This week the Bennington Select Board returned to in-person meetings. The last such meeting was March 9, 2020, more than one year ago. As the Grateful Dead said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This was also a return to the normal time these meetings generally take, finishing the meeting in a mere two hours. The Better Bennington Corporation’s Work Plan and budget were the main agenda item. The board unanimously approved the BBC’s funding for fiscal 2022. The total requested was $82,026, a 3-percent increase over last year.
The board also voted a reluctant unanimously to accept the Purdue bankruptcy plan after a brief executive session. The plan provides $4.325 billion from the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, to be divided among all government entities (states, municipalities, and other governmental units). Vermont will receive approximately $11.7 million to $14.7 million, depending on a number of variables. Bennington will receive much less, the amount as yet undetermined. This is the first settlement. There are approximately 21 other defendants remaining. It’s a start.
A second meeting was held on July 15 to hear a presentation from the National Association for Civilian Oversite of Law Enforcement (NACOLE). The presenter, Brian Corr, is the executive secretary to the Police Review and Advisory Board for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. I found the meeting very informative, and looking forward, I see a very daunting task ahead as we try to determine how civilian oversight should look for Bennington. Keep in mind that the 200 such oversight committees that exist are generally from large communities with populations in excess of 100,000 people. These oversight committees have paid staff and are separate departments within the municipality with an operating budget. It will be very interesting to see how this develops.
Meanwhile, the very positive work continues on the police reformation effort. The Select Board working through its subcommittee and its volunteers have now adopted 12 revised policies. Still ahead for the board’s review are code of conduct and fraternization and nepotism policies. The adopted policies are all available on the Town’s website, at https://benningtonvt.org/community-policing/.
This is a reminder that the Town Offices, the Senior Center and other town facilities have re-opened. It’s nice to be able to meet face to face. Although most of us have been working throughout the pandemic, the buildings access has been restricted. So welcome back. Please follow the rules established for each building. We look forward to serving you.
The fireworks held this year at Willow Park were incredible. The festivities at the Park during the afternoon and evening were well-attended. It sure feels good to get together after all this time. It was also nice to have Midnight Madness return on July 15. It was a beautiful evening with just a slight breeze and NO RAIN. This Aug. 15, we welcome back the Bennington Battle Day parade. The Home Brew Fest is returning on Aug. 7. The Splash Pad is open and is being enjoyed by many in the community. Other events will be coming along as well as we slowly and carefully return to normal.
The application deadline for the communications coordinator position has closed. At this writing, two interviews are being scheduled. This will be a full-time position created to increase our communications capabilities, provide greater transparency, and assist in the upgrade of our websites and the use thereof.
Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.