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JUNE 5, 2008

Selectboard: Gary Katz, Joe Mandell, Jeff Gouger, Guy Wachtel, Peter Rysz
Also Present: Gunther Garbe, Ed Druke, Virginia Grabowski, Carol Destromp, Tim Destromp, Norma Shakun, Lila S., David Palmer, Judy Egan, Robert Hughes, Fred Lawrence, James Brisson, Jon Julian, Peter Potvin, Tenco New England; Maureen Albert-Piascik, Treasurer; Christopher Williams, Road Commissioner; and Shannon Meckle, Administrative Assistant.


The meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m. by Gary Katz, Chair.

Gary Katz noted that VLCT recommends tape recording meetings, for clarification purposes, or resolving differences, and that there was equipment available. He checked with the board as to whether it was agreeable with them. The board would still rely on Shannon for taking minutes, and the tapes would be used only if there was question. The board members didn’t have a problem with it. Gary noted that the members of the public would have to speak clearly. J. Mandell made a motion to record this and future meetings. Jeff Gouger seconded the motion. Unanimous.

Gary reiterated for the tape, that the board had agreed to record meetings.


The minutes of May 15, 2008 were reviewed and the following changes made:

Page 5, Under Williamsville Hall Use, change “J. Mandell made a motion to approve the use of the Hall for a one-time use, to sell produce.” to “J. Mandell made a motion to approve the use of the Hall for either May 24, 2008 or May 31, 2008, to sell produce.”

G. Wachtel moved to approve as amended. Peter Rysz seconded. Unanimous.

The minutes of May 29, 2008 were reviewed. Peter noted that he had sent suggested corrections for consideration. G. Katz read the draft minutes aloud, as well as Peter’s suggested changes.

Joe felt that it was important for it to be in the minutes that Peter’s attorney had stated that because it was a procedural matter, not a substantive matter, Peter shouldn’t have to recuse himself.

Ed Druke wondered why Jeff wasn’t there and Peter was, if they were both recusing themselves.
Gary explained that Jeff has recused himself from the whole case, and Peter has only agreed to recuse upon a case-by-case basis, as it is his decision as a Selectboard member.

A long discussion ensued regarding differences in recollection with regards to Peter leaving the meeting.

After an extended period of time, Ed Druke suggested that the board table the discussion, so as to let the town get on with regular business, and reiterated his concerns that both board members should have recused themselves, or both attended the meeting.

G. Katz recollection is that he opined that “as a courtesy to the rest of us so that the Board could do what it needed to do that would be appreciated.”
Peter Rysz recollection is that he left because Katz asked him to, and that Gary agreed to state such in the minutes.

Joe Mandell made a motion to accept Peter’s amendments, except, as suggested by the chair, the addition of the other language about as a courtesy. G. Wachtel seconded. Discussion: Gary stated that aside from motivations or impressions, he did not ask Peter to leave. He would be comfortable saying that the nature of the discussion suggested that Peter leave, but he did not ask Peter to leave.

G. Wachtel made a friendly amendment to the motion to state the following:

“Motion was made by G. Wachtel and seconded by J. Mandell to go into Executive Session to discuss whether to ask Investigator Eileen Blackwood for a written report at the conclusion of the investigation into the allegations involving P. Rysz. Discussion ensued. Chairman G. Katz asked if P. Rysz would recuse himself. He said ‘no,’ citing advice from his attorney. Following further discussion focusing on the Board’s concerns about the inappropriateness of P. Rysz participating in this matter, P. Rysz asked if he was being asked to leave. Chairman G. Katz opined that “as a courtesy to the rest of us, so that the Board could do what it needed to do, that would be appreciated.” At this point, without any action by the Board or any further discussion, P. Rysz left the meeting. The recollection of the other members of the board was that it was being suggested that P. Rysz leave.” Attached, as part of the minutes of May 29, 2008, are Peter’s suggested changes, as his recollection of the discussion.

The amended motion was seconded by J. Mandell. 3 voted in favor. 1 Opposed. Motion passed.

Guy Wachtel made a motion to amend the agenda to allow the Members of the Public to speak. Peter Rysz seconded the motion. Unanimous.


Williamsville Covered Bridge: A member of the public asked what was going to be done about the bridge, since there are holes in the deck. Gary explained that at the last meeting the board voted to approve $55,000 in interim repairs to the deck until the rebuild in Spring 2009. This was with the understanding that $45,000 was coming from the state. Renaud Bros. was ready to start work, and has ordered approximately $15,000.00 in material. The state contacted us today, to say that the money that was available is now frozen, and the state wasn’t able to fund the project right away. The money might be available in the coming weeks, but we don’t know what that will be.

