Brandon SB agrees to pen letters to DAIL and RMHS


BRANDON — The Town of Brandon Selectboard met for a little more than half an hour Monday night, efficiently handling several items, including the appointment of a new health officer and agreeing to write a letter of appreciation to local artist Will Kasso Condry in celebration of his recent Vermont Prize win and two letters on behalf of the Brandon Free Public Library. 

Outgoing Health Officer Tom Kilpeck was in attendance and received many thanks for his past four years of service. The board voted unanimously to approve Abigail Spiegelman as his replacement for a three-year term. Spiegelman, who recently moved to Brandon from College Station, Tx—where she helped indigenous peoples in Texas and South Dakota prepare for public health emergencies—currently serves at the Vermont Department of Health’s (VDH) Rutland office as an emergency preparedness specialist.

“I’m excited to get more integrated in the community… to be a town health officer and potentially help with mental health issues and bring those VDH resources to Brandon,” she said.

During the Town Manager’s report, it was suggested that the board look to set a precedent in bestowing appreciation on members of Brandon’s community who have achieved noteworthy success by writing a letter of appreciation to Will Kasso Condry following his recent win for the inaugural Vermont Prize, celebrating the best visual art in the state.

Library Director Molly Kennedy addressed the board about ongoing challenges the library is facing regarding a recent threat made against a librarian by a resident of Franklin Street. Kennedy spent a few minutes briefing the board on the situation and requested their support in writing letters to the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) and Rutland Mental Health Services (RMHS). The purpose of the letters would be to request help and accountability in finding a suitable resolution to the problem, which may cause the library to close as soon as the second week of August due to insufficient staffing levels.

“I’ve spent almost the last month almost dealing with the various mental health agencies around our county to try to get some answers and to try to understand how this individual can be better supported in our community so that we’re safe,” she said. 

“We’ve been trying to no avail to understand why this individual is not receiving the supports that are court ordered. I think it would be helpful if perhaps as a group [the board] reached out as well,” she continued. “I’m hoping that if we can put some pressure on these agencies to appropriately support this person so that he can continue to live, perhaps, in our community safely.”

BFPL board chair David Roberts gave a statement outlining the violent past of the individual who made the threat, RMHS’s failure to resolve the issue, and BFPL’s struggles to hire suitable security in the wake of that failure. “He was arrested [on a prior sexual assault charge in 2019] and released in the care of Rutland mental health, and nothing has happened,” he said. 

“It’s an impossible situation for the library to maintain. It’s the responsibility of Rutland mental health, per the state, to take care of him,” he continued. “It is a huge deal, and it’s disrupted an entire community’s lives around the library.”

The board expressed its contrition quickly and unanimously. “We’ll have a working group of two draft the letter and send it along in hope that it will raise the issue to a level that will get some response that will resolve it for you,” said board chair Seth Hopkins.

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