Don Turner, Town Manager
Just like that we’ve reached August. I hope you’ve been enjoying these warm, green months. Summer is always such a beautiful time in Vermont, yet its days seem fleeting.
July picked up speed as more of our team returned to the town offices. We’re still going to be in this pandemic for a while yet, but it’s nice to start coming together in safe ways.
Last month began with a bang as we celebrated Independence Day in a new way.
A big thanks to thank Jim Harrison, Georgia Mountain Wind LLC-Greenbacker Capital for allowing us the use of the Georgia Mountain Windfarm Site for our annual July 4 fireworks.
Our goal was to provide a spectacular show and bring a bit of normalcy to our community, while observing current health and safety guidelines. With the help of Atlas Pyrotechnics, I believe we accomplished just that. We look forward to safer times next year when we can bring the fireworks and our community back to Bombardier Park.
July 4 was also a wonderful day to celebrate our Milton High School Class of 2020. Thanks to Chiefs Steve Laroche, Chris Poirer, fire department members, Recreation Director Kym Duschesneau, the MHS administration and everyone who supplied pick-up trucks for the parade. It was wonderful to watch the trucks weave their way around town, passing almost every graduate’s home.
Last month was the end of an era in our Town Clerk/Treasurer’s Office. Our Assistant Treasurer, Paulette Lafond retired after 46 years serving the town. True to form, LaFond worked hard during her last months on the job to prepare her coworkers for her absence. We will certainly miss having her on the team and wish her all the best in retirement.
Our town clerk’s office has been busy readying for the upcoming statewide primary elections. We have mailed out about 2,182 absentee ballots to date. For those who wish to cast their ballot in person on Aug. 11 we will be holding the election from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Chittenden-10 will be voting in the Municipal Building Community Room and the Grand Isle –Chittenden district will be voting in the Fieldhouse on Park Place.
July was hot this year, but that didn’t stop our community from getting outside and enjoying the season. That’s why we were especially glad to be able to reopen our playgrounds, following state guidelines. It’s been great to see them get some use again after months of dormancy. Thank you to park goers for cooperating with current safety guidelines so we can keep the equipment open for all to use.
Summer camp continues to provide a fun, safe and enriching experience for some of our young residents. We were surprised last month when we received a donation of sports equipment for our day camp, from a generous community member. The gift is greatly appreciated, and we know it will inspire hours of fun for our campers.
Although it’s hard to think ahead to colder months, we have been at work creating our fall and early winter recreation programming. These programs and events will be a mix of virtual and in-person gatherings and will be listed in our Fall & Winter Program Guide, which comes out at the end of this month. We’re just in awe of the wonderful recreational activities that can be created through a virtual platform, and we hope you will be too.
In July, we learned our recreation director, Kym Duchesneau, will retire on Sept. 4. Kym is a wonderful team member and has spent the last 13-years building and enhancing our town’s recreation offerings. She will be missed for sure, but we look forward to hearing about her next chapter.
Our library was busy this month, continuing curbside pickup services and online programming. Preparations continued for the library to reopen to patrons by appointment. We held a soft-opening from July 29-31, and welcomed 33 people in. It was nice to see the community return to that space and we look forward to serving others in the coming days.
New to the library are state park, historic site and ECHO Leahy Center passes which will available for patrons to take out. We hope they’ll motivate community members to go out and enjoy some fun experiences.
As you traveled around town last month, you may have noticed our team hard at work repairing our roads. Construction season is in full swing and we’re trying to take full advantage of it. We continued efforts on the Main Street sidewalk project, as well as the Route 7 Gap and Streetscape projects last month.
Cherry Street was also a busy spot as the New England Central Railroad finished its portion of the Cherry Street Sidewalk Project. The railroad relocated some of its crossing signals, removed an abandoned sidetrack and did some paving.
The town team did some patch paving on Hobbs, Middle, Railroad, Whisper Lane and Sanderson Road from Bear Trap to Mears road. We worked to reduce dust on some of our dirt roads. Murray and Hardscrabble roads received single and double chip seal preservation treatments to keep them in good working order.
We know some residents on those roads have expressed concern about the work, and I encourage them to call or email me with their concerns. The cost of paving roads is very high and we will continue to search for new methods to maintain our roads in the future. Most of all, we encourage interested residents to partake in our budget process next year where we establish our road treatment plans.
Our Planning and Zoning Office also proved to be a busy place last month. We saw our 100th permit of the year, ahead of permits for this time last year. We also officially appointed Cymone Haiju as our new Planning and Development Review Director, July 20.
Seven days later, our newest team member, Cally Audet began her work as the Public Works/Planning & Zoning Administrative Assistant. Cymone and Cally have already become great additions to our team.
As we kick off this final full month of summer, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of Gov. Phil Scott’s mandate, effective Aug. 1, requiring all Vermonters to wear a mask or cloth face covering in public any place where social distancing is not an option.
It’s a simple, courteous act we can do to protect the health of others and ourselves. Thanks to everyone who has already taken to wearing masks around town. Let’s keep our community and our state safe!