Minutes of the Selectboard Meeting of Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Members present: Ed Childs, Chair; Roger Blake; Christopher Ashley; Steve Flanders; Linda Cook;
Pete Webster, Town Manager; Nancy Kramer, Assistant to the Town Manager.
There were about 65 people in the audience.
Also participating: Jim Adler, April Andrews, Richard Blacklow, Jake Blum, Susan Blum, Terry
Boone, Nancy Dean, Phil Dechert, Margo Doscher, Joshua Durst, Nancy Hoggson, Karen Kayen,
Dennis Kaufman, Norm Miller, Bill Pierce, Sue Pitiger, Arline Rotman, Demo Sofronas, Warren
Childs opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.
1. Personnel (Executive Session may be Required). Pursuant to Title 1 VSA § 313(a)(3), Blake
moved (2nd Ashley) to enter into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the Town Manager
contract. Motion passed. The Selectboard moved into Executive Session at 6:31 pm.
At 7:01 pm the Selectboard moved into public session.
2. Approval of Agenda (Action Item). The Selectboard approved the Agenda with one addition.
3. Town Manager Contract. Ashley moved (2nd Flanders) to accept the agreement with the Town
Manager that was discussed in Executive Session and to authorize the Chair to sign the agreement
on behalf of the Selectboard. Motion passed. Childs read the statement: “The Selectboard and
Pete Webster have reached an agreement that the Town Manager contract will not be renewed when
it ends November 4, 2011. Because of the importance of the budgeting process, it is best if the
person finishing the process is the same person beginning it. To allow that to occur, Pete will step
down effective Monday, September 19. His contract will be honored through November 4, and he
will be available for consultation on the budget during that time. Further, he will be paid accumulated
vacation and personal days and an amount approximately equal to two months compensation. This
has not been an easy or a simple conclusion for any of the involved parties. Ultimately the reason for
the decision is that it is important for the Manager and the Selectboard to have an effective working
relationship and we do not. It is, simply stated, not a good fit. We understand there are discussions
of “Is there something back there we don’t know about? An ethical lapse that requires this action?”
The answer is a loud and unequivocal “No”. Pete is a person of high integrity and accomplishment.
We all respect the concerns expressed by the public about the process and will continue to do our
best to earn the respect and cooperation of the people of Norwich.”
4. Public Comments. Childs read a letter from Betsy Maislin regarding the Norwich AT celebration
hike. The Board agreed by consensus that whatever the AT people decided to do it was acceptable
5. Receive Public Input Relative to Town Manager Contract (Discussion). Webster said it was a joint
agreement that was difficult for all. Webster also said Norwich is a wonderful town and he has
enjoyed working here. Adler read a statement from the public forum Tuesday night. Several
townspeople spoke about their disappointment with the Board, accused the Selectboard of
micromanaging the Town Manager and a loss of trust in Town government. Some townspeople
asked the Board to explain or resign. Durst spoke about the difficulties of the job of serving on a
Town board and that people wishing for change should run for the Selectboard.
6. Town Manager’s Report (Discussion). Webster said that he and other parties had a one hour
conference call with State and FEMA officials. Roberta Robinson and Hodgdon are well aware and
working on the documentation needed to receive Norwich’s 75% federal disaster funding. The FY11
outside audit of the Town went smoothly and Webster thanked Roberta for her great organizational
skills. Gile Mountain trail work continues. Webster participated in the Labor Day Road Race and
things went well. The Lister Review Committee had a good meeting with representatives from
PV&R. Webster has sent out his budget memo to Department Heads for FY13. Norwich Residents’
Day is this Sunday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Ashley asked a question about the downed trees cleanup
in the brooks in town.
7. Finance – Board to Sign Accounts Payable/Warrants (Action Item). After some discussion the
Town Reappraisal warrant was tabled, Ashley moved (2nd Blake) to approve Check Warrant Report
#12-7 for General Fund for the period from 8/25/11 to 9/14/11 in the amount of $94,225.77. Motion
a) Warrant Number 12-6. Ashley moved (2nd Flanders) to approve Accounts Payable Warrant #12-6
dated 9/14/11 in the amount of $7,900.67. Motion passed.
