“A Mighty Wind” Briefly Halts Town Meeting before ByLaw Amendments Pass

A strong gust of wind caught the canopy shielding the moderator from the sun


Saturday’s weather conditions on Sabourin Field were defined by warm temperatures, mitigated by a mild breeze and passing clouds. The voter cards that doubled as hand-held fans were used almost exclusively to vote. Yes, the day was ideal for an outdoor annual town meeting.

Except for about 30 eventful seconds.

Michael Barbehenn was at a speaker’s microphone inquiring about the rationale for voting to move the Select Board’s Arbor Resources Committee from ad hoc to permanent status in the town bylaws. Suddenly, papers, caps, and a pink patterned umbrella took flight on the east end of the seating.

The microburst, or whatever it was, then traveled across the visitors’ bleachers, where Moderator Betsey Anderson and the rest of town meeting management were stationed. The gust levitated the four-legged awning that protected the moderator and her team from the sun, and messed with some of the paperwork.

The excitement was over as quickly as it arrived. First responders grabbed the airborne awning, folded it, and carried it away. Order was restored at the head table and Anderson, confirming that the audio still worked, told the voters, “Sorry about that.”

Jacqueline Edwards, an original driver of the Bedford Arbor Resources Committee (BARC) and a tireless advocate for trees since before the turn of the century, would not comment on whether she employed supernatural forces to help the article reach a favorable outcome. She said only that “I have been told that my stare can be moving.”

Back on town meeting “floor,” Select Board Chair Margot Fleischman replied to Barbehenn. She said ad hoc committees that in practice are functioning as standing committees should be validated in the bylaws. Arbor Resources Committee Chair Dan Churella added that the committee is built into the implementation of the town tree policy, which means it should have the permanence the bylaws provide.

On a serious note, Edwards said she was gratified by the vote, which codifies a grass-roots effort that began in 1999 when residents rallied to deter the construction of a tennis court at Springs Brook Park. “We said people in town want to protect trees and there’s no voice.” The committee has been designated ad hoc since 1999.

Saturday, voters added not only Arbor Resources but also the Patriotic Holiday and Energy and Sustainability Committees to the bylaws. Other amendments to the general bylaws, mostly described as housekeeping or universal, were approved without comment.

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763

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