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Waitsfield names Williams select board chair

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03/12/2009

By Lisa Loomis

Kate Williams is the new chair of the Waitsfield Select Board. She is the first woman to hold that position.

She was elected by the board at its March 9 meeting. Former board chair Charlie Hosford nominated her and board member Bill Parker seconded. Board member Paul Hartshorn nominated newly elected board member Sal Spinosa, but there was no second and Spinosa declined to second his own nomination.

Before the board voted on the nomination, Hartshorn asked for time to question Williams.

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"What experience do you have in being chairman, Kate?" he asked.

"I run a small nonprofit and manage a 12-member board of directors for that. I was chair of the Spring Hill board of directors for two years during its transition from one director to another. I have managed boards from a staff side and from a volunteer side," Williams responded.

"Can you move our meetings along so we get out by 11 p.m.?" Hartshorn asked.

"That's one of my top priorities. The most important thing we can do is be efficient," she answered.

The vote was unanimous.

"It matters to me a lot that we work together as a team around this table for the good of our town. I will welcome all the opinions around the table to get to the decisions that are best for the town. One of the ways we can serve this town is by being efficient in our meetings and our deliberations. I think efficiency does not exclude being inclusive and open to citizen input. I think we need to keep things moving. I welcome your help. I look forward to the challenge. And a year from now, I hope a lot of good ground has been traveled," Williams commented after the vote.

The board then voted for a vice chair, something that Waitsfield has not done in the past.

Parker nominated Hosford and Hartshorn nominated Spinosa, who seconded the Hosford nomination and then seconded his own nomination.

Hartshorn again asked to query the nominees, asking both how they would move meetings along more quickly.

"I can tell you, it will move along," Hosford said.

"You told us that last year and we was here til one in the morning," Hartshorn said.

"If the length of a meeting falls on one person's shoulders, I don't think that is reasonable. We do accumulate some lengthy agendas. I'm open to any suggestions for shortening the meetings," Hosford continued.

"Clearly, meetings have to be shortened. Things meander too much. I don't consider this a social event. If we treat it that way, we should be able to get in and out quicker. Members of the public are disturbed that these meetings go on as long as they do," Spinosa said.

Board members Parker, Williams and Hosford voted in favor of Hosford while board members Hartshorn and Spinosa voted in favor of Spinosa.

The board spent time discussing how to shorten the meetings and how to tighten up the process, agreeing to begin meetings at 7 p.m. rather than 7:30 p.m. and have 10 p.m. be the regular conclusion of the meetings -- unless board members approve, by motion, a proposal to work later.

The board also worked on trimming $20,000 from the 2009 budget, as was requested and approved at Town Meeting this year, and then heard from town resident Mike Kingsbury about the town pond. Kingsbury urged the board to install a forebay on the south end of the pond which would catch all the sediment before it inundates the pond. A forebay, he said, is small and fairly inexpensive but would save money on future dredging costs. The select board will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. on March 12 to consider the four bids received for rebuilding the town pond dam. That meeting will be in executive session, but the board will make its decision on which bid to accept in open session.

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