Selectboard Minutes, 10.24.2022

Monday, 24 October 2022, 6:30 pm, 236 School Road, Guilford, VT


SELECTBOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Zon Eastes, Chair, Michael Becker, Rusty Marine, Verandah Porche, Richard Wizansky

OFFICIALS/ STAFF PRESENT:  Sheila Morse (Asst. Town Administrator), Dan Zumbruski (Road Commissioner)

PRESENT in person: Dolores Clark, Steve Lembke, Mary Wallace Collins; Chuck Collins, Jethro Eaton, Nancy Coan, Roman Nemet, Victoria Hone

PRESENT via Zoom: Beth Bristol (GSC), Carol Schnabel, Anna Klein, Lesley Malouin, Marty Ramsburg, Marianne Lawrence, Charles Light, Rick Zamore, Mary Ellen Franklin, Nancy Detra, Don McLean, Rick Pennington, Cathi Wilken, Sherri Keefe, Jason Herron, Christina Belogour, Linda Hecker, Sheila Adams, John Shaw, Jeannette Tokarz, Paul Belogour, Julie Beet, Ben James, Dan Powersmith, Claire Griffith, Anne Rider, Susan Bonthron, Richard Cianflone, Patrice Pennington, Lyle Howe, Regan Anderson, Jaime Durham. Two attendees, not having complied with the Chair’s request to identify themselves by first and last names, were placed in the Waiting Room: Christopher D. and 646.322.8209)

