Click photo to enlarge
In this Banner file photo, Ken Harrington is shown. Harrington’s election to the Shaftsbury Select Board was one of the major changes the town saw during 2013. (Peter Crabtree)
In this Banner file photo, Ken Harrington is shown. Harrington’s election to the Shaftsbury Select Board was one of the major changes the town saw
In this Banner file photo, Ken Harrington is shown. Harrington’s election to the Shaftsbury Select Board was one of the major changes the town saw during 2013. (Peter Crabtree)

SHAFTSBURY -- The make-up of the Town of Shaftsbury's select board underwent some major changes in 2013, and the town was faced with not one, but two votes on a new town garage. Here's a look at Shaftsbury's Year in Review:

***

On March 5, Ken Harrington defeated Mitch Race in an election for the departing Lon McClintock's spot on the select board. Harrington, who was road crew foreman for Shaftsbury from 1973-1976, ran on a platform that opposed a new town garage and supported removing two members from the six-person road crew, a move he said would save Shaftsbury $100,000 a year in salaries and benefits. Harrington argued that taxes had increased 400 percent on his home since he built it, and that many taxpayers were feeling the pinch.

Also on March 5, the initial proposal for the town garage bond, which would have authorized the town to borrow $1.55 million to pay for a new town garage, was defeated 292-505. On March 18, the select board created a Town Garage Committee to form a plan for a new garage that voters would be more willing to support, hopefully in time for a vote in November. Vice-chairwoman of the board Karen Mellinger was tasked with finding people to put on the committee, and Harrington, who had been very concerned with the cost of the initial proposal, expressed interest in membership, saying, "You can't keep me off it."

***

On April 4, the Shaftsbury School Board appointed local educator Jeff Johnson as the new principal of Shaftsbury Elementary School, replacing the retiring James Harwood. He had previously taught at Molly Stark School and Mount Anthony Union Middle School.

***

On May 6, the Select Board appointed Race to a position on the select board created by the resignation of Billy Obenauer, who resigned to pursue a master's degree. Race, the president of the Shaftsbury Historical Society, had run against Harrington in March, and was the only resident who expressed interest in the vacant position.

***

On June 28, Shaftsbury launched its new town website, designed by Websites and More, a Shaftsbury-based web design company. Town Administrator Margy Becker paid the company $2,000 for the website, which can be found at shaftsbury.org. Select board chairman Craig Bruder said that the website was a response to how people communicate with towns these days. On Sept. 30, Tim Scoggins was appointed to the select board to replace Bruder, who was resigning to pursue his career elsewhere. Scoggins had been active in the community before his appointment, often attending school board meetings, and had been instrumental in the lowering of the speed limit to 25 m.p.h. along part of Route 7A in Shaftsbury. Obenauer and Developmental Review Board member Tom Huncharek had expressed interest in the position. Mellinger was elected chairwoman of the board, with Carl Korman serving as her vice-chairman.

***

On Dec. 3, the Garage Committee's proposal for a $995,000 garage bond was defeated by voters, 319-350. Some proponents of the garage placed part of the blame on Harrington, who had resigned from the committee a few weeks prior to the vote, urging the public to vote against the garage. Opponents of the project cited concern about the impact it would have on their taxes, especially amidst reports that the school budget would be going up by about 5 percent. Scoggins and Race were elected to hold their positions on the select board until town meeting in March, when they will have to run for new terms.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB