Four seek two one-year Pownal Select Board terms


BENNINGTON — Four residents are running for a pair of one-year seats on the Select Board, including two incumbents and two newcomers.

Jenny Dewar and Brandon Jacobsen are challenging incumbents Ronald Bisson and Bruce Martel, with the top two vote-getters to serve on the five-member Select Board.

Candidates for local office were asked to complete a brief survey for the Banner article.

Note: This article was edited on Feb. 28, 2018 at 9:50 a.m. to correct the spelling of Jenny Dewar's name.

Jenny Dewar

"My goals are to support collaborative thinking and action," Dewar said, "encourage participation in local government, foster and nurture businesses in Pownal, liaison between all town boards and constituents, market Pownal as a desirable place to live, work, and visit; build on the existing system of communication with social networking, create systems to steer people to the town's website, and to work together with regional partners to put Pownal on the map."

There are many important issues facing the town, Dewar said.

"The town office is an extremely important discussion and needs a solution," she said. "The town plan is finally ready for review by the board, and it is extremely important for it to go into effect. Pownal needs to be eligible for grants to keep our valley beautiful and functional. We need to keep up with the times and prepare for the future. No one wants to see a Starbucks here, but we do need more places to gather and socialize. We need to support our existing businesses to help them thrive and grow. Our roads need to be safe and drivable."

The Select Board members "serve in a thankless job," she said. "People don't thank them, they complain to them. I would like to help communicate the great things that the board has done and will do."

In the community, Dewar is chairwoman of the Economic Development Task Force that was one of the committees created during the Empower Pownal program.

"I also founded the Pownal Business Network and launched a website that is a comprehensive listing of all the businesses and business owners in Pownal," she said. "When I see a need, I don't complain, I act."

She said she's also expanding her Facebook page — — during her campaign for the board.

"I will accept anyone who would like to be friends," Dewar said. "I'm finding that it's a great way to reach out."

Dewar owns and manages Orchard Air, LLC / Karin's Place, a resort retreat on Carpenter Hill Road.

"Pownal has been my home for the past 12 years," she said. "It is where I cared for both of my parents and bid them their final farewells. Pownal is now also the home of my business which employs local citizens and also brings countless visitors from all over the world to our town."

While in New York City, Dewar was a stage manager with 15 shows on Broadway, from 1994-2007. After moving to Pownal, she has been a stage manager and musician contractor for the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

She also has worked at Williams College as a concert and events manager, orchestra manager, visiting artist coordinator, and as a stage management mentor and director of career development.

Dewar also does bookkeeping on a freelance basis and event management.

"As a stage manager, I oversaw large theatrical and film productions which involved liaising and collaborating with multiple unions and personalities," she said. "When I joined Williams College, I tossed out everything that had been done in the past and recreated the position and the branding of the department which culminated in saving thousands of dollars for the budget and raising our audience numbers substantially. I worked with theater students to help them network with theater professionals while in school."

Dewar holds an undergraduate degree in English literature and mathematics from the University of Michigan.

She is a member of Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS; the Golden Key National Honor Society; the Actors' Equity Association, and the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bruce Martel

"My top goals if elected to office are to try and reduce taxpayer costs and to encourage citizens to participate in community affairs," Martel said. "I would also like to help Pownal continue to support the process to become a model community through growth and realization of task force action plans."

His personal interest, Martel said, is in developing more trails and rejuvenating the Hoosic River to provide more recreation opportunities in Pownal.

Regarding key issues, Martel said, "There is a need for better cooperation and communication within the town office employees and elected officials."

Another pressing issue, he said, is to address the mold problem that was found at the town office building.

"As for experience or education related to this position, I have been a selectman for one year," he said. "I have been in leadership positions on the rescue and fire department services in Pownal for many years. I have experience in educational and training with state management classes."

A Navy veteran and member of the American Legion, Martel said that experience "has provided me with job-related and continuing life skills. I have owned a logging/firewood business and continue a part-time lawn service."

Martel is a retired tractor-trailer driver for 32 years with Fairbank's Express, of Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

"My wife and I have lived in Pownal 50 years," he said. "I raised my family in this community."

He graduated from the former Williamstown High School, in Williamstown, Mass. Martel is vice commander of American Legion Post 90 in Pownal; a Master Mason for 43 years with Williams Lodge; a former Pownal Little League coach; and a former member of Pownal Rescue Squad and the Pownal Center Fire Department (from 1968-1982).

He and his wife, Caroline Martel, received a Governor's Certificate of Merit in 1994 for Outstanding Community Service.

Incumbent Ronald Bisson and candidate Brandon Jacobsen did not respond to the Banner survey.


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