Archive - 2008
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.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — While a series of winter storms has made snow days and cases of cabin fever even more common than usual in February, local road crews and highway budgets may have been the hardest hit of all.
Compounding problems for town managers, highway foremen and truck drivers has been a shortage of salt. That shortage, a problem officials said stretches across the northern United States, has meant icier roads, more trips out of town garages for workers, and more headaches for drivers and town officials alike.
Ferrisburgh road foreman John Bull said first and foremost drivers should remember circumstances have limited what highway crews can do: Speeding, tailgating and approaching intersections carelessly are even worse ideas than normal.
“The big thing we want to get out there to everybody is you just have to slow down. It’s not business as usual,” Bull said. “It’s slippery, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
BY JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury citizens last Wednesday got a chance to see the first conceptual designs of a proposed Cross Street bridge that town officials hope will be in place before winter of 2010.
The plans were unveiled on Feb. 13 in the municipal gym during an informational meeting at which town officials vastly outnumbered citizens on a rainy, slushy evening.
Despite the dismal turnout at the meeting, selectmen are hoping residents become intimately familiar with the plans before they cast ballots on Town Meeting Day on a $16 million plan to build the bridge as a link between Main Street and Court Street over the Otter Creek via Cross Street. The project — which would include a roundabout intersection at Main and Cross streets — would receive $9 million in funding from Middlebury College. Town officials would like to bankroll the remaining $7 million in costs through local option taxes on meals, rooms, sales and alcohol sold in Middlebury.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Gailer School’s quest for a permanent home sustained another setback last week when the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) voted 4-0 against a proposal for the school to settle in the town’s industrial park.
The DRB on Feb. 11 voted against the proposal, which called for the Gailer School to relocate from the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society (CVUUS) campus on Water Street, into a 6,000-square-foot office building at 88 Mainelli Road. That structure has previously housed Bread Loaf Corp., the National Bank of Middlebury and law offices, among others.
Gailer School officials realized from the outset that their proposed move would be a tough sell. Schools aren’t permitted in Middlebury’s industrial zone, even as a conditional use. And several business owners in the park had been candid about their opposition to the plan, citing the potential dangers resulting from students walking along roads heavily traveled by large trucks.
The party at poet Robert Frost’s summer home in Ripton a few weeks ago was a bad idea that spun out of control into deviant behavior. Many of those youths involved have recognized the seriousness of their crime, are apologetic and are seeking to do whatever it takes to repay society for their mistakes.
In meting out justice through the court diversion process as well as through the criminal court process, the intent is clear: those involved must understand the gravity of their mistake and that their actions betrayed the community in which they live. Payment should come in the form of restitution for the damage done, but also in ways that seek to regain the community’s trust.
Suggestions have already included work at the Robert Frost farm to maintain the walking trail leading to the house. Such work could be extended to include the Robert Frost trail network less than a half-mile away. But while such work qualifies for community service, restoring the people’s trust needs to come more from the heart.
Here’s an irony: It’s impossible for another media person to criticize the political pundits in this year’s presidential race without becoming one. But, at the risk of impugning my character, it seems some of the nation’s news organizations and their pundits become more inane, and more off-point year by year.
The hot topic of last week was making a big deal about how the drawn-out process for the Democrat Party’s nomination between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama is bad for the party now that Sen. John McCain has a lock on the Republican nomination. Pundits are projecting a brokered convention and foretelling the potential damage if that’s how the process plays out, especially if it’s a dog-fight over the nearly 800 superdelegates.
In a recent CNN story, reporter Jim Acosta found a foil to dramatize how disruptive such a scenario might be: “If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party,” said Donna Brazile, adding, for some theatrical effect, “I feel very strongly about this.”
When President George W. Bush unveiled his $3.1 trillion budget on Monday outlining his fiscal plan for 2009, it makes you wonder why anyone would even want to aspire to the presidency post-Bush. The nation’s finances are a disaster thanks to tax cuts, large increases in defense spending and the booming costs of health care, social security, etc., that the nation is obligated to uphold.
Bush’s 2009 budget predicts a $410 billion deficit (not including war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan), and even then is unrealistically low because of inflated revenue projections, low-balling military expenses, and projected cuts that aren’t likely to be approved by Congress. In reality, then, the 2009 deficit will most likely exceed the $413 billion deficit record set in 2004 — the largest ever at the time.