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Castleberry Fairs

Bid to eliminate Bethlehem Village District fails


March 17, 2010
BETHLEHEM—Voters overwhelmingly made their voice heard that they don't want the Bethlehem Village District government abolished.

During their annual meeting, residents voted to keep the district by a vote of 119 to 52. Former selectman Lon Weston, one of the major proponents of abolishing the district, also ran for the position of district commissioner. He lost to incumbent Bruce Brown, by almost the same margin, 126 to 46.

"I lost but I'm not disappointed in any way," Weston said Monday. "I didn't feel personally invested in this, my heart is always with the will of the voter."

This was the second time in the last few years an attempt had been made to abolish the district, which oversees water, sewers and sidewalks within the village of Bethlehem. Abolishing the district would have put all responsibilities for the services it provides onto the select board and town government.

"An overwhelming number of people think we provide great service and don't think the town could do that right now," said Brown.

Weston said that while the vote didn't go the way he wished, he was thrilled that so many people turned out—around 200—including observers. That's far more than any deliberative session he could remember and more than most Bethlehem town meetings before the town switched to the SB 2 format of voting.

Even though he favored abolishing the district, Weston said he ran for commissioner because his experience would have been useful in dismantling the district form of government and transitioning into control by the Board of Selectmen.

"My experience as selectman with budgets and state tax law would have been helpful to the transition," Weston said.

In addition to the election of officers, all the other eight warrant articles passed, including the $767,792 budget passed.

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