Saturday May 4, 2013

JAMAICA -- A vacant Selectboard seat was filled by Judy Flower on April 29.

"She had mentioned it before," said Jamaica Selectboard Chairwoman Alexa Clark. "At one time she thought she might be interested if the position ever came out."

The seat had opened up shortly after Town Meeting in the middle of last March. Brian Chapin had resigned, leaving the board with four members. After the Selectboard voted to appoint Flower, she took a seat with the rest of the board at the meeting.

"I was quite enthusiastic about listening to the townspeople try to give their opinions about what should happen," said Flower. "I was very encouraged by that. Some of the suggestions were difficult because of what we’re running into with FEMA. I enjoyed having the participants."

There was feedback pertaining to the current conditions of Water Street, where four properties were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. The property owners and the Jamaica Selectboard are waiting to hear back about a buyout opportunity that will be facilitated by an organization called Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission.

The property owners were at the meeting, speaking with the board about the road and its future.

"I’m really happy the Water Street people were out in full force because I know there’s a lot of uneasiness about what’s happening and what’s not happening," said Flower.

Flower went to Selectboard meetings regularly and had made her voice heard as a member of the public. Her husband Ed writes the minutes for the board at every meeting.

She and Ed were on the Jamaica Planning Commission for about seven years. They both resigned earlier this year.

"I enjoyed that work," said Flower. "But after the Town Plan was finished, I felt like I didn’t want to give up on working with the community. So I thought, ‘Well, let’s take that for a shot.’ And my husband kind of encouraged me to go forward. I was really kind of timid about the idea but he kept encouraging me. When the opening came up, I thought, ‘O.K., here we go.’"

Jamaica Road Commissioner Brian Chapin had been on the Selectboard until he resigned on Town Meeting Day.

Flower has been a member of various non-profit organizations. Currently, she is the president of the Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center, which recruits primary care physicians and educates young people who are going into the medical field.

Flower is a clinical psychologist and has been a full-time resident of Jamaica for 30 years. After moving around for most of their life together, since her husband was in the military, the Flowers decided to move to Vermont.

"We really had no land or anything to call our own," said Flower. "Consequently, we wanted to own a piece of land we could call our own. We looked around in the Poconos, the Catskills and one weekend we came up here with our son to go skiing and ended up falling in love with this piece of land."

The Flowers put a cabin on the property but ended up going to Germany for three years. Their sons used the cabin while they were in college.

Judy and Ed moved to Jamaica for good, deciding to open up the Pastoral Counseling Center in Brattleboro. They were both executive directors there but retired and individually went into private practices a few years ago.

"I feel honored to be on the board," said Flower at the end of the Selectboard meeting. "I’m hoping I can contribute."

Bruso said she already had been contributing as a member of the public.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.