The board reminds residents that they can get cash for some items, including junk cars and scrap metal; Halifax has two trash hauling businesses; an electronics recycling event will be held on Saturday, May 24, at Halifax School; and the fire department welcomes salable items for its early July auction. Changes in Vermont’s solid waste laws, the board notes, will drive disposal prices up in the future - now is the time to act. The notice also includes a list of area salvage and hauling firms. The board voted to adopt the National Incident Management System, which sets national standards and procedures for managing personnel, communications, and resources during disasters. The town has been using the system; board members and other town personnel have taken trainings.
But, noted board chair Lewis Sumner, formal adoption of NIMS is needed to keep the town eligible for FEMA and other federal disaster funding. Christina Moore observed that adopting NIMS is technically a state requirement, but since federal funds flow through the state government, the distinction “splits a very fine hair.”
Moore and Ross Barnett responded to board member Edee Edwards’ question as to what effect adopting NIMS might have on the town’s volunteer organizations. Moore, the Halifax Emergency Service chief, told the board that the EMS “has been NIMS compliant since 2008.” Barnett said the fire department is partway through the necessary trainings.
Board member Earl Holtz reported that the board is still looking for a traffic engineering firm to study the route planned for trucks hauling stone from the proposed Dennison quarry. “What for?” asked Rick Gay. “What’s the study for?”
Holtz cited the statement by town attorney Robert Fisher that, in regard to negative traffic impacts, the burden of proof in the Act 250 process lies on the town, not the applicant. “But do we need a study for six trucks a week?” Gay asked.
“Ten,” Holtz responded.
“Even for ten ...” Gay said.
“The (quarry) project is traffic we don’t have today,” Edwards said.
“And we need to do our due diligence,” Holtz added, “so no one can say we didn’t.”
Holtz said the town now has the thumb drive containing the Act 250 application. It had been sent before, he said, but a canceling machine at the Post Office had “punched the drive out of its envelope,” sending the empty envelope on to the town. The drive will make it easier to disseminate copies of the application to those who want to consult the documents.
Gay asked if it is true that there is now a Wi-Fi hot spot at the town garage, and asked how it was paid for. Yes, said Edwards, the hot spot is functioning; it was paid for by a grant and uses the existing high-speed service at the garage. Edwards and Holtz both found that the connection is poor to nonexistent at the bottom of the drive, but works at the top, where the recycling bins used to be. That space will be clearly marked for users.
Maggie Bartenhagen asked if legislation extending the streamlined process for permitting communications towers passed. Holtz said the bill didn’t make it out of committee. That narrows the window for Public Service Board approval of the proposed VTel monopole in Halifax Center. Edwards did not know what work has been done on the historical study and wetlands review required for the project.
Gay asked co-emergency management director John LaFlamme, “Who will pay (for the EMD position) when Vermont Yankee shuts down?”
“It will be unfunded,” LaFlamme replied. “The NRC,” he added, “will decide if the whole emergency plan goes away.”
Edwards noted that “an equipment funding piece is also going away.” That will add to the town’s maintenance and replacement costs in the future.
The town will not be installing an antenna and repeater system to extend high speed transmission. The plan had been for the town to connect to the fiber-optic line at the school, but although the town offices are in the school building, the cost quoted by Sovernet was prohibitively high. LaFlamme will notify the state that grant money allocated for the project can be redirected.
In other business, the board scheduled a preconstruction meeting for the Old County North bridge on Friday, May 30, at 10 am, and a meeting to finalize the personnel policy on Wednesday, May 28 at 6:30 pm. If possible, the May 28 meeting will include a 7:30 discussion with the fire department regarding any problems they may foresee arising from the quarry project. Edwards will be working with Jeff Nugent, of the Windham Regional Commission, to correct GPS data that has gotten a number of unwary strangers stuck on impassible town trails.