Raboin, Merriam named to Newport council

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copyright the Chronicle March 29, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The Newport City Council is again up to full strength. After a special meeting Monday night to select two new members, the council is no longer the all-male bastion it has been since the death of Karin Zisselsberger ten years ago.

With the choice of Julie Raboin and James Merriam, the council has also given itself a more youthful appearance.

Ms. Raboin, a substance abuse prevention consultant with the state Department of Health, and Mr. Merriam, who is lead pastor at the United Church of Newport, were chosen from a field of four.   That field also included Woodman Page, who returned to Newport after a career in the Air Force and the Department of Defense, and Ira Morgan Jr., former owner of Hellbilly Hideaway in Derby, and a driving force behind the creation of Newport’s first skate park.

At its meeting on March 13 council members asked interested parties to submit applications for the seats left vacant by the surprise, and as yet unexplained, resignations of Steven Vincent and Neil Morrissette on Town Meeting Day.

Applicants were given until March 22 to volunteer for the post. The council decided to hold the interviews for candidates in open session, but to deliberate on their choice behind closed doors.

Mayor Paul Monette also invited community members to submit suggestions for questions to be asked of the candidates at the open forum.

 

 

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Four vie for two city council seats

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — City voters won’t be asked to make many choices when they cast their ballots on Town Meeting Day. Mayor Paul Monette, who has already served in that office longer than any of his predecessors, is running unopposed for another four-year term and with two exceptions, no city officers face opposition this year.

Newport citizens will be asked to pick two aldermen from a field of four. Three are old city council hands, and the fourth a newcomer to Newport’s government.

Aldermen Jacques Roberge and Steven Vincent are just completing their first two-year term in the twenty-first century, but both men served on the council three decades ago.

Denis Chenette has been off the council for two years. He decided not to run for a fourth term in 2015, opening the way for a six-person race to succeed him and retired Alderman Richard Baraw. Mr. Roberge and Mr. Vincent won the two vacant seats.

The fourth candidate is Bill Hafer, who has lived in Newport for the past 11 years. A Pennsylvania native, Mr. Hafer moved around the country as required for his job with General Electric. He decided to settle down in the Northeast Kingdom when he retired.

All of the candidates spoke with the Chronicle Saturday and Sunday and each shared his vision for the city’s future.

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Newport City Council urges deep budget cuts

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copyright the Chronicle December 21, 2016

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — For years the Newport City Council has set budgets that cut city spending to the bone. Based on the discussion at Monday’s meeting, the 2017-2018 budget may cut even deeper.

By the end of the meeting, Mayor Paul Monette was suggesting the council might have to consider eliminating personnel and services.

He said it might be necessary to close down the Department of Parks and Recreation and zero out the entire capital budget for the year in order to get budget numbers to the level aldermen hoped to hit.

No action was taken on either suggestion, and it was unclear whether the mayor was advocating for the changes or pointing out the consequences of cutting the budget too deeply.

Mr. Monette drew the line on proposed cuts to the road repaving budget, arguing that strategy was tried in the past. Its result, he said, was the need to float a million dollar bond to get city streets back into shape.

The aldermen overruled the mayor’s objections.

Over the past several years, council members have gone to great lengths to keep municipal taxes from rising. Last year the city’s tax rate even saw a small decrease.

Their decisions were made with the implicit understanding that development projects promoted by Jay Peak would provide eventual relief by adding to the city’s tax base.

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Officials offer Newport economic hope

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Although it’s had some reverses in the past year, Newport has friends. That message was clearly delivered Monday night when representatives from a wide variety of government agencies and nonprofits gathered for a city council meeting.

The roll of distinguished guests included Ted Brady, who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program; newly appointed Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Lucy Leriche; David Snedeker, the director of the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA); and Jon Freeman, president of Northern Communities Investment Corporation (NCIC).

Representatives of the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Council for Rural Development helped round out the panel.

City Manager Laura Dolgin introduced the assembled dignitaries and suggested the city might see changes in the coming months. State judicial officials are looking over their properties around Vermont.

