Newbury Residents to Vote on New Plow Truck Purchase

Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, February 25, 2018

Newbury Town Meeting will be held Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. at the Newbury Village Hall to act on 13 articles. Ballot voting for town officers will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Newbury, Vt. — Every town in the Upper Valley makes provisions for the snow that begins blanketing its roads in late autumn and continues falling into April. On March 6, Newbury voters will decide whether those yearly blizzards warrant spending $181,000 on a new plow truck.

They will also elect a member of the Selectboard, choose a successor to retiring Town Clerk Susan Underwood, vote on town and highway budgets, and decide whether to invest $25,000 in improving the sidewalks of Newbury and Wells River villages.

The town’s general budget of $623,000 marks a 4.2 percent increase over last year. The increase is due in part to Newbury’s plan to assume control over a tract of land on Tucker and Woodchuck Mountains.

The land, owned by the Leach family, would form a new town forest, and the Selectboard has budgeted $25,000 toward its purchase. The Vermont Land Trust is in negotiations to finalize the transfer. “The town has done what we need to do, and now we just have to wait for them,” Selectboard Chair Alma Roystan said.

Newbury maintains two town forests already, but Roystan described the 600-acre Leach tract as comparatively “huge.” Grants and private fundraising will augment the town’s contribution.

The plow-truck purchase would draw from the town’s Highway Equipment Reserve Fund. Voters last year opted to postpone the purchase for a year, and instead to have the existing truck’s engine repaired. The cost of buying a new one would come on top of the town’s proposed highway budget of $695,000.

The sidewalk article, meanwhile, is the fruit of a collaboration between the villages of Newbury and Wells River, which have historically tended to their own walkways. “This year they got together a petition to get an article on the warning,” Roystan said.

Other proposed appropriations include $4,500 to Stagecoach Transportation Services Inc., which runs bus routes up and down the Connecticut River valley, and $3,000 to Oxbow Senior Independence Program Inc.

Town Meeting may prompt discussion of an initiative to bring fiber-optic connectivity to Newbury. Resident Claude Phipps chairs the REDI District committee researching the issue; they have developed a roster and bylaws and aim to make high-speed internet universally available in Newbury.

The incumbent Roystan will face challenger Boots Wardinski in the race for the three-year Selectboard seat, while Nikki L. Tomlinson has filed to run for town clerk. Amanda Beaulieu is on the ballot for a three-year lister seat and Glen W. Godfrey for a two-year constable post. No candidates have filed for the open one-year lister position, or for auditor, grand juror, or town agent.

Gabe Brison-Trezise can be reached at g.brisontrezise@gmail.com.