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Court Sides with Region 14 on NHS Referendum Vote

The towns of Woodbury and Bethlehem challenged the validity of the referendum and its results, but a superior court judge ruled in favor of the school district.

A Litchfield Superior Court judge has ruled against the towns of Woodbury and Bethlehem in a lawsuit that claimed the referendum to renovate Nonnewaug High School was invalid.

The towns of Woodbury and Bethlehem asked the court to invalidate the referendum vote from June 18 of this year, which authorized the Board of Education to bond approximately $63 million for renovations of and additions to Nonnewaug High School.

There was just a four-vote margin in the referendum — 1269 for to 1265 against — to appropriate the funds and move forward with the construction project. 

According to the court's decision, rendered Dec. 9, the towns argued that the referendum was not properly publicized via a legal notice in a local paper of substantial circulation.

Though voters were not warned of the referendum through the publication of a legal notice, according to the court's decision, Judge John W. Pickard concluded that it was sufficiently noticed through the publication of several articles in Voices and the Republican-American newspapers.

Judge Pickard ordered the towns to send the referendum results to the state so they can be certified. 

Woodbury Town Attorney Paul Jessell and Region 14 Superintendent Jody Ian Goeler were not immediately available for comment Thursday.

A discussion of the matter is on the agenda for Thursday's Woodbury Board of Selectmen meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Shove Building.


dave December 14, 2013 at 07:11 AM
Jon, you hit the nail on the head. And that's what this teaches our kids. If you can't get what you want, manipulate the system until you get it.
Diana December 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM
The BOE, IF they were respectable and trustworthy, would do the right thing and legally notice it and hold another referendum. But they won't because they aren't trustworthy, honest or respectable and have always tried to push through their agenda despite what the people in town want. In my opinion, they purposefully kept information on this vote limited to those they knew would likely be in favor of it, but got called out on it. Example, using the school alert system to notify parents of the vote, while leaving out the rest of the town using the excuse that an article about it in the paper is sufficient. Why on earth would anyone expect a date, buried deep in an article somewhere in a local paper, to contain the information they needed regarding an extremely important vote. You go to the legal section to find the dates quickly and LEGALLY. No one should be expected to read every article in the news paper to obtain legal information, and that is what the BOE is saying. Sorry - you didn't read the article so it's your fault you didn't know about the vote. Completely disgusting bully tactics by the BOE, as usual.
Voice of Reason December 14, 2013 at 12:01 PM
@ Diana. You mention schools notifying parents of votes which has been brought up several times by others also. This, not surprisingly, contrasts to the majority of senior citizens that I've spoken with that read the Legal Notices looking for such information. Without the Legal Notice a fairly large segment of the actual voting population may not have been aware of when the vote would be held. The actions of Region 14 (Superintendent of Schools Jody Goeler stated publicly that the lack of a letter [directing the town clerks to notice the referendum] was an oversight by Regional District #14) could be viewed essentially as being engaged in voter suppression, after all it's well established that many seniors are on fixed incomes and are against tax increases so don't make them aware of the vote under their established venue. Brilliant move really.
Diana December 14, 2013 at 02:09 PM
VOR - yes, it would appear that the BOE knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Accidentally forgot to give the towns the request to legally notice the referendum? I think not. They will refuse to do the right thing though because they fear it will not pass if it is presented legally.
Sean December 14, 2013 at 08:57 PM
My claim from the beginning is if something is a good idea, make the case and get community buy in. Instead the Board lies, distorts, and manipulates to get what they want (nice lesson for the children). But then again, the region re-elects people like this. Gary Suslavich did a stand up job representing the interests of the towns and he was not supported. As with Butterly, elections have consequences.

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