Dover explores how to increase Town Meeting participation


DOVER -- Exploring ideas to increase attendance in the future was not abandoned after Town Meeting.

An article was devoted to the subject on March 4. Voters were asked to discuss whether the town should move the date altogether or possibly move the school portion of it to another day.

"We had a long discussion at Town Meeting of things we wanted to do," said Dover School Board Chairman Rich Werner. "We need to get it on agendas ... Just because things can get lost."

Most people did not want to see the date or time of Town Meeting changed, with many saying it would break tradition, while others saying they did not believe it would draw more people.

Prior to Town Meeting, Town Clerk Andy McLean had advised that after reading from "All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community," by Susan Clark, he learned that towns that had moved their meetings to Saturdays did not have as much participation.

On March 18, Werner asked the Selectboard to commit to a date to further explore the topic. It was generally agreed that if there was delay, changes may not occur in time for next year.

One idea was to offer free lunch to Town Meeting attendees.

"That will maybe inspire people to come," said Werner.

He mentioned offering coffee and possibly keeping dessert for towards the tail end of the meeting, when the last of the articles would be presented.

Having door prizes was another idea that was discussed before. That could include having trivia questions inside the Town Report from each member of the School Board and Selectboard.

Selectboard member Joe Mahon recalled a year when a person could win permission to bring 10 bags to the Transfer Station at no charge.

A joint special meeting between the two boards was scheduled for July 1. The Schoolboard will meet the Selectboard at 6 p.m., a half hour earlier than the Selectboard's regularly scheduled meeting for that night.

"The first hour can be to discuss this and anything else," said Selectboard Chairman Randy Terk.

Werner told the board he would get his list of potential ideas for encouraging more participation out to any board members who did not already have it.

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


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