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November 21st

Affordable housing out of reach for some county residents

November 22, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

ADDISON COUNTY — Deep in the New Haven woods, the whirly-gig wheels on Dave Winborn’s ambulance-shaped lawn ornament spin around in the wind. This is how visitors know they’ve taken the right path to his tent, Winborn said, and how he knows he’s home.

Winborn doesn’t consider himself homeless, and he doesn’t consider himself poor. He has a job, a truck and his beautiful tent, complete with a woodstove and writing desk, which he has inhabited since this summer when he pitched it on a friend’s land.

The 55-year-old is an EMT on three different area rescue squads: he has volunteered with the Bristol squad for more than 25 years, with New Haven First Response for about 15 years and five months ago he started a paid position with Valley Rescue Squad in Hancock.

Next spring Winborn will earn his associate’s degree in human services from the Community College of Vermont.

“If I don’t blow it,” he said with a smile. “It’ll be the first time in my life I’ve ever worn a cap and gown. I never finished high school. I went right from public school to the streets.”

But, even though he is a contributing member of society with a paying job, Winborn is one of many people in Addison County who cannot find an affordable apartment.

This month the United Way of Addison County released the results of its 2007 Community Needs Assessment, in which about 750 area residents responded to a survey asking them to identify the most pressing needs they face today. Affordable housing ranked among the top four problems, along with financial stability, health and transportation.

full story

November 19th

New student a real howl in class

MARY HOGAN ELEMENTARY School paraprofessional Nancy Wollum works with her sixth-grade students and Sable, a black Lab puppy going through training for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Sable has been in the classroom since the beginning of the year and will leave the school for official training at the end of the academic year.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell



November 19, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — It’s recess time at Mary Hogan Elementary School, and Sable eagerly lines up with her fellow sixth-grade classmates in anticipation of a spirited game of soccer on the playground.

And though less than a year old, Sable has a decided kicking and running advantage over other players on the soccer field; she has four legs to their two.

She never growls at a bad call.

Sable, you see, is a dog — and not just any dog. The young black Labrador retriever is being groomed to graduate from her class as a “seeing eye dog” who may one day provide indispensable guidance to a blind man or woman somewhere in North America.

“It’s working out beautifully,” said Nancy Wollum, an ID-4 teaching paraprofessional and Sable’s temporary custodian. Wollum received Sable last summer from Guiding Eyes for The Blind, an organization that trains dogs and places them with sight-impaired citizens.

Wollum became aware of Yorktown, N.Y.-based Guiding Eyes for The Blind around five years ago after seeing one of the organization’s postings at the Ilsley Public Library.

“It was a card at the library on the bulletin board, and it said, ‘Do you want to be a puppy raiser?’” Wollum recalled. “I wanted a dog, but I didn’t want one for a 10-year span. I didn’t know what my life would be like.”

full story

UD-3 counts on early retirements for savings

November 19, 2007


By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — The UD-3 school board will spend the coming weeks refining the first draft of a combined Middlebury Union High School/Middlebury Union Middle School 2008-2009 budget of $15.46 million, which would represent a 7.8-percent increase in spending over the current year.

But district officials are very confident they will be able to substantially trim that number in short order, largely due to an early retirement program that has been offered to 13 veteran UD-3 teachers. The board is scheduled to discuss the budget at its next meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 5:30 p.m., in room 218 at MUMS.

“We think we’re in good shape,” Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Lee Sease said on Wednesday.

As of last week, roughly half of the 13 early retirement slots had been spoken for, according to Sease, who is confident the others will be used up before the UD-3 budget is put to bed next month.

The prospective early retirements of 13 senior teachers will allow the district to hire new educators at lower salaries while keeping some of the slots vacant.

“As we go through the early retirement process, there will be some positions that we don’t replace,” Sease said. “That will not eliminate programs. What it might do is eliminate the number of course offerings we might have in a subject.”

Sease said he could not yet confirm which subjects are likely to be affected by the early retirements.

full story

Starksboro family promotes charitable hair cuts

November 19, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

STARKSBORO — A Starksboro mother and daughter team are planning a charity event for May 2008. That’s far in advance for a relatively simple project, but what they have in mind takes a lot of time to prepare. Beth and Meghan Hahr are encouraging people to get their hair cut in a Locks of Love hair drive and donate the trimmed tresses to make wigs for children who have lost their hair for medical reasons.

Meghan herself has a wig like that. Now in sixth grade, Meghan found her hair falling out while on a family vacation about three years ago. The family eventually found she had a condition called alopecia, an autoimmune disorder whose side effects include hair loss.

