City officially cuts ties to local nativity scene

VERGENNES — At their regular meeting last Tuesday, aldermen discussed signage at Vergennes’ oldest cemetery, the addition of a Police Explorers program for youths interested in police work, and the need — or lack thereof — for a city conservation commission.
In other business, aldermen:
•  Officially transferred to the local branch of the Knights of Columbus a city fund that had been used to maintain the Christian nativity scene that has been historically displayed every winter on the city green. The city now has no direct ties to the crèche.
•  Heard from City Clerk Joan Devine that she has begun working on a program to allow city residents to pay property tax bills by allowing city employees to debit their bank accounts directly, if residents choose to allow the city to do so. Devine said some residents might choose that option if they were busy, and that it could be more efficient for city workers.
•  Heard from City Manager Mel Hawley that he met with Bread Loaf Corp. architects with the list of specifications for a new police station, and they drew up a building with a sally port and a car impoundment area that is “just shy of 6,000 square feet.” Hawley said the architects planned to meet with company estimators this past Friday, and the council’s police station committee should have at least a rough estimate to work with by this week.
•  Heard from Department of Public Works head Jim Larrow that for two straight summers his department has been too busy to take on time-consuming sidewalk projects. Larrow suggested that such projects be contracted out. Aldermen praised the work of Larrow’s department and said they would consider his suggestion.
•  Authorized Larrow to complete the purchase of a $128,500 dump truck with plow and sanding attachments. The truck will replace a 13-year-old vehicle. Larrow said he picked out a truck with a minimum of options, but with a stainless steel body, metal hydraulics and aluminum wheel covers to minimize rust and, with luck, get 15 years of life out of the new vehicle.
•  Applauded while Mayor Michael Daniels gave DPW employee Chris Bearor his “Roads Scholar,” Level One diploma from the Vermont Local Roads Program.
•  Heard from Daniels that planning for the “Haunted Warehouse” Halloween celebration at Kennedy Brothers has begun; the event is tentatively set for Oct. 20.
•  Heard Daniels thank Green Mountain Power for its funding and cooperation with this summer’s Lighting of the Falls, which the mayor said was well received and drew visitors to Vergennes.
•  Heard from Hawley that the planning commission still needs a seventh member, especially with two members now on leave. He said the planners themselves would be recruiting, but asked that anyone interested contact him. “It’s important to get another one (member) as soon as possible,” Hawley said, adding that two terms expire in August 2013 and that a one-year appointment would be possible.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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