There was discussion regarding payment options, aside from the state grant. Gary will continue to represent the town on this until the state provides more information Peter suggested speaking with Mike Renaud in the meantime to get his ideas, and to find out if there’s any flexibility in payment.

Discussion ensued regarding the responsibility of keeping the roads and bridges safe vs. the cost to the town of paying for these repairs. If there isn’t money to fix the bridge, but there’s a safety concern, one option could be to close the bridge until the money from the state comes available. The biggest risk is the motorcycles. There are currently Caution signs in place.

G. Wachtel made a motion to erect a large sign on each side of the bridge. Saying: “Motorcycles use extra caution - Loose Boards.” Joe seconded the motion.

G. Wachtel made another motion to have Mike Renaud fix the bridge as soon as he can. P. Rysz seconded.

Discussion: G. Wachtel suggested setting a special open Selectboard meeting for next week, to which we would invite Todd, Chris, Mike Renaud, John Alexander, and anyone from the state that could give us a more informed answer regarding funding from the state. Peter noted that Matt Mann from Windham Regional Commission also might be a good resource. Joe Mandell made the suggestion as a motion. Peter seconded. Vote was unanimous.

Guy withdrew the motion regarding moving ahead with the repairs.

G. Wachtel restated the first motion to place large, hand painted signs, at each end of the bridge, urging motorcycles to exercise caution, due to loose boards. The motion had been seconded by Joe Mandell. Discussion: Peter stated that there are two large signs leaning up against the old town garage that could be used for that purpose. Vote was unanimous.

Member of the public suggested that it be written in red, because it catches the eye.
Rock River Produce: Judy Egan asked for clarification regarding the Rock River Produce, and whether it was related to the Williamsville Hall Committee; as the board had requested they come in for ideas of budgeting.

Guy’s suggestion was to take up Williamsville Hall issues now, while they are here, and allow discussion.

Discussion ensued regarding the Agenda, and whether to discuss Williamsville Hall, Rock River Produce, and the Hall Committee at this time, or to split it up. Judy reiterated that there was a motion by Guy to have the Williamsville Hall Committee to come up with a plan for future expenses.

Jon Julian reported that the Committee didn’t receive any such request. A member came to the Town Office to get financial reports and was told they were too busy to furnish such information.

Joe Mandell made a motion to have all donations made to go into a separate fund. Peter Rysz seconded the motion.

Discussion: Guy liked the idea. Gary stated he didn’t feel it should be aggregate. Have a responsibility to the citizens of Newfane to be judicious of the expenditures. Jeff felt there was no issue with donations to the Williamsville Hall, except the Hall is over budget, and the Town is operating in the red. If the town’s funding the budget, and it’s been overspent, and there is donation money that’s not being used, it’s unfair to the other taxpayers to be on the hook for that money.

Joe Mandell called the question. Discussion ensued about how many times a person can talk, and what happens when someone calls the question.

Steve Levine questioned whether the Williamsville Hall was reorganized, and if it wasn’t, then, why not.

Myra Fassler stated that the discussion was off the topic. A motion was made, seconded and called.

Jon Julian stated he had spoke with Gary about specifically making a private donation, that it was no problem. The Committee is in agreement that the rental fees go into the General Fund, but that the donations should go to the Hall Committee. However, the Hall Committee is trying to sort out what happened to the donations made in the past.

Guy cautioned that the board should be responsible for making sure that no large changes were made to the Hall without prior board notification. Guy made a friendly amendment to the motion to state:

All donations shall go to the Williamsville Hall Fund, and the board needs to be approached before any physical/structural changes can made to the building. The vote was unanimous.

Joe Mandell moved to re-charter Hall Committee’s Renewal of Members as stated below. Peter Rysz seconded.

Jon Julian, Annie Landenburger, Myra Fassler, Phyllis Mandell, Nancy Rysz, Dan Kinoy,
Robert Hughes, Ann Hughes, Marsha Highland, Steve Levine

4 in favor. 1 opposed. Motion passes.

Town Finances: Gunther wrote a letter to the Selectboard regarding the state of the town’s finances. Discussion ensued about possible options. Shannon to check with VLCT as to whether the Selectboard can raise the tax 5% without a special town meeting.

