Orwell sees four contested races

ORWELL — Orwell residents are gearing up to decide a number of contested races come Town Meeting Day. Two candidates have come forward for each of four races, including one seat on the selectboard, two seats on the school board and one lister position.
Town meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at Orwell Town Hall to be followed by the Orwell School District Meeting. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and town officer elections and the proposed changes to land use regulations will both be decided by Australian ballot.
Town residents will be asked to vote on the proposed 2010 town spending plan of $740,862 for the coming year. The proposed budget is level-funded, with small cuts in a range of spending areas, according to Town Clerk Susan Arnebold. If approved, the town’s expected spending will fall by $1,280, or 0.17 percent, from the current year’s budgeted spending of $742,142.
Among the 19 town office positions that will come to a vote in March is a two-year spot on the selectboard, being vacated by Peter Young. Andrea Ochs and Miles Tudhope are facing off for the position.
“I have always felt a civic duty to my community, and Orwell has been my home for most of the 25 years I’ve lived in Vermont,” said Ochs, who currently serves as chair of the planning commission. She said she has no specific plans if elected.
“The town has always tried to do well in balancing the budget and making sure needs are met. I think I would complement the people already serving.”
She added that she would encourage all of the town boards and committees to work well together.
“I think that it’s very important to have communication between the selectboard and the school board,” she said.
Tudhope, too, attributes his current run for office to a sense of civic duty — he has previously served six years on the high school board, and has more recently served on the zoning and development review boards for the town.
“As citizens, we have to volunteer for public service. This is a democracy, and we have to keep it going,” he said.
He also said that he had no particular agenda, but that his years running a dairy farm with his wife, Cheryl, have taught him skills that he can use to help the town.
“I’m a businessman,” he said.
In total, there are 15 uncontested races for town offices. Two seats on the Orwell Village School Board have two candidates: Alyson Audet Eastman is running against incumbent John Tester for the three-year school director position, and Christopher Mongeur and Sarah Tetzlaff are running for the two-year school director position. The two-year lister position also has two candidates, Jean F. Audet and Wayne L. Weseman.
Changes to the town’s land use regulations will also come to a vote on Town Meeting Day. After the planning commission completed a major overhaul of the regulations in 2007, the changes that it proposed late last year were mostly minor clarifications and additions, according to Ochs, who chairs the planning commission.
Voters will also determine funding for a number of town projects, with requests totaling $252,050. Among the funding requests are $135,000 for a replacement truck, $80,000 to resurface town roads, $12,000 for operating expenses of the Ethan M. and Eliza T. Wright Memorial Library Building, $2,350 to purchase books and materials for the Orwell Free Library and $1,800 for the operating expenses of the Orwell Parade Committee.
A total of 11 social service organizations have asked for $9,970 in funding, and town residents will vote on each item separately. Among the organizations that requested money are Addison County Home Health and Hospice ($1,450), Counseling Service of Addison County ($1,450) and the Addison County Parent/Child Center ($1,250).
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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