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Date
Type

November 30th

Related Bridge Articles

Posted on November 30, 2007 |
By John Flowers



MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College’s decision to donate $9 million toward an in-town bridge project at Cross Street represents the third substantial town-gown partnership to have come to the fore this year.

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College pledges $9 million for new town bridge

November 30, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — For more than a half-century, Middlebury’s quest for a second in-town crossing of the Otter Creek has moved slower than rush-hour traffic along the town’s Main Street.

But that figurative and literal gridlock may soon be lifted thanks to a pledge by Middlebury College to donate $9 million toward a new in-town bridge project that would link Main Street to Court Street over the Otter Creek via Cross Street.

College and municipal officials on Monday confirmed to the Addison Independent the donation pledge — made at the request of the town — which will take the form of annual payments of $600,000 over 30 years to cover the interest and principal payments on the bonds that Middlebury will float for construction of the span.

Total cost of the in-town bridge project is being placed at $16 million, with $7 million of that amount associated with related intersection upgrades, road improvements and acquisition of four properties within the project right-of-way. Selectmen will look to other funding sources — including the federal government and local taxpayers — to cover that remaining $7 million.

“What I hope is that this is a step in the evolutionary process in the relationship between the town and college, that both feel more comfortable working with each other collaboratively, to the benefit of both… ” Middlebury College President Ronald Liebowitz said of the financial pledge for the bridge, a structure he believes could serve not only as a vital traffic conduit, but also as a metaphor for a new era of town-gown collaborations in tackling common challenges.

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November 29th

Young farmers request aid with red tape

NEW HAVEN FARMER Derrick Dykstra is one of many young farmers working to have their voices heard on issues that affect the future of farming. He and other farmers under age 30 spoke at a forum hosted by Rep. Peter Welch in Middlebury Tuesday morning.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell



November 29, 2007

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Plan to pay for hospital care draws praise, criticism

November 29, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

MIDDLEBURY — Discussion of a bill before the Vermont House that would create a single-payer health insurance system to pay hospital bills for all Vermonters met with mixed reaction in Middlebury on Tuesday.

The group Vermont Health Care for All played a large role in the discussion of bill H.304, the Vermont Hospital Security Plan, which was held at Ilsley Public Library. State Rep. Topper McFaun, R-Barre, one of three co-sponsors of the bill, said that health care costs are shooting up throughout the country and Vermont has to make major changes to how it pays for its citizens’ health care.

“Something has to be done that’s more than what we’re doing,” McFaun said at the meeting, which was called to raise support for the effort. H.304 would create the Vermont Hospital Security Trust Fund, he said, that would be used to pay hospital bills for all Vermonters.

Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All, said that a major driver of the growing costs of health care is mounting administrative costs from many different health care providers dealing with many different private insurance companies and overlapping plans. This bill would greatly reduce that growth, she said.

The tidal wave of paperwork was familiar to those at Tuesday’s meeting. One woman at the forum brought a stack of dozens of bills from recent emergency surgery to the meeting. Some should have gone to her insurance company in the first place, she said; some were from the hospital itself while others were from an individual specialist, and one apparently charged different rates for the same test on different days.

“I’m spending hours and hours going through these,” she said.

Under H.304, the dozens or hundreds of billing addresses hospitals now need to track would be reduced to one: the state.

full story

New owner to use Hancock plywood plant for stone cutting

November 29, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

HANCOCK — By the time Thomas Fabbioli arrived at the auction of the former Vermont Plywood plant in Hancock two weeks ago, the representative from the bank was packing up to leave.

None of the 40-some people present on Nov. 13 had bid on the plant. So when Fabbioli offered $120,000 at the last minute, the building and 49 acres of land around it became his.

But the equipment was sold separately and the nature of the future economic activity at the plant, which has been Hancock’s largest employer since 1925, is not clear. What is clear is that Fabbioli will not immediately employ the 35 people who lost their jobs when on Sept. 6 the Union Bank of Morrisville, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Economic Development Authority foreclosed on Vermont Plywood.

With the Route 100 plant a crucial engine of the local economy, a lot hinges on Fabbioli’s plans. At the plant’s peak in 1969, it employed 180 people, and it employed 90 as recently as 2003, when it was owned by Chesapeake Hardwoods.

Vermont Plywood bought the plant in 2004.

