A masked Milton selectboard met in-person July 6 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The board spent the majority of the meeting discussing and setting goals for the next year.
Some of these goals included adding mental health services to the police department, designing policies for the release of statements on current events and flag display, as well as deciding on consistent and dedicated funding for road paving.
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Over an hour was spent making a list of goals and projects the selectboard wants to discuss at future meetings.
In light of recent discussion about racial equity in town, Town Manager Don Turner said he thought the board needed to set goals that would follow up on last week’s joint resolution.
“There was a block of time in the agenda tonight, so I thought it would be a good time for the board to focus on this,” he said.
Turner told the board he has struggled recently to respond to questions and comments from residents about current events, including the theft of the high school’s Black Lives Matter flag.
“I don’t know if it's my job to say something about an issue sometimes,” he said. “I’m not a political figure. My job is to manage this town, not to get involved in every single social issue or issue on the street.”
Turner asked the board to consider drawing up a policy that explains when the town should or should not display the symbol of a social movement. He also wanted to know if or when he should release statements explaining the town’s position on a certain issue.
“There are no policies, nothing in our administrative code that says how we are supposed to respond,” he said. “I don’t get elected; you all do. This is an opportunity to make sure everyone in Milton knows we are hearing them.”
Although the board did not define any specific policies or resolutions during the meeting, they did agree to set a goal to discuss Turner’s suggestions at a later date.
“I’ve expressed my opinion on what’s a priority: the racial equity training,” Board Chair John Palasik said. “That’s something we need to move on, we need to put a lot of thought into and we need to hear from a lot of people about."
The board also decided it wanted to work this year to add mental health services to the police department and to designate consistent funding for road paving. Additionally, the board plans to discuss a walking path for Bombardier Park and a location for the reconstructed General Stannard House.
“This is a start,” Palasik said. “We still have a lot of work to do, so everybody should be thinking on it and we will revisit these soon.”
The selectboard recognized the retirement of long-time town employee Paulette LaFond.
LaFond retired from her job in the Milton town offices last week. She was hired by the town in 1973 and has worked in a few different positions including assistant town treasurer and assistant town clerk treasurer.
The board unanimously adopted a resolution applauding her for her over 46 years of service.
“She set an example of dedication which has been an inspiration to her fellow employees,” reads an excerpt of the resolution. “Best wishes to her and her family for continued success, happiness and good health for many years to come.”
Having grown up in Milton, board member Michael Morgan said LaFond helped him with countless things over the years.
Palasik said he collaborated with LaFond many times during the 30 years he worked for the Milton Police Department.
“She’s going to be greatly missed,” he said. “The person taking on her position will have big shoes to fill.”
The Community Champions Committee told the board it chose to give this year’s champion award to the entire town of Milton.
Instead of choosing just one individual to receive the award, the committee, made up of Jennifer Taylor, Terry Milton and Keely Agan, thought the entire town deserved recognition.
The committee wrote up a resolution announcing the award, which the board adopted unanimously.
“2020 has been a difficult year for everyone all over the world,” Agan said. “Even so, the folks living and working in the Milton community have banded together to support and protect each other during these unprecedented times.”
The committee's recognition extends to, but is not limited to, teachers, school administrators, the Milton fire and police departments, the Milton Independent, truck drivers, mask-makers and restaurant workers, Agan said.
The Community Champions Award Committee gave out its first award in 2015. Plaques dedicated to each recipient are located in the town offices. Taylor said this year’s resolution will be framed and hung with the rest.
“During the pandemic many people rose above selflessly and that meant a lot to everybody,” Milton said. “And I’ve seen no signs of that slowing down.”