Saturday March 2, 2013

GRAFTON -- A battle for a three-year seat on the town's Selectboard will be the only contested race on this year's ballot.

Robert Sprague and Noralee Hall are vying for a position on the five-member board, and voters will pick a winner via Australian ballot on Tuesday, March 5.

Both said they want to join the board with fresh eyes and unbiased opinions to do what is best for Grafton.

Sprague, who will soon vacate a seat on the town's planning commission, said he decided to run to see if he can help the town in another way.

"I just kind of feel like it's time to step up from the planning board if possible," he told the Reformer, adding that he ran unsuccessfully for the Selectboard a couple of years ago.

A lieutenant with the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department and an emergency medical responder with Grafton Rescue, Sprague was born and raised in town and is interested to make sure Grafton does not fall victim to any of FEMA's red tape when it comes to fully recovering from Tropical Storm Irene.

He said he has no specific items in mind, and no agenda to carry out. He said he wants to look at every issue with an open mind.

Hall decided in late January she would attempt to earn a seat on the Selectboard. She once worked for the Windham Foundation for 30 years and moved to Grafton about three years ago.

"I've always been very active with community and different boards. At some point I figured I would go into public service," she said. "I look to learn a lot. The intricacies of governmental process is really interesting."

Now an employee of the Nature Museum at Grafton and Blake Hill Preserves, Hall said she is not a single-issue candidate and she hopes to bring a woman's perspective to an all-male board.

"It'll be another opportunity for the board to reach out to community," she said. "The board is already well-connected to the community -- I just think I'd bring another layer of that."

Neither candidate said they have made up their minds about the wind project that has drummed up controversy in town.

Iberdrola Renewables, operating as Atlantic Wind LLC, is one of the world's largest energy companies and received permits to erect three test towers -- two in Windham and one in Grafton on land owned by New Hampshire-based Meadowsend Timberlands Limited. The towers could be a precursor to Windham County's first commercial wind turbines, depending on the weather data they produce.

Sprague and Hall both said they are neutral on the issue, and it is too early to make judgments.

Residents will also vote on a $2,812,062 for the River Valley Technical Center School District and a $7,120,375 budget for the Bellows Falls Union High School District No. 27.

The BFUHS budget will be voted upon via Australian ballot by voters of each member town of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union on Tuesday.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.