Doughnuts & Democracy in Vershire

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Communities / Mar. 9, 2017 7:33am EST

By Laura Craft


Vershire town moderator David Hook calls the Vershire Town Meeting to order on Tuesday morning, standing behind a hand-lettered primer on Robert’s Rules of Order. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) Vershire town moderator David Hook calls the Vershire Town Meeting to order on Tuesday morning, standing behind a hand-lettered primer on Robert’s Rules of Order. (Herald / Dylan Kelley) It’s all about the doughnuts! My nine-year old daughter, who has attended every Town Meeting since she was born, recently admitted that during Town Meeting, she often sneaks several doughnuts during the proceedings. Indeed, homemade doughnuts are a big part of town meeting ritual and tradition in Vershire. I love the thought that this is a memory that she will carry with her into adulthood. Along with the doughnuts, she absorbs the true meaning of democracy and how people with differing views discuss issues and resolve differences. Town Meeting is real life education at its best.

With approximately 43 people in attendance, David Hooke called the meeting to order and was immediately re-elected as moderator for his 20th year. In another nod to Vershire Town Meeting tradition, he posted the well-worn hand-written Roberts Rules of Order in the front of the room and briefly reviewed how the meeting would be run using these rules.

The tenor of the meeting was decidedly positive this year, as all articles up for floor vote passed with no opposition. Gene Sobeck was re-elected for a three-year term on the planning commission, and Carol Suich will serve another term as cemetery trustee. After a lively discussion of the place of town grand juror and town agent in 21st-century Vermont town governance, Jean Mac- Donald was elected as town grand juror, and the role of town agent was purposefully left open, once Rep. Rodney Graham, who happened to be in the house, mentioned that there is movement in the legislature to remove these antiquated positions from open voting, and make them selectboard appointees instead.

After brief discussion, voters agreed to exempt the Vershire Fire and Rescue from paying property taxes for a period of five years. Article 7, asking the voters to authorize purchase of a new 10-wheeler highway truck for an amount not to exceed $186,000 passed by voice vote with no opposition after the selectboard made an argument for how this purchase will save the town money.

The authorization of the purchase of a used loader, with no monetary cap stipulated, also passed with no opposition.

The $35,000 allocation to the capital equipment fund, $50,000 to the paving fund, and $25,000 to the highway garage fund, all passed easily in voice vote. Article 12, which allocates funds to 10 service agencies serving Vershire, passed unanimously on voice vote.

The remaining articles on the warning were voted by Australian Ballot, but the floor was open for non-binding discussion. Eighty-seven residents exercised their right to vote on the Australian Ballot articles. The general fund budget of $264,130 passed handily with 83 votes, as did the highway budget with 74 votes in favor. Vershire Fire and Rescue secured its request of $33,728 with 81 people voting in favor. All three of these budgets showed no appreciable increase over last year.

Marc McKee and Naomi LaBarr were re-elected without opposition to their posts of selectboard and delinquent tax collector, respectively.

There was one same-day voter registrant, as allowed by the new law. This voter happened to be a high school student.

After the meeting adjourned, most attendees headed downstairs for a soup and bread lunch and friendly post-meeting visiting.

The RISD Annual School Meeting will be held on March 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rivendell Academy Building in Orford, N.H.

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