Selectboard Meeting Notes: Town Manager Resigns, 8,000 Solar Panel Farm Planned Near I-91

The Brattleboro Selectboard bid farewell to Ken Schneck, whose resignation is effective this week, but in a surprise announcement it was learned that Town Manager Barb Sondag will be resigning as well.  Sondag said that she’ll be taking a position in Missouri to be closer to family, and so the board must find a replacement. 

The Brooks House’s complex funding may be in place by next week, with construction beginning in late July. Skating rink repairs have been put on ice until the board’s next meeting. And the public is invited to comment on a proposal to put 8,000 solar panels near the Holiday Inn, viewable from I-91.

And much, much more. Read on for the details.


Chair David Gartenstein began the meeting with big news. Town Manager Barb Sondag is resigning and will be taking a job as a City Administrator in Olivette, Missouri. The move will allow her to be closer to her family, said Gartenstein, about 20 miles away. Her last day will be July 23rd. 

“The selection of a new Town Manager is exciting and will allow us to reevaluate our priorities as a town,” he said. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns has been asked to help plan the candidate search process.

“We’ll miss Barb and her leadership through difficult times.”

Gartenstein also thanked Ken Schneck for his service, and gave him a certificate of appreciation that noted that he had offered more motions to adjourn than any other board member. “Without him, we might all still be sitting in meetings,” said Gartenstein.

He also noted the increase in building and activity along Putney Road, and offered congratulations to recent BUHS graduates.

Town Manager Barb Sondag said working in Brattleboro had been a great experience and that she feels fortunate to have been here. “It seems like an appropriate time for us to move, and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

She thanked her staff as well as current and former Selectboard members. “Thanks for making life always interesting,” she said.

John Allen wasn’t so sure looking for a new Town Manager would be “exciting,” but thought that a speech he heard Sam Gartenstein give at graduation certainly qualified. “I’m floored by all that’s going on tonight. Just Brattleboro as usual.”

David Schoales said the composting program was processing 1800 lbs. a day 4 days a week, and was going well.

Public Participation

Beth Schrader of the Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition invited Selectboard members to upcoming training sessions. She also gave Ken Schneck a certificate in recognition of his work to further the goals of her organization. “I’ll miss you terribly,” she said.

Terry Carter told the board that as a result of the dog shooting follow-up, training was now available for police  at the Police Academy. She hoped the town would find funds to train at least enough officers to have one trained, on-duty officer at all times.

James Banslabin said goodbye to Ken Schneck and wished the Town Manager well.  “Barb, to you and your partner, may the sea be calm, the wind steady, and your compass set to where you want to go in life.” She seemed appreciative of the kind remarks.

He read a story from a newspaper about a peaceful resolution to a tense situation between police (with guns drawn) and suspects. He reiterated his support for the new facilities as well as his hope that there would be two hot tubs for staff.

Liquor Commissioners – Dandelion & Sage

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved a first class liquor license for Dandelion & Sage, the new restaurant at the Colonial Motel. Erin Lynde-Tyler is the new owner.

Water & Sewer – Waste Water Treatment Plant Update

Work is almost, but not completely, done at the Waste Water Treatment Plant and change orders are still being approved on the project. Final completion is still expected in July according to Public Works Director Steve Barrett.

Some of the final work includes installation of soapy foam insulation on the digesters,  gas safety equipment, and start up and testing of the Mesophillic Digester #1 and Pump Gallery. Stair nosing and roof scupping are some of the late changes which will add additional days to the project.

Work at Spring Tree Pump Station is about 2/3 complete. Analysis of cracks shows a need for some repair, and details will come soon.

Black Mountain Pump Station is being eliminated in favor of a gravity-fed design. The State is reviewing the plans and they hope to start the work in October. There are some architectural and historical concerns, said Barrett.

According to Finance Director John O’Connor, the project remains within budget. He reviewed the sources of funding for the board, noting that about 2 million dollars remain for the  $31.5 million project. In answer to a question, he said payback of loans has begun.

Monthly Financial Report with John O’Connor

Approaching the end of the 2012 fiscal year, the General Fund remains steady at just a hair under budget. At the time of his May report 90.5% of the budget had been spent and 91.7% of the fiscal year had been completed, according to Finance Director John O’Connor. He projects a General Fund surplus at the end of the year.

The Utility Fund is at 79.8% of its budget and the Parking Fund is at 90.5%. 

Chair David Gartenstein said he liked the new and improved grant report.

David Schoales said he saw departmental frugality in the budget numbers and an increase in income from planning permits. He asked a few clarifying questions about fire department outside income (the department gets hired to watch certain events), and tax abatements (most were from fires, or buildings damaged by Irene.)

O’Connor had a new report for the board. At their request he had prepared a Tropical Storm Irene summary that showed the Town’s cost for nearly $2 million in repairs amounted to just $76,000.

Gartenstein thanked the staff for their work to rebuild so effectively after Irene.

Barb Sondag warned that two project that remain might be big ones, and cautioned that we don’t have FEMA’s attention like we did earlier on in the process.

