On February 2, 2016

News Briefs: Lakes Region

By Lani Duke

New town manager sets goals for Castleton

CASTLETON—Town Manager Mark Shea has begun his new three-year contract with the town, planning to make securing a new town office his top priority. Hopes are the Select Board will have a town office item ready for the 2017 Town Meeting Day ballot.

Safety officer files lawsuit for retaliatory termination

HUBBARDTON—Former Hubbardton town safety officer Darlene Butler had worked for the town in numerous positions, including safety officer, flagger, dump truck operator, and assistant town treasurer/clerk. Last August she filed suit against the town, saying she had been fired for reporting unsafe workplace practices. The offenses were committed not by her fellow road crew members but by Select Board members, she says. The town denies all three of her charges.

In August 2013, she alleges, she offered high visibility safety vests to a pair of Select Board members who were standing in a roadway conversing with a flagger. They refused. They also refused to allow her to replace the flagger so that they could continue the conversation out of the roadway and away from the operating heavy equipment. One of the board duo then allegedally shouldered into her, saying she should watch her step. Butler’s husband complained to the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued a serious violation and a $1,050 fine. She was terminated.

Butler was relieved of her duties as safety officer, according to the 76-point complaint filed by her attorney, James Dumont. The town’s position, filed by town attorney Kaveh Shahi, is that Butler was hired “at will” and the town had “valid, non-retaliatory or non-discriminatory, reasons to end plaintiff’s employment,” but did not disclose what those reasons might be.

“Don’t leave faucets dripping,” town says

FAIR HAVEN—Fair Haven has cautioned water users not to leave taps partway open to keep lines from freezing. The town’s water ordinance forbids it and cautions that users will receive no water bill abatement if they use this traditional approach. The only instance in which running the tap to prevent a freeze is permissible is “as a last resort and ONLY with written permission from the Chief Water Operator, the DPW Superintendent, the town manager, or by act of the Board of Water Commissioners.”

However, Town Manager Herb Durfee admits it may be far less expensive to pay for the run-out water than to repair a burst waterline. Given written permission for running water to avoid a repeat freeze, the water user may be responsible for paying all the cost of the water usage, some of the cost, or none of it. Who pays is dependent on where the break occurs. The customer receives no credit for water used if the freeze is on the customer’s side of the shutoff valve or curb stop. The customer receives full credit if the freeze is on the town’s side of the shutoff, half credit if the freeze is on both sides of the shutoff.

Sports medicine now offered in former police station

CASTLETON—The Vermont Sports Medicine Center at Castleton recently moved to new quarters in the former Vermont State Police barracks, 85 Route 4A, West Castleton. The space is newly renovated, offering its clientele an array of new equipment, specializing in aiding individuals with ergonomics, low back pain, dance and sports injuries, and strokes.

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