Jarvis narrowly defeats Caraman in Pownal

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This story was updated on March 7, 2018 at 8:09 a.m. to include additional comments.

POWNAL — Town voters elected three Select Board members Tuesday, a treasurer and a new town clerk, while also passing the annual budgets and the spending articles as written.

A controversial article calling for town clerks to be appointed by the board rather than elected was shot down on a vote of 434 against to 296 in favor.

In the contest for a three-year Select Board term, newcomer Bob Jarvis received 310 votes to narrowly defeat incumbent Suzanne Caraman, with 298 votes, and Michael George, with 121 votes.

“I am honored and grateful to have been selected by the people of Pownal to serve on the Select Board,” Jarvis said. “We are blessed as a town to have had a broad field of candidates to choose from, all of whom clearly want what is best for Pownal.”

“As I promised during my campaign, I will strive to make our town government as transparent as possible, and to solicit input from the good people of Pownal for all major decisions,” he said. “And I will make sure all initiatives are weighed fully against the costs before approval.”

Caraman congratulated the winners in the election, adding, “I enjoyed my time working with everyone. And I was very happy to see such a great turnout at the polls today. Thanks to everyone who supported me.”

In a four-way contest for a pair of one-year board seats, incumbent Ronald Bisson (373 votes) and newcomer Jenny Dewar (365 votes) were elected.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to represent the town on the Select Board,” Dewar said. “Now, I am ready for the real work. Time to look forward, not back. The best part about running was the number of amazing people I met. The new friends. The old friends. The support. There is a lot on our plate this year, and I have only the best interest of Pownal in my heart and intention.”

Bisson thanked his supporters for their votes, saying, “I will do all I can to make Pownal a place for all to enjoy.”

Finishing third and fourth respectively were incumbent Bruce Martel, with 307 votes, and Brandon Jacobsen, with 262 votes.

Treasurer and clerk

In the treasurer's race, for a three-year term, longtime incumbent Ellen Strohmaier defeated Priscilla Maxon, 466 votes to 256. “I would like to thank all the voters for their support and taking the time to come out to vote,” Strohmaier said.

Tammy Sohl was elected unopposed to a one-year term for lister, with 613 votes.

Acting Town Clerk Julie Webber was elected unopposed with 673 votes to a three-year term. She succeeds longtime Clerk Karen Burrington, who retired after several years of chronic ill-health and having suffered injuries in a fall in late 2016 that prevented her from coming to the town office.

Because of the article to make the clerk's post an appointed one was defeated, Webber will serve as an elected clerk.

Also approved as part of the general fund budget was $50,000 to hire Pownal's first town administrator. The Select Board has said it will make determinations as to hours, salary and benefits based on pending interviews with candidates for the new post.

Spending articles

Voters approved a $989,295 general government budget for fiscal 2019, calling for $620,008 to be raised from taxes and $131,136 from surplus funds from the prior budget.

And they approved a road budget of $956,600 with $812,259 to be raised in and $8,391 from prior year surplus funds.

Among articles approved were $60,000 for the Pownal Fire Protective Association; $50,000 for the Pownal Rescue Squad; $52,000 for the Pownal Valley Fire Department and $19,500 for the department's fire truck and equipment fund; $15,000 for the Solomon Wright Library; and $20,000 for a fire department repeater system, which firefighters said would be mounted at the Pownal Center Firehouse and is needed to improve communications signals throughout town during fires or other emergencies.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. Email:jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com. @BB_therrien on Twitter.

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