Franklin Selectboard Meeting

September 16, 2020 @ 6:00 p.m.
Methodist Church and Zoom virtual meeting




Call to order

At 6:05 p.m. Peter Magnant called the meeting to order. The Pledge of Allegiance was said.  Would like to thank the paster and church council for allowing the board to use this space to meet.


Present: Peter Magnant, Dave Bennion, Yvon Dandurand, Brooks Sturtevant, Lisa Larivee, Town Clerk, Andy Godin (joined at 7:45 pm)


Guests: Jeremy Barnum, Highway foreman; Catherine Dimitrik, NRPC; Kim & Adira Gates Maynard; Rob Evans, John Costa, Peter Benevento, Ruth Ann Krayesky, LCCA board; Tucker Wehner, Watershed Coordinator; Linda Hartman, Josh Worman, Library; Wesley Kempton; Paulette Tatro, Rep Lisa Hango; Jenn Wood, GMTA


Agenda amendments:  Add to Highway Dept-Hummingbird Circle street sign; Rte 236 project review; power feed to old highway garage.  Add to Town Clerk concerns-Recreation Director.  All members in favor of amendments as read.


Public comment period: Linda Hartman voiced her concern of the lack of communication with the board to the towns people regarding the Dick Wright property and a change to location of the town offices.  Peter-no decision made, may look at options to build new.  Dave- this is a 5-10 year plan that is just getting started with discussions. Linda is concerned with who will be responsible for the utilities if the space is empty; is it going to be on the library?  Peter states when we have solid options they will be brought to the townspeople and discussed.  Yvon-have so little information to provide to the folks at this time, there is nothing to communicate.  Linda disappointed that the library was not notified of the change in hours of the town clerk’s office being closed on Monday and open Wednesday.  Lisa responded that this is a temporary change due to the school schedule and staff flexibility; it may change again if necessary.  Peter also stated we need to be flexible in the office with these times; will communicate better with the library of changes.  Josh asked about the new sign and didn’t know about beforehand; could have had discussion and communicated to make just one sign for the town notices.  Are other groups able to use it?  Lisa responded that any town group can use to post events, ect.  Josh asked about a policy for use; he will draft a policy for the board.  Peter stated this is a benefit to all the town departments to advertise events and notices.  Peter will respond to the library letter of concern submitted by Sue Clark. 


Approval of minutes: Brooks S/Dave B made a motion to approve the minutes of August 19th regular meeting and Sept 2nd special with Kevin Lothian as written.  All members voted in favor 4-0; motion passed.


