Shaftsbury Select Board renews insurance, Sheriff's contracts


SHAFTSBURY -- The Shaftsbury Select Board appointed a new alternate for the Development Review Board, renewed the town's insurance contract, and renewed their contract with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department Monday night.

The board began the meeting with two roughly 30-minute presentations, one from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and a second from Dave Newell of Wills Insurance of Bennington, with whom the town has purchased their insurance package in the past. After hearing both presentations, chairman Tim Scoggins said, "There's a lot of detail you can dig into. However, given our timeframe, and that the people we've been with are coming in with a considerably lower quote, I'd entertain a motion to renew our contract."

The remainder of the board, minus co-chairman Mitch Race, who was absent, agreed with Scoggins, and the board voted unanimously to approve the contract with Wills Insurance. Scoggins noted that there were very few towns in Vermont that did not get insurance through VLCT, but said, "Maybe the other towns don't have as great a local guy as we do."

The board also invited Bennington County sheriff Chad Schmidt to the table. "We've enjoyed your service in the past, and I think we're looking to renew as a matter of course," he said. The contract was renewed through June 30, 2014, last November, after the board entertained some discussion of having the town's two constables take on the duties currently contracted out to the sheriff's department, including traffic patrols and handling criminal matters. However, the board determined that the cost of outfitting the two constables was too high, and tabled the discussion. The board voted unanimously to renew Schmidt's contract for the coming year.

"Doing it how we've been doing, it's been working," said Schmidt, "but if there's something else you'd like to see us do, just let us know." Scoggins mentioned that he saw drivers routinely ignoring the posted 25 m.p.h. signs in the village center along Route 7A, and Schmidt agreed to put a radar speed sign back in place.

The select board also filled the vacant DRB alternate position, which had remained vacant since March, when Michael Biddy became a full-time DRB member and Jay Palmer chose not to seek re-appointment. The board received one application for the position, from Michael Day, who retired and moved to Shaftsbury from upstate New York a year ago. Day said that he and his wife vacationed in the area frequently for many years. Day said that he had served on his previous town's school board, along with many other public posts, and that he viewed this as a good way to simultaneously give back to and learn more about the town of Shaftsbury.

DRB member Tom Huncharek said, "I believe he is a really good fit for this position." When asked whether the DRB has suffered from the lack of an alternate in recent months, he replied, "The DRB has functioned well, but let's lower the risk and appoint someone to the position." The board voted unanimously to appoint Day.

Scoggins also gave a report of the board's tour of the Dailey Building on Route 7A, which Scoggins said might be a potential location for the town offices, should renovations to Cole Hall become too expensive. "Every time we start to spend money on Cole Hall, we always wonder if there's another building we should be spending our money on," he said.

Scoggins said that the building fits the town's requirements for storage and office space, however, "The big question is, what do we do with Cole Hall? I'm not even sure we could do this if he gave us the building. A lot of pieces would have to come together."

While the Dailey Building isn't officially on the market, Scoggins noted that it has been partially vacant for 10 years. The board agreed the building would be a good fit if the price was right, but agreed to put it to the back of their minds for the time being.

Scoggins also announced that the Shaftsbury Garage Committee will reform on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Cole Hall. Previous members of the committee have been invited to re-join, and any interested community member is welcome to attend and participate in the committee.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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