Selectboard Meeting Notes – Liquor Licenses and Addiction Recovery Programs

brattleboro selectboard feb 19

The Brattleboro Selectboard handed out annual liquor licenses then held an extended discussion about COSU, a collaborative community project to tear down silos and create connections between addiction and recovery programs in the community.

Financials and yearly goals were reviewed, and a few candidates made appearances to participate in the conversations.

Comments | 6

  • Preliminaries

    Chair Kate O’Connor thanks all volunteers for the Harris Hill ski jump for another success. Thousands of people that came. 3,500 both days. Really well-attended. Restaurants were popping. Much to thank them for.

    Town Clerk can help with early voting, and election day is March 5 at American Legion on Linden Street.

    Elwell has nothing to add.

    Tim Wessel said that he and Elwell went to Montpelier to talk with them about limited self-governance. A very positive meeting with government operations committee. Also, winter carnival is going on through next weekend. Check it out.

    Schoales and Starr are absent.

    Public Participation: nada.

  • Liquor Commissioners

    O’Connor – we’re going to have a presentation by Cassandra Holloway from BAPC on compliance checks.

    Holloway – (explains BAPC). Responsible Retailer Program has lost a few participants because of closings, and one puling out. We had five “mystery shopper” fails recently. We do training for staff, and plan to do another mystery shop in the spring. Will have owner/manager talks, too. We’ll give out a refusal skills handbook. Other towns are imitating what you are doing here in Brattleboro. Who should they reach out too? (Town Clerk or Town Manager).

    Gander – what’s a responsible retailer program?

    Holloway – we help with compliance checks with local retailers. While I’m here – vape shops. It’s an epidemic. Might be something we talk about, and commercial marijuana is coming soon. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.

    Wessel – the vaping issue is on my radar a lot. Trying to get a sense of community attitude to it, and many have concerns of marketing to young people. With vaping, Montpelier is also looking at doing something…

    Holloway – an age limit of 21. Kids don’t know how much nicotine they are getting. Age 21 will help getting it out of schools, but there is the online component.

    Rikki – marijuana is also a medicinal product. Hemp products are more sustainable than other products. And age limit goes against kids right to moderate their own body. There is a difference between vaping and smoking. Where to draw the line? Is there going to be an age limit against using enemas? I urge decriminalization so people don’t have to jump through hoops.

    Franz Reichsman – I’m not tired of this topic. Nicotine and vaping is extremely dangerous for kids and recommend the selectboard stay on top of this issue.

    Gershan – I know about vaping. It is an issue. There are a bunch of stores that won’t carry e-cigs even if they don’t have nicotine in them. I have ideas an information about it if anyone wants to talk about it.

    O’Connor – next is annual review of liquor licenses. We do them all at once, conditional on them putting in their paperwork.

    Peter Elwell – there are 65 up for renewal. We check for violations, past taxes, etc. No issues tonight, except one. McNeill’s has safety violations (sprinkler system repairs demanded by the Health Officer on Feb 11.) to correct before their license can be approved. Then they’ll be back. 62 have no compliance issues. 3 have had violations. The Brattleboro Country Club sold to an underage person and had to do additional training. New Cooper’s Coop isn’t ready yet. And Ramuntos had an education violation in March and had a suspended license for one day. Other than that, all were compliant.

    Wessel – paperwork violation doesn’t seem that bad.

    Gander – yeah.

    O’Connor – this is the second issue with them, though.

    Gander – the Country Club? They should come in? It’s only fair if we do that to others that we do it with them. I’d like to adhere to that.

    Wessel – I’d let Ramuntos go this time for paperwork. I’m curious about Hermit Thrush second class… they are serving some food? I’m confused that they are second class.

    Elwell – I’ll check on that.

    O’Connor – approve all but McNeills, Cooper Coop, Country Club. Country Club to come in and report.

    approved. 3-0

  • Windham County Consortium on Substance Abuse (COSU)

    O’Connor – an update on a statewide planning grant.

