Merger vote fails; Mickle elected village president


BELLOWS FALLS >> Myles Mickle was elected Bellows Falls Village president for a one-year term on Tuesday.

This was a contested race between Deborah Wright and Mickle and he won by 65 votes. There were 212 votes for Mickle and 147 for Wright. 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.

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. In addition, Wright serves on the Bellows Falls Union High School Board and has 11 grandchildren that she says will attend BFUHS in the future. Wright was a Trustee from 2011 to 2013, and has made previous unsuccessful runs for village president.

After more than 40 years of discussion the voters of the Town of Rockingham and Bellows Falls Village Corporation voted "no" on a merger of the town and village. For the village, 202 voted "no" to the merger, while 172 voted "yes." For Rockingham, 686 voted "no" and 266 voted "yes" for the merger.

The Town of Rockingham Plan of Merger would mean Bellows Falls Village Corporation would "cease to exist as a political entity or corporate body." If passed this also would have meant a tax rate increase by .37 cents for Rockingham, and a .30 cents for Bellows Falls, which in turn would call for TransCanada, an energy company, to pay about $320,000 less. TransCanada owns the Bellows Falls hydroelectric center and it is the village's largest taxpayer. Previously Select Board Chairman Lamont Barnett said the $320,000 difference was to be spread out among the residents of rural Rockingham, Saxtons River and Bartonsville.

For Article 7 in the town of Rockingham, voters voted "yes" to amend the Zoning Bylaws. There 537 votes for "yes" and 334 for "no." This Bylaw change was regarding the definition of a Public /Municipal Facility, which would exclude the "any facility in which more than eighteen (18) people are incarcerated or held for short-term psychological evaluation at any time or in which any person or persons are incarcerated for seven (7) or more consecutive days or held for short-term psychological evaluation for thirty (30) or more consecutive days."

Article 8 asked: "shall the voters of the Town allow the placement of a detention center within the legal boundaries of the Town of Rockingham?" Voters voted "no" to this article via Australian ballot, which was a non-binding vote. There were 173 people that voted "yes" and 721 that voted "no."

Article 7 and Article 8 stemmed from verified voter petitions that were formed this winter by locals who opposed Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark's proposal to build a multi-million-dollar criminal detainee/resource facility in town. The sheriff has since withdrawn his proposal, citing the work and cost involved in renovating the site.


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