Putney board approves new computers for town offices

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PUTNEY — The Selectboard had a pretty full agenda at its most recent meeting on Nov. 18. Board members voted to purchase new computers for the Town Hall, received a presentation from Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, and invited a state representative and the Putney road foreman to their meeting.

Town manager Cynthia Stoddard, and Selectboard members Steve Hed and Josh Laughlin voted to sign a contract with Vermont Digital for the purchase of five desktop computers and one lap top with an estimate of $12,995. This computer purchase will be funded from the capital expense line. The board had looked at other companies, such as Tech Group out of Burlington, Competitive Computing and DofSolutions, but felt that Vermont Digital left them with the best offer.

"We have computers that are running with Windows XP and they're not being supported with Microsoft right now. We wanted systems in place of that, that we felt were secure," said Stoddard. She added that they are running on an older server as well.

Putney Road Foreman Brian Harlow attended the meeting to further discuss his proposal of purchasing a dump truck, appraised at about $150,000, according to Stoddard. Stoddard and Harlow have been meeting for the past few weeks to rework the capital plan. Originally the plan had detailed the purchase of a one-ton truck at $135,000, but now Harlow believes that should be revisited and that a dump truck should be bought instead.

"What we have on the capital plan as of today and what I would budget for in any other continuing year for what we've been doing, is we would be purchasing a new one-ton and putting money down on it, which is $35,000 and then the rest of it would be spread over the next five years," said Stoddard.

Harlow said the $135,000 did not include the trade-in. Harlow was unsure what the value of the trade-in is, but mentioned they got about $10,000 for the last truck that they traded in. He said that vehicle did not have a wing and the body was "essentially gone." No decisions were made during the meeting regarding the purchase of a new truck.

Further discussion at the meeting involved an update from SeVEDS regarding its workforce development program.

"Right now our strategy is around increasing the size of the workforce. We actually don't have enough workers for the jobs that will be coming available for employers that want to grow within the next five years," said Laura Sibilia, project director of economic development at Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. "If our existing employers don't have the workforce they need, then it's going to be equally challenging for us to bring in any new employers."

In tackling this concern, Sibilia said they are looking at long-term immigration possibilities, but mainly focusing on retaining and cultivating the workforce within school systems, specifically grades six through 12. They plan to do this through raising career awareness, as in what jobs are out there. According to Sibilia, they are working with Brattleboro Union High School, Leland & Gray Union High School, Bellows Falls Union High School and Twin Valley High School to let them know which jobs opportunities exist in the area.

There is a young professionals group that has assembled a steering committee and listed a series of events that they are working on.

"We feel that this is really important for the workforce because it really provides folks in this younger demographic that we are seeing declining, with social network — a place where they can have some social work and life, which is important," said Sibilia.

State Rep. Mike Mrowicki, D-Windham 4, attended the board meeting and expressed his concern with the declining younger population in the state and gave an update on other topics from his end.

Mrowicki discussed the water quality bill that was moved through last year, the budget, liability concerning pet control, protecting elders from financial predators and ACT 46.

He said he has proposed a bill that would bring liability to the owners of pets who have harmed other people or animals.

"I think it's something we need to take a look at this year. It's an old law; we go through the process of updating laws, and it's something we should bring up to the 21st century," said Mrowicki.

In addition, within the House Committee on Human Services on which he sits, they will look at a bill that will protect elders from financial predators.

"The sad thing to say about that, is that often, the predators are the people who were entrusted to protect those people. So we're going to need to tweak some of our banking laws to allow limited access for law enforcement to look into this because the problem right now is if there's suspicion that someone's bank account is being cleaned out, often the person they have to go to for permission is the person that is doing it."

Among the many items that Mrowicki talked about, he also discussed a bill that was passed to help create better access to dental care. Mrowicki said state Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham District, was instrumental in the passing of this bill.

Other business at the meeting covered an update from the tax exempt committee, an approval of the liquor license at Next Stage, the May 2015 possible gravel pit violations and an update about the budget status.

The next Putney Selectboard meeting is scheduled for December 2.

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


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