Archive - Mar 20, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
NEW HAVEN — Almost three years ago Jeffrey New sustained a back injury that put him on long-term disability. Faced with the prospect of long, lonely days at home, he thought he’d get a cat to keep him company.
Let’s just say he now has more feline friendship than he and his wife, Alice, can handle.
The one animal has mushroomed into a veritable cat commune of 43 felines of various ages and sizes, all ensconced in the News’ home, ironically located on Dog Team Road.
“We haven’t had the heart to get rid of them,” Jeffrey New said on Monday as the cats played, lazed, sunned and perched themselves on any surface they could find in the couple’s home. “But we’re at a point now where we have to let some of them go.”
It all started off with one solitary cat, named Maggie, who they adopted from an acquaintance. The home’s pet population doubled a short time later, however, when the News agreed to look after Maggie’s sister, Misty. But Misty’s stay would become permanent.
“We talked (Misty’s owner) into letting us adopt her, too,” New recalled.
Little did they know, those original two were just a kitty starter kit.
News of the News’ love for cats spread throughout the area, to the point they would become a repository for unwanted and stray felines. People would drop off pregnant cats — kittens and adults — some with disabilities.
They just couldn’t say “no.”
And they have taken in the cats at great personal expense.
New estimates the couple spends upwards of $300 monthly for food, vet bills and kitty litter to regularly replenish the seven boxes maintained in the home.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Local lawmakers on Monday served notice that they continue to try and reconcile their own fiscal year 2009 spending priorities with those prescribed by Gov. James Douglas.
Douglas in January unveiled his proposed fiscal year 2009 budget calling for spending and raising $4.3 billion in state and federal funds. Lawmakers, during a legislative breakfast at the Bristol American Legion Hall, voiced concerns that the governor’s budget includes some significant financial shortfalls in some areas.
“I think we know the budget we received is sort of a ‘credit card budget,’” Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol, said of the Douglas’s spending plan. “It shorts (state employee) retirement funds by $8 million; it shorts the hospitals by $8 million; it shorts the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board fund by $5 million.”
Sharpe, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said his panel has been struggling to find ways to shore up the programs he said have been shorted.
“How much of that can we restore? I don’t know. But our committee has been asked to come up with $5 million, and even coming up with that is going to be extraordinarily difficult,” Sharpe said.
It will be difficult because lawmakers concede they aren’t keen on raising taxes. Coincidentally, Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho, made a “no-new-taxes” pledge on Tuesday.
Lawmakers have, however, supported some proposed fee increases. Sen. Harold Giard, D-Addison County and Brandon, said he and other lawmakers endorsed a measure to increase revenues for the state’s court system.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — Sugaring season has begun, and while it’s never easy to predict how the season will go, some Addison County sugarmakers say they expect a good season.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Maurice Rheaume of his own sugarmaking operation. “Most everybody’s pretty optimistic.”
The Middlebury resident is president of the Addison County Sugarmakers Association. He said that he began boiling sap on March 8, five days earlier than last year. Temperatures this spring have been relatively cold, which Rheaume said is ideal for sugaring.
“Cold is always better than warm. The weather is favorable,” he said. On Tuesday, Rheaume was looking forward to the ice and freezing rain forecasted for that night, and he probably wasn’t disappointed.
Don Dolliver of Starksboro agreed. “I think it’s a favorable sign that we keep getting these storms,” he said. He first boiled sap on March 8, but declined to predict how long the season would last. “It takes a few 70-degree days in a row, and that’s it.”
Modern sugarmaking operations usually use pipes running from tree to tree to collect sap. That’s easier than the traditional method of hanging buckets on each tree in some ways, but it requires maintenance when a pipe gets weighted down by ice or pulled down under a fallen branch or tree.
But according to Bill Scott of Vergennes, the former forestry teacher at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center and a sugarmaker himself, that hasn’t been much of a problem, despite the frequent icy weather this year.