News, Wolcott

Lack of Kennel Facilities Poses Problems for Area Animal Control Officers

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by Gazette Staff

WOLCOTT – At its regular October 4 meeting, the Wolcott Select Board discussed a challenge faced by area animal control officers, ongoing road repairs, and issues related to the town forest.

Fire Chief Jim Holton stated that he is getting no responses to his inquiries from the insurance representatives through Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT). Kurt Klein noted that there are two entities through which reimbursement may be obtained for damages and losses involving the fire department: VLCT and FEMA. The town owns the building that houses the fire department and is responsible for insurance claims for physical damage to the building. VLCT is the carrier for what the fire department owns inside the building. Holton has submitted a claim sheet to VLCT, and now needs to open a portal account to submit information on damages and losses to FEMA prior to the October 12 deadline. The town is awaiting a report from the mold specialist who collected samples from the building housing the fire department and town garage. The town will be seeking bids for the work that needs to be done to the building as a result of the flooding.

A discussion of preliminary budget input noted that the health officer had requested level funding, while the fire warden asked for a $100 increase in funding due to an increase in the number of calls. The animal control officer (ACO) also requested level funding.

Dean Mercier, Wolcott’s ACO, was joined by Ally Judkins, ACO with Hyde Park, who explained challenges facing most towns in Lamoille County now that the kennel is no longer accepting animals from ACOs. Towns are statutorily required to provide a kennel to take in animals. Mercier is working with Justice for Dogs to find a location to build an appropriate facility. Zoning requirements would need to be met. Ultimately, the property would need water, sewer, electricity, and heat. Judkins indicated that the Hyde Park Select Board is interested in working with other select boards to find a solution.

Kurt Klein noted that his primary focus has been gathering information required to submit to FEMA for reimbursement before the October 12 deadline. Klein emphasized the need to make repairs to the town garage as soon as possible, since the road crew will need to winterize the equipment inside the shop. The road crew continues to close out road segments for FEMA reimbursement.

It was proposed that work to revitalize Elmore Pond Road be contracted out so that the work can be completed this year. Class 3 road funds would most likely be used. The board voted to approve revitalization of Elmore Pond Road from Courchaine Farm Road to the Cutler residence.

Kate Wanner, Senior Project Manager with The Trust for Public Land, discussed with the board the Conservation Easement related to the purchase of land for the town forest. The select board will review the draft prior to notice being given to citizens.

Wanner and Young addressed questions regarding the Stewardship Plan. After discussion, the board voted to approve the Wolcott Stewardship Plan dated September 20, 2023, as well as a grant of developmental rights and a public access easement.

The agenda item to elect a vice chair was tabled.

Seth Jensen, Deputy Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission (LCPC), discussed with the board an engineering report noting damages to Flat Iron Road that occurred as a result of the July storm and flooding. The report lists five alternatives that would work to reduce flooding in the future. The select board can review the options in the report, and the associated costs. There could be FEMA reimbursement for the work.

A need has been expressed for an air exchanger to improve air quality in the town garage. The board would like to see a quote for a commercial air exchanger that would be movable. ARPA funds could be considered for this.

A new heating system from Lloyd’s is scheduled to be installed in town hall the first week of December. Lloyd’s will provide space heaters for use in the meantime at no charge. Bourne’s will install a hot water heater at town hall next week. Electrical work will be done as well.

Consideration is still being given to creating a parking area by the ball field for snowmobile trailers. Martin has asked for a report from a wetland specialist.

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