  1. Call to Order – 6:30 p.m., with estimated times
  1. Welcoming of Public – Community Comment Period, 10 minutes
    1. Nancy Detra of Guilford Energy Committee:talked about Window Dressers’ insulation project that’s taking place at Winston-Prouty. They  Invite residents to participate in this project every year in October…
    2. Mary Wallace-Collins: The Rec Commission is holding its annual Trunk or Treat event Saturday 10/29/22 from 1-3 p.m. at the Guilford Fairgrounds, followed by an “All-Ages Halloween Party at the BBCC” from 5 p.m.
    3. Verandah read her poem honoring the reopening of the Broad Brook Community Center (attached)
  1. Changes to Agenda Order
    1. Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 312(d)(3)(A), any addition to or deletion from the Selectboard agenda shall be made as the first act of business at the meeting.  We therefore amend the agenda to include Jason Herron’s October 24, 2022 resubmittal of open meeting violation allegations that he previously submitted on October 5, 2022 and which the Selectboard publicly responded to on October 10, 2022.  This item will be added to Agenda Item #8, New Business. 
    2. ACTION: Zon moved and Rusty seconded that we add Jason Herron’s request for a response to his 10.24.22 resubmittal of an Open Meeting Law violation allegation, previously submitted on October 5, 2022. to the agenda. – Section 8(c). All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried.
  1. Approval of Minutes of 10.12.22 meeting, 2 minutes
  2. ACTION Richard moved to approve the minutes as written. Verandah seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried. Zon noted that the minutes are very long.
  1. Updates & Reports
    1. Highway, 5 minutes
      1. New employee on Road Crew – Jason Willette. The Road Crew is now fully staffed.
      2. Grading on some roads but Tater Lane turned to soup due to today’s rain so they had to postpone further work.
      3. Needs to get rip rap on Guilford Center Road 
      4. Sand bid – opened All States/Mitchell came in the lowest. Received bids
        1. ACTION:  Richard moved that we accept the bid from All States / Mitchell to supply winter sand at a cost of $12.87 per Cubic Yard.Verandah seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried. It was noted that the price of sand has increased substantially since the FY2023 budget was created. If the Road Crew uses the full 4,000 CY the total cost will be $51,480, $6,480 over budget. But it’s difficult to estimate how much sand will be used during any winter season.
      5. Postpone Jelly Mill Bridge RFP
        1. ACTION: Zon moved that we extend the RFP deadline for repairing Bridge #62, Jelly Mill, from 10.24.22 to 12.12.22. Richard seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried.
    2. Guilford Central School Leadership Committee, 8 minutes
      1. Beth Bristol of GCS Leadership Committee noted that the Leadership Committee arose from Act 46 and was formed to maintain representation of local schools in the District. It’s a 10-member committee consisting of parents, staff members, school principal John Gagnon, and Sean Murphy, Guilford’s representative to the School Board. This configuration makes for a lot of good involvement. Their primary role is to provide input and advocacy to the school board on local issues, concerns, etc.Currently they are focused on developing a formal chain of communication between the local leadership councils and the school board. Also, the Committee is working on an annual budget. Verandah applauded the leadership council on their work and contribution to the community.
    3. Capital Improvement Plan Report, 2 minutes
      1. Sheila reported that on Tuesday, 10/25, we will be working with the former Assistant Treasurer and our accounting software firm’s consultant – the former has the historical background and the latter the software expertise AND years of experience consulting with Guilford’s staff. They will extract information from the past 5 years of financial data and provide us with the means to create the report, both the history and the format for annual use going forward.   
  1. Old Business
    1. Request to reconsider Stony Hill Road Right of Way, 5 minutes
      1. Roman Nemet and Nancy Coan presented their request to the SB to reverse its decision of 8/2019 allowing Paul Belogour to make improvements to Stony Hill Road, upgrading the road to Class 3. They instead want Belogour to use the property he bought from Nemet so that access to Viking Village will not be via Stony Hill Road within just a few feet of their house. Roman shared a number of slides depicting which he will submit in hard copy to the Selectboard. 
      2. Victoria Hone, the attorney representing Paul Belogour and Viking Village responded. She noted that a permit was issued in 2019 and there were two written comments but nothing from Nemet. To their knowledge, notice was sufficient.Two years after the fact Paul Belogour has invested $10-20K to bring the road up to Class 3 standards. The land sale is outside the scope of permitting. 
      3. Nemet and Coan will submit a response to the attorney’s representations. It was noted that the understanding vis-a-vis the Belogour purchase of the Nemet property was a verbal agreement, not a legal commitment.
  1. New Business
    1. Budget Workshops, 2 minutes
      1. Schedule:
        1. Thursday, 10/27 9 to 10:30 am
        2. Thursday, 11/10  9 to 10:30 am
        3. Monday, 11/21    9 to 10:30 am
        4. If necessary, Thursday  12/8   9 to 10:30 am
      2. Some participants expressed a strong preference for holding these workshops during evening hours. Zon explained that those hours are difficult for a majority of those who must attend the workshops and that, to offset the inconvenience to the public, meetings will be via Zoom, recorded, and posted as soon as possible. The public is invited to send any questions pertaining to the meeting’s discussions to the Asst. Town Administrator. The intention is to address them in a subsequent workshop.
    2. Open Meeting Law Violation Allegation, No. 5, 5 minutes
      1. On October 14, 2022, Jason Herron alleged that Selectboard Chair Zon Eastes violated the Open Meeting Law by consulting with the Town Attorney without Selectboard approval on the topic of whether Selectboard Member Richard Wizansky has a conflict of interest in matters involving the Guilford Free Library OR that the Selectboard violated the Open Meeting Law by meeting as a quorum privately to authorize Mr. Eastes’ contact with the Town Attorney. Mr. Herron’s specific violation claims are the following:
        1. “There has never been an Open Meeting discussion to contact the Town’s lawyer for this legal advice. If advice was obtained on the aforementioned subject, it was done by Eastes without being given Joint Authority, which can only be obtained in an open meeting.”
        2.  “There has been no Open Meeting discussion that released Wizansky of his well-established conflict with the Guilford Free Library.”
        3. “Since it was never discussed in an Open Meeting why Wizansky was being released from his well-established conflict with the library; and since there is no invoice or public record of any kind that a discussion happened with either law firm; and since there was no open meeting discussion that authorized gathering any of this alleged legal advice, the selectboard has clearly met outside of an open meeting to establish this narrative.”
      2. Response:  Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(2), the Selectboard is required to respond publicly within ten calendar days to a written notice of an alleged Open Meeting Law violation. 
      3. ACTION: Zon moved that, as Selectboard Chair,he did not violate the Open Meeting Law in contacting the Town Attorney for advice.  He is authorized as a Selectboard member to seek advice from the Town Attorney without approval of the full board, and this has no implication on the Open Meeting Law.  Additionally, the Selectboard did not meet as a quorum privately. The Selectboard has determined that no violation of the Open Meeting Law has occurred and that no cure is necessary. Michael seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried.
      4. Michael said: “I support you Zon. I also support the good people of Guilford. We, the Selectboard, want nothing more than to carry out the business of the town in a peaceful and timely manner. I will not support false, angry rhetoric. The bullying and harassment we are being subjected to is unhelpful and counterproductive.