Jeff stated that there’s a certain amount not coming in because of delinquent taxes, and if you raise the tax rate, there is a certain amount that you’re not going to see, because it’s going be delinquent, so you should probably plan on that.

Joe felt that Gunther should be thanked for bringing this to the attention of the board, and we should resolve this.

Ed Druke felt we should warn a public Town Meeting, in the meantime for this, just in case.

Gary suggested that the board authorize Shannon to get the ball rolling on warning a Special Town Meeting. Shannon will check on procedure for warning a special town meeting and the authority of the board.

Guy made a motion to use the information as a basis to get started on a Special Town Meeting, and to accept Gunther’s offer to work with Shannon on this. Joe seconded. The vote was unanimous.

Jon Julian presented a letter of support from the Williamsville Hall Committee, and plans for a proposed stair well be built on the outside of the Williamsville Hall, from the street level to the door. Jon stated that Labor & Industry was okay with it. He also stated that this project would be done with the help of volunteers and donations, with no town money being spent. Eventually, the hope was to open a General Store in the unused, downstairs portion of the Williamsville Hall.

Gary asked for clarification regarding this project as it relates to the Williamsville Hall Committee and the Rock River Produce Buyers?

Gunther asked about the legal arrangement between the proposed store and the Town for use of the building, a lease, a contract, agreement, as to maintenance, fuel cost, etc…

A member of the public asked what would be done about parking. Another member of the public reiterated parking concerns.

Robert Hughes spoke to the board about how the loss of the General Store affected the Williamsville Community. Also, how the Williamsville Hall has the potential to bring the community back together. He spoke to the parking issue and stated that the landowners surrounding the Hall are willing to tolerate the parked cars.

Gary questioned daily use of the facility, as it raises a question about insurance. Is the plan to have an insurance policy in place, or is the group planning on using the Town’s insurance? Jon Julian will work with Shannon on investigating insurance implications.

Jon Julian stated that the group would like to know from the board: is the use of the lower level on an everyday basis, for the community, an acceptable use; then they will move on with logistics, insurance, lease, etc… cost, labor, materials; does the board think that the idea of the store is reasonable, and second, do they agree with the staircase being put in.

Gunther said that before anything is decided on, the Williamsville Hall Committee and the board should go into serious discussions regarding leasing the building so that it’s not in the town’s hands anymore.

Joe Mandell made a motion that the board accept the use of the building as presented, meaning an investigation into the possible use, including insurance, parking, permit for the stairs, and to file the application because there is no obligation. Guy seconded the motion.

Discussion: The building is not a historical building. Handicap entrance and elevator has met Labor & Industry approval. The present staircase that you take now is treacherous. You don’t have to be handicapped to fall down there.

The vote was unanimous.

Shannon will work with Jon to fill out the state’s application, Gary will sign it as soon as it is done. Steve Levine stated that they would pay for the application fee.

Discussion ensued regarding what form of entity this group is, and plans to be, and also how that relates to insurances, legalities, and any health permits that are necessary, etc…

Dan Kinoy explained that the Rock River Buying Group is an informal buying thing, which is not the same as the General Store.

David Palmer stated that the group could indemnify the town, but that it would leave the individuals liable. The Town’s liability may not cover commercial enterprises. He cautioned that because of the liability involved for both the town and the individuals, none of this should be entered into lightly. He also stated that it may be reasonable for the Town to allow the group to try it two or three times to see if it will work, but then they need to organize. It’s reasonable to accept some risk, but the town needs to define how long they can accept that risk. They are eventually going to need a non-profit group that leases the building, and will carry insurance that pays up to the Town’s liability.

Peter expressed concerns that it’s limiting the use of the building to tell them they can use it 2-3 times and then stop because they’re afraid.

Carol Destromp, member of the public stated, that the Selectboard should be taking into consideration the interests of the whole town, and that’s financial and otherwise.

Guy Wachtel made a motion to allow the group to use the Hall for the next three times, over a period of 6 weeks, and the Hall Committee will research the liabilities and what steps they need to take. Gary seconded. 2 in favor. 2 opposed. Jeff abstained. MOTION FAILS.


Road Foreman/Road Commissioner’s Report: See attached report.


Radway Road: The board’s consensus was to send a letter to Mercede, stating that they haven’t heard from him, that they’re aware that he’d been anxious and to please let the board know what needs to be done to get the project moving, and that the board is awaiting his written response. Gary will sign for the board.

Peter mentioned the paving on the south side of Culhane corner is showing some thin spots. Shannon will ask Todd to look at the pavement.