“Your immune system thinks your hair follicles are bad,” as Beth described it.

Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization intended to contribute a sense of confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss from long-term medical treatments and disease. Some of the children need wigs due to radiation treatment or chemotherapy for cancer, but most Locks of Love children have alopecia like Meghan herself.

In some cases, a person with alopecia only loses patches of hair here and there, but some lose all body hair, even nose hair and eyelashes. However, the disease has no symptoms other than problems caused by hair loss, like a greater risk of sunburns if the scalp is bald or a more severe case of allergies if the nose hairs go.

Meghan said that for her, alopecia means losing patches of hair about twice a year. She is now growing back a patch of hair that she lost over the summer. 

Meghan doesn’t wear her wig as much as she did at first. Sometimes the hair loss is unnoticeable, and when it isn’t, she just has to pay more attention to how she dresses.

full story

November 15th

Guys and Dolls

MOUNT ABRAHAM UNION High School student Gloria Kamencik leads the chorus line through a rehearsal of the school’s fall musical, “Guys and Dolls.” The show will be presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

full story

Middlebury mulls idle-free policy

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury selectmen later this month will consider a new “idle-free” policy calling upon motorists to switch off their vehicle engines when they are not traveling.

The new policy is being pitched by the Middlebury Area Global Warming Action Coalition (MAGWAC), an ad hoc citizens group that is working on ways to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. The group reasoned the town could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions — as well as look after the collective health of its citizens — by adopting an idle-free policy.

full story

Citizens and government clash in Goshen

November 15, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

GOSHEN — The tension was palpable at the Goshen selectboard meeting Monday night. With a new chairman, Bruce Webster, at the helm, some two dozen residents clashed over the town government’s spending policies. 

The tiny mountain town in the past few months has seen the resignation of several key town officials — including the departure of Town Clerk Erica Sabatini, announced Monday — and is struggling with paying for services with a small tax base.

At the center of the discussion was road foreman Jim Hayes, who at the end of October purchased a $3,000 sander to replace the town’s older, malfunctioning one. According to Hayes, Selectmen David McKinnon and David Gale authorized this purchase at a board meeting in August.

McKinnon and Gale confirmed this, but Webster, who was not on the board at the time — he was appointed to replace Thomasina Magoon when she resigned at the end of September — said he could not find a record of the authorization in the minutes. Sabatini was absent from that meeting and so there were no minutes.

When Webster consulted the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, they told him the sander should not have been purchased without written authorization.

“They said, first of all, if it wasn’t in the minutes, it’s not verifiable, it didn’t happen,” Webster said.

McKinnon and Gale maintained they had advised Hayes to use his discretion, to buy the sander if he deemed it necessary. After all, he has been taking care of the Goshen roads for 11 years, and he has always been frugal, they said.

“We’ve done this three or four sanders before this one,” Gale said. “It’s the way we’ve always done business.”

But Webster said he wants to change the way Goshen does business.

full story

Quidditch anyone?

November 15, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — “Brooms down. Eyes closed. And the snitch is loose,” boomed Xander Manshel, commissioner emeritus of the Middlebury College Muggle Quidditch League. The crowd cheered as a gold-clad player dashed away and two teams of undergraduates wearing capes and holding broomsticks between their legs took the field.

As the players scurried around Middlebury College’s Battell Beach on Sunday afternoon the first intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup Fall Festival was under way.

The tournament included more than a dozen teams playing the magical sport portrayed in J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter novels. Unlike in the books, where wizards and witches fly through the air on souped up broomsticks, the Middlebury quidditch players remained strictly earthbound. The competition was no less keen, despite the lack of magic.

“It’s a full-contact sport,” said Middlebury sophomore James Schonzeit, as players from another team tackled each other on the field to wild applause. “A violent ballet, of sorts.”

A dozen home teams competed for a final game vs. visiting Vassar College, in an afternoon that featured 12 games, a half-time show and five or six musical and juggling performances. Middlebury, represented by team Molly Wobbles, took the victory as the sun set on the five-hour-long tournament.

The referee, junior Victor Larsen, explained the game using a plethora of Rowling jargon to a hapless reporter lost in the crowd of Harry Potter buffs.

“Only the seekers can touch the quaffle, only the beaters can touch the bludgers,” he said, never peeling his eyes from the action on the field.

What?

“Keepers’ job is to keep, the chasers score, the seekers seek,” he said.

full story

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