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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Pownal Selectmen Appoint Interim Constable

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, July 23, 2006

Joel Howard was appointed town constable by Pownal, Vt. Selectmen on July 21. The appointment was made to fill the unexpired elected term of former Constable Claude "Chip" Beckwith, who resigned the post because he is relocating to another town.
Pownal, Vt. - Joel Howard was appointed town constable by a unanimous decision of Selectmen on July 21.

Howard was appointed to complete a two-year elected term held by Claude "Chip" Beckwith, who resigned the post because he is moving from town. Beckwith was first elected constable in 1999. During Beckwith's seven-year tenure, the post changed from an office elected yearly to an office elected every two years.

Prior to Beckwith's election, the constable job was held by Harold Marshall for over two decades. Marshall declined to seek reelection in 1999.

Howard, 34, was one of two candidates who applied for the appointment. Selectmen appointed Howard after interviewing both applicants.

Speaking during a July 23 interview, Howard said that he plans to act in a fair manner and serve the community to the best of his ability. He is required to undergo training as part of the job, and said that he is willing to put in all the training hours necessary. He hopes to begin training as soon as possible, he said.

Howard is an assistant fire chief of the Pownal Valley Volunteer Fire Department and a former member of the Pownal Rescue Squad. He is employed at Joe Tornabene's GMC on Route 7 as an vehicle repair technician.

"I feel that having 10 years of fire service experience will be a benefit to the constable job," Howard said. "I have seen people in the worst circumstances."

He does not believe that the constable post will interfere with firefighting, he said.

"There are many capable firefighters in two fire departments in this town," Howard said. "There are two excellent chiefs [Pownal Valley Department Chief Jerrod Lillie and Pownal Protective Fire Association Chief Craig O'Dell], two assistant chiefs, and two second assistant chiefs."

The constable post is currently a part-time job with town funding that finances about 29 weeks of direct services annually at a rate of 32 hours per week. The weeks and hours breakdown is a formula and not an actual required work schedule. Howard said he is interested in seeking input as to how best to serve the community.

The Vermont State Police provide the bulk of the town's law enforcement services.

Howard said that he believes he will seek election as constable during the March 2007 town election.
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