This is abusive, plain and simple. I’ll say it again. Abusive. And it needs to stop”.

  1. Jason claimed he’s doing his duty, telling the Selectboard that they are wrong, and will continue to do so until they see they are wrong. He wants the town to know what’s going on.
  2. Allegation of Open Meeting Law Violations Allegations Nos. 1 and 2
    1. Mr. Herron resubmitted two allegations that he previously submitted on October 5, 2022.  The Selectboard considered these October 5, 2022 allegations and publicly denied the allegations on October 10, 2022. The Selectboard is required to respond publicly within 10 days.
    2. ACTION: Zon moved that the Selectboard not consider these allegations for a second time, as the Selectboard has already considered these allegations and made a decision pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 314(b)(2). Verandah seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried.
    3. Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 314(c), following a denial of a violation, a person aggrieved by a violation may bring an action in the Civil Division of the Superior Court.
    4. Jason noted that he inserted a new allegation. Rick Pennington commented that he agreed with the decision to deny with new information, adding that it seems very clear, based on what he’s heard, that there is no violation. 
  1. Report on Requests, Claims, Allegations, Appeals, and Suit,10 minutes
    1. Zon read in a report to the Selectboard, which is attached to these minutes. 
    2. ACTION: Richard moved and Michael seconded that the Selectboard accept that report. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried. Comments included the following:
      1. Verandah noted that as a town if feels that we’ve crossed a line. Lies circulate; they are reputed; they are repeated, and it’s damaging to all of us and I have to wonder why.”
      2. Richard said “I thoroughly agree with your assessment. The Selectboard is being harassed and bullied. Our town is spending an inordinate amount of money on legal fees for the same unfounded allegations that are being presented over and over again. They have all proved wrong. It’s my hope that our community will understand what’s going on here and use their voices to counter these unfounded attacks.
      3. Steve Lembke – asked what outcome Jason Herron is seeking.
      4. Susan Bonthron and husband expressed support of and respect for SB’s work.
      5. Anne Rider echoed Susan’s comments and added that it breaks her heart to see Selectboard overwhelmed by the”lies, lawsuits, and allegations” which are detracting them from their real work. In her experience on the board, there were plenty of differences of opinion, but they were civil, not unhealthy disagreement.This is not healthy.
      6. Jason noted that he’s just trying to find the truth and has done everything by the book. He questioned the Selectboard if, before any of the allegations had they ever had 1 V.S.A. 312(g). Would like transparency. 
      7. Rick Pennington noted that Mr. Herron raised the issue of a new statute pertaining to his resubmission. However, that statute was in effect when he brought up his original allegation so he had an opportunity to raise it before.
      8. Nancy Detra noted that she voted to elect the members on the Selectboard because she can trust them to do the work needed on behalf of the Town, not to fight lawsuits.
      9. Dolores Clark appreciates both sides and feels the frustration of both parties. She claimed that the Conflict of Interest was not addressed.
      10. Marty Ramsburg appreciates Selectboard hanging in there through all of this and echoed Steve Lembke’s question: What is Jason’s goal? If nothing short of agreeing with him is the only solution acceptable to him, then the SB should not spend time and money on that. 
      11. Steve Lembke wanted to know if it would be helpful to appoint a sub-committee to deal with allegations. 
  1. Finance
  2. Warrants, 5 minutes
Payroll – WE 10.09.22$6,332.93
Payroll – WE 10.16.22$5,338.95
Expense Warrant #2208$289,143.65

