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Bonnie Swan to fill vacant Ripton selectboard seat

BONNIE SWAN

RIPTON — The Ripton selectboard has appointed resident Bonnie Swan to succeed Ron Wimett — her late cousin — on the board until next March, when she and other local residents have the option of running for the remaining two years on Wimett’s term.

“I’m amazed,” Swan said on Tuesday or her reaction to the appointment. She was one of three people who had submitted letters of interest in the vacancy, created when Wimett — who also served as the town’s road commissioner — died suddenly on Sept. 5.

Ripton selectboard member Laurie Cox credited Swan’s status as a lifelong Ripton resident and her service to the town as qualities that contributed to her appointment. Swan is a former town auditor and longtime member of Ripton’s cemetery association. She was Ripton’s school bus driver for 19 years and has driven for Tri-Valley Transit (formerly known as Addison County Transit Resources) for the past 21 years. She currently drives Tri-Town’s Middlebury-Burlington Route via Route 116.

“I’d thought about (running) in the past,” Swan said of the selectboard, “and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it.”

So she’ll see how she likes the job for the next few months and determine whether to run for an extension in March.

In addition to the two years left on Wimett’s term, a three-year post currently held by Selectman Tim Hanson will also be in play.

Swan is looking forward to tackling the varied issues with which Ripton is contending right now, including the future of the town’s road maintenance program. As road commissioner, Wimett performed the town’s road work using his own company’s heavy equipment. So his death left a particularly big void in the town’s day-to-day functions.

Fortunately, three Ripton residents recently stepped forward to provide at least a short-term solution to the town’s road-maintenance predicament, according to Cox. They are Kevin Jackson, Chris Lackard and Chris Poploski, all of whom have equipment and labor to apply to municipal road tasks through the winter. The three men offered their services following a series of public meetings at which Ripton’s road-upkeep dilemma was explained, Cox said.

“All these guys are independent contractors,” Cox said. “They all know the roads and know the job.”

Poploski and Jackson specialize in logging during the winter, but being local should also be available for plowing, Cox said. Lackard worked with Wimett and therefore has a keen understanding of the local road-maintenance system, she added.

In addition to snow plowing this winter, the Ripton selectboard has mapped out various road improvement projects they’d like to see completed this fall, include installing some culverts.

Meanwhile, the board is doing an analysis of the town’s road maintenance needs with an eye toward presenting voters with a long-term fix come Town Meeting Day in March.

“It should all work out and get us through,” Cox said of the current, short-term roads solution.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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