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CVU student seeks position on Community Justice Board

Willistonians offer help to Town

May 19, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

Before Sam Fontaine tosses his cap in the air at his graduation from Champlain Valley Union High School, he is throwing his hat into the ring for a position within Williston’s town government.

The CVU junior appeared before the Selectboard at its regular meeting on Monday to be interviewed for a position on the Community Justice Board. Fontaine, an honor roll student, said he would use his experience on the CJB to fulfill his Graduation Challenge at CVU.

“I’ve always had an interest in criminal justice,” said Fontaine, 17.

He hopes to combine his term on the Criminal Justice Board with an internship with the Vermont State’s Attorney’s Office, in preparation for a possible career in law enforcement.

Fontaine added that he also has a passion for politics; he worked on Brian Dubie’s campaign for governor last year, and was one of CVU’s delegates at the Princeton Model Congress in Washington D.C.

The Community Justice Board works in conjunction with the Williston Police Department and Vermont Department of Corrections to help “assess the impacts of specific crimes on victims” and recommend courses of action for offenders to “increase the sense … of belonging to a community so that the chance of repeat criminal acts is less,” according to the town’s website.

The Community Justice Board is comprised of 15 members, appointed by the Selectboard to staggered three-year terms. Town manager Rick McGuire said during Monday’s meeting that although there are technically 20 membership slots on the CJB, “the board does not feel that they need 20; they think the (optimal) number is around 16.”

McGuire also indicated that the current CJB members “want a rep on the younger side.” McGuire pointed out on Tuesday that another CVU student, Olivia Loisel, has been a member of the town’s Recreation Committee “since she was in middle school.”

“We have a desire to get people of all ages on the town boards, from the young to the older,” McGuire said. “That’s what our community is made up of – people of all different ages.”

Fontaine agrees that his perspective could be beneficial to a board that is otherwise made up of adults.

“I know what teenagers want, and what teenagers do,” he said. “I’d bring a new approach and ideas not only to the board, but to the town. I feel that there is justice that needs to be served in Williston.”

Several other applicants for town committees and boards were also interviewed at Monday’s meeting. Craig Abrahams, a candidate to be the town’s representative on the Chittenden Solid Waste District Board, presented some ideas “to take recyclables and organics out of the waste stream.” Meghan Cope, who has her sights set on a Planning Commission seat, talked about targeting specific social groups in hope of “engaging the public in planning decisions.”

Some applicants expressed interest in more than one position. Marie-Claude Beaudette requested consideration for positions on the Planning Commission, Historic and Architectural Review Committee and Conservation Commission, while Robert Metz put himself in the running for the Community Justice Board and Planning Commission.

Selectboard member Chris Roy then suggested that Metz, a teacher and football coach in South Burlington, might also be a good candidate for the Recreation Committee.

“My goal is to get involved,” Metz said. “For me, right now, I don’t have one particular interest … I’m looking to become part of the process.”

The Selectboard chose not to make any appointments on Monday, in light of two absences. Roy first requested that the Board wait for Joe Duncan – the incumbent for the CSWD position – to speak on his own behalf at a subsequent meeting. Roy then pointed out that absent Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs is “very mindful … of having as many people (present) as possible” during such actions, and that waiting for Fehrs before making any appointments “might be a reciprocal courtesy.”

The Selectboard’s next regular meeting is scheduled for June 6.