Excess Weight Permits:

Lawrence Bills: Applied for 60,000, 80,000, and 35,000 pounds. Amended to 60,000; 69,000; and 35,000 pounds.

Cardinal Logistics: Applied for 80,000 and 25,999 pounds. Amended to: 69,000 and 25,999 pounds.

Peter made a motion to approve as amended. Guy seconded. The permits were approved unanimously.

Joe mentioned a pine tree on Parish Hill Road that had fallen, and whether it could be removed by the town or not. Shannon will ask Todd.


The following bids were opened:

Fairfield: $62,800.00
Tenco: $52,582.00
Custom Snow & Truck Equipment $57,985.00
E.W. Sleeper Co.: $59,500.00

J. Mandell made a motion to accept Tenco’s bid, contingent upon purchase of the truck, and Todd and Chris’ acceptance. G. Wachtel seconded. UNANIMOUS.

McDevitt: MACK $88,486.56
L&B Truck: Sterling: $66,540.00
S.G. Reed: International 7400: $69,123.00/$69,973.00
Reed faxed in an Extended Warranty and a bid exception.

Guy Wachtel made a motion to accept L&B Truck Services’ bid, pending asking Todd and Chris to look at them and give us their recommendations and to specifically check the trade-in from Reed. Peter Rysz seconded. UNANIMOUS.

Peter noted that he spoke to someone who said that the cracked frame is a very easy thing to fix and would be stronger than when it was new, and also questioned whether it’s realistic to purchase the truck in light of the financial difficulties facing the town.

Joe Mandell was concerned about the Road Commissioner who walks out of a meeting because he’s upset about the discussion, and he felt that something should be said to him. Peter stated that he brought it up at the Organizational Meeting, that he calls people names and storms out of meetings.

The following bid was opened for roadside mowing:

ROADSIDE MOWING: M&M Excavating: Brookline: $2,000.00
Newfane: $7000.00
140.00/mile as billed in 30 days.

Shannon will ask Todd to get in touch with the company to clarify the bid, as to whether the $140.00/ mile is inclusive or in addition to, before making any decisions.

State Police Contract: Gary read the accompanying letter to the board regarding the renewal of the contract. Joe asked what kind of time constraints there would be. Joe would like to invite Rick Hopkins to a Selectboard meeting, explaining that the Troopers were doing a criminal investigation as to illegal cutting on Old County Trail, and never got back to the board. The board asked Shannon to put, under Old Business, Old County Trail Non-Permitted Cutting of Timber, on the agenda for next meeting.

Jeff’s Report about discussion with Sheriff’s Department: The Sheriff’s Dept. would like the $8,000 dollars that would normally be appropriated to the State Police. After a short discussion, the decision was tabled until more information could be obtained. The board had a discussion about the income from tickets as compared to the expense of the contract.


Nappi Appeal: Jeff made a motion to enter Executive Session to discuss litigation related to a real estate matter at 10:56 p.m. Guy seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.

Peter moved to exit Executive Session at 11:13 p.m. Guy seconded. The vote was unanimous.

Guy moved to Authorize Jeff to continue to negotiate for the town on the Nappi appeal. Peter seconded. The vote was unanimous.

The board decided to table the approval of the Conflict of Interest Policy and Rules of Procedure for Selectboards to the next regular meeting.


Newfane Village Sidewalk Letter: Gary read letter out loud. The board will get back to the Village Trustees and thank them.

Municipal Park & Ride Grant Program: No ideas were thought of at this point.

Williamsville Hall Correspondence: Shannon will make copies for everyone.

See Attached Report.

11. PAY ORDERS: – Peter Rysz made a motion to approve the pay orders as follows. Guy Wachtel seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Pay Orders: 06/03/08 - $88.92
05/23/08 - $371,546.10
06/06/08 - $34,950.37

Payroll: 05/21/08 - $2,795.91 IRS Electronic Payment: 5/19/08 - $902.53
05/28/08 - $2,817.02 5/24/08 - $898.01
06/04/08 - $2,822.12 5/31/08 - $911.23
06/06/08 - $7,186.81 6/04/08 - $2103.34


Motion was made by Guy Wachtel and seconded by Jeff Gouger seconded to adjourn the meeting at 11:30 p.m. Unanimous.

Respectfully Submitted,
Shannon Meckle

Posted: Town Clerk's Office, Newfane Store, W.W. Building Supply,
S. Newfane/Williamsville Post Office and the South Newfane General Store & Deli.
(after approval)


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