The March 9 Charlotte selectboard meeting provided a smorgasboard of informational updates. New board members, a COVID-19 update and more were discussed as the lingering daylight illuminated the meeting room.

After bidding farewell to Fritz Tegatz, who did not run for reelection, the board welcomed James Faulkner as the new selectboard member, who ran unopposed for the 2-year term.

Matt Krasnow won the 3-year term and was re-elected chair, and Frank Tenney chosen as vice chair.

Coronavirus concerns

Charlotte Fire and Rescue stopped by to give a quick COVID-19 update: It’s important to remember that washing hands and staying home while sick - and taking other precautions - are wise, they said.

According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate for COVID-19 appears much higher than that for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. 

The WHO categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11. 

More than 1,600 cases have been reported so far in the United States, with 41 deaths. The latest information about the quickly spreading illness can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website. 

Emergency Medical Service technicians are getting frequent updates from Vermont EMS on procedures to deal with the virus, and are currently using the precautions they use for any respiratory infection to respond to people who may have been exposed to the virus.

They said they have masks for potential patients, and masks, gowns and eye protection in addition to the latex gloves they already wear. They look forward to providing the residents of Charlotte with prompt medical attention and they will update the public with any change in procedure relayed from VT EMS, they noted.

The board considered an amendment to an ordinance discussed during the Jan. 27 selectboard meeting, regarding firearm carrying in Charlotte Park and Wildlife refuge. The ordinance was adopted to sync up with state law, which permits carrying firearms including in areas where town regulations may seek to prohibit firearms.

One meeting attendee expressed concern over the potential legal loophole in the ordinance that might accidentally allow people to fire guns into the refuge (the refuge prohibits discharge of firearms within its borders—the state law allows for this prohibition) from outside the border.

When asked if her concern was realistic, she responded “it has happened before.”

Krasnow agreed that it was best to be cautious about potential loopholes even if they seem unlikely, citing a question he heard once about the legality of shooting swimming deer. “I didn’t know that deer swim,” he quipped, “but they do.”

The selectboard will post the text of the amended ordinance, giving residents 40 days to submit objections to the amendment. If no Charlotte residents protest, the new ordinance will go into effect after 60 days.

Census talk

Bob Stock, a census official in a smartly coordinated green blazer and tie, offered a short informational presentation to the board, speaking on the importance of reaching as many people to gather census data as possible. He underscored that census data is the benchmark and data population for many other social research projects and studies, and that many federal resources depend on accurate population counts. He also reminded those gathered that the census is still hiring workers, and that census takers make $18-20 per hour, have flexible schedules, weekly paychecks and are paid for the trainings they attend. Stock also clarified that the US Census is more accessible and more privacy-friendly than ever before – he said this is the first year data can be entered online, in addition in person, by mail or over the phone. The Census does not share information with ICE or Homeland Security, he said.

Other topics discussed

Further talks at the meeting included a brief introduction to the possibility that the board might need to grant a highway access permit for the expansion of the Mount Philo State Park parking lot expansion, and an update on the continuing work on the Memorandum of Understanding with the Champlain Valley School District —Krasnow proposed that two selectboard members, himself and Louise McCarren (she was not present at the meeting but reportedly expressed interest in being a liaison to CVSD) work with the district and provide updates to the board each week until a satisfactory agreement is reached.

With tax season approaching, the town plans to engage with Sullivan, Powers & Co., P.C. to audit the town’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending on June 30. This is for a one-year engagement with the firm that has delivered audits for the past 6 years. This year they are able to offer the same price as last year.

This story has been updated.

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