Finance & Treasury Departmental Report

Finance Director John O’Connor remained to tell the board more about his department as part of the Selectboard’s effort to better understand how the town operates.

The department has six full time (and one part time) employees. They are charged with billing and collection, accounts payable, grant and loan management, debt and cash management, budget monitoring and reporting, and most other financial matters that come before the town. They also handle tax sales as well as recycling and trash coordination.

In recent years they’ve expanded credit card processing for municipal fees and services, outsourced the payroll process, and installed new software. They’ve gotten aggressive in shutting off water if no one pays.

If they reduced their budget by 5%, he said he’d mostly likely furlough staff for a few hours a month. They could probably still do the work, he said, but morale would decline.

If their budget was increased, he’d remove asbestos tiles from the office and purchase of new grant tracking software.

Gartenstein said the department provides essential services to the town.

Sondag said grants have grown in other departments, which means more work for the Finance Department. “We do say no to some small grants, she said, if the reporting is too much work.

Circus Permit – Circus Smirkus

The Brattleboro Selectboard unanimously approved a 2-day permit for Circus Smirkus. The tent will be raised at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center on July 15 for performances July 16 and 17th.

Grant Application for Washington Street Retaining Wall

Brattleboro is requesting over $160,000 in grant funds from the Vermont Department of Transportation to help offset the cost of repairing the (failing) retaining wall on Washington Street. The grant requires a 10% match from town funds. The project is estimated to cost $183,300.

Additional town funds may come from other budgets for sidewalks or paving.

If the grant funds are unavailable, the Town might pay for the repairs with the General Fund anticipated surplus. Timing of payment requests is important, said Sondag, as is the process to access the surplus funds.

Public Works Director Steve Barrett didn’t expect to get much grant money and hoped the board would look at other alternatives.

Brush Chipper Purchase

The Brattleboro Selectboard approved the purchase of a diesel powered, drum-style chipper that can be mounted on a trailer. It will be purchased from ABE Lewis Equipment at a cost of just under $44,000 for use by the Department of Public Works.

This replaces a 1993 chipper that lacks modern safety features, which will be traded-in as part of the deal.

Recreation and Parks also uses the chipper, said Barrett.

John Allen laughed and suggested giving the old chipper that lacks safety features to Recreation and Parks.

Dump Truck Purchase

The Brattleboro Department of Public Works will be purchasing a 66,000 GVWR heavy-duty tandem axle dump truck with a 14 yard dump body package. Delurey Sales & Service had the best offer and the Selectboard endorsed the purchase. 

Dump trucks of this type cost just under $207,000, if you’d like one.

“I’m not going to say a word about dump trucks,” said John Allen.

James Banslabin asked if they came with spare tires. Barrett said they do.

Building a Better Brattleboro Update

BaBB President Donna Simons came before the Brattleboro Selectboard Tuesday night with an update on the group’s downtown activities.

Kate O’Connor disclosed that she was on the BaBB board.

Simons said the budget process was grueling, and BaBB is rebuilding from the ground up. “Financial solvency was an issue, and we’re working on it.”

She said the organization doesn’t have a new director yet, and the board is being rebuilt. “We’re well on the way to fulfill our mission,” she said. An interim “merchant coordinator” has been hired to gather names, emails, and reach out to merchants. “It’s not the old guard dictating what will happen.”

BaBB has been working on downtown beautification, with flowers and planters. We’re buying new barrels to replace broken ones. “It’s sad that people don’t take pride, but we’re moving along.” She said to call BaBB if anyone would like to help them.

The River Garden is a big time-consuming project for BaBB. They hope to announce a recommendation in the next few weeks. She said they got three credible, wonderful proposals. 

She said she and her husband travel a great deal in a motor home and they’ve noticed that many towns around the country are dead downtown. “We have a treasure in downtown Brattleboro. We tend to forget that.”

Ken Schneck said he hoped that BaBB would find some “concrete key indicators” so the Selectboard would have numbers “to latch on to and see success.” He thought the group’s goals were hard to measure. “We can’t measure it in flowers,” he said, and suggested more surveys be used.

“What’s the relationship between BaBB and merchants?” asked John Allen.

“All of a sudden I’m a good ol’ boy,” said Simons. “Maybe being a success is a bad thing.” She said merchants pull her aside and thank her. “It’s getting better. BaBB’s done good work over the years. We need to communicate better. We can’t guess what merchants need.” She hoped everyone could forget what happened previously. “Let’s move forward.”

She told the board she wanted their feedback, but “chastising us in public isn’t beneficial.”

“I’m surprised to hear you are just now reaching out to merchants,” said Gartenstein.  “It seemed to be the essence of the organization, and the core priority.” He said he was, however, glad to hear it.

Simons said it’s hard to get their attention. A recent message to merchants had a 30% open rate, she said.

“Personal contact is hard,” said Simons.  “It wasn’t as broken as presented, but we’re working on it.”

James Banslabin said he thought a person was needed to go talk with businesses.

Simons agreed and said that was what they had been discussing tonight. She added that a good relationship with the town was also essential.

