Archive - Jul 31, 2008
By KATHRYN FLAGG
BRISTOL — During his recent six-month tour in Afghanistan, Vermont Air National Guard Technical Sergeant Steve Heffernan, 43, braved blistering heat, guerilla warfare and a bevy of improvised explosive devices.
And as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) specialist, Heffernan faced the especially perilous task of uncovering and dismantling the explosive devices littered through the countryside by the Taliban and terrorist cells.
But most harrowing of all, according to Heffernan, were the roads.
“The roads, if you could call them roads, were the worst,” he said. “The best way to describe the roads would be ‘mud season, dried up.’ That was a good road.”
For Heffernan, the long road home — which included a 30-hour trip from the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan to Baltimore — drew to a close just a week and a half ago, when the EOD team leader returned home to Bristol after six months at war.
His service in Afghanistan came after nearly 17 years in the Air National Guard.
“I’d always wanted to join the military,” Heffernan said. But after marrying his wife, Erin, when he was 21, Heffernan put his plans on the backburner.
A few years later, though, jobs dried up — and Heffernan started looking again at the military. He joined the Air National Guard, and given his blasting experience, he was a natural fit for the EOD unit.
“I joined to serve my country, believe it or not, as corny as that can sound to some people,” Heffernan said. “I joined to serve my country because I enjoy the freedoms that we all have.”
By ANDY KIRKALDY
MIDDLEBURY — On July 16, like any number of summer vacationers, Swift House Inn co-owner Dan Brown and his longtime friend Jim Mower dipped their toes into the Atlantic Ocean in Hampton, N.H., not far from Mower’s home.
But Brown and Mower were not typical bathers: Getting their feet wet was the last step of a 3,173-mile, 48-day bicycle trip that began in Everett, Wash., on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
And the journey truly began 20 years ago, when the idea of a two-wheel cross-country odyssey first struck Brown, a retired U.S. Navy pilot who is now 59.
Back then, before 13 years of innkeeping began to demand his full attention, Brown was a cycling enthusiast, and trans-continental bike races were making headlines.
“I just thought it was a great thing,” he said. “It was just something so big that when I first started talking about it, it was like talking smack, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’ And then eventually talking smack it was like, ‘OK, you’re going to have to do this if you’re going to keep talking smack about doing this.’”
The Ithaca, N.Y., native and U.S. Naval Academy graduate kept that dream alive when he retired from the military 10 years ago. At that time he and his wife, Michele, sold their Annapolis, Md., bed and breakfast and bought a small inn in Maine, which they sold in 2004 to buy the Swift House in Middlebury.
But the moves and the rigors of the hospitality business kept postponing the trip, until finally everything lined up for this year — the Browns felt they had done enough at their Stewart Lane inn to allow him the time off.
If anything, Brown’s motivation had grown stronger in the interim.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s junk ordinance received its first test in Addison County District Court last week, when an Addison County jury found Rogers Road resident Terry Morris guilty on two violations of the two-year-old law.
It was in May of 2006 that Middlebury selectmen approved the municipal junk ordinance, a move triggered by neighborhood complaints about Morris’s property. Morris, during the past several years, has accumulated on his lawn a large collection of items, including skis, bathtubs, toilets, wheelchairs, Jell-O molds, wooden pallets, sleds and bowling balls.
Morris has argued his possessions are not junk, but valued items he collects and enjoys. But neighbors have said Morris’s yard has become an eyesore, to the extent that it is affecting their property values. Town listers have agreed, in some cases lowering the assessments on some neighboring properties. Rogers Road residents Bernard and Ruth Stewart — who testified at the July 23 trial — saw their property valuation reduced by $15,000 as a result of the condition of Morris’s lawn.
Ruth Stewart said she was pleased with the jury’s verdict in the case.
“We’re glad that something is being done,” she said. “I hope (authorities) will follow through until there is a cleanup.”
Morris, reached on Wednesday, declined to comment pending his sentencing hearing, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 11.
Morris acted as his own attorney during the trial.
It was a trial that saw the Stewarts testify that they had erected a fence along the property line when Morris’s yard became a problem.