Sounds of Town Meeting Day
03/02/05 12:00AM By Betty Smith-Mastaler
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(Host) Town Meeting Day brings together many people, issues and sounds. It takes all of these to make up the distinctive tradition of Vermont's grass roots democracy. VPR's Betty Smith was with the hundred voters who turned out in West Windsor on a snowy morning and filed this audio postcard.
(Smith) The day began with the arrival of town clerk, Cathy Archibald. (Sound of footsteps, door slam and stamping feet.)
But the big empty room didn't remain empty for long and by nine o'clock conversation was lively.
Then everyone got down to work, amending and accepting the Town Report, and electing Town officers. (Sound of Grand Juror vote.)
Then it was time for the school budget. A budget amendment was proposed to reverse the school board's decision to cut one teacher position from full to part-time.
(Sound of amendment vote) "But you're not done yet."
(Smith) And they weren't. There were many issues to get through. There are more kids in elementary school. High school tuitions and costs for transportation and special education have gone up.
The State Supreme Court has ordered the town to pay a $120,000 property tax rebate to five landowners. The Town Hall interior and parking lot need repairs. Then there was the matter of covering the town sand pit and increased administrative time spent on homeland security paperwork.
Voters declined to buy a local piece of land for conservation, but asked for further study. Selectmen took questions and Representative Steve Adams reported, then business continued in a special meeting to debate universal health care.
(Sound of discussion and vote on universal health care) "You have adjourned your special meeting."
(Smith) The meeting was over, and it was on to the Brownsville Community Church next door for lunch where debate continued over homemade soup, stew, ham and pickle sandwiches and pie.
For Vermont Public Radio, I'm Betty Smith.