FRANKLIN — Two men stood at the center of Thursday evening’s Lake Carmi TMDL Implementation Team meeting, representing a growing rift between state officials and local residents.

They were U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, sitting by the door of the FELCO Room in the Franklin Homestead, a jarring contrast to the demure curtains, a bookcase of used paperback romance novels, a previously friendly and open meeting space.

Dept. Fish and Wildlife officers

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife officers attended Thursday night’s Lake Carmi TMDL meeting to maintain order.

Rob Cormier, a prominently outspoken Franklin resident, said state officials were using “a draconian style to enforce an agenda.”

“PowerPoint presentations enforced in a draconian style are really nice in North Korea, but they’re not here in Vermont,” Cormier said.

Emily Boedecker, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner, said she requested the officers’ presence to ensure the meeting’s procedure, and to ease attending state officials’ concerns for their own safety, given aggressive public discourse at recent Lake Carmi-centric meetings.

“I could not allow, as a leader, to have my staff coming into a place where they don’t feel comfortable,” Boedecker said. “You gentlemen may not understand, but you have a significant physical presence. I would love to be able to tell our friends that we don’t need them here, but we have to work together” to reach that point.

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