    Chad Simmons and Cassandra Holloway and others… (Ella and Jebidiah)

    Chad – we’re all part of COSU – just a few minutes on what we’re doing, and some personal experiences. In august, I had to explain to my 3 yr old what a used hypodermic was – found in our yard. I was mad, but realized neighbors were dealing with addiction within 100 feet of our house. I felt helpless. I serve as project coordinator for COSU. It’s a collaborative effort to assess gaps and resources in services and systems dealing with prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, family support, and social services – and to create a comprehensive plan to address impacts of opioid use and abuse.

    We’re looking at what we can do better, are mapping resources, and considering stigma discrimination and how we talk about addiction in our communities. Opioid deaths went from 13 to 21 from 2017-2018. We have a number of assets in Windham County. Still not getting it right yet, so we’re doing a multi-month project to get stories from community about what we can do better.

    Ella – I’ve been working at Turning Point for 2 years. I’m recovering from opioid addiction. Understand recovery has been a process. I came her 6 years ago to get away from my addiction, and I got lucky here in town. Wouldn’t have been able to happen without an employer that allowed breaks for treatment. Also had landlords that rented despite a bad reputation. Using was a rational response to things in my life. I didn’t know how to fix it – to have a home or job ever again. I’ve been part of hub and spoke clinic. I’m tapering off methadone clinic. Program helps me figure out how to go beyond taking a medication, like you do after you leave this meeting. Feeling you didn’t something good. People in this community are invested in recovery. I’m a little new.

    Chad – one thing we’re looking at is what works well.

    Ella – support groups for moms didn’t help me – I felt weak and vulnerable. My safe place was another woman going through recovery, so that got us to start Recovery Mommas. A space where they can be around a community with similar experiences.

    Jeb – in 2008 my life was very dark. I remember waking up one day on the bathroom floor of a restaurant where I worked, with 5 EMT officers over me. They seemed irritated with me. I found out I had overdosed. I went to jail for 30 days for violating probation. Didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to ask for help. When I said enough is enough, I came to Brattleboro in 20012. Until 2014 I had to piece together my recovery. I was homeless, went to methadone clinic. Town has a lot to offer, but there was a lot fo stress in my life to connect to those services. My work now, I feel so good about myself. I approach people as if their lives are valuable. No matter who they are, their life is valuable. Empathy and care for other people really impacts others. Its rare that they experience it. COSU is a beautiful thing to see all the agencies come together to work toward one goal. When agencies work together, it is really awesome. WE’re tearing down silos and forming connections. For me, that creates a senes of hope for me. And hope is essential with what we’re facing, and in recovery. We recover as a community. It’s hard to get my message across in minutes. At the end of this grant, we’ll have a plan to move forward.

    Chad – it’s a one year grant, moving into assessment phase. We want to reach out and have people participate – what should we know, and what should we be doing?

    O’Connor – I really appreciate you sharing your stories. I happen to live two doors down to one of the top drug houses in Brattleboro – everyday I see people going in. I want to stop them. Maybe you can educate us on how the rest of us can help someone? I get agitate that people selling drugs get away with it. I see them as taking advantage of other human beings. I want to help people caught up in this. How do we help people who need help?

    Chad – we’ll be addressing challenging decisions.

    Wessel – thanks to Jeb and Ella for stories. Really important for everyone to hear these stories. You had a supportive employer and landlord… we have to hold our community accountable to be supportive. There are several unsupportive landlords and employers, so we’ll help in any way we can. Sometimes people say “people deserve our help” – but I prefer they have a “right to recovery.”

    Gander – I’m heading off the selectboard, but my other world is about being a funnel for voices. The ways people fall into addiction can be an injury. Thanks for what you do.

    Rikki – people doing drugs on the street aren’t necessarily bad people. We need Medicare for all. Will there be an intervention committee for hoarding addiction?

    Chad – that hasn’t been brought up yet?

    Rikki – will you commit to addressing it?

    Ella – Turning Point has people trying to live without drugs and alcohol. Addictive patterns aren’t just drugs or drink. It can be money, or people… hopefully we can help with other addictive issues.

