By Kara Herlihy
Warren residents assembled at theWarrenElementary Schoolat8 a.m.Tuesday morning to vote on 14 articles, cast ballots in the presidential primary and pass a total municipal budget of $2,928,766.
Article 7 to change the method of selection of constables from elected to appointed passed by a show of hands.
Select board member Anson Montgomery said the purpose of the article was to allow a mechanism to protect the best interests of the town. Currently, the constables are elected to one-year terms; the select board has no authority over the constables beyond the financial.
Article 7 passed by a hand vote of 68 voting yes and 25 voting no. The change will take effect once the current terms are up in March of 2013; constables will be appointed by the select board to two-year terms.
First constable Gene Bifano said that extending the term by one year makes sense because it takes a year to obtain the state-required training.Warren’s constables have been involved in 38 incidents this year including wellness checks, burglary responses, domestic assaults and tenant disagreements.
The town’s law enforcement budget had one significant increase this year due to Bifano and second constable Andy Campbell carrying firearms. The town budgeted $4,472 for liability insurance required because the constables now carry firearms, a 44.10 percent increase from last year. The constables started carrying firearms one year ago. Town voters were not informed by the select board that the constables had begun carrying firearms and voters had questions about the change.
Bifano has completed 260 hours of police training inRutlandCity.Campbellhas completed the basic school for part-time police officer, has over 92 hours of training and is continuing on the path to certification.
Bifano said, “When I wear this badge I carry a weapon because when I’m wearing this badge I’m obligated to protect your well-being,” before his comments were curtailed by moderator Bob Messner.
Select board member Bob Ackland outlined the town’s budget process and current and expected road expenditures as a result of flood damage and washouts. Town officials estimate that the cost to repair Irene-related road damage will exceed $1 million, with FEMA and the state potentially covering 75 percent of the cost.
Residents expressed concerns about the planned $400,000 expenditure for replacing a bridge onPlunkton Roadthat slumped immediately following the flood. The town also oversaw theBrook Roadstabilization project and safeguarded the banks of the Freeman Brook.
The road crew was applauded for their efforts following the flood; several washed out culverts were replaced, the upper portion ofFuller Hill Roadwas rebuilt, the covered bridge was repaired and re-opened and the Sugarbush Access Road was repaved.
Ackland was re-elected to a two-year term, Matt Groom was re-elected to a three-year term, Michael Ketchel was re-elected to a three-year term on the school board and Robert Rosen was re-elected to a two-year term.
Warrenresidents gave retiring principal Dr. Andreas Lehner a standing ovation for his 24 years of service to theWarrenSchool.
Voters discussed and subsequently passed the article to borrow $127,000 and expend $22,050 to construct a new classroom space. The school board previously approved hiring an additional upper unit teacher to accommodate rising enrollment and future forecasted growth.