Recycling Used Oil

In order to save on propane heating costs, the Town Highway Department building on Bowen Road uses a recycled oil heater.

Roughly 1500 gallons of old used oil has been recycled this year, and so far it’s resulted in 50% savings on propane. “It’s too early to determine how much the actual savings will be since it’s been a warmer than usual winter so far” notes assistant Department of Public Works director Larry Gates. “but in addition to saving us on propane, it’s saves us the expense of having to get rid of the used oil.”

It’s a common sense way to save money and reduces the environmental risks associated with transporting or storing used oil. DPW employee Tanner Gerity is shown here filling up the holding tank on the heater. The heater uses a blast tube style burner with heat exchanger and a high torque pump to maximize efficiency. Every tax dollar saved means one less tax dollar needed in the future.

New Dispatchers at the Police Department

11,000 phone calls a year… and that’s JUST for the police department!

That’s how many calls our dispatchers at the Bennington Police Department handled last year. But that is JUST THE START!

In addition to handling call for the Police, our dispatchers also field calls for two EMS agencies, seven fire departments, AND provide mutual aid services for nearby towns in New York. That’s a lot of calls.

We are pleased to welcome Corbin Dean and Zoe Nixon to the dispatcher team. Dean has recently finished his training and is now fully engaged on the night shift. “My prior experience in the Air Force was helpful in learning this new job” Dean notes “I’m happy to be here!”

Our dispatchers play a key role in public safety, making sure that people in need are connected to the services they require as quickly as possible. As a result, dispatchers are trained to be as succinct and brief in their phone interactions as possible! Simply put, it’s impossible for a dispatcher to spend 10-12 minutes on any single call without possibly endangering others who need assistance as well.

As someone calling the police, this is a great thing to remember! Try to explain your problem or concern as quickly as possible. Work with the dispatcher so they can get you the help you need, and PLEASE BE UNDERSTANDING if they appear to be be “short” with you… they are not being rude — they are doing their job how they have been trained.

“It’s a tough job, but I love it” says 10 year veteran dispatcher Kimberly Krawczyk, “Every day is different and I look forward to it.” Interestingly, call volume can be affected by the weather. “We tend to get less calls when it’s really cold or bad weather outside, with the exception of bad weather in the morning when people are heading to work,” Krawczyk explains. “We tend to get the most calls during nice weather in the summer.”

ARPA Funding Priorities

The Town seeks your input on 3.9 million in funding priorities!

The Town of Bennington is expected to receive a total of 3.9 million dollars in federal funding for projects as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). How the Town uses the funds can be transformational for our community and the Town is seeking input from community members to best determine those uses.

At the January 10th Select Board meeting, a public presentation will be made outlining the process for determining funding priorities along with an overview of ARPA, eligible funding uses, and to answer any questions regarding the process. This first meeting on January 10 is to discuss the process only. The merits of individual projects and where they fall in the list of priorities for ARPA funding will be discussed at the following Select Board meeting on January 24.

An initial draft list of suggested priorities for economic development and Town infrastructure and operations has been created by the Town of Bennington Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee — a Select Board sub-committee and Town of Bennington, BCRC and BBC staff — with consultation by economic development consultants White and Burke and the Bennington Department of Health. These lists are broken down into “tiers” where the first tier of projects best aligns with a combination of available funds, including ARPA eligibility, time for project completion, a clear role for the Town, and the existence of necessary partners for moving forward. Subsequent tiers do not reflect any judgement on the merits of the projects themselves, but rather a lack of some or all of the aforementioned criteria. This draft list is available for review on the Town website at: https://benningtonvt.org/arpa-priorities/

Is there a lower tier project that you might know about that is farther along than the committee knows? Are there possible partners to move a project forward that the committee is unaware of? (For example: a tier two project is a Downtown Hardware Store. Do you know someone who formerly owned or ran a hardware store who dreams of opening a hardware store here? If the Town had a partner ready to move on a project, that could elevate it to a tier one project.) Are there feasible projects that were missed?

The Town is asking for your input on the priorities for using the ARPA funds. Public comment will be taken between January 10 and January 21 in preparation for the Select Board meeting on January 24th when the projects will be discussed. A public comment form is available on the town website at https://benningtonvt.org/arpa-priorities/ or you can mail comments or drop them off at the Town Office. The public will have the opportunity to make additional comments, if they choose, at the meeting on the 24th. The Select Board strongly urges the public to provide written comments in advance as written comments are by far the most effective and efficient way for the public to provide meaningful input.

It is important to note that the initial priority list will need to be flexible. Final ARPA guidelines may change, new ideas from the public may emerge, problems with initial priority projects may appear that make them no longer feasible. The result of this process is an initial list of priority projects to start working on and pursuing… not necessarily the final list. A vote on the initial list of priorities will be made after the discussion on January 24 so that Town staff can begin that work.

Time to Renew your Dog Licenses

time to renew your dog licenses

2022 Dog licenses are now available at the Bennington Town Clerk’s Office at 205 South Street.

The Clerk’s office is open Monday to Friday, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. Please bring a current rabies vaccination certificate signed by your vet.

The cost for a dog license is $9 if spayed/altered, and $13 if intact.

All dogs must be licensed by April 1st, 2022. Give us a call if you have any questions! 802-442-1043

Keeper of all things Election Related

Our town clerk is the keeper of all things election related!

This includes securing and storing the ballots after they have been counted. For State and Federal elections, those ballots are stored for 22 months. For local elections the ballots are stored for 90 days.

The ballots are secured in the Town records vault. Each bag of ballots is dated and secured with a numbered tamper-proof lock. The lock numbers are recorded with the state. Each step of the process is designed to ensure that ballots are properly stored and secured.