As the plywood industry has struggled in the last few years, many in the area have moved with their families out of town, exacerbating an already dire situation of dwindling enrollment at the Hancock Village School, which school officials say they may have to close next year, according to longtime Hancock resident and historian Tom Perera.

“The town doesn’t have anything else,” said Perera, who attended the auction. “For 82 years, this plant has been supplying work for people. All of a sudden it looked as though it would disappear.”

full story

November 26th

College jazz band swings into action

SOUND INVESTMENT JAZZ Ensemble, a revival of a 1930s big band at Middlebury College, runs through a rehearsal in the Center for the Arts last week. The college has a history of big bands dating back to the swing era, but Sound Investment is the first jazz band to be officially credited by the music department in many years.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell


November 26, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — You can’t find a more purely American tradition than jazz music, Derek Long believes. The Middlebury College senior first fell in love with the genre in high school, playing tenor saxophone in a jazz band.

“With jazz there’s this really interesting dynamic,” he said. “On the one hand, you have to work together as a group. There’s a sense of community, of sharing a piece of art. On the other hand, there’s this opportunity for the individual to shine with the improvisation of a solo.

“That sense of standing up on your own two feet and dealing with whatever comes your way, it’s a uniquely American experience,” Long said. 

But jazz has kind of fallen off the map in recent years, Long said. That’s why his band, Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble, is trying to get it off the ground again at the college.

Sound Investment will have its official public debut on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts. The 17-piece band will present a kind of “jazz odyssey,” Long said, playing classics from Glenn Miller and Count Basie as well as more contemporary pieces,

When Long came to Middlebury in 2004, he was shocked to find there was no official jazz band sponsored by the music department; just a student-run organization known simply as Jazz Band.

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VUHS considers 5 percent hike in spending

November 26, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — Vergennes Union High School administrators and board members are looking at a first draft of a 2008-2009 budget that could — if approved in current form by the VUHS board in January and by voters in March — boost spending by about 5 percent to $8.45 million.

Rising energy and health insurance costs are pressuring the bottom line. In 2006 the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union also signed a new contract with its teachers giving raises ranging from about 3 to 5 percent, with the higher raises going to the lower end of the salary scale. 

VUHS Principal Ed Webbley said officials have little wiggle room once they factor in those items; expenses mandated by federal and state governments, such as special education; and other uncontrollable costs such as transportation, maintenance, and an almost $700,000 payment on the school’s seven-year-old expansion and renovation bond. 

Unless they want to start cutting non-mandatory programs at the 650-student high and middle school like music, art, agriculture and world language, Webbley said officials have about only $100,000 to play with. 

“Discretionary monies at our high school are $155 per student,” Webbley said. “We can make decisions on only such a small, small fraction of our whole budget. We can make decisions regarding field trips, books and supplies for students, and after that our discretion pretty much runs the course.”

ANwSU business manager Donna Corcoran projected an 8.5-percent increase in health insurance costs for budgeting purposes, although she said she picked that figure to be safe after being told to expect an increase closer to 7.5 percent.

full story

Middlebury woman seeks to raise suicide awareness

November 26, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

ADDISON COUNTY — After Kathy Jones’ father killed himself, her mother went to great lengths to have his death certificate changed. Instead of reading “suicide” as the cause of death, it now reads “unknown.”

There’s no doubt about how her father died, Jones said. Her mother drove home early from work that day to find him asphyxiating in a running car, closed up in the garage.

But people don’t know how to talk about suicide, Jones said. So for many survivors, it’s easier to make up a lie.

“You learn, when you’ve dealt with a death like this, people act so bizarre,” Jones said. “I’ve had people just shut right down when I tell them how my father died.”

It’s been eight years since the East Middlebury resident lost her father, but this year Jones joined the Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support group in Burlington. Before long, she became a board member for the Vermont chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Last month, Jones joined nearly 100 Vermonters in the fourth annual AFSP “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” in Burlington, helping to raise more than $17,000 toward national and local suicide prevention and awareness programs. She hopes to bring the topic of suicide out of the shadows.

According to the Vermont Agency of Human Services, in 2004 Vermont had the 12th highest suicide rate in the country; there were 93 suicides in the state that year. Addison County has seen a number of suicides in the last couple years and certainly has a reason to be concerned, said AHS field director Sue Schmidt in Middlebury.

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