ACTION: Verandah moved to pay the finance warrants as read. Zon seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. None abstained. Motion carried. Verandah noted that All States Asphalt’s invoice of $267K for paving Hinesburg Rd, about $200K of which will be reimbursed through a grant.

  1. Other Business – NONE
  2. Communications – NONE
  3. Action Summary from Previous Meeting: approved minutes, sending out JP ballot, center line painting on new pavement; moved to use Bond principal to pay final loan from VT Bond Bank Loan fund and to use Reserve funds to cover cost of future unanticipated costs of legal fees; approved exploring the option to appoint rather than elect a treasurer, and asked Penny and Sheila to draft jD; reviewed four allegations of OML violations and determined no violations; approved warrants, hiring a new road crew member and asking Sheila to work more.
  4. Actions Taken: approved change to agenda order, the 10.12.22 minutes, a bid for providing winter sand, and postponed the RFP due date for Jelly Mill bridge repairs; attended to OML violation allegations, adopted report from the Chair, approved warrants
  5. Actions to be Taken: SB will review the  request from Roman Nemet once he submits more information.
  1. Adjournment

ACTION:  Richard  moved to adjourn. Rusty seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. None abstained. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Meeting video – 


Broad Brook Chronicle, by Verandah Porche

Report on Requests, Claims, Allegations, Appeals, and Suit; Zon Eastes

Next Selectboard Meeting: Monday, 14 November 2022 at 6:30 p.m.  

Zon Eastes, Chair     _____________________________________

Michael Becker    _____________________________________

Rusty Marine        _____________________________________

Verandah Porche    _____________________________________

Richard Wizansky     ____________________________________


composed on the opening of the Broad Brook Community Center 

by Verandah Porche, October 22, 2022

Those who reap the most abundant harvest are those who contribute most liberally of their own time and talent. From the Preface to the Official History, penned by Guilford’s Broad Brook Grangers: 1961.

1. 1896—from Vermont Phoenix: 

The people of Guilford are to be congratulated 

on having such a live, energetic order as the 

Broad Brook Grange, for through their efforts 

a handsome and substantial building has been

erected as a monument to their fidelity and

perseverance. One is impressed with the solid 

appearance and convenient arrangement. 

Numbered hooks will accommodate 150 articles 

of clothing. A kitchen is equipped with all 

the modern conveniences for a crowd. 

All the rooms are finished in hard pine.

Upstairs is a seating capacity of over 300; 

a stage with a good assortment of scenery, 

all that amateur plays will call for. 

It has a handsome drop curtain with a scene 

from Ben Hur, “the chariot race.”

Everything about the building is first class

and one good granger said, “It is too good for us,”

but we don’t agree with him.

The opening drama, “Bound by oath,” 

was followed by a dance and chicken pie supper.  

The building was packed to suffocation…. 

2. Squares and Reels 

With foolery and fortitude

In winters past, our neighbors wooed.

They scoffed at blizzards, slung on chains

To swerve and mingle at the Grange,

Fiddle, flounce, then strike a match,

Converse, rehearse, propose, attach.

“We made a go of it, I guess,”

That sweet momentum after “Yes!”

Years do-si-do then promenade,

The caller halts, the piper’s paid.

Ah, foolery and fortitude—

What precious wisdom we’ve accrued.


Tend what’s old, and make it sound—

Raise the Grange Hall. Set it down

Stronger ever than before.

Let spirits dance across the floor—

Ken and Pat who drilled our wells,

Mimi who picked chanterelles,

Margery, back with Emery,

Promenade through memory—

Lucy and Abijah Prince,

Driven out and honored since.

