SWANTON TOWN — It’s hard to picture a Swanton town selectboard without Dan Billado, but the next time the board meets, it’ll be just that.
Billado announced his resignation from the board at its last meeting, Nov. 19, for a simple personal reason: he and Lynn, his wife, have closed on a house in Franklin.
Billado read his resignation letter aloud at that meeting.
When he noted Vermont statutes require selectpersons to live in the municipality they represent, Billado seemed to do so with a sentimental air.
And he has plenty of time on the selectboard about which to reminisce.
Town Administrator David Jescavage told the Messenger town residents first elected Billado to the selectboard in 2006.
And Jescavage said Billado was only absent from the board for one year between 2006 and 2019.
That’s about 12 years on the town selectboard.
Billado spent two of those terms as the board’s chair, including his final term.
Billado’s three-year term has one year remaining, since his resignation was effective Nov. 21.
After that Nov. 19 meeting, the selectboard appointed veteran selectperson James Guilmette, whose last term expired Town Meeting Day 2019, to fill the remainder of Billado’s term.
Town residents will vote someone into that seat on Town Meeting Day 2021.
Billado has also been Swanton’s state-appointed town health officer for nearly three decades — a whopping 29 years.
Billado will continue as Swanton’s town health officer until his last three-year state appointment ends in March 2021.
Unlike selectpersons, state statutes do not require a town health officer to live in the town the officer serves.
“It has been [an] honor and privilege serving the good folks of the Town of Swanton,” Billado wrote in his resignation. “You all will be greatly missed.”
The audience at that meeting gave Billado a hearty round of applause.
As a selectperson, Billado’s signature move might have been reminding those in attendance, especially those advocating for a specific cause, that the selectboard’s foremost goal was “watching out for the taxpayers.”
Given Billado’s stated focus on looking out for Swanton residents, his final selectboard meeting seemed especially poignant.
Billado’s career on the board effectively ended with him simultaneously advocating both for the taxpayers and the cause at hand: whether the town should purchase the old Wayside Furniture building to house a community center.
“I’ve been in this town since 1979,” Billado told those in attendance at that meeting. He told them his wife grew up here in Swanton.
“I’m leaving our community in a couple days,” Billado continued, “and I can only ... I’m going to miss out on this. Because this is ... this is awesome.”
He told the audience he used to imagine building a community center on Fourth Street, but said that doesn’t make sense, especially given the opportunity to cite a community center right off Swanton’s rec fields and the walking path.
“It just works,” Billado said. “And it’s not a huge expense to the taxpayers.
“... It’s a win-win for everybody. And it’s not just for the Swanton community — you’ve got Highgate, you’ve got people from Franklin, that go to MVU ... it’s huge. And I’m going to miss out on it, because I don’t have any kids in school anymore.
“... It’s just — this is a no-brainer.”
He praised the turnout.
“This is just awesome,” he said. “God bless you all.”
A clearly emotional Billado concluded, “I wish you all luck, because I’m not going to be around to help.”
The town selectboard appoints an interim chair at the board’s next meeting, this coming Tuesday, Dec. 3.