Archive - 2007
DONALD HILL, LEFT, and Matt Clark peek out from behind one of the dozens of inflatable Halloween displays they have in the yard of their North Road home in Whiting. The brothers have spent hours and hours setting up the display, which grows bigger every year.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
October 22, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — The Vermont Electric Power Company has decided not to use a property in Ferrisburgh’s Route 7 village as staging area and storage site for more than 400 poles and other equipment for VELCO’s new transmission line from New Haven to South Burlington, VELCO spokesman Kerrick Johnson said on Friday.
Instead, VELCO has turned its attention at the last minute to a site in North Ferrisburgh that is owned by the state Department of Building and Grounds and is, at least in the long term, the planned home of a new Agency of Transportation weigh station and highway maintenance depot.
Johnson said earlier this summer AOT officials told VELCO that the agency was still considering developing that site within the next two years.
However, there may have been an internal misunderstanding in the agency. AOT director of communications John Zicconi told the Addison Independent this summer there are no immediate plans to further develop that site. Zicconi said the AOT had to devote limited funding to other needs for the foreseeable future.
“The project remains a project,” Zicconi said in July. “But there is no timetable for it at this time.”
Last week Johnson said VELCO approached the AOT again, asked more questions, and this time heard that the agency would be open to leasing the site for the two-year period VELCO said it needs the staging and storage area.
Johnson said when VELCO, Buildings and Grounds Department officials and AOT officials realized their needs were complimentary, that talks moved quickly. VELCO may start using the site, which is on the west side of Route 7 just south of Long Point Road, in a matter of days.
“If all goes well, we’re hoping to use that site by the end of next week,” Johnson said on Saturday.
October 22, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Members of the local arts community are joining forces to market Middlebury as a destination for arts and entertainment.
The effort is being called “ArtsConnect,” an idea that emerged from a series of “Creative Communities Program” forums held earlier this year to find ways of stimulating Middlebury’s economy. Resident Nancy Malcolm was a lead organizer of that Creative Communities effort, and is chairwoman of the ArtsConnect committee.
“We want to promote and celebrate the Middlebury area,” Malcolm said. “The general idea is to be very inclusive.”
ArtsConnect boosters will hold their first of what are expected to be monthly gatherings on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 4:30 p.m. at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café. The meeting is expected to attract representatives from Middlebury College, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, the Town Hall Theater, the Vermont Folklife Center, the Vermont State Craft Center at Frog Hollow, the Middlebury Business Association and area schools.
“This is a way to communicate, to get people together who speak the same language,” she said of the various players in the local arts scene.
ArtsConnect participants on Oct. 25 will begin to brainstorm ideas on how to publicize the vast menu of theater, visual arts, music and cultural events that are available in Middlebury. Malcolm plans to suggest some of the following ideas:
• Producing arts brochures that could be left in rooms at area hotels and B&Bs to inform tourists about local arts events.
• Approaching the Middlebury Business Association for help in promotions, such as displays.
• Collaborating with restaurants. Such a partnership could result in “dinner-and-a-show” relationships between theaters and eateries.
October 22, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County is in the market for a new chief administrator for its courthouse clerk, though the position must remain unfilled until early January due to a shortfall in the state’s judiciary budget.
County Clerk Kylie Dixon resigned on Oct. 1 after a little more than two years on the job. He declined to discuss the reason for his departure, except to say, “I left on good terms.”
It was during the summer of 2005 that Dixon succeeded Kathy Keeler, who retired after 25 years as an administrator of the Addison County courthouse.
Candidates have until Friday, Oct. 26, to apply for the clerk’s position. A job description on file at the courthouse lists the clerk’s duties as including:
• Working with the Superior Court judges to manage the caseload of the court.
• Ensuring court records are accurate and that court rulings and orders are prepared and distributed in a timely manner.
• Assisting all those who use the court in a “courteous and professional” manner.
• Overseeing the proper use of courthouse technology, including computers and audio/video devices.
• Managing county functions, including preparation of budgets, training and supervision of employees, managing selection of jurors and conducting recounts of county elections.
Whomever is picked to fill the job won’t be able to start until Jan. 2, 2008. The three-month hiring freeze is due to an estimated $800,000 shortfall in the state judiciary budget.
Vermont Supreme Court Clerk Virginia Lazarus said staff members are working hard to ensure court services are delivered in a thorough and timely manner while they shorthanded.
