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Town Meeting Day

03/03/09 7:00PM
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by John Dillon, VPR
Town Meeting Day 2009 in Calais, Vermont

VPR's Bob Kinzel was on hand for Town Meeting Day results in our special Town Meeting call-in program.  He was joined in the studio by Steve Jeffrey of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Also on hand was John Nelson of the Vermont Superintendents Association to talk about trends in education spending.

We heard the latest developments from reporters around the state including VPR's John Dillon and Nina Keck. And you can hear it all by clicking on the Listen icon.

Here's a rundown of stories reported on the program

Towns Look at Reductions
Steve Jeffery of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and a moderator in Northfield said during special coverage of town meeting on VPR on Tuesday that some communities are facing the possibility of layoffs because of the economic downturn. Jeffery said that the town of Hartford was looking at the possibility of laying off six or seven people. He said that St. Albans City, for example, was considering a reduction of staff in its fire department. He said that Vermont's municipalities are looking under every nook and cranny to save money.

Hancock to Close School
A caller to VPR said that voters in Hancock decided to shut down their two room school house. The caller said the school is the oldest operating two-room schoolhouse in the entire country. She said in part the reason to shut down was a result of a move to consolidate in the state. The shutdown will affect about 30 students.

In Two Votes, Craftsbury Decides to Fix School
In Craftsbury, VPR's Steve Zind reports on the two-vote school budget. The Craftsbury Academy building is badly in need of repairs. The school gym can't be used when winds are high or when there are more than 3 inches of snow on the roof. And on Town Meeting Day, the heating system broke down. Zind reported that it was probably the coldest town meeting in the entire state. The question was about a 7.5 percent increase to make the necessary repairs to the school building. Discussion centered around the larger issue of whether a small community like Craftsbury can continue to educate students or whether they should tuition students to neighboring communities. Both votes were approved to fix the building.

Many Towns Vote for Yankee Resolution
VPR's John Dillon reports on the ballot item on Vermont Yankee. Dillon was in Calais and Middlesex. The resolution passed in both towns. Dillon says that out of 40-plus towns, about 25 voted in favor so far. Dillon says this will be a strong message to lawmakers since the resolution asks the Legislature to reject Vermont Yankee's request to operate the nuclear plant for another 20 years after its license expires in 2012. According to the organizers of the move to put the item on the ballot, these are the towns voting in favor of the resolution so far: Charlotte, Warren, Westfield, Calais, East Montpelier, Plainfield, Charleston, Dummerston, Richmond, Holland, Hinesburg, Brookline, Newfane, Westminster, Corinth, Greensboro, Townshend, Putney, Woodbury, Worcester, Guilford, Windham, Halifax and Marshfield.

Kellogg-Hubbard Library Funds Getting OK'd
Sue Allen, the editor of the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, was on the air and said it appeared that budgets are passing in Central Vermont. She reports that Plainfield voted to take fluoride out of the water system there. She said town and school officials are tightening their belts. She said there is one place where money is being approved: the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier is getting extra money they asked for… about $70,000.

Middlebury Holds Meeting in Town Hall Theatre
Ed called in to say that the Middlebury Town Meeting was held in the Town Hall Theatre and it was a big community event, since the building has been undergoing an extensive renovation. Town employees were honored for taking a cut in their prescription benefits. All the social service agencies were approved even in difficult times. Moderator Gov. Jim Douglas was reported to have been his witty self.

Louras Is Returned as Mayor in Rutland City
In Rutland City, VPR's Nina Keck reports that in the mayoral race there, incumbent Christopher Louras has won handily over David Trapeni. She reports that it was a fairly quiet election. Property taxes were a big issue. Water and sewer rates are up, and she said that city voters are feeling squeezed. Trapeni was focusing on taxes and saying the city couldn't afford any more taxes. Louras said he had been doing that. Voters were apparently willing to give Louras the backing to continue his work. Louras says he's been trying to fill the vacant downtown stores and has worked with the downtown to provide free rent for a year for a business willing to locate downtown.

Wright Leading in Burlington Mayoral Contest
Bob Kinzel just reported that the Burlington mayor's race first round numbers are in. No candidate got 50 percent, so instant runoff voting will be in effect. Here are the results so far:

Republican Kurt Wright, 33 percent
Progressive Bob Kiss, 29 percent
Democrat Andy Montroll, 23 percent
Independent Dan Smith, 13 percent
Green Party James Simpson, under 1 percent

Kiss Wins in Third Round of IRV
Bob Kinzel has just reported that incumbent Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, the Progressive, has been re-elected to a second term on the third round of instant runoff voting. Kurt Wright, the Republican has come in second.

Tight Economic Times in Northwest
Ed Shamy of the County Courier reported that Enosburg voted against a new truck; in Georgia townspeople seemed to feel there has been skimping on pavement, but an amendment for funds got voted down. Sheldon's school budget is up less than 1 percent, but it was voted down. Shamy says a lot of people are saying that we cannot spend money because of the economy. He says the national statistics we hear about have hit home in Northwestern Vermont. That said, according to Shamyh, Sheldon voted for a new firehouse for $350,000. He said town budgets are generally lower than last year.


Vermont Edition: Town Meeting Day

We learn about Switzerland's 800-year-old Town Meeting tradition and check in with town meeting officers and participants for a look at how the institution is faring in Vermont.

Vermont Edition on Town Meeting Day »


Town Meeting Day Photos

Check out some of these pics taken by VPR Staffers at meetings and polling places this morning.


Town Meeting Tradition, a 2008 documentary


Join the discussion about Town Meeting Day


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