Skating Rink Compressor

Is $471,000 too much to pay to replace our broken ice rink compressor? That was the issue facing the board at Tuesday’s meeting.

Recreation & Parks Director Carol Lolatte told the board that two bids were received. One came after the deadline and was rejected for being late. (Later in the meeting the board learned that the discarded bid was, in fact, higher.)

The acceptable bid came from the current maintainer of the rink, American Refrigeration, at $471,000, more than $100,000 over what consultants had thought to be the price.

“I’m confused,” said Kate O’Connor. Before she could say what confused her, Barb Sondag tried explaining the situation.

“We used IB Storey for the estimates,” she said. They gave quotes, the board chose from three options, and the town asked for bids, said Sondag. After careful review she thinks, she said, “American Refrigeration’s bid is probably realistic, and higher than what we estimated.”

She said Representative Town Meeting approved one plan, but the work requires an extra $100,000 or so. She said they have learned that the Withington fund will donate $100,000 toward the project.

“You don’t need to accept the bid,” she told the board. “You can negotiate. It’s up to you.”

O’Connor said she was a little less confused. “What concerns me is how far off it is. I’m concerned about the whole thing now. I don’t get it.”

Schneck wondered if they could see the rejected bid, to see if it was close. Sondag said no, it wasn’t an open bid process. “It wasn’t less than the bid we have.”

“It’s so different each time we discuss the compressor. It’s always a different story,” said Schneck.

John Allen said he knew local contractors who would like to look at the rink and offer suggestions. He wondered if they could fix things a bit to get through next year, and buy time to consider all available options. “Smart local folks say it can be done. Maybe we pull back and see what other options we have,” he suggested.

David Schoales agreed that the project was always changing. ”If there is a local option, let’s explore it.”

Gartenstein agreed, noting that they had had problems with IB Storey’s estimates and suggestions from the beginning. 

He felt that the $100,000 grant could soften the blow of the higher costs, but also that it could have been used to soften the blow of the approved $360,000 expense. “This isn’t the right option at this point. Information is always at the last minute, and we say go ahead. It’s one too many times.”

Sondag defended the process to date. “Maybe it keeps changing, or maybe we are learning things as new information comes in.” She said the project was a pain, but not “unmanaged” and no one should be afraid to change their mind. 

“But, to pay for someone to get such a far-off estimate,” she continued, “we’re ticked off.”

She said they had been working to keep the ice rink service going and suggested the board talk with American Refrigeration about their bid. 

She didn’t see any confusion, just new information being presented.

“I was confused by the options and savings, and confused about role of the energy committee,” said Schoales. “There was confusion. We’re there again. 

“I don’t want to go with American Refrigeration,” he said, “I want to look at local options.”

Don Dompier of Dompier Electric rose to tell the board that the new, modern system would have additional costs down the road, as pipes would need replacement. He suggested they repair it now, and wait for better options than the ammonia-based system presented in the bid. He also hoped the Selectboard would call him or other local contractors to advise and/or do the work.

Lolatte said Dompier’s opinion was an example of why they went to Efficiency Vermont for “expert recommendations about Brattleboro” and eventually chose “ice-making experts” IB Storey to do estimates. She implied that local contractors were not experts and had conflicting opinions about what to do.

“America Refrigeration knows the rink. These are long term decisions and it will be expensive,” said Lolatte.  “I’m frustrated at the cost.” She said ammonia is standard in new ice rinks systems, replacing freon.

“I hope the board will sit and talk to Don Dompier,” said Hugh Bronson. “It won’t cost $150,000.”

John Allen returned to the question of whether it could be fixed for the short term to buy them more time to consider options. A band-aid, so to speak.

“Yes” answered Lolatte. “That band-aid is an expensive band-aid,” she cautioned. “Probably  $25,000.”

“To me that’s a good band-aid,” responded Allen.

Ken Schneck thought the board should pause. “No one said it was mismanaged.  It’s June. Let’s get more information.”

“To pause you have to decide about having a season,” said Sondag.  She wondered if the board wanted to go forward with the band-aid.

“We shouldn’t decide tonight,” said Schneck.

Dompier rose again to say that even the new system, as proposed, was a band-aid of sorts, and said it would require pipes to be replaced. “This could cost $1.4 million in the end.”

Gartenstein suggested they get more information, as no board members seemed ready to make any decisions. 

Allen asked when a decision would need to be made.

“It depends what you choose,” said Lolatte. Even if the bid were accepted and the company notified by July, the rink might open late anyway, she said.

Additional Loans and Intercreditor Agreement for Mesabi, Inc.

The Selectboard approved an increase to the loan to Mesabi, Inc., owners of the Brooks House, from $100,000 up to $150,000. The funds come from program income, which is money repaid to the town from CDBG loans.

In addition, the board accepted Brattleboro’s position, third, on the list of those to be repaid.

For a sense of why this project has been slow to start, look at the bank forms submitted in the Selectboard additional documents for the meeting. It’s an extremely complex financial package and shows the many moving parts needed to pull it all together.

