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Town Meeting
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Vernon Voters Wrap Up Marathon Town Meeting

Susan Keese
Vernon residents David and Suzanne King wait for their votes to be counted Wednesday.

Vernon residents met Wednesday for a third and final installment of a town meeting that began on Monday evening. The town is grappling with the unknown impact of losing Vermont Yankee, its biggest tax payer and employer.

After lengthy debate Tuesday, voters made deep cuts in the municipal budget and eliminated the town’s police department. The school budget was defeated by Australian ballot. On Wednesday, several people said they had heard that a petition was being drawn up, calling for a vote to restore the police department.

Others stood by Tuesday’s unexpected decision. Heather Frost said a small town like Vernon doesn’t need its own police force.

"It’s time," said Frost. "We’ve been living high off the hog and it’s time to get rid of our wants and live with our needs."

Voters continued to scrutinize and debate each item on the warning Wednesday, but they easily passed requests appropriations for hospice, the visiting nurse program, local bus service and programs for the elderly.

Patti  Doirin came to defend a town scholarship program that was also funded for another year. In her 20 years in Vernon, she’d never been to a town meeting before this one. But she said that’s going to change.

"I think it’s an amazing process," Doirin said.  "I hope it continues, and I think it probably will,  given the volatility of our current environment. Hopefully it all comes out to the good and we stay a wonderful community that we can all afford to live in."

Vernon voters will be meeting at an unspecified time in the near future to vote again on the school budget.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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