For example, the ballots shown in this image will be disposed of this coming September. The detail shows the date and tamper proof lock.

This week the ballots from the 2020 Presidential Primary reached their end date for storage. The end result? We recycle them!

Town Website Re-Design Request for Proposal

The Town of Bennington is looking to do a complete re-design of our website.

The Town uses it’s web presence to provide information about the town, access to town services, and for outreach to citizens. Currently this information is spread between three distinct websites, which will be combined as part of this redesign to improve ease of access to information and to achieve a unified overall look.

To download the Request for Proposal (Quote), please visit:
https://benningtonvt.org/website-rfp/

Town Efficiency Update: Police Department

picture of the Police Department building

The Town of Bennington Police Department Efficiency Upgrades Reap Rewards!

In order to increase efficiency, reduce our carbon footprint, and save money, the Town Assistant Facilities and Buildings Director Mark Sawyer and the Town Energy Committee (created in 2019) has been working on implementing improvements to buildings, facilities, vehicles, and equipment throughout our community.

One project now completed is the Bennington Police Department. This impressive classic revival marble building was first built in 1913 and served as the Post Office until 1967 when it became the Federal Building until 1996. The town took ownership in 1997 when it became the home of the Police Department.

Starting in 2018, numerous improvement to the building began to be made in coordination with Efficiency Vermont and Green Mountain Power. Initial rounds of work included replacing all incandescent bulbs with LED lighting, improving insulation, and the installation of energy recovery ventilation systems and heat pumps. These efforts yielded impressive results; $5,400 in savings the first year while reducing carbon emissions by 31,500 pounds. The cost for those improvements was $15,600 of which incentives and credits covered $8,080 for a net cost of just $7,520.

In 2015, a far bigger improvement was being considered… the heating and cooling system existing in the building was old and needed replacement in any case. In 2018 an engineering study was commissioned to completely re-envision the systems at the police station to maximize current technologies and best practices to make the new system as energy efficient as possible. That work that began in 2018 was completed in January of 2020.

The result was a $440,000 new installation of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system which was paid for using accumulated capital reserves that had been built up in expectation of this type of use. No new taxes or costs were incurred by taxpayers from this work. The new system dramatically improved efficiency and yielded over $19,800 in savings per year, while reducing our carbon emissions by a whopping 50,000 pounds per year.

All told, a total of 81,500 pounds of CO2 is being saved per year — this is the same amount of CO2 sequestered by 45.3 acres of forest. Overall costs for electricity and propane in 2020 are now half of what they cost in 2018. “Plus, these savings will be even greater given the current spike in fossil fuel costs” notes Energy Committee chair Bill Karis, “ and as we move more towards electricity and away from fuels, there is ultimately less volatility in pricing.”

With building improvements now completed, the effort to switch the vehicle fleet to hybrid electric models is beginning. This past October, Chief Doucette and the Police Department was honored with an Community Environmental Achievement Award from the Climate Advocates Bennington group to recognize their environmental leadership with the purchase of their first two hybrid vehicles and two electric bikes.

Town Municipal Forests

The town of Bennington has over 445 acres of municipal forests… and most of it isn’t in Bennington at all.

In 1932, the 119 acre Fay-Gibb property in Pownal was purchased to protect the headwaters of what was then the town water supply. That was expanded in 1942 with the purchase of the 245 acre Rudd lot in Woodford.
Once the town water supply switched to Bolles Brook, the original water works were abandoned, including an aqueduct pipe that still has remnants in the woods.

The land is primarily steep and not ideal for agriculture. Like most of Vermont, it was probably entirely cleared by 1850 and was used for sheep pasturage. As factory jobs grew and better lands were opened up to the west, forests began to return to the lots and to Vermont as a whole.

The land has never been officially logged by the Town, though there is evidence that parts of the property were illegally logged around 20 years ago and 35 years ago respectively.

In 2017 a forest management plan for the municipal forests was created. The goals for management included sustainable timber harvesting, wildlife habitat development, and aesthetic and recreational use. The initial challenge towards implementing this plan was a lack of access… the lands were essentially “land-locked” by other properties.

R.J. Joly, director of the Department of Public Works, was able to arrange access to the lands this past summer, and the first harvests of timber and improvements to the habitat have begun. So far the town has earned almost $40,000 which is expected to grow to well over $100,000 once the full plan is completed. Funds generated from timber sales go into the Capitol Reserve for future use.

Part of the habitat improvement included created new forest openings and the results are already evident with lots of deer sign in the fresh snow. In addition to deer, the lands are home to black bear, porcupines, chipmunks, squirrels, toads, barred owls, oven birds, black throated green warblers, black throated blue warblers, red eyed vireos, pileated wood peckers, and yellow bellied sap suckers.

Post Signs for Masking Rule Please!

While it is true that the wearing of masks is strongly recommended, and not a mandate… the POSTING of the signage is meant to be a requirement as per the Select Board resolution.

We’d really appreciate your assistance in getting this message out.

LINK TO DOWNLOAD SIGN:
https://benningtonvt.org/…/12/Face-Masks-Notice-8.5×11.pdf

LINK TO FULL DETAILS ON THE RESOLUTION/RULE CLICK HERE

Gravel Crushing

13,865 tons of gravel is how much the town uses per year for its highway and water department needs.
Purchasing gravel would cost over $14.00 per ton so the Town saves up all the rock and extra materials excavated over the course of the year on other jobs and hires a rock crusher to come and make our own gravel for a cost of just $4.76 per ton.
The crushing operation is impressive, this year using Hunter Excavating as the vendor. It takes a couple of weeks and some serious equipment — and the cost savings to taxpayers is substantial. Work finished last week so we are again well supplied with gravel for our future work.