LCCA-weed harvester discussion:  Peter stated the machine has been pulled from the water and did little harvesting this summer due to engine issues; died mid-summer. This is the third gas engine on this machine; have decided to replace with a diesel engine.  Also will need to replace the trailer to function with the machine, as it is very rusted and rotted out.  Yvon stated to convert to a diesel engine will need a conversion kit and can be done easily.  Engine cost is $5200 for a new kabota engine and the conversion kit for pumps and hydraulics is $1,800.  The current brackets and platform is able to be used as it is. Trailer with a conveyer belt to off load the weeds are available similar to our current one or also have one with a wooden bed and conveyer chain that is more robust and can carry more weight.  They both cost $32,000.  Need to consider labor to install the new engine; highway crew can make the change over.  There are trailer add-ons that were removed, hydraulic pump and remote to unload trailer, can use our tractor; reduces the price by about $5,000.  This would be an article presented to the voters at town meeting.  Peter M would like to hear Rob Evans and Peter Benevento’s input.  Peter B asked if the gas engine was not powered enough to cut the weeds and do the job.  Yvon states old engine is not enough torque to run the machine properly; the diesel is liquid cooled rather then air and a more robust engine for the job.  Peter B asked about the warranty of the old engine, is it expired?  Yvon stated yes, the engine is blown due to overheating.  Peter B asked if there is any recourse with Aquamarine as they suggested a gas engine rather than a diesel?  Peter M stated we tried to litigate that in the beginning with the engine troubles and our attorney stated being an international company it’s very difficult and costly to fight; was more beneficial to just replace the engine ourselves at that point.  Rob thanked Yvon for his many hours of research of options and fixes to the machine.  May need to have a professional person to service and maintain the machine.  Yvon stated he tried all the recommendations of Aquamarine and other vendors to remedy the gas engine.  Rob asked about the efficiency of the machine with loosing weeds to float about the lake, they are an issue.  Will the new engine perform more efficiently to collect the cut weeds?  Yvon -it is likely to be better as the paddles will run more efficiently to collect and keep weeds on the boat.  Peter B is in favor of the improvements of the machine and need to maintain and control the weeds on the lake to work with the aeration system and other work being done for water quality.  Peter M- town meeting will be unknown on how that will look next year; may have votes by Australian ballot.  Will communicate with towns people all the information before town meeting. Paulette-why after three gas engines are we deciding to go with a diesel engine?  Are we sure it is the right one this time?  Peter M-Aquamarine recommended the gas and replaced the first one we had issues with; we replaced the second one with a larger gas engine.  Paulette-with the diesel engine, what will be the warranty if we install it ourselves?  Yvon-there will be a warranty, not sure of the exact specs right now.  Paulette-are there grants available to assist with this cost?  Lisa advised there is an aquatic nuisance grant we get annually to help with harvesting; can add this to that grant in February when due.  There is no guarantee of course of an award.  Paulette says weeds are bad at the south end of the lake.  Peter M-feel bad of the weed condition, and hates to see another year with no harvesting.  Peter B- if we get a new engine, can we use the old trailer?  Yvon-yes we could but it is really not safe to transport the machine; very poor condition and thirty years old.  It would need much repair to use safely.  Rob-water quality is still of concern and can not take our foot off the gas yet; need to continue to watch and advocate for improvements and if need help from LCCA group to speak with the public are willing to do so.  Peter M-inquired about help with funding of needs for the harvester to get back on the lake.  Peter B-is a conversation of the stake holders to review together.  What happens from here?  Peter M-need to present at town meeting; reluctant to present as two articles vs. one package as they need each other to operate.  Board agrees that the machine needs to be out operating to keep the lake usable by early summer.  Peter B-will it be up and running by spring if funds are approved?  Yvon-engines are available now, but not sure come spring what the status will be with Covid. Rob would like to introduce Tucker as the Watershed Coordinator as the point of contact.  Yvon would like to discuss the purchase of the engine now if we can; not wait until spring as there may be an inventory situation then.  Aquamarine only had two and would not sell to us.  Peter B will discuss with the stake holders and get back to us.


New Business:

·       Jenn Wood with Green Mt Transit (GMTA) was present and thanked the board for their time to allow her to join with Catherine Dimitrik from NRPC.  Discussed transportation options available with their organization and volunteers who are out driving for GMTA.  Funding is from 80%-Federal/State and 20% from town matches.  Franklin share would be $2,200 based on use within community.  Petition would be needed with 5% of registered voters or approx. 50 signatures.  Peter asked about need for signatures at this time.  Lisa responded that it is statutory for the need of signatures; the Secretary of State has been asked the question if this would be waiver this year. Have not heard of a change yet.  Peter M asked about the Homestead use and option for them to have a service specifically.  Catherine will look into options for them.  Jenn thanked the board for their time and exited the meeting. 


Highway Dept: 

·                   Pidgeon Hill engineer-Ruggiano contract: the town committee and Linda Blasch from NRPC choose Ruggiano for the engineering and design services of the culvert replacement project.  Board approved at last meeting.  Peter reviewed the contract in the amount of $14,900 to design the project.  Brooks S/Dave B made a motion to approve the contract with Ruggiano for the design/engineer consulting of the Pidgeon Hill project in the amount of $14,900.  All members voted in favor 4-0; motion passed.

·                   Main St/Morses Line/Lake Rd intersection:  accident recently onto personal property and owner asked if large stones or something could be put on the road edge to prevent this from happening again.  This creates a liability to the town in doing this.  Peter has spoken with Bethany from NRPC about options for funding to do a study of this area and options to make it safer.  Linda Hartman is also concerned with safety as people do not always know the rules.

      Andy Godin and Jeremy Barnum entered the meeting via Zoom.

·                   Street sign: Hummingbird Circle sign has been stollen and residents would like it replaced.  Jeremy will get ordered and the town is liable for the cost. 

·                   Rte 236 project update:  Lisa reviewed the site inspection with engineers from Dave Webb.  Concern of the time frame with RFP’s with the process set by VTrans and federal funding.  As this is a CWRSF funded project, the process should be easier, Dave will confirm that with VTRans.  The other question asked was on the culvert material the town wanted used.  Andy suggested a concrete box culvert vs. a corrugated steel pipe.  Peter states as this is a State highway it should be what they want and approve of, not on the town to decide.  Lisa with check with Dave to speak with VTrans. 

