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by





Bathel Town Meeting Minutes for 3/13/02

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Town of Bathel Meeting was held on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 at 7:30 PM at the basement of Bathel Baptist Church, 477 Route 151, Bathel, with the following officials and persons present:

Chair - Richard "Dickie" Babson; Deputy Chairpersons - Anna Lyn Grossomer, Betty Parker, Will Blakely, and Ruddy Wilkenson; Chief of Police - Dwight "Dewey" Stevenson; Fire Chief and Game Warden - Ted Lynch; Supervisors - Nancy Brown, Lou Ann Brauer, Jimmy Cooley and Norma Flynn; Lynda and Phil Flood, and T.N. Didato, Town Clerk.

1. Opening Comments & Introductions:

Following a call to order at 7:30 PM, Chair Babson thanked Reverend Giles (Reverend Giles not present) for allowing the church's basement to be used once again for the monthly meeting, while renovation nears completion for the new Town Hall. Despite the absence of a flag, Chair Babson led those persons present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag (Note: due to her newfound Jehovah Witness beliefs, Lynda Flood remained seated during the Pledge).

2. Review of Minutes From Previous Meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on February 14, 2002 were read. Supervisor Nancy Brown duly noted that said minutes failed to correctly identify her by her "Supervisor" title. This error was corrected for the record. Being no further additions or corrections, Deputy Chairperson Blakely made a motion to accept the minutes as amended. Nancy seconded. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Lynda Flood opposed).

3. Reports

Before formal reports where announced, Deputy Chairperson Anna Lynn Grossomer recognized that this would be the last meeting chaired by Mr. Babson and that he should be recognized for his many years of service to the town. Supervisor Brown seconded this motion. It was subsequently explained to Supervisor Brown that there was no formal motion on the floor. Chair Babson expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve in such capacity. Formal reports then followed:

Town Report: Chairman Babson

Chair Babson detailed the events from his recent attendance in the Town Leadership Seminar in Plumsville. He indicated that there were several informative lectures on local development and planning and highly suggested that his successor attend the seminar next year. However, he noted for the record, that the buffet bar proved to be inadequate for the number of attendees, and he was forced to dine outside the premises nearly every night of the seminar. Thus, it was suggested that in order to reduce expenses, next year's attendee should plan meals ahead of time. Deputy Chairperson Parker made Chair Babson's culinary recommendation into a formal motion. Seconded by Supervisor Flynn. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Phil Flood opposed).

Fire and Game Report: Chief Ted Lynch

Chief Lynch was happy to report that their response time was more than sufficient to stop Jenna Babcock's barbecue fire from spreading to the shrubberies that surround their home. A letter from Mrs. Babcock (who was not present) was read aloud, thanking Chief Lynch for his prompt response to the crisis.

A 12-point buck was shot nearby Anderson creek, making it the largest kill (non-human) of the season. In all, over 200 deer were reported shot and killed by the Game Warden. Additionally, 12 moose, 34 possum, 8 foxes and 2 hunting dogs were also reported shot (after a thorough investigation, the dog fatalities were declared to be "an accident.") These numbers were down nearly 50 % from last year's totals, thanks in part to the recent adoption of the "optional blaze orange" requirement for registered hunters. In related news, Chief Lynch also reported that among the hunters this season there were 44 wounded and 5 fatalities.

Library Report: Lynda Flood

Ms. Flood reported that despite the success of the recent "Don't Burn'em - Bring'em by Here" book drive, the library was in dire need of an infusion of funds for new books and book repair. More National Geographics had been discovered to have pictures of topless tribeswomen torn out, and someone had crossed out all the options but one in the "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" series, effectively making them into "Choose-My-Own-Adventure" books. Ms. Flood emphasized the fact that, by her count, if the person who had the overdue copy of Henry Miller's Sexus would simply return the book and pay the fine, the Library would double its annual budget (by her calculations, the Library was owed $310.25 on this book alone based upon the fact that it is now exactly 17 years overdue [17 years * 365 days * .05 a day]). Chair Babson tabled the discussion for possible transfer of money to the Library fund to be discussed under "New Business."

Police Report: Sheriff Stevenson

According to the Sheriff, no arrests were made since the last meeting. Several loud disturbances had been reported from the home of Crazy Ol' Smitty, but once confronted, and the bottle of Wild Turkey was removed from Smitty's person, he simply ceased and desisted all further disturbances.

Sheriff Stevenson stated that Grandma Gremmal had filed a police report charging that Betty Flynn's kids had been trespassing on her yard and building forts in her woods. The charge was subsequently dropped when Mrs. Flynn explained that her children were now all over the age of 40, and had long since moved away; thus, it was doubtful that it was her children who had been playing in Mrs. Gremmal's yard. Upon further investigation, Sheriff Stevenson concurred.