Special for Sunday, Oct. 19 event
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — For some, concern for the environment is a lifelong passion, but that doesn’t have to be the end of it. A local group is trying to start an eco-cemetery, where the interred are buried in biodegradable caskets without being embalmed, as an alternative to conventional burial methods.
“It’s kind of an ecological alternative to being cremated or having their remains interred in a formal cemetery,” said David Brynn of Bristol. Brynn is chairman of the board of the Watershed Center, which owns the Waterworks Property on Plank Road in Bristol, the possible site of an eco-cemetery. On Sunday, Oct. 21, beginning at 1 p.m. at the law offices of James Dumont, the Watershed Center will host a public presentation on eco-cemeteries and the feasibility of one in Bristol.
The idea began with a class project by University of Vermont graduate Meghan Bannan, a resident of Essex Junction. “It was a good way to stay environmental when you die,” she said.
When Bannan learned about eco-cemeteries during a research project, she became interested in starting one in the area. She discussed it with Brynn, director of Vermont Family Forests and a forester for UVM, and they decided that the former site of the Vergennes waterworks, now owned by the Watershed Center’s board of directors, might be a good site.
The Waterworks Property is a 664-acre plot of land on Plank Road in Bristol under a conservation easement. Bannan and Brynn said using the land as an eco-cemetery is probably acceptable under the terms of the conservation easement, but they aren’t certain yet. “That’s something that has to be looked at in more depth if this goes any further,” Bannan said.
AMERICORPS AND VERMONT Youth Conservation Corps volunteer Paul D’Agnolo carries an old tire away from the shore of Otter Creek below the falls in Middlebury last Thursday morning. About a dozen volunteers worked last week to clean up the falls basin area and provide better access to Otter Creek from the Marble Works. The two-day cleanup was an outgrowth of the "Creative Economy" workshops in Middlebury last spring. More photos from the clean up are in the Oct. 18 print edition of the Independent.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — A Shoreham teen is asking United States District Court to compel Middlebury Union High School to officially recognize the on-campus religious club of which she and other students are members.
The lawsuit sets the stage for a legal test of the federal doctrines relating to the separation of church and state, a fight that backers of the lawsuit — Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — vowed to take all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
A girl identified simply as “V.O.” filed the complaint on Oct. 12 in U.S. District Court in Burlington. The court has granted anonymity to the plaintiff because she is a minor. The Addison Independent knows the identity of the girl, but has agreed — at the request of her parents — to not name her unless she decides to come forward voluntarily or until the court lifts her legal veil of secrecy.
The complaint names UD-3; MUHS Principal Bill Lawson and Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) Superintendent Lee Sease as defendants.
V.O. alleges in her lawsuit that UD-3 officials have unjustly denied the Youth Alive Club the same official school recognition as other district-sanctioned clubs, such as the Gay/Straight Organization; the Arabic Club; the Outing Club; and the Student Coalition on Human Rights.
Officially recognized clubs at MUHS, according to the complaint, can be listed in the MUHS yearbook with an accompanying photo; can have their names listed on the MUHS Web site and in the school’s student-parent handbook; can have access to an advisor; and can receive access to district resources, including equipment, supplies and club funding.
By MEGAN JAMES
ADDISON COUNTY — Before moving to East Middlebury last year, Jeff Jones lived in the Caribbean, where he ran a food distribution company for the Turks and Caicos. It was there, a stone’s throw from the main island’s electricity plant, which ran on low-grade diesel fuel, that he first started tracking the peak oil crisis.
“The plant was a mile and a half away and it was just belching diesel fumes to provide energy,” Jones said. Without a dryer in the house, he would try to gauge which way the wind was blowing before hanging his clothes out to dry.
“My clothes would smell like I just got out of the garage after an eight-hour shift working on diesel engines,” he said. “This can’t be sustainable, I thought.”
Since then, Jones has been “ringing the alarm bell” about the rapidly-approaching expiration date of cheap oil, and that’s what drew him to Step It Up 2, the sequel to last April’s nationwide day of climate change demonstrations led by Ripton author Bill McKibben and a group of Middlebury College graduates.
“What we have to do for one, if we do it right, will help the other,” Jones said of global warming and peak oil, the time when half the world’s total oil reserves has been pumped out of the ground and people begin to face a scarcity of petroleum.
On Nov. 3, Jones will join area residents in making a second call to the U.S. government to “Step it up: cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.” But this time, the campaign doesn’t just offer a goal, but an outline of changes the country needs to make to get there.