·                   Power line at old garage:  Gerald Gates spoke with Peter about the live power feed still at the old garage site; it is a safety hazard.  Peter advised to disconnect and remove as a safety issue. 


New Business: 

·                   Cemetery fence:  Mike from MMT lawn care as suggested to trim back the trees along the back of the cemetery fence to keep them off the stones.  Would like to cut about five feet back and haul away the materials for $350-$450 and trim the bushes in the front of the church.  Lisa spoke with David Kelley and he is fine with that.  The board approves of the trimming back and haul away as quoted.

·                   Apple trees-walking trail:  Recreation committee is concerned of the safety hazard of the apples on the path for people walking.  Would like to trim them back from the trail and there is a tree that has fallen on the trail.  Jeremy will be asked to go with Jason Johnston, who mows, to look at what to cut back from the path.  Joyce has praised Jason for a job well done on mowing this summer.


Old Business:

·                   Town inclusion statement: Brooks read the statement aloud.  Peter asked for discussion, other boards have supported the efforts.  Kim feels it’s a very good step and appreciates it.  Brooks S/Dave B made a motion to accept and adopt the Town of Franklin Declaration of Inclusion statement.   All members voted in favor 5-0; motion passed.


Review and approve bills: all members present reviewed and signed bill warrants.

                Rep Lisa Hango spoke about frustration with budgets and current status of the state.  The budget is almost complete, no big cuts to programs this year and no new taxes.  Next year will be a bigger issue and will need to tighten our belts up.  Climate change bills will be an issue if passed and future laws that may occur as a result. 


Town Clerk Concerns:

·                   Treasurer’s Report:  Lisa presented the board with the current year financial report for the first quarter.  Property taxes are coming in well and not too many complaints of increase due to the education tax rate.  Inquired about the status of the new truck, still end of October; need to get the loan docs ready for the Oct 21 meeting.

·                   Political signs in ROW:  inquires about if the political signs are allowed in highway ROW.  The State does not allow them by statute in their ROW.  The town has no policy and the board does not want to have to police them either. 

·                   Digitizing land records-Covid funding:  Lisa applied for and has been granted funds of $18,840 to digitize the land records to be able to search and retrieve them on-line.  They will continue to use the NEMRC program we already have with a new feature of an on-line portal.  Need to get back to Nov 2015 done by Nov 1st.  A vendor will be scanning documents to upload to the portal.  They will continue to scan back 40 plus years after to complete the project by December as required by the grant.  The cost going forward is $100/month for access to the web portal which is a very reasonable price, many vendors were much more expensive. This cost will be covered by the recording fees that are received and reserved for this purpose.  We currently have approx. $50,000 in reserve funds.

·                   Recreation Director:  The Rec board has recommended to hire Jenessa Gervais as the new Director.  The board would like to meet with them at the next meeting on Oct 7th to approve. 

·                   Cemetery policy:  tabled  


Member Concerns:  

Andy- discussed weed harvester issues; should check with a local guy who could fabricate a trailer to meet our needs for a much better price.

Dave- Town hall ceiling needs to be repainted now that the roof is done.

Yvon-surprise with concern of transparency of board with comments that were made.  We always try to be as transparent as possible and not hiding anything.

Peter-appreciates the public keeping us straight and wanted to be informed.  Have talked a lot about the sign since town meeting; thank you to Yvon and his dad for building the sign for public notices.  Appreciate Josh wanting a policy and willing to draft something to present to the board.  Elections-a notice of instructions for absentees should be done; Lisa advised the state is sending the ballots and there are instructions.  Concern of people wanting to come to the polls to vote in person; Lisa stated they should bring there unvoted ballot back to the polls and will be allowed to vote or will need to sign an affidavit that they have not yet voted, and will be given ballots to vote. 

                Kim thanked the board for the ability to join on Zoom, this has been an easy way to keep informed. 



Brooks S/Dave B made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  All members voted in favor; motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:46 p.m.


Next meeting will be October 7th at 7:00 pm.


Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Larivee, Town Clerk

September 18, 2020


These minutes are not official until approved at the next regular Selectboard meeting.

These minutes were approved at the October 7, 2020 selectboard meeting.