Hardwick, News

Johnstone Outlines HED Goals, Looking for Help

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HARDWICK — “That’s what neighbors do for each other.” said Scott Johnstone, interim manager of the Hardwick Electric Department (HED). Johnstone is splitting his time between Morrisville Water and Light and HED for a period of three months, filling in as an interim manager.

Johnstone delivered an update to the select board on June 20, and began by emphasizing HEDs strengths. “You’ve got a really great team. The people that are there care deeply about this community and the work that we do.”

Johnstone outlined the prospective goals of the department for the next few months, which include rebuilding public trust and reconnecting with the community.

Johnstone said HED is still suffering a shortage of linemen, stating “Morrisville, Stowe, and Orleans are all helping us keep the lights on at night. The whole community of municipalities is helping out, we all do that for each other.”

HED is still looking for a general manager. If interested, the job description is available on their website, hardwickelectric.com/. They are also looking for linemen.

Johnstone reported he has been working with FEMA on the Wolcott Hydro Plant. The current goal is to have the plant running within the next two to three months.

The board approved proposed traffic ordinance changes and updates. Police Chief Mike Henry said the changes are focused on parking issues, as the parking in downtown has shifted. Three-hour parking on South Main Street, south of Holton Hill, was increased to four-hour parking. Several handicap spots were also changed. Some changes have been made to Depot Street as well. Previously, there was no parking on the east side, across from the Town House, which continues. The update now prevents overnight parking on the Town House side of Depot Street.

Additionally, violation penalties were increased significantly: $10 fines have been increased to $25 for limited-time parking violations, parking where it is prohibited, parking on the wrong side of the road (curb to left), blocking a driveway, sidewalk or crosswalk, parking outside the lines and for violations described as “other.”

The fine for illegally parking in a handicapped spot has been increased from $25 to $75. Other fines that were $25 have been increased to $35. Those include blocking a fire hydrant, interfering with winter road maintenance and violating the winter parking ban, which makes it illegal to park on any town road between midnight and 6 a.m. from November 15 to April 15.

Additionally, the $10 fee for fines not paid within five days has been increased to $20. And formerly, all fines “subject to an additional $10 fee for collection cost, if deemed necessary,” have been in increased to $20.

With the select board’s approval, a 30-day public comment period has commenced. The amendments to the traffic ordinance will go into effect on July 19, unless a petition signed by at least five percent of Hardwick voters was filed with the town clerk before July 1. If a petition was received, the Hardwick Select Board will hold a special meeting for voters to decide on the question.

In other business, the Hardwick Downtown Partnership (HDP) received a grant award of $33,487.00 from their application to the VT Urban & Community Forestry Program’s Community Tree Planting Grant. Tracy Martin, community development coordinator, reported that the grant will fund the planting of 30 trees in and around downtown. HDP will use an adopt-a-tree program to ensure the trees are out of the Towns’ right of way.

Town manager David Upson reported the underground storage tank at the Wastewater Treatment Plant was removed and sitework has been worked on. Upson has also been working on the pedestrian bridge and FEMA buyouts of properties damaged beyond repair in last year’s flooding.

Road Foreman Tom Fadden is working on grants and trying to repair specific roads and ditches. Mowing will be done the week of July 8. A washout located on Hardwick Farms Road will also be fixed, weather permitting. Fadden also reported the crew planned to fix the sidewalk on the right-hand side of Church Street. There was discussion about spreading the road crew thin, with suggestions of bidding this project out as it is a lower priority. Fadden said bidding this project would use up the remaining grant money, $23,000, resulting in little actual sidewalk repair. Ultimately, the select board decided to refer a decision back to the town manager, allowing the road crew to do what is best for the town. Upson will provide further updates.

Raymobda is a VTSU - Castleton English Major interning with The Hardwick Gazette.

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