Archive - Nov 13, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
RIPTON — Folks who live near a river will tell you there’s something comforting about listening to the gentle gurgle of water as it meanders down a country mountain.
But folks like Carol McKnight also know that a meandering river can suddenly hop its banks and turn into an angry, destructive freight train. After having seen the Middlebury River do just that on Aug. 6 and shear more than 10 feet from the backyard of her Ripton village property in the process, McKnight doesn’t sleep as soundly during a rainstorm.
“I’m feeling extremely anxious,” McKnight said on Tuesday, as she walked around the exterior of her beautiful home in the heart of the Ripton village. The home was surrounded by a gushing moat only three months ago during a devastating flood from which some areas of Addison County are still recovering.
“I’m very concerned,” she said.
McKnight and her neighbors immediately downstream, Rick and Molly Hawley, are now seeking guidance and help in shoring up the river banks along their shrinking property to ensure their homes don’t wind up cascading down to East Middlebury on some future rain-soaked day.
And McKnight and the Hawleys stressed that it is in the town of Ripton’s best interest to see the banks reinforced and the Middlebury River redirected into the channels it has abandoned over time at the whim of Mother Nature. Town officials acknowledged mounting evidence that the next cataclysmic flooding event could result in the river not only taking out the McKnight and Hawley properties, but gushing over Route 125 and into the three municipal properties that define Ripton Village: the town office building, the community house and the 1864 Ripton United Methodist Church.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
SUDBURY AND WHITING — Plans for a tri-town school merger in Leicester, Whiting and Sudbury were derailed Monday, after voters in Sudbury defeated a measure 54-44 that would have allocated $7,000 to a planning fund for the potential community school.
Of the three towns, only Sudbury voted against the merger and planning funding — and in fact, Whiting and Leicester voted overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward with the community school.
“The message was quite clear that due to the economic conditions, this was not a time to even spend $7,000 to study the proposal of a joint school merger,” said Cathy Smid, a Sudbury resident and volunteer on the committee investigating the merger.
Whiting voters approved $6,000 for the planning effort Monday night 41-8, and last week voters in Leicester unanimously approved a $12,000 contribution to the fund.
Monday’s nearly two-hour meeting at the Sudbury Town Meeting House, on the other hand, was marked by heated debate.
“There were many people who came to the meeting who had already made up their minds,” said Sudbury school board Chair Stephen Roberts.
Roberts said that he tried to make clear at Monday’s meeting that this month’s vote would not definitively determine whether or not the three towns would build the proposed community school. Monday’s votes were the first in a potential three-vote process. Had all three towns agree to move forward with the merger, residents would have participated in a governance vote this winter to establish a joint school district.
Finally, all three towns would have been asked to approve large bond votes for the new school in a year’s time.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury resident Robin Scheu has responded to many challenges in her career as a bank executive, school board director and leader of various nonprofits.
All of her experience will come in handy as she gets ready to tackle her latest challenge — jumpstarting the local industrial/manufacturing economy as the new executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp.
The ACEDC board recently picked Scheu to succeed the organization’s most recent executive director, Jamie Stewart, who left earlier this fall to take a similar job in Rutland.
Scheu is the past manager of the Addison County Solid Waste Management District, former interim director of the Middlebury Area Land Trust and the former chairwoman of the Mary Hogan Elementary School board. Prior to those jobs, she spent 16 years as a banker, with Bank of Boston and then at Bank of Vermont (now Keybank), running a commercial lending division, and retail divisions. She most recently ran her own consulting business.
“I think I have a broad range of experience that I can bring to bear on the job,” Scheu said.
She knows it won’t be an easy job. Addison County’s industrial/manufacturing economy has sustained some tough body blows during the past few years. Standard Register closed, and the up-and-coming business (Connor Homes) that has taken its place on Route 7 South has had to substantially trim its workforce in recent months in light of the sagging economy.
Specialty Filaments also closed, though it reopened under new ownership as Monahan Filaments. Ancient Graffiti and CPC of Vermont are other Middlebury enterprises that have closed their doors during the past year. And personal care products manufacturer Autumn Harp last week announced it was moving 160 jobs from Bristol to its plant in Essex.