8. Municipal Planning Grant Application (Discussion/Action Item). Deferred due to deadline being
9. Town Plan – Future Meetings/Hearings – Coordination with Planning Commission
(Discussion/Action Item). Dechert is keeping a running list of comments on the Town Plan. There
will probably be updates to the charts in the Town Plan. Dechert went over the options regarding
moving forward with adopting the new Town Plan. After some discussion, the Board set a date of
October 26th for the second public hearing.
Ashley moved (2nd Flanders) to set the date of September 27, 2011 to meet with the Planning
Commission to discuss the new Town Plan. Motion passed.
10. Final Approval for Purchase of 2012 Cab and Chassis and Dump Body and Snowplow
Equipment (Discussion/Action Item). Webster said the documentation for this purchase was in the
Selectboard packets. Cook questioned why the truck being replaced was sent out for repairs and
Hodgdon answered that this was because he will not be able to get the new one in until spring now.
Cook moved (2nd Flanders) approve the purchase of the 2012 cab and chassis from Freightliner of
New Hampshire for $70,282 and the dump body and snowplow equipment from Tenco New England
for $58,946. Motion passed.
11. Town Takeover of Holiday Lights (Discussion/Action Item). Webster said the Town had agreed
to take over the electric expense of the lights at a previous Selectboard meeting but not the expense
of replacing the lights. There ensued some discussion of preference of townspeople on the lighting.
It was agreed that businesses and townspeople would be encouraged to use small white lights this
year. Cook will coordinate with Doug Lufkin.
12. Financial Impacts of Irene to Town (Discussion Item). Webster said it is not clear that the Town
will be grandfathered on rebuilding the pool. It has also been suggested that the Town have a pool at
Huntley. Webster gave a handout to the Board from Hodgdon on an Irene update. Sink holes are
appearing and Cook cautioned townspeople to be careful on some roads. Cook asked if the
Selectboard could blanket approve Irene expenses ahead of time. Webster will review the process
with Roberta and have her get back to the Board.
13. Appointment with Nancy Hoggson Re: Norwich Charter Day (Discussion Item). Hoggson passed
out an agenda of events to the Board which includes the Norwich University Color Guard, welcome
by Margaret Cheney, speeches by Peter Shumlin and Peter Welch, Town charter presentation,
Reading of the Charter, a charter from Marion Cross School students and bicentennial music.
14. Establish Selectboard Subcommittee to Review Process for Sidewalk Evaluation
(Discussion/Action Item). Childs explained that the timeline and scheduling are up in the air and
planning needs to be done on a project of this extent. Hodgdon has done his part. Ashley offered to
develop a spreadsheet as a road map. After some further discussion, Flanders moved (2nd Blake) to
appoint Ashley and Childs as liaisons to review the process for sidewalk evaluation. Motion passed.
15. Review Model Alcohol Ordinance (Discussion/Possible Action Item). Ashley read his suggestion
for amending the ordinance. Ashley will work with Kramer and amend the current ordinance for
Selectboard review. Sue Pitiger spoke about the process for approval from the State to serve
alcohol. It was discussed that the Bandstand and Tracy Hall rental agreement will also need to be
amended to state that serving alcohol will be permitted after Board approval is given.
16. Correspondence (Please go to www.norwich.vt.us, click on Town Offices bullet in left panel,
scroll down to Norwich Selectboard section and click on Recent Selectboard Correspondence to view
a) Resident –
1) #16 a). Letter of Apology from Brian Livingston. Flanders moved (2nd Blake) to receive a
letter of apology from Brian Livingston. Motion passed.
2) #16 b). Email from Margaret Cheney Re: Town Manager. Blake moved (2nd Ashley) to
receive an email from Margaret Cheney re: Town Manager. Motion passed.