Bob Stevens, representing Mesabi, said that he hoped they would be closing on the project next week. He said they’ve tapped new equity investors and board members for some of the final money needed to do the project.

“Is this it?” asked John Allen.

“We’re in a pretty good mood today and feel very close,” said Stevens. “It’s pretty much down to legal work, with closing next week.”

“When will work begin?” asked Kate O’Connor. Stevens said he hoped they’d be ready to go by the end of July. He anticipated contractors from all over the region would descend on Brattleboro.

Gartenstein reminded the public that the Brooks House building is “vital to the success of the downtown area, and we’re committed to seeing it re-developed to bring commercial, residential, and now educational activity” back to the downtown area. He said Brattleboro has the money available to loan and this is a perfect use for it.

Public Service Board Waiver – WE 90 Technology Drive LLC

The Selectboard received notice that a company called WE 90 Technology Drive is requesting a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB). Similar notices went to the Windham Regional Commission and the Brattleboro Planning Commission.

If all three organizations sign a waiver the project can move ahead more quickly, but the Windham Regional Commission has a policy of declining the waiver and seeking public input.

The CPG would be for a new solar farm on the Winstanley property at 90 Technology Drive.

It would be just north of the New Chapter building near the Holiday Inn according to Sue Fillion of the Planning Department.

“It’s visible from 91,” she told the board.  She said the plan calls for 8,000 solar panels on the property.

Fillion explained that the board had until July 11 to gather public input and recommendations to give to the petitioner.

Once the petition is submitted to the PSB, the Town can choose to be an intervenor with formal party status, an interested person and receive updates, or remain a member of the public with the ability to comment.

She said the Town Plan generally supports energy projects like this, as do our zoning regulations. The land is good agricultural land, she said. The Public Service Board will look at the need, the benefits, and other issues.

Fillion suggested that the Agriculture Committee take a look at the proposal.

John Allen asked if the area was a scenic area. No one was certain, but Fillion said that the state is concerned about views from the highway.

David Gartenstein said that the DRB said no to to a highway-facing sign for Holiday Inn years ago.

David Schoales said the project would be behind a row of trees.

“You are going to see this like crazy,” responded John Allen.

Gartenstein said that 8,000 solar panels at the gateway to Vermont had him concerned about the view. He said the project would be discussed at the July 2nd meeting to take public comments, “so we’ll know what position we’ll take.”

“People who have concerns about a large scale commercial development next to the highway should come and talk to us,” he said, emphasizing the upcoming meeting.

“Can we make sure the media knows this is out?” asked John Allen.

“I’m totally against waiving our review period,” said Gartenstein.

The waiver of the review period was unanimously not granted.

Business Personal Property Late Fines

27 local businesses have failed to file their Business Personal Property form with the Town, and the Selectboard authorized fines of $100 directed at each of them.

Library Services & Technology Assistance Grant

The Selectboard approved accepting $2,184 from the Vermont Department of Libraries to support the interlibrary loans program.

JAG Grant Application

The Brattleboro Police have been given the go-ahead to apply for a Justice Assistance Grant of nearly $20,000 to help improve radio communications.

Committee Appointments

More citizens were appointed to town committees. Kate Anderson, David Cadran, and Karolina Oleksiw were appointed.

Ken Schneck said there are many openings, adding cryptically that anyone wishing to post “on a local website” should be required to serve on a committee.

Summer Schedule Discussion

The board quickly decided that they will likely have a busy summer and decided to stick with the regularly scheduled meetings.

Comments | 42

  • Cryptic?

    Ha. I didn’t think it was all that cryptic and the folks around me got it. 🙂

    • Not funny.

      Maybe I should have said ignorant, or rude.

      This site has generated more community involvement and volunteerism with the Town than any other. More people use the site than attend Town Meeting.

      There are literally hundreds of site users who have served the town. Look down the list of committee and board members from the last decade and you’ll see a great group of people who share their views online an in person.

      The list includes yourself and other Selectboard members, town staff, members of the Planning Commission, members of the DRB, members of all sort of committees and initiatives.

      Moments before your snarkiness, you appointed long time site user David Cadran.

      Site users alerting people to the dog shooting joined the CPCC. Site users interested in the new Police and Fire facilities volunteered for the committee. iBrattleboro users do step up, and feedback is a form of participation is a democracy.

      Site users have helped people burned out of homes in fires, and displaced by floods.

      You may think you are being funny, but it is insulting to hear a Selectboard member again, in public, disparage a local business and the thousands of people who use it.

      • Alrighty.

        Although I would not equate the numbers using the site with efficacy and while I have pretty much reached my peak of frustration with what you all sometimes allow on this site that I feel violate your terms standards of use, I certainly am in no way implying that this site has no merit.

        All I can do here is apologize that my throw-away joke came across as disparaging. I didn’t think it through to it being interpreted as rude so that was my bad.

        • Now that you've cleared that

          Now that you’ve cleared that up perhaps you could explain similar comments made quite a few times on Live ‘n Local? It certainly wasn’t just this one instance. If you’ve just been joking all along perhaps you could explain the punch line as it seems a bit unclear.

