Brandon SB picks new officers, discusses pumps & parking


BRANDON—In its first meeting since Town Meeting last week, the Brandon Selectboard welcomed newly elected members Doug Bailey, Ralph Ethier, and Heather Nelson, all of whom have previously served on the Board.  Ms. Nelson successfully retained her seat and Mr. Bailey and Mr. Ethier reclaimed seats they had once held.  Brian Coolidge and Tim Guiles continue in their seats.

As the first order of business, the Board elected Mr. Bailey as Chair, Ms. Nelson as Vice-Chair, and Mr. Ethier as Clerk (this last position traditionally going to the most junior member).  

The Board then had to rotate through its various other incarnations in order to establish itself with its new members: Board of Liquor Control, Board of Health, Board of Cannabis Control. Housing Board of Review, and Board of Sewer Commissioners.

Sewer treatment and new pump

As the Board of Sewer Commissioners, the Board heard from Steven Cjika, Chief Operator at the town wastewater treatment plant on Union Street.  Mr. Cjika explained that the plant had been overwhelmed by the sudden deluge during the heavy rains over the weekend and had had to release some untreated water, which it duly reported to the state.

Mr. Cjika explained to the Board that one of the plant’s two main sludge pumps was broken and could be repaired at a cost of $20,000 or replaced at a cost of $25,000.  His recommendation was to spend the extra money and replace the pump entirely.  The Board agreed and unanimously approved the purchase.

Mr. Cjika also cautioned the Board that the town’s sewer pipes, many of which date to the 1930s, will eventually need to be replaced at an aggregate cost of roughly $20 million.  Mr. Guiles agreed that the Board should be proactive in maintaining the system and not wait until there’s a crisis.

New appointments 

The Board approved the following one-year appointments:

  • Fence viewers: Olya Hopkins, Jon Wyman, Tracy Wyman
  • Green-Up Day Coordinator: Jim Leary
  • Inspector of Lumber, Shingles, and Wood: Bob Kilpeck
  • Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control District: Sharon Stearns (two other openings remain)
  • Rutland Co. Solid Waste Dist. Rep.: Gabe McGuigan, Tracy Wyman (alternate)
  • Tree Warden: Neil Silins
  • Weigher of Coal: Lou Faivre, Olya Hopkins
  • Otter Creek Communications Union Dist: Peter Werner, Bill Moore (alternate).  These appointments will run from April 1, 2024 until March 31, 2025.

Meeting time and place

As part of its annual housekeeping after Town Meeting, the Board selected the time and place for its regular meetings.  As usual, the meetings will continue to take place on the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 7 p.m.

A suggestion was made by Mr. Guiles to hold the meetings in the main upstairs hall at Town Hall rather than in the basement lobby, where meetings have been held since the Brandon Free Public Library (BFPL) moved into the Board’s usual room during the renovation of the library building on Park Street.

BFPL is scheduled to move back into its own building this summer, but Mr. Guiles took the opportunity to advocate for a change in venue in order to give the Board and attendees more space.

Some attendees questioned the need for the move, suggesting that the main hall might be too large to be effective for Zoom attendance or too difficult to heat.  Ultimately, the Board agreed to move the meetings to the upstairs hall, designating the downstairs lobby as an alternative if the hall were somehow unavailable.

Brandon resident Vicki Disorda also suggested that the Board consider providing childcare during meetings for residents with kids.

Town Manager’s Report

The full text of the report submitted by Town Manager Seth Hopkins is printed following this article.  Not mentioned in that report:

  • Mr. Coolidge asked what portion of the $60K in ARPA funds that had been allocated to the proposed solar bond would be returned to the town now that the bond had failed at the ballot.  Mr. Hopkins stated that there would be costs of $5,000 to $7,000 for engineers, lawyers, and mandated advertising, but all other monies would be returned and therefore available for reallocation.
  • There is currently no plan to put the solar bond before voters again. The Brandon Energy Committee, which spearheaded the project, has not produced any final report on it, according to Mr. Hopkins.  
  • The estimate to repair the Brandon police cruiser that was damaged last week was $2070.  It remains to be seen whether the town’s insurer will consider the car totaled.

Recreation Department Report

Rec Director Bill Moore gave his report to the Board, the full text of which can be found in the Selectboard packet for 3/11/24 on the town website.  Of note:

  • The town did not receive the VOREC grant it had sought to build a disc golf course.  Mr. Moore stated that the Department will continue to seek sources of funding for the project.
  • Brandon Idol will return to Town Hall on March 22 for its Rock n’ Roll installment.

Public Comment

An attendee asked the Board why the town did not insist that organizations seeking appropriations on the town ballot raise funds on their own to be matched by the town.  The attendee felt that organizations such as the American Legion, the BFPL, and the Rescue Squad should do more to obtain funding on their own.

Mr. Hopkins replied that this is essentially what already occurs, since most organizations seeking appropriations use the money to fill gaps that their own fundraising is not able to fill.  Mr. Guiles added that the library, as a particular example, served a public need and should be supported by the town.  Ms. Nelson pointed out that the Board has no control over which appropriations appear on the ballot, the sole criterion for inclusion being the collection of at least 150 voters’ signatures on a petition.

An attendee suggested that Selectboard members attend the training session offered by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.  Mr. Bailey stated that he’d attended such trainings in the past and would be happy to do so again.  Ms. Nelson indicated that she was already signed up for the session.

An attendee reiterated his concern that David Atherton’s candidacy for Selectboard had posed a conflict of interest since Mr. Atherton is currently town manager in Pittsford.  The Board restated that there was nothing in town policy or state law to prevent Mr. Atherton from joining the Selectboard if he had won.

Another attendee suggested that the Board provide rules of conduct for its meetings so that residents who are new to attendance can understand what is and is not permitted.  Mr. Hopkins said he would make that information available on the town website.

Budget workshop

In light of the failure of the town budget at last week’s ballot, the Board scheduled a new budget workshop for Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. in the main hall of Brandon Town Hall.

The public is welcome to attend this meeting and is asked to submit its suggestions for budget cuts to the Committee and/or Selectboard.

Mr. Hopkins anticipates that the new budget will be presented for a vote in the latter half of April.  

The Board also agreed to post warnings for meetings and town business at the following locations:

  • The Junction Store in Forest Dale
  • The Brandon Town Office
  • The Brandon Post Office


As a continuation of an ongoing conversation about inadequate parking in downtown Brandon, Ms. Nelson brought up for discussion the creation of 15-minute parking spots at popular locations in downtown, such as Brandon House of Pizza, Mae’s/Li’s, and the Town Office.  The spots would be reserved for people running quick errands and picking up food.

The lack of parking downtown is a “good problem to have” but has been a frustration for locals and visitors for years.  

The discussion led to the creation of a working group that will hopefully have the participation of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Brandon Alliance.  Ms. Nelson volunteered to be the Selectboard rep to the committee.  No official meeting of the group has been announced.

Winter Operations Policy

The Board received information about Brandon’s winter operations policies but held off on approving them until next meeting, to give Board members an opportunity to review and digest the material.

Mr. Hopkins thanked the community for its patience during the heavy snow on Monday morning, which had caught the area by surprise.  Brandon’s highway crew is down a member since the retirement of Foreman Shawn Erickson and the promotion of Jeremy Disorda, leaving the town short-staffed during the morning storm.


The final piece of public business for the evening was the unanimous approval of a warrant in the amount of $191,406.50 to pay the town’s obligations and expenses.

Share this story:
Back to Top