Seeley, Nuovo and Artim win seats on Middlebury board

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents on Town Meeting Day made resident Heather Seeley the top vote-getter in a five-way race for three seats on their selectboard. They also overwhelmingly agreed to participate in a new, unified Addison Central School District (ACSD) that will include all of the schools in the current Addison Central Supervisory Union.
Seeley garnered 1,234 tallies to win her three-year term. Also making the cut were former selectman Victor Nuovo, with 1,052 votes, followed by current selectboard Vice Chairman Nick Artim, who received 991.
Incumbent Selectman Gary Baker finished fourth and out of the running with 930 votes, and candidate Richard Terk trailed with 654 tallies.
Seeley, 42, is the business manager for Seeley Earth Moving. She ran for the selectboard previously in 2014. She currently serves on Middlebury’s Public Works Committee and is an alternate on the Middlebury Development Review Board.
“I’m thrilled,” she said of her first-place showing. “I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Seeley believes her past run for the board — and a series of open houses, ads and mailings — helped her prevail this time around.
“I’m ready to work with the other selectboard members to make Middlebury the best it can be,” she said.
School governance unification passed in Middlebury by a huge margin, 1,631-278, in spite of the fact that the town stands to receive the least cost benefit from the move — at least initially. The measure also passed comfortably in the other six towns: Those results can be found in the individual town meeting wrap-ups and in a Page 1 story, this issue.
Middlebury will have seven representatives on the new ACSD board. Seven Middlebury residents were elected unopposed for terms ranging from one to three years. They included Lorraine Morse, Steve Orzech and Josh Quinn, each for three years; Jason Duquette-Hoffman and Ruth Hardy, each for two years; and Victoria Jette and J.P. Rees, each for one year.
Residents OK’d, by 1,718-401, a proposed Mary Hogan Elementary School (ID-4) budget of $7,391,279 for the next academic year. This was the first year that the ID-4 budget was decided by Australian ballot, a switch that had been requested by local voters. Historically, the budget has been voted at an ID-4 annual meeting held in early April.
There were no other contested races on the Middlebury ballot. Those running unopposed included James Douglas, town moderator, one year; Jason Duquette-Hoffman and Ruth Hardy, three years each for the ID-4 board; Lorraine Morse, UD-3 board, three years; and Catherine Nichols, Ilsley Library Board of Trustees, three years. An additional three-year term on the ID-4 board had no takers.
Middlebury’s annual gathering on Monday evening was the last to be held at the town’s municipal gym. That deteriorating gym and adjoining municipal building at 94 Main St. will be demolished and removed this spring to make way for a public park. A new, 9,400-square-foot town office building at 77 Main St. and a new, 11,500-square-foot recreation facility at 154 Creek Road are replacing those buildings.
The new recreation facility was officially inaugurated on Wednesday with an open house. A similar event is planned for the new town office building on Friday, April 29, from 3 to 5 p.m.
Officials believe Middlebury’s will be only the second net-zero town office structure in the country (the other is in New York state). The town has invested in solar arrays to count toward the office building’s net-zero rating.
“This thing is basically a brick thermos bottle,” Artim said. “The buildings are really exceeding our expectations.”
Around 200 residents attended Monday’s gathering, where they quickly dispatched all eight articles on the warning. The proposed fiscal year 2017 municipal budget of $10,116,165 — which will require no increase in the town tax rate of 98 cents per $100 in property value — passed by voice vote after little discussion.
Also passing by voice vote were articles that included:
• Permission to take out a five-year, $242,000 loan to bankroll a police cruiser and related equipment, and a number of items for the public works department: a pick-up truck and related equipment, a sprayer and power-drive unit for line painting, and a trailer.
• Elimination of the elected office of auditor. These positions have not been drawing candidates and the accounting chores in question have been delegated to a professional firm.
Monday’s meeting saw two community leaders earn public service awards.
Middlebury Selectboard Chairman Dean George was awarded a keepsake for his 20 years on the board. He decided not to run for re-election this year. Artim, in presenting the plaque, joked that state statutes gave communities the right to decline a public official’s resignation if they had served for two decades.
“Sorry, Alice, but it seems Dean belongs to all of us,” Artim said to George’s spouse.
Artim credited George for being among the town leaders who helped further the Cross Street Bridge, a new wastewater treatment plant, a new police station, and the new municipal building and recreation facility.
“It is impossible to state in just a few minutes how much Dean has done for us,” Artim said.
George said he found the position rewarding.
“It has been my privilege,” he said.
The Middlebury Parks & Recreation Department awarded the annual Robert Collins Award to Jutta Miska, credited for her many years as a champion for youth activities in town. She helped establish and run the Addison Central Teens center, and recently opened a store in downtown Middlebury called Buy Again Alley.
Miska, in receiving the award from Parks & Recreation Director Terri Arnold, said she got a lot of help along the way.
“It takes a village, and without a village, I couldn’t have made the difference I was able to make,” she said.
Monday’s meeting also included updates on the downtown rail bridges project and economic development efforts in town.
Representatives of Porter Medical Center’s nurses’ union passed out a flier just prior to town meeting voicing concerns about recent layoffs and cuts at the institution. The Independent will elaborate on the union’s concerns, and Porter administrators’ response, in its Monday edition.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
   MIDDLEBURY RESIDENTS TAKE their seats in a darkened town gymnasium before the start of Monday night’s town meeting. This is the last year the annual meeting will be held in the old town gym.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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