Brandon SB discusses appointments and conflicts of interest


BRANDON—The Brandon Selectboard convened for its regular meeting on Monday evening. 


The Board began its meeting with an executive session in which it spoke with three candidates for two appointed positions: Fire Warden and Deputy Fire Warden. The candidates for the positions were Linwood Bovey, who is currently the Fire Warden, Tom Kilpeck, who is currently the Chief of the Brandon Fire Department, and Jon Wyman. 

Ultimately, the Board re-appointed Mr. Bovey as Fire Warden for a 5-year term ending on June 30, 2029. The Board also appointed Mr. Wyman as Deputy Fire Warden for a 5-year term ending on June 30, 2029.

Other appointments made on Monday night:

  • Jeremy Disorda as Brandon’s representative to the Rutland Regional Transportation Council. 1-year term ending on June 30, 2025.
  • Seth Hopkins as an alternate representative to the Rutland Regional Transportation Council. 1-year term ending on June 30, 2025.
  • Lisa Peluso as an alternate representative to the Rutland Regional Transportation Council. 1-year term ending on June 30, 2025.

Mr. Hopkins, who is Brandon Town Manager, noted that he was filling one of the alternate positions simply to ensure that it remain filled but was willing to surrender it to anyone who was interested in it. Brandon resident Claire Astone signaled that she would be willing to attend the Council’s public meetings to see whether it was something she wished to pursue further.

Vermont Council on Rural Development

The Board also approved a letter of support for the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) Community Visit program that representatives from VCRD had explained at the Board’s last meeting two weeks earlier. The program is designed to bring community members together to discuss and design pathways to specific community goals on a more granular level than a town plan.

“I don’t see much downside” to expressing interest in the program, said Board member Heather Nelson.

The letter will signal the town’s interest in the program. Representatives from VCRD will reach out to the Board later in the summer to discuss the logistics of setting up the community discussions.

Transfer of 1% funds for Segment 6

The Board unanimously approved the transfer of $24,453.29 from the 1% Local Option Tax Fund to Fund 46, which has held the monies used for the Segment 6 construction project in downtown Brandon. Mr. Hopkins explained that the transfer had been requested by Town Treasurer Sue Gage in order to “bring Fund 46 to zero” now that Segment 6 has been officially closed out by the state. Mr. Hopkins also explained that this was likely to be the last payment associated with Segment 6. 

Assignment of FY24 funds

The Board also unanimously granted the assignment of $10,000 for sand, $7,000 for tree removal, $1,000 for computers for the town office, and $2,000 for the Energy Committee. These amounts will now be restricted within the General Fund for FY2025, meaning that they must be reserved for the stated purposes. Those line items were not exhausted in the FY2024 budget and the leftover budgeted money will now be spent before the money budgets for those items in FY2025 is spent.


The Board unanimously approved a warrant in the amount of $452,323.54 and a pass-through warrant for the Brandon Free Public Library in the amount of $1,322.50. The Library grant was received by the town on behalf of the Library and does not represent the disbursement of any taxpayer funds.

Public comment: Brandon Industrial Corporation

Much of the meeting was dedicated to public comment, which focused primarily on the relationship between the town and the Brandon Industrial Corporation (BIC). An attendee who had brought up the issue at the Board’s last meeting raised it again and demanded an apology from Mr. Hopkins, who had stated that her behavior at that meeting had bordered on “harassment of public officials.”

Mr. Hopkins declined to apologize, stating that his statement had been his assessment of the situation.

The attendee again questioned the propriety of Brandon’s town manager acting as registered agent for BIC, insisting that the designation on the VT Secretary of State’s website was proof that Mr. Hopkins was “running BIC.” Mr. Hopkins denied the claim, as he had in previous interactions with the attendee, and stated that BIC has a board of directors, with Brandon attorney Jim Leary as president. BIC is a 501(c)(6), which is a private, nonprofit “business league” under IRS rules—an entity designed to promote general business interests in the spirit of a chamber of commerce. No revenues received by such entities are distributed to its directors.

In response to the attendee’s continued insistence that “registered agent” indicated some kind of operational control over BIC, former Selectboard member and attorney Cecil Reniche-Smith took the microphone to explain that a registered agent is simply the point of contact between a corporation and the government or public and confers no operational or managerial power. For example, if a corporation were being sued, the registered agent would be served with the papers.

The attendee also questioned whether the Board was being transparent in its dealings with BIC, specifically regarding the arrangement it was supporting between BIC and Novus Energy of Montpelier to install a solar array at the Brandon Industrial Park. The array would provide the town with solar credits that it could use to buy electricity at a 15% discount from Green Mountain Power. 

The attendee claimed that the Board was not being honest about the intent of the deal, calling it an “end run to get town-owned solar” because Novus has a program through which towns can take ownership of the solar arrays that it constructs. Mr. Hopkins and Board Chair Doug Bailey both denied that the town had any intent to purchase the array from Novus.

The attendee also took issue with the appearance of an entity called Novus Brandon Solar LLC in the letter of support drafted by the Board, suggesting that it was an overt collaboration between Novus and the town. Ms. Reniche-Smith explained that large corporations often formed smaller LLCs for specific projects in order to shield the larger corporation from direct liability for the smaller projects. Mr. Hopkins stated that there was no joint LLC between the town and Novus.

Jack Schneider of the Brandon Energy Committee stated that Novus gets approval for its arrays from the state and that the letter from the Board was simply a requirement of the state’s approval process.

Mr. Bailey and Board member Tim Guiles both found fault with the attendee’s approach, with Mr. Bailey saying that the attendee was “making up more controversy” and Mr. Guiles saying that the attendee was “casting aspersions” without merit.

The attendee was not satisfied with the Board’s responses and continued to assert that the process was not transparent and that town residents were owed a more thorough explanation of both BIC and the Novus solar project.

Public comment: fire hydrant used to water marijuana plants

An attendee asked whether Mr. Hopkins had been able to make any headway in determining whether permission had been given for a fire hydrant on Newton Road to be tapped for the irrigation of marijuana plants on private property.

Mr. Hopkins stated that the town does not have authority over water, only over sewer, and that the attendee would have to contact the Water District or the Prudential Board.

Police contract approved

In its final bit of public business, the Board approved a contract between the town and the Police Union. The contract had been discussed in executive session before the Board returned to vote on it.

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