Last call: Mark Sgantas is stepping down as chief of the Stowe Fire Department after 37 years of service, 12 of those as chief.

When you serve, it is not only you; his wife, Judy, was always by his side and many times helped to carry the administrative load of what it takes to run a volunteer fire department. More importantly, on more than one occasion, she lent an ear and her support.

Unless you are someone he has helped or are a member of the Stowe Fire Department, it is hard to appreciate what firefighters are called to do in general and the chief in particular. Firefighters are called around the clock. The calls range from the mundane of a false alarm to putting their lives at risk putting out a fire. All calls are treated seriously, even if they end up being a false alarm.

Even as a volunteer chief, he is responsible for financial controls, purchasing policies, budgeting and other requirements associated with spending tax dollars. He also had the challenge of overseeing volunteers both in training and responding to calls. While he has some great officers to assist him, as the saying goes, “the buck stops at the top.”

I also saw a person who was a giver. Not only in the Stowe Fire Department, but outside as well through Team Heart. With this being said, he is not a pushover. I won’t go into specifics, but I saw him in action more than once, insisting a vendor do right by the taxpayers of Stowe and his firefighters. Suffice it to say he ensured he came out on top and the vendor did right by the community when the dust settled.

I am indebted to Mark for accepting me as the manager, even though it was a volunteer agency, and for his ensuring the Stowe Fire Department operated in an honorable manner. He may be the last volunteer chief, but his legacy will live on long after his last call.

New fire chief: Kyle Walker has accepted the position as the new Stowe fire chief. Kyle is currently the assistant volunteer fire chief and has been a volunteer firefighter since 1998. He is also currently employed as a Stowe police sergeant and has been a certified police officer since 2008. He holds an associate’s degree in fire science.

Kyle has demonstrated that he is a capable leader and has shown his commitment to the town of Stowe. Not only has he been willing to assist his own departments over the years, but has been willing to go above and beyond by helping others with communications and training. If you see Kyle, please join me in congratulating him and thanking him for his continuing service.

Ring your bell and slow down: If riding your bike on the Stowe Recreation Path, please remember to announce your presence when passing by ringing a bell or giving a verbal warning.

In addition, please remember that unless it is a wheelchair or other device operated by mobility impaired individuals, motorized or mechanical vehicles are not permitted on the Rec Path. This includes the engagement of electric bikes. This is a multi-use and multi-age path; it is not a place to do time trials on wheels. Be safe, slow down and enjoy the scenery.

Don’t flush: Toilets have a purpose that doesn’t need an explanation. Unfortunately, people also use them for purposes they weren’t intended for to try to get rid of stuff.

If it doesn’t plug your internal plumbing, it can be difficult to treat at the wastewater plant. Sometimes the packaging will even say it is safe to flush, but don’t believe everything you read.

According to one wastewater employee, “towels that are labeled as flushable are very misleading. They don’t break down as advertised.” Be safe and use toilets only for their intended purpose.

Passing zone: In Vermont, you can pass on double yellow lines with caution unless it is designated as a no passing zone. Most of Stagecoach Road was designated as a no passing zone except for one small section that was designated as a passing zone. The select board recently eliminated the passing zone, so now all of Stagecoach Road is designated as a no passing zone.

Downtown sandwich board signs: In recognition of the impact of construction in downtown Stowe, the select board has adopted interim zoning that will permit each business to have a sandwich board sign. However, businesses need to remember that you can’t impede the pedestrian travel way, including maintaining a minimum of 36 inches to allow wheelchairs to pass.

Please remember that all downtown and lower village businesses are open during construction. There is plenty of available parking off Main Street, especially off Park Street.

It is more important than ever to support our local merchants and restaurants, so that we continue to have a vibrant downtown.

Charles Safford is the Stowe town manager. Email letters to

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