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Around the State in Seven Days

Published March 14, 2001 at 4:30 p.m.

Pros and Constable

Each year the town of Barton elects a constable, apparently for the purpose of doing nothing — local law enforcement is handled by the state police, who get $25,000 a year to respond to calls. This doesn’t sit right with Romeo Vezina, who wants to really make something of the position — he’s spent about $5000 outfitting his own cruiser. He admits he “went a little overboard” with the lights and the radio and all, but he really likes the job, which he held in 1982 and 1999 and would accept again.

The current constable, Kirk Martin, reports that he has spent the past year “successfully doing nothing.” He got no calls and likes it that way — there’s no budget connected with the position. Martin points out that the presence of an active constabulary in Barton would just take up radio bandwidth and increase the workload of the already overburdened state police.

But challenger Vezina is so pleased with his car that he wants to make use of it. “The ladies in the old folks’ home have told me time and again that it makes them feel good to see me, even though I’m just sitting there,” he says. He wants the money used for state police protection to be redirected: “If I was a town and had a person willing, I’d give him the $25,000 and back him up, not fight him every step of the way.”

If he were reelected, Martin says he would do “whatever is asked of me,” provided it doesn’t amount to much. If Vezina loses again, he’ll probably convert the cruiser for use on the air-search-and-rescue team. This means changing the lights from blue to red, a prospect that makes him gloomy. “This is my last hurrah,” he said.

— Barton Chronicle, February 28

Falling Stars?

Jamiel Terry, son of activist Randall Terry, has been trying to extract back pay from Orleans County Rep. Nancy Sheltra. The younger Terry came to Vermont to work for Standing Together and Reclaiming the State, or STARS, a political action committee, and he was supposed to get $1250 a month and a quarter of the fundraising proceeds in exchange for his labors. He did get paid about $2200, as well as room and board chez Sheltra. But he says $3500 is still owed.

The Vermont Department of Labor and Industry closed its investigation into the Terry claim, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to make a ruling, and Terry moved on to the idea of filing a civil action in small-claims court. But now he’s wavering: He doesn’t want to hurt Sheltra or the anti-civil-union cause. “I don’t know what to do,” he said.

Sheltra responded, “I’m sorry his family is going through a horrible situation right now.” Refusing to elaborate on what the “horrible situation” might be, she added, “I can’t fix it for them. I hope the Christian community prays for them.” Sounds like a divine diversion. . .

— The Barton Chronicle, March 7

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Bristol police fielded a report of several youths frolicking around the Brooks Pharmacy parking lot with their pants down, but when they got to the scene, the youths were gone. An eyewitness reported that one of the perps was wearing blue-and-white boxer shorts. This identifying detail could make for an unusual police lineup, or stand in for the first sign of spring.

Elsewhere, the season is progressing slowly — word from Woodstock is that there are still no bluebirds, but “the smell of skunk has been in the air.”

— Addison Independent, March 1, Vermont Standard, March 1

Signs of Something

Some headlines have turned longwinded, cheerful and a little distracted: We noticed “Proverbial Wisdom from the World of Millers and Mills in Jericho” and “It’s Not Really an Addiction if You Haven’t Paid Your Fan Club Dues.”

“Don’t Be a Burden to Your Children as You Age” takes the fun out of geezerdom, but “Belly Dancer Inspires Disabled Seniors” renews hope.

Finally, in the art-of-the-obvious category, we have a winner with “Snow Left Outside for Indoor Warmth.”

— The Essex Reporter, March 8, Hardwick Gazette, February 28, News and Citizen, March 8, Bellows Falls Town Crier, March 2, Mountain Times, March 8, Hardwick Gazette, March 7

Soldiering On

Voters in Groton have decided to keep on fighting the Agency of Natural Resources, and have allocated $5000 to show they mean it. The quarrel began in 1996, when the select board noticed that the dam on the Wells River was in bad shape. The town applied for a permit to fix it, but two years went by while the permit was being processed. In the meantime, the dam washed away. The ANC then took the position that the town couldn’t rebuild a dam that no longer existed, triggering local surprise and exasperation. After many appeals the matter is now headed for the Supreme Court, and the citizens of Groton are “solidly behind” the selectmen in their determination to fix the dam and get things back to normal.

— Bradford Journal Opinion, March 7

Party Animals

Birthdays can be fun, but you want to watch what you’re doing while celebrating them. Michael Sheets of Derby has been cited for hosting a debacle, complete with deejay and fireworks, that culminated in police being called to the scene. There they found an inebriated 14-year-old stretched out on the ground; other partygoers could be seen from the rear as they hoofed it into the woods. Sheets, who owns the property, initially claimed he knew nothing about the festivities, even though he was at home all day. Once his memory improved, he pleaded guilty to alcohol and fireworks violations.

— Barton Chronicle, February 28 and March 7, Stowe Reporter, March 1

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Helen Husher

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