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Scholarship Request Prompts Debate in Bradford, Vt.

  • Martina Stever reads from the town report at the Bradford Town Meeting on March 7, 2017 in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The voting box at Bradford Town Meeting on March 7, 2017 in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bradford town officials Thomas Unkles, selectboard chair, left, Danielle Robinson, administrative assistant and Jennifer Rivers town treasurer laugh during Town Meeting on March 7, 2017 in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • At the Bradford Town Meeting Walter Kohanski listens during the discussion on March 7, 2017 in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Bradford, Vt. — A $5,000 budget item to support the Bradford Conservation Fund triggered the only real discord in a mostly harmonious Town Meeting on Tuesday morning.

Donna Wing kicked things off by questioning a small component within the $5,000 request — a $500 student scholarship proposed by the town’s Conservation Commission.

“Why are we being asked to give money when it’s given away?” she asked.

“It’s a slush fund,” her husband, Robert Wing, a town lister, remarked.

That characterization provoked an objection from Paul Hunt. He commended the commission’s work, as did Henry Ilsley. “My view about the commission can be summarized in one word: impressive,” Ilsley said.

Nancy Jones, chair of the Conservation Commission, said the scholarship money comes from fundraising activities and not town taxes. It is awarded annually to an Oxbow High School senior who has demonstrated interest in conservation work.

The Wings and their supporters forced a vote by paper ballot on the Conservation Commission’s $5,000 request, which was approved, 64-45.

All told, voters approved raising $1.78 million in taxes to support the general fund and highway budgets — an  increase of about $85,000, or 5 percent, from last year. The tax rate won’t be fixed until mid-year when town listers finish work on the grand list, according to Selectboard Chairman Ted Unkles.

In a separate meeting of the Water and Sewer Commission, voters approved a $300,000 water budget, representing a $6,800 increase, or 2.3 percent, over last year. Voters also approved a sewer budget of $279,000, up about $4,500, or 1.7 percent.

About 100 people attended the three-hour meeting in the Bradford Academy Auditorium, recently spiffed up with a new sound system and a gleaming floor reflecting two coats of wax applied last Friday by custodian Claude Cuirleo.

Moderator Peter Mallary was elected for the third straight year after “one of my toughest campaigns,” he quipped. (He was the only candidate.) He acknowledged that he is still learning the fine points of Town Meeting rules and orders, and called frequently for guidance from his predecessor, Larry Coffin, who served 40 years.

“I’m not having a good day,” Mallary confessed. “I think I’ll go home and practice in front of a mirror.”

Sonya McLam, assistant town clerk and treasurer, was supported for a three-year term as town clerk, replacing Marianne McClure, who is retiring after 15 years. She received two standing ovations, dabbing her eyes with tissues after each.