2020 still setting records

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I hope you and yours found a way to enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving. We could all use a little more happy in our lives, always. Let’s strive for that together in the coming year.

Granby officials thank everyone who worked on the election. First Selectman Scott Kuhnly, Town Manager John Ward and the Board of Selectmen (BOS) expressed their appreciation to the Registrars of Voters, Town Clerk, Town Moderator, and the many other staffers and army of volunteers who worked on the election. By all reports, in-person voters were handled safely and efficiently, and all ballots were processed accurately and promptly. Results were posted Nov. 5 on the town website, showing a turnout of 88.4 percent of registered voters.  Democracy thrives in Granby!

BOE and Teachers reach a three-year agreement. The Board of Education (BOE) and Granby Education Association (GEA) have concluded negotiations and reached agreement on a contract for fiscal years 2021-2023. In a Nov. 16 presentation to the BOS, reportedly all parties worked together to make changes that met the needs of the teachers, students and taxpayers. According to Board of Finance (BOF) chair Mike Guarco, this contract will help the town reach its second straight year of no increase in the tax mill rate. General wage increases of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, changes in the step increase system, adjustments to the health care plan and other changes helped to meet those shared goals.

Bear feeding issues continue to be discussed. The BOS received input from Chief of Police Carl Rosensweig and Animal Control Officer (ACO) Jennifer Abalan, following last month’s presentation by DEEP wildlife biologist Jason Hawley. The discussion focused on the impacts that a proposed ordinance on intentional bear feeding would have on the town. 

They reported there are 3–5 intentional feeders in Granby and that the current process is for the ACO to contact them and provide education on the harmful effects on bears when humans intentionally feed them, or as Abalan put it, “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

Abalan reported that most people cease the practice after several of these educational discussions. But not all cease the intentional feeding, and those that continue may “not stop until they move away.” Meanwhile, the bears habituate to human feeding, altering their behaviors and living in closer proximity to humans. At times these habituated bears have caused traffic accidents, attempted to live under porches, and even ransacked a home. These bears rely on humans to feed them, lose their ability to survive in the wild, and so seek to be closer to humans. This leads to bad outcomes for the bears and for humans.

There are currently no legal remedies to pursue in Granby, unlike some other towns that recently passed ordinances that impose fines. It’s apparently too soon to know how those fines will impact behavior. One Hartland offender has been racking up fines, and been issued a Cease and Desist order, but the case has not yet made it to court. 

Abalan said that an ordinance would in some ways make her job easier as it shows clear consequences; however it would take time and resources to prove the offense. When asked if he was concerned about officers responding to an alleged bear feeding call not being available for a medical emergency or accident, Rosensweig said that a police officer would “leave the bear call and go on to the more serious call right away; it wouldn’t even be a thought.” 

John Ward said that enforcing an ordinance could cause a spike in administrative workload with time spent processing fines, noticing hearings, court preparation and in-court presence. The BOS will continue to review the ordinance proposal at future meetings.

Hoping that you all have safe winter holidays, and that you bring in the New Year with cheer and continued goodwill towards your fellow neighbors.—Jim Lofink