Grafton residents upset private meeting held with Iberdrola


GRAFTON >> Some members of the Select Board and meeting attendees snapped at each other Thursday night.

The main discussion was around who would fill the vacant Select Board chair seat and suspicion that Vice Chairman Al Sands had a private meeting with Iberdrola Renewables, the company that is interested in building a wind-turbine project in Grafton and Windham. At the beginning of the meeting David Muelrath read aloud the Unilateral Communications-Public Body guidelines that's listed in the Town of Grafton Code of Conduct.

"To me this is pretty clear; we have a violation of these code of conducts," Muelrath said after reading them aloud.

Then Kate Muelrath asked Sands if he was aware of the Code of Conduct and he said, "I am." She continued, "Were you aware before you had the meeting?" He responded, "I was."

Later in the meeting, David Acker took the floor, his comments stirring up the audience.

"When we're not transparent it doesn't look good, what are we hiding?" asked Acker. "We're here to protect each other, we're neighbors for crying out loud."

Board member Cynthia Gibbs mentioned that it seems when one Select Board member wants to get something done, others "scream and holler" that they do not want what they are proposing.

Acker responded and said Gibbs referred to a committee that was not official and not formed through the Select Board.

"Because the Select Board didn't want it," Gibbs said.

Acker said it did not matter and Gibbs argued it did. He said he was asking the Select Board to provide more information about what the town is facing with this potential wind project and to be "transparent." When Acker was done speaking, about half of the 30 to 40 meeting attendees applauded him.

Board member Skip Lisle took the microphone when Acker was done speaking and addressed Gibbs and told her the former Select Board had no opinion about how that committee was formed. Lisle and Gibbs bickered back and forth and then two gentlemen in the audience began to argue over something that briefly disrupted the meeting.

"We need to do things properly, when I asked the questions, I had no idea what that committee was doing," said Lisle. "They met in private and I had no idea what they were doing, so when I phrase the question, I said they were wrong to gather information and possibly negotiate, the word possibly changes everything. As it turns out, they met with Iberdrola, both parties agreed that it would be good to have a negotiator and that Iberdrola should pay for it and subsequently, the head of the committee received a monetary offer from Iberdrola, by any definition that is negotiating."

Liisa Kissel said she came to the meeting because she was concerned about the private meeting that may have taken place and she believes that it may have not been the first time that it took place.

"There should be no private committees and private meetings; it's something that concerns the whole town," said Kissel. "We can't allow just some individuals to have side conversations for the wind issue, which would be the biggest change to happen to Grafton, so whether you are in favor of it or against it, it needs to be a publicly discussed process and not something that happens outside of the public eye."

Sands requested that the meeting move forward and that the board address some of the agenda items. The pressing item was to appoint an interim board member since Chairman Gus Plummer resigned last week after receiving an anonymously written note he perceived as a threat. One member of the audience, local Jack Bryar said he was willing to run, but the board split even at a 2-2 vote. The board voted that Sands serve as Chairman and that board clerk Skip Lisle as Vice Chairman until an election that is likely to take place on July 12, according to Gibbs. Residents interested in running for a seat on the Grafton Select Board must turn in their petition to Town Hall with at least 1 percent of the voters (five residents) by Monday, June 6.

In other business, Select Board Member Ron Pilette was appointed to the Personnel Committee to fill the vacant seat that was once Plummer's. The next Select Board meeting will be held Monday, June 6, at the Grafton Elementary School at 6 p.m.

Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275


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