State representative Charlie Kimbell fields questions at Plymouth meeting

State Representative Charlie Kimbell fielded questions at Plymouth’s town meeting on Feb. 28, 2022. Photo provided

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – During the informational meeting on Monday, Feb. 28, state legislature representative Charlie Kimbell answered questions from town voters regarding town and statewide updates.

Lister Michelle Pingree requested status on the cell phone tower that was put up about ten years ago and is still not in use. The Selectboard reported that there was no new information on it; it is private property and a private tower.

Kimbell continued the topic, “There is currently a proposal from the governor’s office to put $50 million into erecting 100 different cell towers across the state to improve communications.” He said, “The state is looking for proposals as to where those towers would be located… to increase that cell phone coverage, not only just for safety but also for communications to go on with our daily lives.”

Kimbell also discussed hot town and statewide topics that aren’t on the ballot for voting, such as the heat standard looking to ensure oil dealers that their products are burning cleaner, and the question of ‘how do you deal with it and how do you make this transition?’ He explained that the general consensus was, “we can make this work without it being a carbon tax, but be savings for the conservers.”

Selectman Keith Cappellini asked about how the legislature felt about rescinding mask mandates in schools. “It’s been a very local issue,” Kimbell replied. He said that they are “balancing what is scientifically recommended.” In the legislature, they continue to wear masks because they are working in close quarters to one another. From a personal perspective, Kimbell agrees with Cappellini that there is an emotional impact for children and adults, and “as soon as we can get away from wearing masks, we should be doing it.”

Town moderator Thomas Harris asked if there are grants for water quality projects, specifically for the Amherst dam and a clay cliff on Route 100 across from angry flats. “When it rains, it washes clay into the water,” he explained, muddying the waters of Amherst, Echo, and Rescue lakes. Kimbell explained there are funds available, but that it depends on the prioritization of the projects. “This is [a foreign] substance going into what ought to be pristine mountain streams,” Harris said, which does have an environmental and economic impact. Kimbell further explained there should be funds available, whether it be from an economic or environmental impact, the money would come from a different pot.

Other residents discussed the danger of further deterioration of the Amherst dam, and possible failure. Kimbell explained that it has private owners, who looked into their options for the dam when they learned it was their responsibility. State engineers have been watching the dam over the years and report that, in the event of a major storm, portions of the dam could fail and cause damage to homes downstream. The owners of the dam were required to either remove it, which would cost just under $400,000, or repair it at over $500,000 in expenses.

The Friends of Amherst Lake Association are “trying to keep the level of the dam the same or back up to what it was, but there is no financial assistance for that,” Kimbell explained. There is assistance to remove the dam however. Kimbell continued, if you want to raise levels back up, “you have to raise funds to do it.”

Alicia Armstrong has been organizing a nonprofit to help raise those funds, “to go towards purchasing the land from the current dam owners, and repairing the dam.”

Kimbell ended the meeting announcing that he will not be running for re-election, so there will be a seat available for a state representative for Plymouth next year. He plans to run for lieutenant governor. Harris thanked Kimbell for his service and for representing the Town of Plymouth.

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