          • I was most certainly not

            I was most certainly not joking the whole time as my above comment indicates so please don’t look for a punchline for my periodic lack of appreciation for some of what goes down on this site.

            With all beneficial projects there come some drawbacks. One of the drawbacks that frustrates me to no end about iBrattleboro is comments that get personal and are allowed to stand. My last appearance on Live and Local came right after some iBrattleboro users wrote some particularly nasty, personal comments about me. According to the Site Policies:

            An important purpose of iBrattleboro is to provide all users with a forum for information-sharing, discussion and debate in a respectful and friendly atmosphere. Personal attacks and mean-spirited postings discourage and utimately kill useful communication. Submissions that appear to be primarily for the purpose of defamation, libel, or maligning and impugning others may be deleted. iBrattleboro is concerned with building community. Community is built on goodwill, respect and trust.

            Disagreement need not be synonymous with anger, bitterness, loathing, intolerance or other non-productive negativity. Discussion is encouraged; fighting is not.
            Comments that may be deleted include, but are not limited to:
            Antagonistic and/or off-topic comments, Repeated postings of a similar comment meant to antagonize or harass, Comments including name calling, insinuation, character defamation, slander, libel, or other similar statements against other users of the site or members of the community, Comments intended to intimidate other users, Personal attacks on other users

            After the thread that crossed the line (for me) was posted, Lisa called me at home to ask me what I wanted done with the thread and whether I wanted it removed. This was frustrating not because Lise was reaching out (which I appreciated) but because the thread should be removed due to its violation of the site policies, not because I wanted it removed.

            As with all internet forums, people write things on here that they would never say in real life (say, at a committee meeting). In most instances, I think it is a great additional outlet to highlight voices that are not being heard. In some instances, I think it is cowardly.

            I came into my Selectboard position determined to use this site and have, without question, used iBrattleboro to promote my own pursuits (which has really helped). But I also had to swear off using the site because (IRONICALLY) participating here opens you up to all sorts of crap. I’m always pretty self-critical, so some of that is on me, but a piece of it is on this forum.

            Hope that helps clarify.

          • Yes. I've been wondering for

            Yes. I’ve been wondering for some time as you were pretty open in public forums about being disguntled with the site. That said, I guess there is some subjectivity in whether one has been subjected to crap or maybe I just have lower expectations. Personally it does seem sometimes if you question the status quo opinion or question a statement there are a few who can get pretty personal with rebuttals. But as I said my expectations are low so I’m not surprised.

            I actually am impressed that Lise called you at home to see what you wanted done. Considering how busy Chris and Lise seem to be, that was actually a nice gesture to my mind.

            Thanks for the clarification.

          • Might I also add for future

            Might I also add for future Selectboard members that I don’t think a Selectboard meeting is the place nor is it appropriate to make the sorts of comment Ken made about this site. Even if it was intended as a joke, Ken has obviously had a bone to pick for awhile with ibrattleboro. It’s really not the place for anyone as a SB member to voice personal issues with local businesses. As a representative of the SB it is simply not the thing to do regarding any local business and I think Chris’s comments are in order.

            As for Ken’s comments in other local venues, I get that you were making these not as a Selectboard member but I wish the reasons for the comments had been cleared up sooner. Personally I found it odd but then I may have not have been around when the original situation occurred so I guess I’m out of a loop on this one a bit.

          • Pots and Kettles

            I should probably let this go, but heck, I only represent me now, so I can say…

            In my opinion, trying to limit elected officials’ comments like you propose is ridiculous. iBrattleboro may be a local business, but it is also “a community news and information site” under the rubric of citizen journalism. As such, it is in the same category as other entities like The Commons and The Reformer. iBrattleboro recaps of Selectboard meetings are not verbatim transcripts and are always reported through the lens of the transcriber (sometimes with snarky comments thrown in) even as they are the most comprehensive recap around (short of attending or watching the meeting on BCTV). Chris and Lise appeared on Live and Local weekly often armed with disparaging comments about the Selectboard. To just say, “This is a local business, so a member of the Selectboard shouldn’t make a joke about them” would be like telling other elected officials that they can’t make a joke about The New York Times or Fox News.

            Let’s distinguish someone having a personal issue with a local business from my being critical of aspects a forum for citizen journalism. I think iBrattleboro can get as good as it gives and withstand critiques.

          • Points somewhat well taken

            Points somewhat well taken but I’ve never heard of any elected official making any jokes or pointed comments about Fox News or the NY Times on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives which would be the similar scenario. And if done, it would probably not a very politically savvy move.

            That’s what I meant. Please feel free to educate me if you know of such a situation. Perhaps I was unclear, this is a personal opinion, I think it’s inappropriate. You don’t. So be it.

            I don’t want to get into this too much either but it appeared to me that your issue with iBrattleboro was personal from the way you described. So I was reading it as if say, Selectboard Member X went to Restaurant X and felt the meal was terrible or had a tiff with the waiter or some such thing and then made a joke about it at a Selectboard meeting. I would say that was inappropriate also. But enough about this already . . .

