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Town of Shaftsbury, VT
PO Box 409
61 Buck Hill Road
Shaftsbury, Vermont 05262

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Shaftsbury Approves its Local Emergency Management Plan

Posted: June 1, 2024


SHAFTSBURY - Bennington is not the only local community looking to upgrade its Local Emergency Management Plan (LEMP) over time.

The Shaftsbury Select Board recently discussed emergency planning and the LEMP with Paul Dansereau, the town's emergency management director, who is also a member of the Shaftsbury Fire Department.

"It's not really a set 100 percent tactical plan where we pull this out: 'this is what we do for this event, this is what we do for that event,'" he said. "It's supposed to be more of the overarching coordination document that goes through the general emergency management activities, and then some of the enclosures and annexes that could be included in that might have some additional details."

The state requires communities to update their plan every year or lose eligibility for funding in case of an emergency. In Bennington, a recently organized interfaith group pushed the town to make more accommodation for homeless people, including provision for warming and cooling shelters. The effort to improve future editions of their LEMP are ongoing.

In Shaftsbury, the Select Board discussed and approved their current LEMP at their May 20 meeting. The plan is "really the outline how municipal government will coordinate support from the state emergency operations center in the event of an emergency, if it's necessary," Dansereau said.

Towns can choose either a short template or a long one to detail their plan.
"Municipalities are able to tailor as need be. The one that was developed a couple of years ago initially with (former Town Administrator) Dave Kiernan, I worked on, we used the short template as a guideline," he said.

They also put a continuity of operations plan in the annex. "That was not a mandatory requirement but it was put in because it made sense to also make that part of the plan," he said. "If for 24 hours Cole Hall wasn't available, what are the bare minimum things we need to have happening."

Dansereau went over the minimum requirements in the plan: a list of all the planners involved, arrangement and members of an emergency operations center, resources within the town, including fire departments, highway department, plus any municipal contracts with relevant entities. It also includes public information and warning in emergencies. "How would the municipality get any information out during the event of an emergency. I identify some of our vulnerable populations within Shaftsbury, what would be potential shelter locations, and then contact information," he said.

The state website has training resources on it, and he is working on his emergency management director certification. The continuity of operations annex to the LEMP goes over what resources would be needed over time to keep the town's emergency response going.

Board member Martha Cornwell asked him about emergency shelters. "We had gone back and forth about Shaftsbury Elementary School and whether or not it was a Red Cross Shelter which I know is no longer the case," she said. We know that definitively."

The regional shelter is the one that the Red Cross is planning to stand up at Mount Anthony Union Middle School, in Bennington, Dansereau said. In that case, transportation of residents would be an issue to address, board members said. In addition to shelters and transportation, another issue to look at is possibly having a line item in the budget to pay for emergency expenses.

Cornwell mentioned possibly forming a subcommittee to answer questions.

Compliments of: The Bennington Banner
Posted/Author: Mark Rondeau

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