ATHENS — Voters at the Town Meeting on Saturday overwhelmingly voted to join the Dexter-based Alternative Organizational Structure 94 and to increase the number of Athens school board members from the current three to five.
Residents also elected a new first selectman and a new road commissioner in voting at the polls on Friday.
There were four candidates for road commissioner and two candidates for first selectman.
In the race for first selectman, the current third selectman, Guy Anton, defeated former Selectwoman Brenda Avery for a two-year term by a vote of 165-67.
Anton, 55, has been a member of the Athens Board of Selectmen since 1999. He said with his experience, he would be ready to take over the top spot on the board now that incumbent First Selectman Bruce Clavette has decided not to seek re-election.
Anton is a farmer, Athens school bus driver, volunteer history teacher and president of the Athens Historical Society.
A special townwide election will be called in the coming weeks to fill the open third selectman’s seat and to fill the two new spots on the Athens school board.
In the race for Athens road commissioner, Dwight Weese was elected with 97 votes. Candidate and former Road Commissioner Maynard Avery received 59 votes, incumbent Road Commissioner John Barron received 39 votes, and newcomer Nathaniel Foss garnered 38 votes.
Weese, 49, has worked for the state Department of Transportation for the past six years and said that has prepared him to be road commissioner.
“I’ve plowed snow, I worked on roads, and the last two years I’ve been a field mechanic, working on all the new heavy equipment,” he said before the election. “I’ve always wanted to do it, so I thought that now that I’ve got the experience, it would be a good time to run.”
Voters also agreed Saturday to join AOS 94.
School board member Vicky Avery told voters that an AOS is a combination of two or more school administrative units that join together to provide shared administrative and some educational services.
Membership in the AOS includes a use of a superintendent and superintendent’s office, special education administration, transportation administration, and the business functions of accounting, payroll and financial management, Avery said.
The vote to join AOS 94 was 48-1.
AOS member municipalities maintain their own budgets and school boards and choose representatives from each school board to serve on an AOS school committee.
Athens residents voted to leave Madison-based School Administrative District 59 in May by a vote of 194-10. AOS 94 is made up of the towns of Dexter, Exeter, Garland, Harmony and Ripley.
Athens was a temporary member of AOS 94. Voters in the other AOS 94 towns now will have to decide whether to accept Athens, Avery said.
School board member Dan Viles, who was re-elected Friday, said he favored expanding the Athens school board to five members for better oversight of budget and educational issues and to be able to form subcommittees to study important issues facing a new school board.
Outgoing First Selectman Bruce Clavette said spending articles for Saturday’s meeting would be up $2,386 over last year’s budget. Spending for 2013 came in at about $444,000, with all of the articles passed as written.
The town tax rate of $17.60 for every $1,000 in property valuation will not increase with all the articles are passed as written, selectmen said.
Selectmen and members of the town’s Recreation Department agreed Saturday to better communicate in the future when it comes to spending money on upkeep of town property in the recreation area downtown. Department members said they could get volunteers to do some of the needed work, rather than have selectmen hire people at town expense.