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Citizens hope to keep NCUHS school resource officer

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — SRO stands for school resource officer, but it could have meant standing room only at Monday’s Newport City Council meeting. More than 50 people, including a large number of teachers, staff members, parents, and students from North Country Union High School showed up to express their displeasure at Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto’s decision to pull one of his officer from permanent duty at the high school.

They were heard by Chief DiSanto and the council, but the decision remained unchanged at the end of the evening. The chief apologized for making his decision so close to the opening of school, but promised not to leave North Country in the lurch.

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Mayor’s veto of free test water meters is overridden

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copyright the Chronicle June 8, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Mayor Paul Monette vetoed a city council decision Monday not to charge 100 or so residents for water meters installed by the city in 2010 as a test of usage levels. Aldermen Jacques Roberge, Steven Vincent, and Neil Morrissette voted in favor of a new policy of giving meters to the test group at the council’s May 16 meeting.

They confirmed their decision after some testy argument by overriding the mayor’s veto at Monday’s council meeting. As he did in the first vote, Alderman John Wilson cast his vote against the policy.

Mr. Roberge brought up the proposal at the May 16 meeting and told council members he had done considerable research…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Newport City Council: Water committee recommendations adopted

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copyright the Chronicle May 4, 2016 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — At their meeting Monday city council members heard and adopted the recommendations of the water committee they appointed last year.

Last year in May the council set up a study group to investigate ways to get all homes in the city fitted with water meters. Proponents of the idea had long argued for charging city residents for the actual amount of water they use, rather than charging a set quarterly fee regardless of usage.

Doing so would encourage conservation, they said, and make sure that everyone on the city system pays a fair share of its cost.

The issue has long been contentious, and in a citywide advisory vote in 2011 Newport residents turned a metering proposal down by a two-to-one margin.

The committee’s recommendations gave those who choose to have meters installed in their homes some economic incentive to do so, but stopped well short of taking any concrete measures to cut into the 1,100 or so homes that pay a flat rate for water.

Instead, the group proposed basing rates on what it called an equivalent unit. That unit…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Newport City Council: Wilson tongue lashes council

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copyright the Chronicle March 23, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – Alderman John Wilson, the former president of the Newport City Council, stepped away from the meeting table Monday evening and gave his colleagues a piece of his mind.

Mr. Wilson gained the largely ceremonial position when its former occupant, Paul Monette, was elected mayor in 2009, and held it until the council’s March 7 meeting.

The council chooses its president annually at the first meeting after Town Meeting Day.  This year, Alderman Steven Vincent surprised some members of the public by nominating Alderman Neil Morrissette for the position.  Alderman Jacques Roberge seconded the nomination.

According to Mr. Wilson’s statement, which he delivered from a front row seat in the public gallery, he knew he would be replaced when he went into the meeting.  What he did not know, he said, is why his colleagues decided to strip him of his position.

“Even when you punish a child, you tell him what he did,” Mr. Wilson said.

He said he first got wind of the impending…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Newport City Council: Wilson passed over for council president

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copyright the Chronicle March 9, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – The first council meeting after Newport’s annual meeting usually begins with a drowsy run of reappointments to a wide variety of city offices.  That pattern was broken Monday when Alderman Steven Vincent passed over the incumbent, Alderman John Wilson, to nominate Alderman Neil Morrissette as president of the council.

Alderman Jacques Roberge seconded the nomination, and Mr. Wilson was effectively removed from the position, which he’s held since Paul Monette was elected Mayor in 2009.

City council president is largely an honorary title except when the mayor is absent…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Ward attends his last city council meeting

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City Manager John Ward (right) offers a suggestion to Newport’s aldermen at his last city council meeting.  To his left sat Alderman Steven Vincent.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

City Manager John Ward (right) offers a suggestion to Newport’s aldermen at his last city council meeting. To his left sat Alderman Steven Vincent. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle July 8, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — As Mayor Paul Monette listed those in attendance at Monday’s city council meeting he noted a milestone.

“For the last time John Ward is sitting as city manager,” Mr. Monette said.

Mr. Ward, who has served as city manager for 15 years, and was an alderman before that, will retire on July 15.

The council chose his replacement, Laura Dolgin, at a special meeting held Wednesday, July 1. She sat at the back of the council’s chambers Monday taking notes.

Mr. Ward’s impending departure was… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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