Cavendish Selectboard honors member Stephen Plunkard

CAVENDISH, Vt. – The Cavendish Selectboard met on Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m., at the Cavendish Town Office.

Citizen Margo Caulfield updated the board on the efforts of a long-term recovery group she is part of, created to work with area residents on issues related to the July flooding. Some of the topics addressed by the group were discussion of the five Ludlow dams, utilizing the VT-Alert system, installing 911 address signs, and establishing evacuation routes.

Cavendish, Vt.

Windsor County Sheriff Ryan Palmer was present at the meeting and introduced himself to the board, saying that as they were coming up on budget season, he felt it was a good time to stop by and touch base.

Since Feb. 1, Palmer reported, the department had responded to 281 calls for service, 174 traffic violations, multiple suspicious persons calls, and recovered 19 stolen guns. Deputies also regularly conducted traffic control around the school during pick up and drop off hours.

Additionally, $14,000-15,000 in traffic fines were collected, with Palmer stating that about half of the funds will come back to the town.

The department instigated a quarterly dinner with the Windsor County Youth Services and House at Twenty Mile Stream. Palmer explained that deputies volunteer to cook dinner for the youth, and said they had an upcoming event planned for December near the holidays.

Palmer was pleased to announce that the Public Safety Day, in cooperation with Proctorsville Fire and several tow companies, had been well received.

The current sheriff’s department budget covers eight hours per week for the Town of Cavendish. Palmer said that since he took office, he has increased staffing from about 12 individuals to 26 currently, and instituted the use of body cameras. The department recently purchased tasers, and beefed-up training, including autism awareness and response training. In December, deputies will begin a canine training program. This is all part of an effort to reduce the use of force when responding to emergencies.

Palmer asked the board what his department might do better for the town. The board agreed that they were doing a good job.

Citing rough numbers, Palmer detailed that for an annual budget of $40,000, Cavendish would get about 12 hours of labor per week. $65,000 would fund a half-time position, and $125,000 would allow for one full-time, 40-hour-per-week deputy dedicated to the town. “I know that’s a tough nut for a small town to crack,” Palmer remarked.

Ultimately, Palmer said he will re-address the board once he has the fiscal year 2025 budget proposal together, and is willing to have further discussions as needed.

The selectboard addressed the recent vacancy left by the passing of board member Stephen Plunkard. Three applicants had voiced interest, including former selectboard member Sandra Russo, who was not present at the meeting, but told the board she would be willing to serve in the position through the March, 2024 town meeting.

Dave Norton, a Cavendish resident for 23 years, was present and told the board he “would be pleased to serve.”

Chris Leonard, a Cavendish resident and former CPA, had submitted a letter applying for the position, and said it would be an honor to serve as a selectboard member, calling himself “sort of a non-controversial type of person.”

The board moved to appoint longtime resident Norton to serve through the March 2024 town meeting, when he said he would seek reelection.

Town manager Rick Chambers used the time he would normally take to present his manager’s report to honor board member Stephen Plunkard, who died on Oct. 22, 2023. Chambers said, “I’m sure I didn’t get to know him as well as some of you here, but the time I did get to work with him was meaningful and productive. He always had great thoughts and ideas, and was dedicated to making our town a better place. He had a vast range of knowledge to help move those ideas along as well.”

Chair Bob Glidden called for a moment of silence.

The selectboard will hold their next regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 11.

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