Vermonters at several dozen March town meetings added their voices to the national debate on guns and tar sands oil transport by approving resolutions seeking tighter controls.
At least six municipalities voted to ask lawmakers to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for every gun sold and make arms trafficking a federal crime.
“Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown, Conn., or the 33 people murdered with guns every day in America,” organizers of Communities Against Assault Weapons said on their petitions. “But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation.”
Spurred by the Dec. 14 school shooting, the grass-roots group saw its nonbinding resolution — based on language from Mayors Against Illegal Guns — win passage in Bradford, Hartland, Norwich, Strafford, Thetford and Woodstock. It was tabled in Vershire and set for a vote April 6 in Hartford.
The other nonbinding resolution considered by multiple municipalities asked voters to “Keep Vermont Tar Sands Free” by blocking the use of a 1950 pipeline to transport Canadian oil through the state. Continue reading
WATERBURY — Two Keith Wallace community service awards were presented during the town’s annual meeting Tuesday.
One was given to ReBuild Waterbury for the organization’s work to help the community recover after Tropical Storm Irene. The other was awarded to Municipal Manager Bill Shepeluk for his 25 years of service to the town and village.
Shepeluk said he was surprised, noting that he gets paid for his public service, and that he was grateful.
Both ReBuild Waterbury and Shepeluk received standing ovations.
The Keith Wallace award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding service to Waterbury and is named for the former town resident, farmer, and state representative who passed away in 1996.
“Welcome to Middlesex Town Meeting.
We have come together in civil assembly, as a community, in a tradition that is older than our state itself.
We come together to make decisions about our community.
As we deliberate, let us advocate for our positions, but not at the expense of others.
Let us remember that there is an immense gap between saying ‘I am right’ and saying ‘I believe I am right.’
And that our neighbors with whom we disagree are good people with hopes and dreams as true and as high as ours.
And let us always remember that, in the end, caring for each other, in this community, is of far greater importance than any difference we may have.
BELLOWS FALLS — Authorities say a Vermont man who stood up to speak at Town Meeting collapsed and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
John Fuchs of Bellows Falls was standing up to speak Monday night about the ongoing renovations to the library at the Rockingham Town Meeting.
The Eagle-Times reports (http://bit.ly/WspdV3) he suffered seizure-like symptoms, dropped the microphone and fell back into his chair about 7:30 p.m. Audience members performed CPR on him for about 15 minutes as emergency crews arrived at the Bellows Falls Opera House.
First responders used a defibrillator on Fuchs several times as he lay motionless in the aisle before he was taken to Springfield Hospital.
Selectboard Chairman Thomas MacPhee announced Fuchs’ death at 10:11 p.m. Selectman Stefan Golec led a moment of silence for him.
Adam Caira / Times Argus - Voters braved the rain in Barre Town, as did proponents and opponents as the town votes on the budget Tuesday.
ST. ALBANS — Residents in the Vermont town of St. Albans will go back to the polls to elect an alderman after a judge threw out the results over concerns about voting irregularities.
The Burlington Free Press reports after the election was held March 6, a machine count showed Ryan Doyle was ahead of Joe Luneau by five votes. But a review of the ballots at the time showed the vote count was eight shy of the number of people who cast unspoiled ballots.
A hand count later showed a two-vote victory for Doyle. Luneau asked for a recount, which still showed Doyle ahead, but by a different amount. Other problems included evidence the city clerk opened the ballot boxes without election officials present.
A judge on Tuesday ordered the new election.
BENNINGTON – The Mount Anthony Union School Board put three advisory questions before voters this year and while two of the questions were supported in Bennington, both were rejected in North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury and Woodford.
The first question asked if all the sixth grade students in Mount Anthony’s five towns should go to the Mount Anthony Union Middle School. Only Bennington sends its sixth grade to the school now although it was built to accommodate the sixth grades from all of its towns.
The question was rejected 301-183 in North Bennington; 357-230 in Pownal; 482-261 in Shaftsbury; and 68-32 in Woodford.
The next question asked if voters were interested in creating a unified school district for kindergarten through 12th grade. While Bennington supported the question 1,550-703, the second question was rejected 254-228 in North Bennington; 309-273 in Pownal; 395-335 in Shaftsbury; and 60-34 in Woodford.
The final question asked if voters wanted to spend up to $75,000 to build a bathroom and concession stand to serve the athletic fields at the middle school. This question was supported in close votes by North Bennington, 254-230, and Shaftsbury, 374-369. It was rejected by Bennington, 1,261-1,028; Pownal, 324-264; and Woodford, 61-36.
SHREWSBURY — Voters approved everything on the ballot Tuesday.
The $1,004,392 Shrewsbury Town School District budget passed by a vote of 216-118. The $3,451,611 town budget was approved 258-76.
Voters approved $50,000 for the town road equipment fund, $26,000 for the fire department reserve fund, $25,000 for the fire department itself, $14,348 for bus leasing, $12,000 for the Shrewsbury Community Meeting House and 22 smaller appropriations.
WASHINGTON — Town Moderator Bob Sherman deftly handled Tuesday’s town meeting in Washington, though he did make one mistake that didn’t have anything to do with Robert’s Rules of Order or parliamentary procedure.
It had to do with a simple introduction.
Sherman’s slip of the tongue (actually, he made the same mistake three times by our count) came when he was preparing to turn the microphone over to state lawmakers in attendance.
There were only two — Sen. Mark MacDonald and Rep. “Phil Rivers.”
What Sherman meant to say but didn’t on three separate occasions was “Phil Winters,” though the Williamstown Republican didn’t bother to correct the Washington moderator for failing to get his name right.
MIDDLETOWN SPRINGS — Voters approved their town and school budgets Tuesday.
Voting totals weren’t available Wednesday afternoon. But the Town Clerk’s Office turned over ballot results that showed the proposed $200,664 town budget, up 4.6 percent from this year’s $191,680 budget, was approved.
The proposed $381,963 highway budget also passed. The budget was up 0.3 percent over this year’s $380,794 spending plan.
On the school side, voters approved the proposed $1,934,623 school budget, up 6.8 percent more than this year’s $1,810,936 budget.