            You did a lot of work and put in a lot of time for the town while you were here. I don’t know how you juggled so much so efficiently. You certain deserve compliments for all you’ve done. Good luck in your new endeavors. I’m sure you’ll keep making things interesting.

          • You rock.

            Thank you so much for this. I appreciate it enormously.

            To be clear, I really do value this opportunity to exchange views even if they don’t match up. I think this part is what it’s all about.

          • Just wondering...


            I just wonder if you ever talked with Steve West while (as a frequent guest) on “Live and Local” about his own “attack” on people’s characters and his public accusations of “lying”?

            (See: “When Radio Hosts Attack ”

            Or is this a case where some people (town “officials”) can not be referred to as arrogant by citizens on without the thread bearing their comments being shut down, but local radio show personalities can attack openly? Just wondering how you view the above description of Steve West’s accusations of Kate O’Conner “lying” as a relentless character assassination in relation to comments made on and what you suggested to Steve West to clean up his act?

          • groan

            Hey, Zippy,

            This thread came to my attention, so I made the questionable choice to read it. Not only did I find much of it jaw-droppingly inane (with some very clear exceptions that were tempered and respectful), but then I spotted your little gem! Honestly, this is the kind of thing that has driven me away from this site. I pop in here rarely, and when I do, I just groan and don’t come back for a while. I appreciate all that Chris and Lise do, but if the tone and content of this site are reflective of the “voice” of Brattleboro, I’m glad I’m not listening anymore.

            So as to your question about my “attack”……..

            Here is the original post I put up on iBrattleboro, which you and all are welcome to review:


            I don’t see an “attack” in there. Nor did you, apparently, when you said this on the thread:

            “Authored by: Zippy on Wednesday, August 29 2012 @ 06:13 PM GMT+4

            Having had similar tactics used on me by seasoned and powerful credentialed academics (intellectual inquiry for the sake of knowledge and truth, don’t ya know) when I proposed research on a topic they clearly did not want researched and recorded (i.e., they sidestepped me and my colleagues and attempted to access the Institutional Review Board asking for my research application to be denied), I feel Steve West’s angst and outrage.”

            So now, in the context of Ken leaving the select board, and after months and years of snarky and mean-spirited posts on here, you bring ME and THIS into it? Honestly, you seem to be one of a number of people on this site and in town who’s sense of intellectual fair play is a matter of convenience.

            I’d be happy to discuss this with anyone who needs any clarifications about what transpired back then, but honestly, I’m really in “I don’t give a damn” mode. And a short six months after all of the above transpired, this town decided that that same person should sit on the select board for three years. I’m done talking about these matters, on the radio and off. But I don’t mind taking a moment to both retort your absurd comment as well as express my appreciation for Ken and his work on the board.

            And by the way…..Paul Heintz’ sensationalized headline was the only one of many pieces to characterize the events as such. I stand by my behavior and my accusations, and feel I actually did a bit of journalism there, though that was never my principal intent as a radio talk show host.

            Now….ready, set, go…..say something unrelated, snarky, tangentially related, or maybe even a complete non sequitor. Or maybe even getting back to the subject at hand?

          • "...ignorant, or rude."

            “Honestly, you seem to be one of a number of people on this site and in town who’s sense of intellectual fair play is a matter of convenience.” -Steve West.

            Your very charge is also supported in the article I referred to above (but did not write). However, after numerous personal e-mails, as well as several posts on here, it seems to me that you and Ken Schneck enjoy pointing out how righteous you “always” are, while employing the same snarky nastiness aimed at others that you so often condemn? In fact, isn’t that what cgrotke called Ken Schneck out on?


            All that said, it was a question to Ken about what one reporter saw in your own behavior. I did not write the article, Steve.

            “Now….ready, set, go…..say something unrelated, snarky, tangentially related, or maybe even a complete non sequitor. Or maybe even getting back to the subject at hand?”

          • Let he who is without sin and

            Let he who is without sin and a physician not live in a glass house and try to heal thyself…or something like that?

          • lie 1. a false statement made


            1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. Synonyms: prevarication, falsification. Antonyms: truth.
            2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.
   inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood.

            Your cite:
            “In recent news stories, O’Connor plays down her nine-month, paid gig in the Tarrant campaign, saying her chief job was to “educate” the candidate about Democratic priorities —”

            Steven West’s cite:
            O’Connor in Reformer interview:
            “I’m working for the person who I believe will best represent Vermonters in the Senate”

            O’Connor in National Journal
            “It’s not the party that draws me to someone. It’s the person and what they believe in and their philosophy,” she said . . . O’Connor said she valued Tarrant’s attitude, along with his political agenda, which focuses on health care, jobs and the economy.

            … she said. “I was just really attracted to how (Tarrant) thinks we should run government.”

            One person’s downplaying their involvement in order to “play politics” could easily also be another person’s definition of an intentional falsehood hence lie. Depends on where you want to draw the line.

            And now back to the actual topic . . .
            I read in today’s Reformer that the ice rink project was put on hold. Does that include or exclude the $300,000 or so money for the piece of equipment Lee was referring to.