Of utmost concern to the local law enforcement were the numerous automobile accidents occurring at the crossing of Main, Baker and Route 151 -- "Six-Points." Stevenson addressed the numerous speeding incidents and resulting accidents occurring at Six-Points and requested the installation of a controlled traffic light. However, at this time, Chair Babson interrupted Sheriff Stevenson, and as a point of order, appropriately shelved the topic for discussion under New Business.

Town Engineer and Inspector Report: Ruddy Wilkenson

Ruddy apologized profusely for the recent error in real-estate appraisals that had resulted in a 100% increase in taxable home values. Apparently, the county appraiser had calculated livestock buildings as human residences, and grossly overestimated the size of basements to include the area under car garages and above-ground pools.

The Bathel Creek project was proceeding despite concerns by outsiders regarding the environmental impact of redirecting the Brownwater Lake to provide necessary water for the increasing number of rock-sculpture water ponds in peoples' front lawns alongside Route 151. Ruddy indicated that a public referendum was held regarding the possible soil erosion and endangered species' issues. No one attended.

4. Old Business

Chair Babson presented Ordinance 24-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, providing for the repealing of Ordinance 34-1958 (and respective Code amendments) which had established a curfew affecting persons under the age of 17. He indicated that (1) the curfew seemed outdated in today's society; and (2) "them kids can have the Tastee-Freeze after 10 PM at night." Sheriff Stevenson concurred, and noted that it was fiscally sound policy, thus allowing the police to devote their attention to the Six-Points problem. Again, Chair Babson reminded Sheriff Stevenson that the Six-Points problem would be taken up upon the discussion of New Business. A motion was made to adopt Ordinance 24-2002 by Supervisor Cooley. Motion was seconded by Chief Lynch. Motion passed 13 to1 (Lynda Flood opposed).

Chair Babson presented Ordinance 25-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, which would restrict the elected office of the Chair to a period of no more than 10 years, at which time, the outgoing Chair must vacate not only his office but the monthly meeting premises as well -- all in accordance with a peaceful transition of power and the rule of law. Nancy Brown seconded the motion. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Phil Flood opposed).

Chair Babson presented Ordinance 26-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, providing authority to Game Warden to repeal Amendment 2001-40A (the "optional blaze orange law") to Ordinance 1-1901. Citing (1) the decrease in game number this hunting season; and (2) the theoretical connection with the increase in human fatalities, Chair Babson explained his rationale behind his proposal. Motion was made by Sheriff Stevenson. Seconded by Deputy Chairperson Blakely. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Lynda Flood opposed).

5. New Business

a) Deputy Chairperson Grossomer presented Chair Babson with a plaque in recognition of his service to the town of Bathel. All those present stood and applauded Dickie for his years of dedication and leadership, as Nancy Brown stated he would be sorely missed. At this time, Supervisor Cooley presented Mr. Babson with a key to the town. Deputy Chair Blakely presented a proclamation, declaring the thirteenth day of month of March to be "Dickie Day." A motion was made by Supervisor Flynn to adopt the proclamation. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Brauer and approved 13 to 1 (Phil Flood was opposed.)
b) Dickie thanked all those in attendance for the their support and for working with him all these years. Then, in accordance with newly adopted Ordinance 25-2002, Mr. Babson gave the key to Ms. Brown and left the meeting.

After a period of awkward silence, motion was made by Nancy Brown to declare herself the new Chair. Motion seconded by unidentified raised hand. Motion passed 12 to 1 (Phil Flood opposed, Ms. Brown abstained.)

Motion was made by Chair Brown to have offices change back to appointed position titles of the previous year. Seconded by Chief Lynch. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Lynda Flood opposed.) Accordingly all former Deputy Chairpersons were now officially recognized as Supervisors, and all previous titled Supervisors now held the title of Deputy Chairperson. Both Sheriff and Chief titles were also changed back to previous appointments. For purposes of clarification, roll call was taken. Those present and accounted for were as follows:

Chair - Nancy Brown; Deputy Chairpersons - Lou Ann Brauer, Jimmy Cooley and Norma Flynn; Chief of Police - Ted Lynch; Fire Chief and Game Warden - Dwight "Dewey" Stevenson; Supervisors - Anna Lyn Grossomer, Betty Parker, Will Blakely, and Ruddy Wilkenson; Lynda and Phil Flood, and T.N. Didato, Town Clerk.

New Business continued:

Nancy took over as Chair. She thanked her fellow townspeople and promised to fulfill the obligations and duties of the position to the best of her abilities. While Chair Brown again commended her predecessor, she added that there were a few minor "tweaks" that she cared to make in light of former Chair Babson's recently approved motions. Thus, topics for New Business were formally introduced:

Chair Brown presented Ordinance 27-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, providing for the reinstatement of Ordinance 34-1958 (and respective Code amendments) which had established a curfew affecting persons under the age of 17. She indicated that (1) the curfew was an effective way to maintain traditional values in today's modern society; and that (2) everyone -- regardless of age, race, color or creed -- should have equal access to the Tastee-Freeze, even after 10 PM at night. Sheriff Lynch concurred, noted that it was fiscally sound policy, but that the police would still need to devote some resources to the Six-Points problem. A motion was made to adopt Ordinance 27-2002 by Deputy Chairperson Cooley. Motion was seconded by Chief Stevenson. Motion passed 13 to1 (Phil Flood opposed).

