Selectboard looks for health officer, citizens for town manager committee

health officer
Chester Selectboard meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Photo by Sharon Huntley

CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Selectboard Oct. 2 meeting focused on filling several open town positions: the town health officer and three citizen participants in the town manager search committee.

The Chester Selectboard is looking for a new health officer since Selectboard member Heather Chase, who currently holds the title, is looking to step away from the role. Town attorney Jim Carroll advised Chase that it is not recommended for a board member to also serve as the health officer since the Selectboard can adjudicate health complaints. Chase also admits that the role is evolving and “larger than anticipated” with increasing state requirements.

The Selectboard agreed to look for new health officer candidates. The Deputy Health Officer, Amanda Silva, is currently on maternity leave. Silva assumed the deputy role as part of her duties on the ambulance squad. According to Pisha, during his initial conversations with Silva, she was ambivalent about being both the health officer and being on call for the ambulance. Should Silva accept the top health officer position, the town will look for a new deputy health officer to assist her. Those decisions will be finalized after she returns from maternity leave sometime in December.

In the interim, Town Manager David Pisha will fulfill the required duties of the health officer coordinating with Chase to obtain her input and obtain her required signature on all necessary paperwork. Chase will continue to work with Pisha through Dec. 31 in that capacity. Any interested health officer candidates should contact the Chester Town Office.

The Selectboard is also looking to select the three citizen candidates for the seven-member town manager search committee. This committee will be searching for a new town manager to replace David Pisha, who is retiring at the next town meeting in March of 2020. The Selectboard previously determined the committee will be comprised of two board members, two town employees, and three citizens. Heather Chase and Arne Jonynas have volunteered as board members; and Julie Hance and Jeff Holden have volunteered as the town employees. To date, eight citizens have reached out to fill the three positions remaining. The board has requested that all interested citizens submit a letter outlining their interest in participating in the search for town manager and submit to Julie Hance at the town office by Oct. 15. The Selectboard will then review the letters and choose the three citizens at the next Selectboard meeting Wednesday, Oct. 16.

In the meantime, the Selectboard signed a contract for $6,800 with The Vermont League of Cities and Towns to serve as consultants for the town manager search. This amount includes the cost of advertising. They also approved the town manager and assistant town manager job descriptions with minor changes.

The Selectboard also signed loan paperwork for the Palmer Bridge loan; gave permission for usage of roads to the Chester Snowmobile Club; and approved submitting a letter to VTrans to authorize a no parking zone next to the Jiffy Mart. The Selectboard asked David Pisha to assemble complete cost details for gravel extraction including personnel, truck modifications, crusher rentals, etc. to get a complete picture of cost savings for the project. Pisha agreed to have the cost breakdown by the next EMS building informational meeting Wednesday, Oct. 23. The Selectboard is hoping to have a projected cost of savings for the project to better inform the public as they consider the upcoming bond vote on the proposed EMS building.

The Selectboard also reviewed a positive town wastewater inspection report summary by state inspectors. Jonynas noted high praise in the introduction to the report for Chester staffers and read the following text, “I’m impressed with the hardworking, dedicated staff of the Chester wastewater treatment facility. Jeff, Chris, and Gary are thoughtful operators that should be commended for their dedication in protecting the water resources of Vermont.” According to the report, the facility earned an “acceptable” rating, the second highest in a five-tiered rating system.

The next Chester Selectboard meeting is Oct 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Chester Town Office.

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