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Weybridge to welcome new leaders

WEYBRIDGE — Weybridge in March will see some substantial turnover in municipal leadership, as two senior selectboard members have announced they will not seek additional terms on the five-member panel.
Weybridge Town Clerk Scott Wales confirmed on Monday that longtime Selectmen Peter James and Steve Smith will allow their terms to expire after 30 and 16 years, respectively, on what has been a busy board — particularly these past 18 months. The board, among other things, had to contend with the November 2012 resignation and subsequent federal prosecution of longtime former Town Clerk and Treasurer Karen Brisson on embezzlement charges. The board last September convened a special town meeting at which residents weighed in on how to earmark the $475,980 in insurance money the community received in resolution of the embezzlement case.
Smith’s and James’ departure announcements come a few months after the retirement of Selectwoman Gale Hurd, who had served on the board since 1999. Hurd had planned to leave the board when her term expired last March, but she re-upped in order to help provide continuity of leadership until the Brisson case was resolved.
Resident Gwen Nagy-Benson was appointed to fill Hurd’s position until Town Meeting Day (March 4), at which time she will run for the remaining one year on Hurd’s term.
Meanwhile, other residents have stepped forward to take out petition papers for the two-year term that will be vacated by James and the three-year spot to be left by Smith.
Wales confirmed that resident Abe Miller plans to run for the two-year spot, while residents Don Mason and Daniel James have declared an interest in the three-year post.
Incumbent selectboard members A.J. Piper and Chris Bagley are in the midst of their respective terms and will continue to serve.
The Addison Independent will provide more details about the candidates and their priorities as part of its pre-election coverage following the Jan. 27 filing deadline for municipal and school offices that will be decided on Town Meeting Day.
Wales appreciates the early interest in the selectboard vacancies.
“There will be lots of new blood,” Wales said of the new folks who will be elected to the board. “Hopefully, everything goes smoothly.”
Wales also voiced pride in how Weybridge has rebounded from what he called a very unfortunate episode in its history. The embezzlement case might have severely rocked a more fragile community, he said, but “(Weybridge) has moved on and has continued to be a very constructive group of citizens.”
James said the turmoil of addressing the embezzlement case had no bearing on his decision to retire from the selectboard.
“I just felt that after 30 years, it was time for some new blood,” said James, president of Monument Farms Dairy.
James is proud of what the town was able to accomplish during his tenure. He recalled one of the biggest issues Weybridge faced when he joined the board in 1984 was identifying unregistered dogs in town. Things have gotten a lot more complex since then. Particularly memorable for James have been the major road projects Weybridge has taken on or been a part of, including rebuilding portions of Field Days Road and James Road. Route 23 was also rebuilt and widened during James’ time in office.
“I certainly have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of serving the town in this manner,” he said of his time on the selectboard. “It has been rewarding, for the most part.”
He stressed he is not done helping his community.
“I hope to continue to be involved with the town somehow — wherever I can help,” he said.
Steve Smith could not be reached for comment for this story.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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