After holding a pre-Town Meeting informational meeting earlier this week, Waitsfield voters headed to the polls and elected Jordan Gonda to the select board along with Chach Curtis.
Gonda and Jennifer Stella ran for a three-year seat on the board with Gonda receiving 307 votes to Stella’s 101 votes. Curtis ran unopposed for a two-year seat on the board and received 395 votes.
Waitsfield voters passed a $2.4 million budget 364 to 90 and also voted 297 to 160 to permit cannabis retailers and integrated licenses. Voters approved spending an additional $10,000 for the Mad River Valley Recreation District 337 to 119. Waitsfield voters cast 343 yes votes and 109 no votes on adding an additional $10,000 appropriation to the Waitsfield Conservation Commission’s Restroom/Recreation/Conservation reserve fund.
Voters also approved a measure calling for establishing a reserve fund for invasive species management in the amount of $10,000. That vote was 355 to 96. Voters also approved exempting the Masonic Lodge from property taxes for five years by a vote of 280 to 164.
Other election results saw Ted Joslin elected as a lister, Jennifer Peterson elected delinquent tax collector, David Babic elected library trustee, Joslin elected as town agent, Laura Brines elected cemetery commissioner and Robert Cook elected cemetery trustee.
At the town’s informational meeting on February 28, after the board fielded questions about Town Meeting and the budget, board members held a regular meeting during which they discussed the town’s indoor mask requirement. The board renewed its indoor mask requirement for 30 days at its February 14 meeting with a plan to revisit the issue at this week’s meeting. Curtis said his preference was to extend the requirement for the next two weeks because Washington County is still in a high COVID risk area , as defined by the CDC.
Gonda pointed out that part of the new CDC guidelines on county by county. COVID risk levels are based on the availability of hospital beds for non-COVID patients and board member Fred Messer (who is also the town’s health officer) concurred that Washington County is still high risk.
“I’m inclined to leave things as they are, “board chair Christine Sullivan said and board member Brian Shupe agreed. Sullivan pointed out that the school district would be making a decision on whether or not to continue requiring masks in schools in the coming days as well. Schools are allowed to remove mask requirements if vaccination rates are at or above 80%. Currently, Harwood Union, Crossett Brook, Waitsfield and Fayston are over 85% vaccinated and Fayston is close to 80%, Sullivan said. Brookside Primary and Moretown are not there yet, she added.
Stella, who was present at the February 28 meeting objected to the board making the decision to keep the mask mandate in place for another two weeks.
“The rest of the world is backing down on mask mandates and we’re going forward with a mask mandate. Masks have done nothing to quell the number of cases. It’s time to let people make their own decisions,” she said.