such purchases without waiting for Town Meeting.

Emerson’s motion, which was met with little resistance, was based on his hope that Newbury could place future orders in January instead of mid-March, when many other towns are ordering trucks. This could allow for better prices and a more timely arrival of the vehicle, Emerson said.

The plow truck article was sandwiched between the town’s two largest spending items: the $631,000 town budget and the $695,000 highway budget.

The town budget was adjusted to cover two articles approved earlier in the meeting: $4,500 to support Stagecoach Transportation Services and $4,000 to support the Oxbow Senior Independence Program.

Both passed with no discussion.

At least one person wasn’t surprised by the speed of Tuesday’s proceedings, which were attended by roughly 150 of Newbury’s some 1,620 registered voters.

“Things always pass quickly here,” said Robin Varone, president of the Oxbow Senior Independence Program and chair of the Village Trustees.

“The town is always very supportive of its schools and very supportive of its road crew and its structures.”

The meeting’s lengthiest discussion regarded the appropriation of $25,000 toward the extension, repair and upkeep of sidewalks in Newbury and Wells River.

Nobody argued against the importance of sidewalk maintenance, yet concern was expressed over the lack of research behind the article.

Several voters requested more specific data before the motion became the only article on Tuesday’s warning to fail.

An article asking voters to agree to compensation for town officers generated considerable debate prior to its passing. Selectboard members will earn a stipend of $1,800 in 2018 and the Selectboard chair will earn $17,000.

It was mentioned that some Vermont towns don’t pay their selectboard members while others employ a town manager at a much greater cost.

Brad Vietje, who said he crafted the town’s gavel years before he conceived of wielding it, was elected moderator at the outset of the meeting.

In ballot voting, Selectwoman Alma Roystan defeated challenger Boots Wardinski, 146-36, for a three-year term in the only contested race.

Nikki Tomlinson will be the new town clerk, taking over for Susan Underwood following her many years of service.

Amanda Beaulieu was uncontested for three-year lister post and incumbent Glen W. Godfrey was uncontested for the two-year constable position.

Carol Cottrell, secretary of the Newbury Historical Society, announced the organization’s intention to create a third volume of the town’s history, beginning with 1977.

Cottrell said help is needed with writing, editing, indexing and gathering photographs.