POWNAL -- Members of the Select Board decided to take action against speeding and stolen road signs on Thursday.

Road Foreman Casey Mattison was on hand to give his monthly report during the board's regular meeting, and addressed the problem of speeding on Sweet Road.

Lowering limits

"The road is narrow in a lot of spots," said Mattison, of the road which does not have any posted speed limit signs visible. "It should be posted for 25 (miles per hour), not 35."

At a prior meeting of the board, members read a letter from a community member asking them to lower the speed limit on Sweet Road for safety reasons. The board voted at that time to hold off on making a decision until they could determine the appropriate course of action.

Board Chairman Stephen Kauppi said the board was unsure whether state approval was required to change local speed limits, and wanted to be sure they were within their authority before proceeding.

"We were concerned that it might take some time to lower the speed limit, but we felt that if we couldn't it would still be important to get a sign up notifying people of what the existing speed was," said Kauppi, noting that drivers and ATV operators routinely exceed the speed limit by as much as 20 mph.

Mattison advised the board on Thursday that town roads were within their capacity to make necessary changes that would ensure the safety of residents and motorists.

Following his confirmation, all five members voted unanimously to lower the posted speed limit on Sweet Road to 25 mph.

The board also requested that Mattison put it on his agenda to have signs installed, posting the new limit for drivers where previously there had been no sign.

"I've never seen a sign posted on this road, ever," said Larry Baker, who has been a resident of Sweet Road for nearly six years.

Baker said it is typically ATVs that speed excessively in the area. "You get a lot of four-wheeler activity through here," he said. "In a car I don't think you could go that fast -- not without going off the road."

Baker said he appreciated having the speed lowered and would look forward to having finally having a sign on the road, noting his wife Tennille operates a daycare in the home, routinely caring for six children.

"It will be good if we can get people going a little slower around here," he said.

In other parts of Pownal where signs did exist, they have started to go missing lately. Mattison listed road signs on both North Pownal Road and Hidden Valley Road as having been recently stolen.

"I don't know the dollar amount but it's a substantial cost," said Mattison of the loss.

While several members of the board suggested the signs may have been taken to be sold as scrap metal, Mattison said he thought it unlikely. It is illegal for a metal dealer to accept town property for scrap from anyone other than a town official or highway employee, according to Mattison.

The signs are also made of coated aluminum, which is hard to remove to make the signs useable for other purposes. Mattison sets the letters on the road signs himself, and said he would like to see additional late-night patrols in the area by police to stop the problem.

Kauppi said the board would make it a priority to make the community aware of the problem and check for signs that may have gone missing in their neighborhood.

Residents are asked to be aware of suspicious activity and report any thefts to authorities.

Contact Khynna at kkuprian@benningtonbanner.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.