Vershire residents split votes on heating system proposals for town buildings

By LUKAS DUNFORD

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 04-08-2024 5:25 PM

Modified: 04-08-2024 7:30 PM


VERSHIRE — Energy concerns were top of mind for Town Meeting voters on Sunday.

In floor voting, the approximately 40 people gathered supported putting $20,000 of surplus money into a new propane boiler for the Town Center building, but rejected a separate article that would have spent $10,000 of surplus to replace an oil furnace in the Sargent House with a new propane furnace.

The rejection contrasted with other votes Sunday, which were all in the affirmative.

After a failure of the Town Center’s boiler, which is “on its last leg,” last December, a technician gave a “ballpark” estimate of $20,000 for a replacement, said Nicole White-Fogarty, a Selectboard member.

A point of contention about the article was what would be replacing the propane boiler. Pat Barnes, a member of the Vershire Energy Committee, was concerned about the town’s carbon footprint.

“I hope that we could take a step back and do a little research, and see what alternatives there are before we commit ourselves to 20 more years of burning fossil fuels for this building,” Barnes said during Sunday’s meeting, which was held in the Town Center building.

But the article was worded to be only a “starting point” for the project, said Vernal Stone, a Selectboard member.

Those gathered decided to have the Energy Committee and the Selectboard “work together to figure out what system would be appropriate for this building,” Gene Craft, the Vershire town clerk and treasurer.

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Craft then said that the final decision would be presented to the public later: “Once we know what system could be in place, the board presents it to the public at a town meeting, perhaps in the summer or late fall.”

In rejecting the similar article regarding the furnace at Sargent House, voters expressed concern about the “propane furnace” replacement. It was rejected in order to find a more sustainable heating system.

In Sunday’s ballot voting, Amy Record was elected to the Selectboard for a three-year term, 52 – 36 over George Osgood. There are 588 voters on Vershire’s checklist.

Also by Australian ballot, voters approved, 66-25, an updated general fund budget of $374,000, an increase from last year’s $335,000.

They also approved $531,000 for the highway budget, 62-30, as well as $69,000 for the fire and rescue budget, 71-18.

From the floor, voters approved boosting compensation for Selectboard members from $1,000 to $2,000 annually, as well as $50,000 for the Capital Equipment Fund, which is used for highway equipment, and $30,000 for the Capital Paving Fund.

There will be two informational sessions that will be held over Zoom before the Rivendell Interstate School District’s annual meeting on Saturday. In addition to Vershire, the district includes Fairlee, Orford and West Fairlee. For Vermont voters, there is a meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.; and for New Hampshire voters, there is one at the same time on Wednesday. Links for the online meetings can be found on the district’s website: rivendellschool.org.

The Rivendell annual meeting will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Rivendell Academy gym. Ballot voting for officers will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 30 minutes after the completion of floor voting.

Lukas Dunford can be rea che d at lukas.a.dunford.25@dartmouth.edu.