3) #16 c). Email from Robert Pitiger Re: Special Meeting Held 8/30/11. Ashley moved (2nd
Blake) to receive an email from Robert Pitiger re: special meeting held 8/30/11. Motion
4) #16 d). Email from Deborah Hall Re: Open Letter to the Selectboard. Blake moved (2nd
Ashley) to receive an email from Deborah Hall re: open letter to the Selectboard. Motion
5) #16 e). Email from Norman Miller Re: Webster Appointment. Flanders moved (2nd Ashley)
to receive an email from Norman Miller re: Webster appointment. Motion passed.
6) #16 f). Email from Brooke and Jim Adler Re: Extraordinary Performance in an Emergency
Situation. Ashley moved (2nd Flanders) to receive an email from Brooke and Jim Adler re:
extraordinary performance in an emergency situation. Motion passed.
7) #16 g). Email from Max Porter Re: Norwich Pool. Blake moved (2nd Ashley) to receive an
email from Max Porter re: Norwich Pool. Motion passed.
8) #16 h). Note from Peter Welch Re: Excellent Work of Highway Crew and Andy Hodgdon.
Blake moved (2nd Ashley) to receive a note from Peter Welch re: excellent work of
Highway crew and Andy Hodgdon. Motion passed.
9) #16 i). Email from Heidi Lang Moran Re: Irene, Town Government & Lending a Hand.
Ashley stated publicly the apology he had made privately to Ms. Moran regarding the
email she received. Cook moved (2nd Ashley) to receive an email from Heidi Lang Moran
re: Irene, Town government and lending a hand. Motion passed.
10) #16 k). Letter from Terry Boone Re: Handling of Discussion of Town Manager’s Contract
Renewal. Ashley moved (2nd Flanders) to receive a letter from Terry Boone re: handling
of discussion of Town Manager’s contract renewal. Motion passed.
11) #16 l). Email from Tom and Linda Gray Re: Town Manager Evaluation. Blake moved (2nd
Ashley) to receive an email from Tom and Linda Gray Re: Town Manager Evaluation.
b) Nonresident –
1) #16 j). Letter from TRORC Re: PACE. Cook moved (2nd Blake) to receive a letter from
TRORC re: PACE. Motion passed.
a) Approval of the Minutes of the 8/24/11 Meeting. After some discussion, Ashley moved (2nd
Flanders) to approve the minutes of the August 24, 2011 Selectboard meeting as amended.
b) Review of Pending Items. Childs will follow up with John Lawe to get a date for item #1.
Childs will review pending items with Kramer and try to get dates back on pending items.
Recognition for all people who were part of the Irene cleanup was discussed. Cook and
Flanders will work on this. Pool Replacement will be added to pending items.
c) Review of Next Agenda (Discussion/Possible Action Item). FEMA costs report from Roberta,
an update from the Listers on the Town reappraisal, alcohol ordinance, rental agreement and
a meeting with the Planning Commission to discuss the Town Plan will be on the
September 27th agenda. Childs asked for a special Selectboard meeting to be scheduled for
Ashley moved (2nd Blake) to adjourn. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 9:07 pm.
Approved by the Selectboard on September 27, 2011.
By Nancy Kramer
Assistant to the Town Manager
Next Regular Meeting – September 27, 2011 at 6:30 PM
1) Review Policy for Response to Appeals of DRB Decisions
2) Review Appropriation Request Policy
3) Update Finance Committee Statement of Purpose
4) Review of Town Plan Document
5) Budget Development
6) Strategic Planning
7) Develop Email Policy
8) Tour of Fire/Police Facilities
9) Tour of DPW Facilities
10) Review Recommendations for Facilities Improvements at the Fire/Police Facility
11) Evaluate Report from Capital Facilities Planning and Budgeting Committee
12) Evaluate Report from Committee to Evaluate Public Works Department (10/12/11)
13) State of Vermont PACE Initiative
14) Town Boundaries
15) Pool Replacement
PLEASE NOTE THAT CATV RECORDS ALL REGULAR MEETINGS OF THE NORWICH
SELECTBOARD. FOR A MORE DETAILED TRANSCRIPTION PLEASE REFER TO THE DVD.
DVDs ARE AVAILABLE ONE WEEK AFTER AIRING AT THE NORWICH PUBLIC LIBRARY.