For eloquence and bravery

We mark their place in history.

3. October: the Ah!! before the B-r-r-r

Sun, bless us as we gather—

Weary of wariness, sick of malaise,

Giddy with gratitude, primed for praise.

There’s majesty on every ridge. 

(Who spoke of drought-dull foliage?)

As Autumn doffs her golden gloves,

Let’s say Nature’s labors of love

Are matched by Neighbors’ hearts and hands,

With skills and wiles such work demands—

Rend, transcend, amend, and spend

To resurrect our treasured friend. 

O, Broad Brook Center, splendid Grange,

What secrets lodge within your change?

Who dug the ancient stone-lined well

Below the crawl space? None can tell. 

How did your rituals unfold,

To lighten the load of winter’s cold? 

Who recalls that New Year’s Eve?

250 revels caused the heave—

A sinking feeling and a crack!

Eleven years propped on a jack.                   

Where is the lift? We must be shown 

To elevate our ancient bones.

What new farmers will fill your larder,

Move the produce, sell or barter?

How did you shift from bricks and mortar,

From “shiver my timbers” to apple pie order?

Who will script your future scheme?

We’ll stitch together common dreams,

And reawaken, cellar to rafter,

Guilford’s happily ever after.

Report on Requests, Claims, Allegations, Appeals, and Suit

I offer this report to the Selectboard and to the Guilford community at large. I seek to advise the Selectboard and the community out of concern for what appears to be the intentional use of lies and misinformation, and distraction, to gain a platform. 

I will lay out a number of facts and, though I could speak of related reports from multiple community members, I will limit focus here to instances of lies, misrepresentation, and distraction that have come only before the Selectboard.

To set the context. In the past seven months, the Selectboard has responded to Requests for Records from five Guilford residents and one from the west coast. All requests have been responded to, some with guidance from the Town’s attorney. The language of these requests ranges from entirely civil to downright surly. For example, one critic wrote: “Seriously, what kind of fascist dystopia do you think you are living in that you get to hide public records from the public. You guys should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.” 

The Selectboard has endured additional claims that the Selectboard acts through impropriety, and that the Selectboard lies. The Selectboard has responded to multiple allegations of violation of Open Meeting Law. The Selectboard has responded to formal and informal appeals of Selectboard decision-making.

The Selectboard is currently involved in a suit against the Town.

Let me state clearly: Guilford citizens are guaranteed the right to seek information and clarity from their  government. The Selectboard upholds the use of appropriate access, formal and informal, by all residents. 

During the onset of the Town Administrator’s serious illness last winter, the Selectboard was inadequately equipped to respond to records requests in a timely fashion. Vermont statute is very clear about the timings for response to citizen requests. The Selectboard responded as it could, but under the circumstances, we fell short. Over the past several months, however, and with the able assistance of the Assistant Town Administrator, the Selectboard has kept pace with these issues in a timely fashion, all according to statute.

On average, the Assistant Town Administrator and the Selectboard chair spend between 6 and 16 hours per week addressing the kinds of issues I listed before. Because statute is very clear about allowable response times, the hours spent responding to requests are then hours we cannot spend addressing the Town’s ongoing business. 

Additionally, to address these issues fully and properly, the Selectboard has already, in the first three months of this fiscal year, spent just over 100% of the year’s budget for legal fees. At its last meeting, to cover future related costs, the Selectboard approved use of reserve funds to cover unanticipated legal expenses.

This evening, in the previous two agenda items, you heard a fifth allegation of violation of Open Meeting Law as well as a re-submittal of two previous allegations. All these allegations come to the Selectboard from a single citizen. In the fifth allegation, each ‘specific allegation’ is a repeat or re-working of an issue that has previously come before the Selectboard. Statute is very clear about what avenues are available to citizens when a different outcome is desired. 

For our general understanding, and by way of example, I want to highlight the elements of that fifth allegation.

