Town appoints first members to CCTA

May 15, 2008

By Greg Elias

Observer staff

A former Army officer and a current state legislator will serve as Williston's first-ever representatives on the Chittenden County Transportation Authority board.

Al Turgeon and Jim McCullough were appointed to the positions last week by the Williston Selectboard. They will serve three-year terms.

Turgeon, 50, retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army in 2003. He is now an executive assistant to the vice president for finance at the University of Vermont.

McCullough, 63, has represented the town in the Vermont House of Representatives for the past six years. He also co-owns Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston.

The town won the right to representation on the CCTA Board of Commissioners when Williston voters approved membership in the organization in March. The town has for years funded the lone CCTA route in Williston, but was not formally a member.

Turgeon said with his children now grown he has the time for public service. He sees the board duty as a chance to get involved in his town after decades of moving from place to place in the military.

Turgeon has both personal and professional experience with transportation issues. He said he coordinated transportation for three years while stationed in Alaska. He also had a firsthand look at another country's public transportation system while stationed in Germany, biking, riding buses and taking subways to get around.

Turgeon has discovered the limitations of public transportation here. The existing CCTA route is miles away from his North Williston Road home, leaving his son, Chris, no easy way to get to his classes at UVM or to return home from his job in Burlington.

"Yes, dad takes him most days," Turgeon said. "But classes start at noon, and dad has to be up by 8 (a.m.)."

McCullough said a long-standing interest in public transportation spurred him to volunteer for the CCTA board. He remembers riding a Vermont Transit bus from his Williston home to Burlington High School when he was a teenager in the early 1960s.

McCullough served on the House Transportation Committee during his first term. He said he has long urged the town to join CCTA.

"The common perception that Vermont is rural and it doesn't need public transportation is totally bogus," he said.

Both men told the Selectboard their first priority would be adding a route in Williston. McCullough said service is needed to the several senior housing developments in town; Turgeon suggested a bus line that serves the subdivisions along U.S. 2, North Williston Road and Mountain View Road.

Five towns are currently represented on the board: Burlington, Essex, Shelburne, South Burlington and Winooski. Milton, which also voted this year to join CCTA, will along with Williston seat two new representatives when the fiscal year starts July 1.

Williston officials proposed joining CCTA after learning it would save $17,000 each year, the cost of a federally mandated service for people with disabilities. CCTA will now pick up the tab for that service. Williston budgeted $188,000 for public transportation in the current fiscal year.

Other appointments

In addition to the CCTA representatives, the Selectboard on May 5 also made several other appointments and reappointments, including:

Joel Klein was newly appointed to the Planning Commission and the Recreation Committee. He will serve a three-year term on the Recreation Committee and a four-year term on the Planning Commission.

Allaire Diamond was newly appointed to serve as a tree warden for a one-year term.

Olivia Loisel was reappointed to a three-year term on the Recreation Committee.

Kevin McDermott was reappointed to the Development Review Board for a three-year term.

Kevin Batson and David Yandell were reappointed for four-year terms on the Planning Commission.

Phil Swett was reappointed for three years to the Historic and Architectural Advisory Committee.

Abbie Bowker was reappointed for one year to the Winooski Valley Park District.

Susan Bishop was reappointed for two years to the Lake Iroquois Beach Commission.

Terry Macaig was reappointed for a three-year term as health officer.

Sue Powers was reappointed for a one-year term as animal control officer.