Newbury’s Royston ends 27-year run on Selectboard

Friends Nancy Metz, left, and Derry Gleason, both of Newbury, Vt., take a moment to say hello during Newbury’s Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Metz said she is proud of the community coming together for the tradition of Town Meeting,

Friends Nancy Metz, left, and Derry Gleason, both of Newbury, Vt., take a moment to say hello during Newbury’s Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Metz said she is proud of the community coming together for the tradition of Town Meeting, "Those of us who attend have had an appreciation that the rest of the country doesn’t have," she said. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valey News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

With microphone in hand, Braelynn Parson, 11, runs to the next Newbury resident who wants to speak at Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Newbury, Vt. Parson's father is on the selectboard – she said he volunteered her for the job of shepherding the mic.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

With microphone in hand, Braelynn Parson, 11, runs to the next Newbury resident who wants to speak at Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Newbury, Vt. Parson's father is on the selectboard – she said he volunteered her for the job of shepherding the mic.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Along with others in attendance at Town Meeting, Newbury Selectboard members Joe Parsons, left, and Jeff McKelvey pay tribute to fellow board member Alma Roystan, middle, who has been on the selectboard for 27 consecutive years on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Newbury, Vt. Roystan is retiring from the board. 
 (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Along with others in attendance at Town Meeting, Newbury Selectboard members Joe Parsons, left, and Jeff McKelvey pay tribute to fellow board member Alma Roystan, middle, who has been on the selectboard for 27 consecutive years on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Newbury, Vt. Roystan is retiring from the board. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

By FRANCES MIZE

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-05-2024 6:33 PM

Modified: 03-06-2024 10:32 AM


NEWBURY, Vt. — After being regaled with stories of its former owner, a Finnish farmer, and the old ski tow that once tugged residents up a slope on the land, voters at Town Meeting directed the Selectboard not to sell a 24-acre parcel of town property behind the West Newbury post office.

If it were developed, “the character of West Newbury would be forever changed,” said Lisa Jones, who waxed poetic on the view of the White Mountains the undisturbed land offers.

Noting its history, other vocal defenders of the parcel made convincing enough stump speeches for voters to send up an overwhelming chorus of “nay” when the article was moved.

But there was little discussion about the sale of 20 acres on Old Stagecoach Road that had been acquired by the town through a tax sale.

Voters gave the Selectboard the go-ahead to put it on the market.

Of the some 1,560 voters registered on the town’s checklist, around 150 filed in to the meeting in the Newbury Elementary School, the first in-person Town Meeting in Newbury since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Town Clerk Mary Collins.

From the floor, voters approved a budget of $711,000 to be raised in taxes, up from last year’s proposal of $640,350, and a highway budget of $884,000, up from $829,000. They also granted a 10-year tax exemption for the Frances Atkinson Residence for the Retired.

For Newbury residents that live in the town’s school district with a $200,000 home, Budget Committee member Marvin Harrison worked out that the exemption would raise their taxes by around $9 a year.

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Harrison, in favor of the exemption, spoke highly of his family’s experience when his father was moved into the retirement home.

“Hopefully you all can take a look at it before your room is ready, too,” he said.

Selectboard member Joe Parson’s daughter Braelynn, a sixth-grader at the school, spent her morning in the gymnasium while her peers had the day off. She ran interference in pink high-top Converses, nimbly maneuvering the microphone to reach the impassioned, because, she said, “my dad told me to.”

“And actually it was quite fun,” she added.

The end of the meeting closed out Alma Royston’s 27 consecutive years on the Selectboard. Josh Ackerman and Susan Culp faced off by Australian ballot for a three-year term in the seat she’s leaving. Polls were open until 7 p.m.

“I’m going to miss you,” Royston said, addressing the crowd. “But I’ll be sitting out on my porch.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@ vnews.com or 603-727-3242.