Switcheroo on Athens boards


ATHENS -- Denise Randall will continue to serve her town in the public realm, as she was appointed as a new lister to replace Dennis Mirante, who spoiled her re-election bid for the Selectboard by two votes at Town Meeting Day.

Randall had just finished a three-year term on the Selectboard and was interested in serving again, but lost to Mirante via paper ballot on March 4. She decided to accept a position as a town lister after Mirante resigned because state law prohibits anyone from serving in both positions at the same time. The announcement was made in late March.

"They needed someone and I said, 'Sure. Why not? Let's give it a shot,'" she recalled. "When my town needs assistance, I try to help out whenever I can."

Listers are charged with appraising property values, she said. Randall, who works in the intensive needs program at Saxtons River Elementary School, will join Sandi Capponcelli and Lois Sippel.

Mirante said he had been a lister for two years and had "somewhat of a half-plan" to get elected to the Selectboard. He told the Reformer a survey indicated the town's tax rate was the biggest concern among voters and he has, over the past two years, heard a lot of concern from the townspeople on it. He said Athens' taxes are the second-highest in Windham County, though the town has the second-lowest median income.

"I have several plans I'm trying to put together," he said.

Mirante said he chose the Selectboard (instead of the Listers) because he believes it is where he could have the most influence. He mentioned that he thinks some costs could be saved by taking a good look at the Athens/Grafton School Board budget.

"We fund a lot of extracurricular activities, which is a good thing and a necessary thing, but you've got to get the kids involved," he said, elaborating that money can be raised via car washes and bake sales handled by the schoolchildren. He also said he would like to explore a possible program in which the young people earn funds by doing chores, such as lawn work, for the elderly. Mirante said this would generate money and "instill some sense of community service in the kids."

He also told the Reformer the town should look into applying for as many grants as possible. He said he just wants to make sure the town is "spending money in the right places and getting our money's worth."

Selectboard meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month. The next one is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 17.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.


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