Monis announced her retirement, effective August 30, at the end of the meeting. In an interview later in the week, Monis said she’s leaving to start her own business as a virtual assistant. She said she had been contemplating a “retirement career” for the last six months. “Retirement today doesn’t mean you stop working, you just do something different,” she notes.
A virtual assistant provides administrative assistance for small businesses, usually from home via Internet. Many small businesses and sole proprietorships are too small to hire a full-time office assistant, or don’t have an actual office, but they still need help with a variety of administrative functions. A virtual assistant can provide business services from marketing to bookkeeping regardless of location. Monis says she already has one client, and is working with at least two others. “It’s a growing business, and it’s cost-effective for businesses,” she said.
Monis has worked for the town of Dover for almost 17 years, she said, and as the town administrator has served in a wide variety of functions. For the last several years, in fact, she has served as the town’s representative to a number of economic development groups that were key in bringing broadband Internet services to the town – services intended to spark the creation of businesses such as the one she plans to start. “I wanted to be mobile – I’m from Rhode Island, and now I could go to Rhode Island for a month in the summer and still be able to work,” she said. “As long as I have my computer with me, I can go anywhere.”
Monis said she has offered to assist with the transition to a new administrator, and hopes to stay on as the project manager for the Valley Trail. “I’d love to see that through,” she says, noting that the project predates her work at the town. “Right now it’s at a critical point, and I’ve pushed really hard to move things along.”
At Tuesday evening’s meeting Monis told the board that work on Valley Trail segment A, a sidewalk that will run from Tollhouse Village to the beginning of the current Valley Trail walking path, should begin as early as 2014.
In other matters, Philip Gilpin of Green Mountain Marketing Group, updated the board on his progress in preparation for itvfest, an annual independent television festival that will be held in the valley September 25 – 28.
Gilpin said he has received about 40% fewer film submissions than were received for last year’s festival. Gilpin said the number was better than he had hoped, noting that it was the first year of a big move for the festival from the West Coast to Vermont. “We’ve got 176 submissions compared to about 280 last year,” he said. “So we’re pleased with that, it’s a big indicator of how much impact the geographical move has had – not that much.”
Gilpin also said that the festival will have screenings of 60 projects – a higher percentage of submissions than the festival had supported in the past.
The town of Dover sponsored the festival with $15,000 in economic development funds. Under the budget Gilpin presented the board, he was required to get another $50,000 in sponsorships from other sources. Tuesday evening he said he had met the budget requirement, and he has made deposits on tents and equipment for the festival. “The biggest thing, in terms of budget, is that I’ve been able to knock expenses down by nearly $80,000 through donations and cuts. It lowers the threshold we need to break even.”
Gilpin said he has also hired two other marketing people to work with media regarding the event.
With an estimated 40 to 50 sold so far, ticket sales haven’t taken off yet. “But if you go by people on the street who say they’re going, you’re looking at 500 to 600,” Gilpin said. “There are going to be a lot of people around the valley.”
Regular tickets are on sale for $79 to $299, but Gilpin said he has teamed up with the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce to offer a $60 festival pass that includes admission to the itvfestival and Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival (September 20 – 22).
In highway department business, board members approved the purchase of two pieces of equipment. The board approved a bid of $40,395 for a tractor with attachments including a rake, snowblower with a deep snow auger kit, and a bucket. The board also approved an $86,900 bid for a John Deere backhoe, including the trade of the town’s current backhoe. The bid was almost $10,000 lower than another bidder’s price for the same make and model.
William “Buzzy” Buswell asked the board if they had pursued complaints about the condition of the recently resurfaced portion of Route 100 with the state highway department. He noted that he had seen Agency of Transportation employees surveying the road.
At the board’s last meeting, several residents complained that water collected in the “wheelruts” of the road during rain storms, causing some people to hydroplane. “It is pretty gnarly the way it’s holding water,” confirmed Dover Police Chief Bob Edwards Tuesday evening. “I did go drive it when it was raining.”
Selectboard chair Randy Terk said the board had been in contact with the AOT and local Rep. John Moran.