BELLOWS FALLS — As the Village Corporation Annual Meeting approaches this Tuesday, two candidates for trustee president are making sure voters known they are running.
Residents Deborah Wright and Myles Mickle are looking to take over Nancy McAuliffe's position since her term as Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees President expires this month. This is Wright's fourth time running for the position since she was a trustee between 2011 and 2013, but Mickle is looking at it with fresh eyes.
"I have not run for elected office before, but being new to the process gives me fresh perspective," said Mickle. "My strength is in mediation and I feel it's vital that the person who will be running the meetings be someone who is able to work effectively with everyone and hear their concerns, their advice and their criticism without taking it personally."
Mickle is originally from Westminster, and graduated from Bellows Falls Union High School in 2005. He earned his BA in history from Castleton University and manages the shipping department of Echo Point Books and Media in Brattleboro. He is also an appointed member of the Rockingham Certified Local Government Board.
"I'm running because I feel I have the ability to do the job well and can commit the time to give proper attention to the budget and other matters," Mickle said.
He also emphasized the importance of choice in the village election. When he had his petition signed, he was told that no one had submitted a petition yet, which he felt was a "shame" because he feels others should be involved at this level of government.
Wright said local government is important to her because she cares about the village and wants to see more communication between the Rockingham Select Board and the Village Board of Trustees. If elected trustee president, Wright said she will focus on expanding and keeping jobs in the village, as she feels it is important to strengthen standing businesses and seek out opportunities to bring new ones in. She also notes Vermont's aging population and said the trustees should play a role in looking for ways to keep young people in the area. Wright also would like to create safer communities and see rehabilitation of historical buildings, such as the old Chemco building and brick structures known as "the TLR buildings."
"I have nothing hidden here. I give plain answers, I love the community we're in, and my business, family and home are here," said Wright. "I love it and intend to stay. I've always been active participant, I read everything, go to everything, I pay attention and I feel people should do that."
Wright is the owner of Green Mountain Traffic Control, a family-owned business that offers traffic control services for construction jobs, utility projects, and special events. Wright also serves on the Bellows Falls Union High School Board and has 11 grandchildren that she says will attend BFUHS in the future.
Current trustee member Stefan Golec will see his term expire this month, but he is running again uncontested for a two-year seat. Steve Adams, a new face to the trustees, also plans to run for a two-year position as exiting trustee Sandy Martin's seat will be vacated.
In other business for this Tuesday, two Special Town Meetings for voters in Rockingham have been warned. One topic that is not new to long-standing locals is the Rockingham and Bellows Falls merger. The merger would result in a property tax increase of .37 cents for Rockingham citizens, while village residents would be taxed .30 less, and the budget for the village is already down this year by 0.535.
The merger has been a topic of discussion for about 45 years and two hearings regarding the issue were held on April 30 and May 14. For the merger to pass, there would need to be affirmative votes from both Rockingham and village voters. If the merger passes, it would then go to the Vermont Legislature and legislators could modify it to their liking.
Another issue presented before voters on Tuesday involves a proposal to amend the zoning bylaws. This would be a non-binding vote that says whether a detention center should ever be located within Rockingham, as an advisory vote to the Zoning and Planning Commission. Several petitions have floated around town since late 2015, where at least 5 percent of voters signed saying they did not want such a detention center in town. May 17 will provide another chance for them to weigh in on their opinion.
Most of the other matters on a separate Special Town Meeting notice ask Rockingham voters to decide on five-year tax exemptions for the Bellows Falls Village Corporation, Saxtons River Village, Bartonsville Grange, and the Bellows Falls Area Senior Center.
In addition, voters will be asked via Australian ballot to approve a bond for $1.8 million for improvements of the wastewater collection system.
Village residents will also be asked to vote on an additional $1,892,200 for the General Fund.