          • Includes

            Most certainly includes. The Selectboard is waiting to get more info both on the current bid as well as “band-aid” options.

          • Don't take the bait.

            Don’t take the bait.

            Nothing fruitful comes from engagement or response to Zippy. His commentary tends to be antagonstic, self centered and inconsiderate. He is a master baiter.

          • ??????

            “Submissions that appear to be primarily for the purpose of defamation, libel, or maligning and impugning others may be deleted.”

          • Is there *any* chance you see

            Is there *any* chance you see the irony in your referring to that policy?

          • Yes

            I see the irony. and more.

          • Yes...

            I also see the irony.

            The hypocrisy, the scare tactics, the ignorance.

            I see right through Barry Adams.

          • yes, I see it

            I have long seen it. Where was all this self-righteous indignation when I was being ripped to shreds years ago on here, all by people who “I have never even met” yet I had publically offered to meet in person so we could try to better understand each other’s positions? I can tell you right now, you, cgrotke, JSteele are three whom I really wanted to talk to in person and invited each of you to come over.

            Now again, I am ripped to shreds on here by people I have never met, and where’s my phone call from Lise (who happened to post a lie on here about why she shut down a thread) where SEVERAL people agreed your communications are often arrogant, entitled, and mean-spirited, in public, written communications, and on here. Lovely people, all.

          • Fun how you and one other

            Fun how you and one other malcontent = several.

            I appreciated your offer to meet. But I’m sure you can appreciate that all the name-calling didn’t exactly grease the wheels for me to meet up with you.

            And I obviously can’t speak for your missing phone call from Lise. What I can say is that moderating this site must be a bear. I look at that thread with those exchanges between you and Les and I kept thinking, “Do we all really need to know how little you are *actually* here in Brattleboro?”

            So much potential and so many benefits to iBrattleboro but so many snags. Wouldn’t even know how to address them but kudos to Chris and Lise for soldiering forward.

          • "......People write things on

            “……People write things on here that they would never say in real life (say a committee meeting)”

            Exactly, people don’t have be subjected here on ibrattleboro as opposed to an atmosphere where overbearing, suppressive intimidation that has been all too often demonstrated by former leading town officials who have personal vested interest discouraging those in diagreement to debate (in the past context you refer to) that too often kept those less bold from participating or becoming an important part of the process and actual equation they have every right to find compromise or make a difference concerning issues before the town.

            Here on ibrattleboro, one can take time to compose their thoughts, say exactly what’s on their minds to try and make their points count in the forum of public “opinion”, however hard it is to sometimes hear the uncomfortable, inconvenient truth or an opposing perspective when we can speak freely without being interrupted, scolded, patronized or just plain dismissed and ignored when disagreements are expressed.

          • Except when it gets to the

            Except when it gets to the point where individuals actually believe that change will take place solely because they posted something on here. It’s a great place to compose your thoughts and get incredible feedback on how to proceed.

            But voicing your argument on iBrattleboro does not in itself change make.

            And to be blunt, for the 8000th time, create a petition and bring the issue to Town Meeting. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why this hasn’t happened. You haven’t achieved what you set out to achieve with the Selectboard, but that isn’t the only game in town…

          • Reply

            …..a formal petition opposing the skatepark location was presented to the town along with supporting documentation backed by professionally conducted reports both dismissed. There was a request for an opportunity to resolve differences allowing a site selection process to occur before the selectboard you voted down but two other selectboard members supported ( at this point it would have only been a momentary setback for BASIC before committing to spending the big bucks and reaching their goal without sufficient commuinity support) consequently shutting down our efforts to seek compromise and actually examine and weigh in impacts for comparision. In my opinion every decision beyond that point was a rubber stamped dito.
            Look what has happened as a result of not recoginzing the seriousness of the situation instead of working toward solutions for both sides that have not been resolved and still persists today. We continued attendance at many committee meetings concerning this issue then again speaking out at selectboard/school board meetings using the proper channels to no avail. You have to ask yourself how many hoops do you have to jump through to be heard or respected in this town, for the 1000th time.

            Yes, we may have more avenues left open to further the cause to relocate the skatepark site to a more suitable location as yet another year rolls by without a “community” skatepark, but live and learn, mostly here on ibrattleboro where most of the unimpeded learning comes about by “dicussing/debating” what exactly people are willing to accept and for what valid reasons.

          • Town. Meeting.

            I get all of that and stand by my vote.

            But none of the above is a petition to Town Meeting. On multiple occasions, Andy Davis highlighted that some flyer’s characterization of Town Meeting was inaccurate and that the Town Meeting has yet to fully discuss the skatepark.

            If you don’t feel like the town is hearing you, then turn to the 140 or so neighbors who represent you at Town Meeting. That’s what they’re there for. Andy Davis is one of them.

          • Thank You

            Thank you for your reply and advise, Maybe it’s time has come!

          • “Community is built on

            “Community is built on goodwill, respect and trust.”