    Franz – I’ve been thinking of bigger picture of substance abuse in country, and how little success we’ve had with criminal justice system.

    Chad – we will be addressing justice – how we treat substance abuse disorders and restorative models.

    Daniel Quipp – I’ve been in recovery in Brattleboro for the last 4 years. I got sober in NY. Brattleboro has some great resources. It’s a small place. You can move here and find a community that cares for you. So what can the Town do? Human Services provides money to some organizations. When we vote at RTM, we’re talking small dollar amounts, and I bet you could do more with a more significant contribution of resources and stand with people trying to stay clean and sober in Windham County,

  • Monthly Finance Report with John O'Connor.

    John O’Connor’s finance report for January 2019.

    Seven months into the fiscal year (58.3%), General Fund expenditures are at 61.4% of the annual budget. The Utilities Fund stands at 57.1% and Parking Fund at 54.9%.

    Solid Waste Fund revenues are at 53.9% and expenses at 53.9%, with January bag revenue, collection costs and tipping fees figured in a month later as usual.

    Brattleboro has loaned out $4,378,543, and has $534,227 available for additional grants or loans. Just got $175k loan payback that will be added soon.

    Brattleboro has 43 active grants and six more on the way.

    O’Connor – Patrick, have the new lights gone in Transportation Center?

    Patrick Moreland – No. We’re now working on RFP, and replacement of stairs. Should be done before summer.

    Rikki – I hear people ask if parking garage bathrooms will be fixed – sinks and toilets are broken. Is there a statewide gender-neutral policy yet?

    Elwell – One person bathrooms are, but multi bathrooms no.

    Moreland – I thought they were in good working order, but will look at them.

  • First Reading - Plastic Bag Ban Change

    O’Connor – Zephyr Designs would like to use thin plastic bags for art and art supplies. So, we’re adding an exemption to the single-use plastic bag ban – adding “framed art and art supplies” to the list of exemptions.

    That’s the only thing changing.

    Rikki – I went to Dotties and I see them using a biodegradable plastic bag. They also have paper bags. Wrapping for everything, especially food – plastic is toxic – I have hopes for biodegradable bags.

    Elwell – Zephyr has applied for a single-store waiver, and staff rejected that request, so they came to the Selectboard. We postponed enforcement, and now we have this ordinance change. If this continues, no enforcement necessary.

    Quipp – did we see examples of the kinds of bags they feel they have to use.

    Wessel – didn’t exactly see it, but got description.

    Gander – I need a wrapping for framed items if raining or snowing.

    O’Connor – it’s a 2 mil bag, and 2.25 is our threshold. I’ve seen them, too. Can’t get water on a $10k watercolor….

    Quipp – Maybe they could bring some examples so the public can see what is being requested at the public hearing?

    Wessel – at that meeting, we felt it better- easier to keep spirit of ordinance not by granting waivers, but this is a specialized service, and less disruptive to add it to lust of exemptions.

    Franz – running for selectboard is a great way to learn one doesn’t understand something. Plastic bags can be recycled fairly easily for some purposes. Why did we single them out as a special class? Mixing all recycling now… that’s a bad way to do recycling. Detracts from resale value. It is easier. But how effective is our recycling program? Where’s all this heading long-term? Is there anything we can do to make it better?

    O’Connor – a question for another meeting! March 5 will be final public hearing.

  • Goal!

    Elwell – a review of what has changed with your yearly goals:

    Financial matters
    – working with VLCT and limited self-governance (a bill in both houses!)
    – FY20 Budget Cap Improvement Plan – did it with vehicles and created a 25 yr plan.
    – 1% LOST – you added it for RTM consideration.

    Energy and Sustainability
    – no sustainability position quite yet
    – housing and community development help – you did this with many discussions.

    Those were the changes.

    Gander – I have dates for actual compassion committee forums. Part of our goals worth noting.

    Wessel – I think we did pretty well with our goals and continuing to address things we haven’t figured out. Some real progress on real things. I have ideas for next set of goals, but stick to this review and new board can set new goals.


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