Vale resigns from council
By Kym Soper
VERNON - After 15 combined years as a local elected official, Republican Councilwoman Christy N. Vale announced Tuesday night that she's stepping down from her office.
Retirement from her state job comes in 28 days, Vale told council members at the end of Tuesday's meeting, and her 60th birthday is Feb. 19.
In light of the two major benchmarks, Vale said, it was time to withdraw. Upcoming budget season had no influence on the timing, she added.
"My husband retired last April, and on March 1 we're hitting the road" for Florida, said Vale, who is planning to spend more time with her three grandchildren and at her vacation house in New Hampshire.
"I'm not going away - I'm just not coming out on Tuesday nights anymore" for council meetings that can sometimes run to midnight, Vale said. "I'm getting too old for that."
Starting her public service career in the Parent Teacher Organization more than 25 years ago, Vale was defeated when she first ran for a school board seat in 1983, but was appointed to fill a vacancy in May 1985 and was elected later that year.
She spent eight years on the school board, and was named chairwoman in 1991 before winning a seat on the Town Council where she served for two years. In 1995 Vale decided not to seek re-election and "retired" for 10 years before voters returned her again to the council in November 2003.
A powerhouse in the local Republican community, Vale has worked as a secretary and executive assistant for the last 21 years for the state House Republicans, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and more recently in the deputy commissioner's office of the Public Health Department.
Republican Town Chairman Hal Cummings said a nominations committee has been chosen to review candidates. After conducting interviews, committee members will make a recommendation to the town committee, which will then vote on a replacement.
Vale will be tough to replace, Cummings added.
Democratic Mayor Ellen L. Marmer says Vale's resignation was "quite unexpected."
In other action Tuesday, the Town Council decided to expand a part-time code enforcement position to a full-time zoning enforcement officer as two recruitment drives failed to produce a qualified candidate interested in applying for the 20-hour-a-week job.
Town Administrator Christopher Clark told the council that fines and the recent increase in building permit fees would offset the $47,025 annual salary.
Republican Councilman Daniel Anderson strongly opposed the conversion, saying while it's important to enforce zoning regulations, the intention all along was to avoid the added expense of benefits and pension by having a part-time employee.
"We put out the ads twice and didn't get a response," Clark reminded Anderson. "It's a democracy - we can't pull people out of their homes and force them to work for us."
Vale agreed with Anderson, but suggested town officials look for job sharing opportunities, splitting the position with neighboring towns such as Tolland and Ellington to minimize costs.
Once the new position is posted, town officials say, the new officer could be working by March. Responsibilities include enforcing town codes and ordinances regarding junk cars, trash, and debris, commercial vehicles parked on residential property, and ensuring that construction complies with zoning permits.
Marmer says there is plenty of work for a full-time officer in Vernon and wants the town's signage problem addressed, particularly handbills and advertisements plopped on lawns and tacked to area utility poles.
Councilman Dan Champagne urged town officials to have the officer keep a log of inspections and citations along with any follow-up action to document the work.
©Journal Inquirer 2007