By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MONKTON — Sam and Robin Kuhns’ morning routine differs from their classmates’ at Monkton Central School in one big way: over their winter clothes, the brothers put on bicycle helmets and safety vests. Nine-year-old Sam and Robin, 11, have biked three miles to school year round for about three years with their father, Buzz Kuhns.
The habit of biking to school began when Sam was in kindergarten, and Buzz suggested that they bike in one morning near the start of the school year. Sam was opposed to it at first.
“I was like, ‘Dad, are you insane?’” he said. However, Sam quickly warmed up to the idea.
Biking to school in the morning is the more practical option sometimes. The family lives on Bennett Road about three miles from Monkton Central. In good conditions, biking takes 20 minutes or less; Buzz said that their record time was 15 minutes, 25 seconds. Since the family lives near the start of the 45-minute school bus route, that’s less time than it would take to ride the bus.
While the Kuhnses say the ride itself is not very strenuous, the family’s dedication is impressive. Buzz said that they have only missed three days so far this school year.
“Sam has never ridden a bus more than twice or so (since we started biking),” Buzz said.
Falling snow has a few times prevented the Kuhns kids from biking, and they also don’t bike if the road has not been plowed, Buzz said. But low temperatures, wind and even rain have not been enough to stop them.
They need to take extra steps before getting on the bikes for school in bad weather, but frigid temperatures have not required all that much extra clothing because the exercise helps keep them warm. Buzz said they have biked on mornings as cold as 16 degrees below zero, and the only change they needed was donning ski goggles.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Residential school tax rates in two of the five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns are expected to drop, according to estimates prepared by the ANwSU office, while homeowners’ rates in two other union towns are projected to rise by less than 3 cents.
Only in Addison, where unexpected costs during this school year have created a $75,000 deficit at Addison Central School, do ANwSU officials estimate the residential school tax rate will increase significantly, by about 13 cents.
Overall, ANwSU business manager Donna Corcoran said officials are happy to release the estimates, which assume residents pass all four proposed district school budgets on Town Meeting Day.
“It feels pretty good to put these out,” Corcoran said.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The United Way of Addison County (UWAC) is putting the finishing touches on a 2007 fund-raising campaign that has thus far yielded an all-time record $801,350 for services to the area’s neediest citizens.
“Bob (LaFiandra) and I are very pleased,” said Ann LaFiandra, who co-chaired the 2007 fund drive with her husband.
The couple was particularly gratified by the way donors comfortably exceeded what had been a $760,000 goal. The books don’t officially close on the campaign until Feb. 29.
“We were stunned, but in a way not surprised, because this is a very caring community,” LaFiandra said. “We honestly did not have to hard-sell.”
As of Tuesday, UWAC had received 2,144 contributions ranging from payroll deductions of 50 cents to individual checks in excess of $10,000.