1. The first specific allegation questions the Selectboard chair’s authority to contact the Town’s Attorney for legal advice. The chair has the authority to contact the Town’s attorney. The Selectboard has previously and repeatedly dealt with this issue.

2. Central to the second specific allegation, you may be familiar with the claim about a Conflict of Interest concerning a current Selectboard member. Out of an abundance of caution, the Selectboard first consulted with Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) and later, when the charge was leveled again, the Selectboard consulted with the Town’s attorneys. Indeed there are some missing signed Conflict of Interest statements. This has been acknowledged. But there is no conflict of interest. Yet now there is a lawsuit against the Town dealing with this issue. That lawsuit is pending in Vermont Superior Court.

I will note here that, during the last Selectboard meeting, on Oct 12, when the suit was mentioned, it was claimed that the Town was not being sued. Examining the opening of the legal document itself, called a Summons, delivered to the Town on June 7, right up at the top, number 1, we see: “You are being sued. The Plaintiff has started a lawsuit against you.” 

3. The final specific allegation represents a repeated misrepresentation of the conflict of interest issue I just spoke about. The Selectboard has previously heard and ruled on this issue. 

A Selectboard need not hear the same claims repeatedly. We have been advised that repetitious allegations speak to a legal concept called Res judicata. In essence, restating a claim that has already been judged incorrect or inaccurate will not make it true no matter how many times it is repeated. 

Additionally, five or six months ago, long before any of these issues became allegations, I approached the alleger privately about sitting down to discuss the issues in front of us. The alleger deflected, choosing not to discuss the matter in person. Now, months later, the Selectboard – after having heard and acted – still hears about these issues. 

It has been suggested, even requested, by some citizens that the Selectboard and the alleging party enter a mediation process. Indeed, it has been repeatedly asserted that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns could and would provide mediation services at no cost or a fraction of the current legal costs. While on the face of it, mediation might seem a reasonable next step, VLCT has never offered mediation services to Vermont towns. VLCT is willing to refer a short list of professional mediators. Thus, the course of mediation for this situation is not available, at least not at free or reduced rates.

Further, mediation is a tool used when two parties cannot agree. Because the Selectboard is governed by Vermont Statute (read: the statute is very clear about the issues at hand, and about what potential remedies can be taken), there simply is no issue here to negotiate. Let me say that again: Because the Selectboard is governed by Vermont Statute, there simply is no issue here to negotiate. While mediation could well be used to rebuild greater trust in our community, it is the wrong tool for this moment.

If a resident seeks to contest any Selectboard ruling, that person may file a suit against the Town of Guilford. Statute is very clear. Or that person may contact any individual Selectboard member for an informal, community-building discussion.

It has been my experience that the Selectboard welcomes inquiries from Guilford residents. We are each volunteers, here to serve our community. We are indeed fallible. For the record, we have corrected past mistakes and are willing to do so in the future.

Going forward, I will also call out lies, misrepresentations, and distractions as they occur.

The Selectboard has done so with regard to lies and misrepresentation about the Guilford Free Library project, about a supposed conflict of interest, and about allegations of multiple open meeting law violations. It is disturbing that the community is currently enduring the intentional and repeated use of lies, misrepresentation, and distraction. 

Finally I hope the town understands that these ongoing lies, misrepresentations, and distractions are costing you, the taxpayers, money in the form of legal fees and reduced productivity. They have disrupted the orderly operation of town government and, to my eyes, have encouraged suspicion and  divisiveness in our town.

It is my firm belief that Selectboard members, individually and together, wish to proceed with good will, openness, and clarity, to carry on with Guilford’s work.

I was deeply inspired by the opening of the Broad Brook Community Center on Saturday. I was especially struck by words that Town Moderator Rick Zamore offered in closing. With his kind permission, I adjust the final bit: Let us welcome new opportunities to connect and care about one another here in Guilford. 

I would wish that we all might honor this vision. 

Thank you for listening and for hearing.