Hearing held on detention center

NEWBURY—Dozens of residents who oppose a state plan to develop a juvenile detention center in rural Newbury registered their objections at a state land use hearing on Aug. 25.
The Vermont Department of Children and Families and the nonprofit Becket Family of Services want to remodel a two-story building on Stevens Place which was originally a bed and breakfast and which Becket had been running as a treatment center for several years. It will hold up to six male offenders, aged 12-17, in state custody. The facility and property will still be owned and operated by Becket subsidiary Vermont Permanency Initiative, but it will be leased to DCF and renovated with state funds.

Students start without masks

NORTH HAVERHILL—For the third time in the last three months, the Haverhill Cooperative School Board decided against requiring students to wear masks at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Holding a special meeting on Aug. 26 to solicit public input on reopening plans, board members narrowly rejected a proposal to impose a student mask mandate for the first month of school when the six board members attending the session deadlocked 3-3 on the motion. They also declined to require facial coverings for staff members while empowering the superintendent to change the schedule, require masks, or make other pandemic-related adjustments on an emergency interim basis.

Board hears roads, speed complaints

ORFORD—The Orford Selectboard voted to accept the first installment of its American Rescue Plan Act funds following a public hearing last week.
The board held a brief hearing at the start of its regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 25 to discuss whether to accept $68,100 in coronavirus relief funding. There was little, if any, public input.
And while there was some discussion about using the funds to build out the town’s broadband internet infrastructure, the three board members unanimously agreed to set the money aside for now.

Board does U-turn on ARPA plan

WOODSVILLE—After two previous votes to spend federal coronavirus relief funds on a plan proposed by the town’s precincts, the Haverhill Selectboard reversed course on Monday night.
The board voted 3-2 to reconsider its motion approved two weeks ago following a two-hour public hearing that was attended by dozens of people. It then voted 3-2 to retain the funds for a plan as proposed by Haverhill Town Manager Brigitte Codling.

Oxbow voters approve forest purchase

BRADFORD—For now, it appears that the local school district will own a 10.2-acre property near the school to be used as an outdoor classroom for students at Newbury Elementary School.
Voters at the Oxbow Unified Union School District’s special meeting on Aug. 17 authorized spending $68,000 of surplus funds to buy the undeveloped, forested real estate in Newbury. Residents from both Bradford and Newbury took part, voting 50-38 to approve the deal.

County preps broadband project

NORTH HAVERHILL—Grafton County will partner with EX2, a communications and infrastructure company based in Nebraska, to bring broadband internet to all of the county’s towns.
The county’s broadband committee, along with EX2, have settled on a plan that will deliver broadband to the center of each Grafton County town, with each town ensuring that all of its residents have high-speed internet access.

Relief funds ticketed by school district

WOODSVILLE—Haverhill schools will receive over $2 million in coronavirus relief funds that officials say will be used to improve conditions for student physical and mental health.
Priority projects targeted for completion this fall are an improved ventilation system in the Woodville High School cafeteria and gymnasium and window replacements, which were trimmed from the building renovations project undertaken a couple of years ago. The projects will be paid by funding received through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funds.

Bradford gathers to select priorities

BRADFORD—The Community Visit taking place in Bradford in collaboration with the Vermont Council on Rural Development entered its next phase on Monday evening.
Approximately 60 people gathered underneath a tent in Elizabeth’s Park as part of the Moving Forward Together Bradford initiative. The meeting on Aug. 23 came after a series of theme-based forums were held last month at the Bradford Academy, Grace United Methodist Church, the Hub, and online. Additionally, surveys were circulated online and in print in several locations in town.

Alleged kidnapper seeks dismissal

BURLINGTON—A Vermont man, who is charged with abducting a woman, crossing state lines, and sexually assaulting her in front of her son in Windsor County, has asked a judge to throw out the four felony counts he is facing in federal court.
Everett A. Simpson, 44, most recently from St. Johnsbury, maintained the two kidnapping counts and two interstate transportation of stolen car counts should be dismissed for a variety of reasons.
“This case should not be allowed to go to trial,” Simpson declared during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington on the afternoon of April 12.

After debate, board affirms ARPA plan

WOODSVILLE—The Haverhill Selectboard voted 3-2 on Monday night to spend federal coronavirus relief funds on a plan proposed by the town’s precincts.
The action essentially affirmed a decision made during a board meeting on Aug. 2. This time, however, the vote came after more than two hours of debate during and after a public hearing attended by dozens of people at the Clifford Memorial Building.
The funds, which will be distributed over two equal installments in 2021 and 2022, total $477,908.24, but represent a sliver of overall municipal spending. The 2021 disbursement, which the town received last month, is roughly 4% of the town’s 2020 total operating budget.