Chair Brown presented Ordinance 28-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, providing authority to Game Warden to enforce Amendment 2001-40A (the "optional blaze orange law") to Ordinance 1-1901. Citing her belief that with the advancements in weaponry technology and decreased number of game, Chair Brown explained her reasoning behind this proposal, claiming that the "optional orange law" inherently increases hunters' risk, thus making it much more of a sport for all parties involved. Motion was made by Chief Stevenson. Seconded by Supervisor Blakely. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Phil Flood opposed).

Chair Brown presented Ordinance 29-2002, in amendment to the Town Charter, which would repeal any attempt to limit the term of the Chair (see Ordinance 25-2002). Chair Brown argued that it was a shame that someone like Mr. Babson was prematurely forced to step aside due to some arbitrary rule, thus depriving the town of Bathel of his magnificent leadership. Even those initially opposed to Chair Brown's proposed amendment would not argue this logic. Chair Brown noted that in humble deference to the rule of law, the most effective way to insure peace within the community was to prevent the uncertainty of change that is brought about with the random transition of power. Motion was made by Chair Brown. Seconded by Deputy Supervisor Brauer. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Lynda Flood opposed).

At this time, Chair Brown opened the floor for further New Business.

Sheriff Lynch presented Ordinance 30-2002, requesting the installation of a controlled traffic light at Six-Points. However, Chair Brown interrupted the Sheriff, stating that (1) the matter had already been brought up during Old Business. The parties disagreed. Chair Brown had the Town Clerk read official minutes aloud, after which, it became clear that the Six-Points problem had been previously mentioned by the previous Sheriff during his earlier report, and once again brought up in Old Business during the curfew discussion. Sheriff Lynch concurred. Furthermore, Chair Brown also stated that she believed the authoritative body who determined the placement of the matter was not the Town, but rather, the State Highway Administration, who based such judgements on the flow of motorists. Again Sheriff Lynch concurred. Thus, the topic was shelved for Old Business at the next scheduled meeting.

At approximately 8:45 PM, Phil Flood suddenly stood up. Stated that since the minutes of the meeting were being re-read, he would like it noted for the record that not only had he originally opposed Ordinance 25-2002, but to the best of his recollection, new Chair Brown had been the person who had seconded former Chair Babson's proposed Ordinance 25-2002 (10-year term limit) and was now, subsequently repealing said amendment. It was so noted.

Chair Brown acknowledged the inconsistency, but upon further inspection of the meeting minutes, as well as the minutes for all past meetings, she had uncovered an alarming consistency that was far more troublesome, and which needed to be addressed immediately: issue being that Mr. and Mrs. Flood had never voted the same way on any motion. Not once in the past 37 years. Citing the needless inefficiency of such a voting pattern, Chair Brown saw no need for their presence at these meetings and presented Ordinance 31-2002, to be written in the Town Charter, which herein prohibited Phil and Lynda Flood from further Bathel Town Meetings. Motion was made by Supervisor Parker. Seconded by Lynda Flood. Motion passed 13 to 1 (Phil Flood opposed).

While being escorted from the Bathel Baptist Church basement, Chair Brown informed Mrs. Flood that she had seen the overdue copy of Sexus in the back seat of former Chair Babson's Dodge Caravan. Thus, wanting to end the proceedings on a friendlier note, and impart a further sense of accomplishment, Chair Brown presented Ordinance 32-2002, in amendment of the Bathel Town Council Immunity Clause, granting Sheriff Lynch the right to issue an arrest warrant for former Chair Babson, and concurrently, a search warrant to retrieve the said stolen property, as well as the right to levy a fine no greater than $310.25. Motion was made by Wilkenson. Seconded by Supervisor Grossomer. Motion passed unanimously 11 to 0.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 PM.

Respectfully submitted on this date, 3/13/02,
T.N. Didato, Town Clerk







ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Didato is the editor of the literary and arts magazine, failbetter.com. His own fiction has appeared is many journals and magazines, including most recently Muse Apprentice Guild, The Best of Foliate Oak, Snow Monkey Review and Gargoyle. A former Edward F. Albee Fellow for Fiction and a writer-in-residence at the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Thom is the author of a yet-to-be published novel, Puckers, and is currently hard at work on another, Life As A One-Hit Wonder. \"Talk of the Town\", a tale told as minutes from a local town meeting, is from his collection of short stories, Formulaic, which utilizes standard non-fiction formats to tell a fictional story.

AUTHOR IN DESPERATE NEED FOR LITERARY REPRESENTATION: WILL WRITE FOR FOOD. Interested agents/editors please take note, particularly anyone from Scotland, Ireland and/or GB because I really think readers may like my work there… Interested? By all means feel free to contact me.




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