SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – After an executive session about labor negotiations that took place at 6 p.m. Monday night, May 13, the Springfield Select Board began their regular session at 7:02 p.m.
As for the agenda item regarding appointments and resignations to various boards and committees, George McNaughton requested opening the item up to discussion. He cited one resignation of an individual from the Planning Commission, saying, “I’m hesitant to accept [his] resignation in that I hate to see young people resigning willy-nilly from appointments they just received and I’d like to have someone from the Select Board to have a conversation with him to find out a little more about what the problem was.”
Town Manager Tom Yennerell confirmed that he had conversations with the individual and had encouraged him to “hang in there. He decided it wasn’t for him, and he took about at least a month to think about it.” Yennerell also mentioned handing him contact information and encouraging him to look at other committees like the Energy Committee.
Confirming that the individual had been spoken to, McNaughton moved to approve the resignation, along with the other resignations and appointments.
The Select Board approved a renewal for a second class liquor license for Morse’s Market in North Springfield. According to Barbara Courchesne, town clerk, the owners of Morse’s Market had originally applied for their liquor license last year, but due to other circumstances they were not yet ready to open their store.
The Select Board also had to approve an open container permit for TroutStock, an event hosted by Springfield on the Move taking place July 13 at 100 River Street. SOM Executive Director Jessica Martin was in the audience and explained, “We’re really trying to focus on Trout River Brewing Co. and the venue at 100 River Street.”
TroutStock will have two other brewing companies in attendance, as well as three food trucks, Cuppity Cakes, three local live music sets, and games. The event is a fundraiser for SOM. “The last two years we have done an art event and we wanted to change it up this year and try to get some exposure for some other Springfield vendors.”
There will be 50 VIP and 250 general tickets sold for this 21 and over event. All tickets will be sold online. The Select Board members voiced enthusiastic approval for the event and signed the open container permits.
The meeting turned to whether the Planning Commission could have alternate appointments to the commission. The issue arises from the Planning Commission running into issues with having enough members to hold a quorum – the minimum number of members that must be present to make proceedings of the meeting valid.
Select Board Chair Kristi Morris mentioned that the Planning Commission had recommended reducing the number of members so they would be able to have a quorum.
Walter Martone added that increasing the number of members “doesn’t help the situation because the quorum is based not on the number of appointees but the total number of authorized members.”
Michael Martin added that the Planning Commission was at a two-third majority so that with nine positions on the commission and two vacancies, they need a minimum of six members present to hold a quorum according to their operating by-laws. Therefore, they “don’t have any opportunities for someone to be missing.”
The commission has since changed their operational by-laws to a simple majority. “By dropping it to seven members and going to a simple majority of four, we were hoping we’d have more commitment,” he added.
Morris asked whether there was currently a vacancy for the Planning Commission. Yennerell confirmed that there was a vacancy and that a posting has already been created, but that there were no applications yet.
McNaughton mentioned that although there are written postings for positions, “People don’t read those.” Instead, he believes that people respond better to word-of-mouth from Select Board members and that they should be more proactive and “get the word out.”
Recording secretary Donna Hall suggested that when she and Yennerell create postings for open positions that she could include the Select Board members’ emails so they are also aware of open positions.
Yennerell added that they are in the process of improving the orientation packet for applicants to have prior to the interview with the Select Board.
Morris questioned whether that process of interviewing before the whole Select Board was effective or if there was any feedback regarding that process.
McNaughton added that the interview process “does scare some people off.” He explained that the process of interviewing before the entire Select Board can feel like an inquisition. He also suggested that the Select Board members might try to recruit at local events, such as the TroutStock.
Yennerell added that they could have a bigger public presence and maybe attend Chamber Mixers.
While the Select Board decided not to make a decision on approving alternates to the Planning Commission at this meeting, they did consider some ways to bring attention to vacant positions by being more proactive in the recruiting process.
The next Select Board meeting is slated for Tuesday, May 28.