            I guess everyone who posted here should consider the above assertion on how to build community. Can we achieve goodwill, respect and trust with avoidance, stealth, innuendo, overt lies, deception, sarcasm, and secret-keeping? Do collusion, inaction, and widespread *silence* build goodwill, respect and trust? Or are these more powerful detriments to building community than openly expressed anger that they are all around us?

          • Community is indeed built on

            Community is indeed built on goodwill, respect and trust, but community is not a utopia. The noblest of goals binding together a community still cannot create a barrier to folks who are, say, sarcastic.

          • what about...

            avoidance, stealth, innuendo, overt lies, deception, and secret-keeping? Do collusion, inaction, and widespread *silence* build goodwill, respect and trust?

            I see those as problematic, certainly. Yet, we don’t like to discuss those as much. This would be a great topic thread.

          • You should totally start that

            You should totally start that as a thread then!

            Take responsibility for whatever part you think you have played (if any) and ask others to do the same. Maybe instead of assigning those labels to others and just naming your own part, it will grease the wheels for others to come openly to your virtual table.

          • maybe?

            You may be correct, Ken. But I have some serious doubts after I fully owned my coming late to the table on the skatepark issue, repeatedly and openly stated regret in print, and expressed empathy for members of BASIC and reached out to them, it did nothing to stop the public personal attacks on me and my intentions and motivations. Likewise, the community silence while other very good citizens (members of SOPC) were savagely impugned was deafening, including your own and the entire Brattleboro Selectboard you were serving on (which, BTW, was responsible for overseeing the official town committee whose very leaders waged the attack on very good people).

            In any case, I was tossing a similar idea around with another person a few months ago about writing an article called “Anatomy of Anger” where I would own the part I played (if any), as well as all the other factors I listed above. But, like Steve West, I too came to a “I don’t give a damn” posture because no matter what people do to try and address the blatant hypocrisy and injustices in front of us, it seems to make no difference (e.g., the O’Conner issue)and I will be leaving myself open to the same old evisceration we see here.

      • Inverse

        As a full-fledged poster on iBratt, Ken’s comment made me chuckle.

        Perhaps, rather, anyone wishing to serve on a town committee should be required to register an account and post on iBrattleboro?

        Thanks for the notes, Chris. Seems like a fun meeting. Can’t wait until Th.

        • Ha. That inverse works too!

          Ha. That inverse works too!

        • I value ibrattleboro....but

          “Officials” registering on here certainly would be more credible than reading it, yet never commenting publically about what is being said, then making decisions based on content.

          I am somewhat disappointed that Lise personally telephoned a Selectboard member to ask what he would like to see done, yet posted that she woke up and rather arbitrarily decided, with not real thought, it was time to shut down a thread. Several of us commented (privately) that that seemed to be a first. I am glad more truth came out. Thanks, Ken.

          I leave this thread feeling more and more reassured that my observations about how things work in Brattleboro were not so far fetched, after all. 🙂

  • "Stair nosing and roof scupping"


  • The compressor costs

    I have to say I am flummoxed that after reading this thorough report about the selectboard meeting, most of the conversation is about Ken’s relationship to and comments about this site. Really? Am I the only one who is shocked and very concerned about the town spending an additional $371,000 to fix a compressor on the ice rink that is used only a portion of the year and by a very, very small percentage of our townspeople? We cannot afford this expense, period. We are headed into a huge tax increase for the police/fire project, on top of the “expected” increases that we get every year. What part of this does the selectboard not understand? We have to just say no to this. Let the very few who use it find a way to finance it in a way other than passing the bill to the rest of the property owners and renters of this town.

    • More Info

      Lee — there was a substantial amount of discussion about this compressor in the informational meeting prior to town meeting in March, then again at town meeting. Two points that I seem to recall are:
      • That the ice rink is one of the programs in the rec. dept. that pays for itself through user fees
      • That certain energy conservation & reuse features in the new compressor, or at least in a couple of the options that were presented, would substantially reduce the lifetime cost of the system.

      I haven’t followed the conversation much since then, though, and don’t know anything about the system that won the bid.

    • 8000 Solar Panels

      8000 Solar panels.

      Discuss !!

      • Personally, I think this is great news.

        Personally I think this is great news.

        It would be even greater if they are following the same business model as the farm in Putney. At that solar panel farm, individuals will be able to buy panels, and sell the electricity.

  • Petty differences

    Ken’s tenure on the board was a refreshing change from the good ol’ boys club. He brought a fresh perspective as an academic and as relative newcomer to town with new ideas. He gave a voice to people who hadn’t been represented on the board. He searched for ways to include more people in the process. He listened to people and discussed things right here on iBratt.
    Look how the board has changed in just the past couple of years. It isn’t just because of Ken, or any single board member, but it has gotten a whole lot better. That shouldn’t be eclipsed by petty differences.

    And the same goes for Barb. Sometimes the selectboard reports I’ve read here have left me scratching my head, but I think Brattleboro is going to find out how much she did for the town – and the region – after she’s gone, if they don’t realize it already. She has been very a very dedicated advocate for Brattleboro, a competent manager, and skilled cat-herder.

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