HARDWICK – At its January 18 regular meeting, the Hardwick Select Board discussed ongoing efforts to repair damage from last summer’s flooding, reviewed the Hardwick Police Department annual report, and approved the 2024 Town Meeting warning.
Resident Bill Chidsey shared information about one of the properties that had erosion from last summer’s flooding. He wants to see the town participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program to repair three properties.
Ann Gilcris, a resident who lives near the Haynesville Brook, added that she is not able to get assistance from FEMA because it does not help with repairs to property, only buildings. She is concerned about ice jams in the spring. She wants to stay in her house but does not have the means to repair the flood damage on her own.
Town Manager David Upson said that the town is actively looking for a program with matching funds to help sponsor a project to repair the riverbanks.
Upson said that appraisals for the state buyout properties are under way. He mentioned that he had a meeting with the state and the recovery person assigned to Hardwick with the goal of organizing the town’s disaster and damage inventory to enable the issuing of Requests for Proposals (RFP) for recovery efforts.
Also, state and federal agencies are teaming up to fund wastewater plants that were damaged in the flood in Hardwick, Johnson, and Ludlow.
Upson noted that he spoke at two senate hearings last week, one about government operations and the other about economic development. At the hearings, he reported what the town needs for flood recovery, including hazard mitigation for homeowners and a solution for the town’s wastewater plant. He is advocating for funding a temporary civil engineer position to help the town work through the recovery projects.
The road foreman report noted that the road crew has been busy plowing. They also fixed a significant water leak in town and opened up the sidewalks in East Hardwick.
The Hardwick Police Department (HPD) Report was given by Michael Henry, who first handed out the annual report he completed for the town report. It had data about police incidents like arrests and traffic crashes. He shared that mental health calls have increased and that HPD is fortunate to have an embedded mental health worker close by. Her name is Alex Jump and she recently moved from the Hardwick Inn to the Senior Center. Jump is doing critical incident debriefing, which is helpful to the police department.
Board member Danny Hale asked about the snowmobile patrol this year. Henry said that HPD is doing some patrolling, but staff is limited. They are mostly doing inspections and one of the snow machines is in the shop being fixed.
Henry updated the select board about radar speed alert signs. There are currently three battery operated signs and two solar ones. The solar ones are not working right now and the one on Mill St. has been out of service for a long time. Fixing them will require connecting with a technician on a sunny day, which has proved to be difficult lately. Board member Elizabeth Dow asked if the town could put one of the radar signs on the snowmobile trail. There was brief discussion about possible locations close to town.
Hale mentioned that he sees possible drug activity going on in the community in broad daylight and a pattern of out-of-state cars going to the same houses. Henry said that it is helpful for HPD to know what people are seeing so they can log incidents, even if no response is warranted. Plate numbers are helpful as the data can be shared with other agencies to identify trends. Henry encouraged Hale to attend the monthly public safety discussion at Hazen for more information.
Returning to the report that Henry handed out, board Vice Chair Ceilidh Galloway-Kane asked for an explanation of how the number of arrests increased over 60 percent from 2022 to 2023. Henry said that a lot of the arrests are for in-state warrants.
Henry also noted that the data show a decrease in traffic crashes, which he attributed in part to HPD’s motor vehicle enforcement, saying that increased visibility of police officers reduces crashes. He said that leaving the scene of a crash incidents were half of what they were the year before.
Next, the select board voted to approve the following liquor and tobacco licenses: First Class licenses- The Cork & Fork LLC, Hardwick Post No. 7 American Legion Inc.; Second Class Licenses – Hardwick Convenience & Deli, LLC; Third Class Licenses – The Cork & Fork LLC, Hardwick Post No. 7 American Legion Inc.; Outside Consumption Permit – Hardwick Post No. 7 American Legion Inc.; Tobacco License – Hardwick Convenience & Deli, LLC.
The board voted to approve the 2024 Town Meeting warning as presented, to certify the annual highway mileage for highway state aid, and to approve and sign the Step 1 Clean Water Loan (Planning and Feasibility) application for relocation of the wastewater plant.
The board reviewed bids to remove the East Main Street Bridge that was damaged by the summer’s flood and has been closed since. The bridge crossed the Lamoille River just before the East Hardwick town line meets Greensboro Bend and Stannard. Three bids were received: J.P. Sicard ($112,178), Winterset ($145,000), and Austin Construction ($195,000). The board voted to award the work to J.P. Sicard.
After discussion, the board voted to authorize the town manager to enter into an engineering services agreement for the wastewater plant relocation study.