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November 12th

Toy recalls abroad spike local business

SARAH ROSCOE WORKS on wooden airplane toys at Maple Landmark in Middlebury last Thursday morning. The local toy company has been the unexpected beneficiary of a surge in business as consumers respond to recent recalls of toys manufactured in China.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell



November 12, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — A recent spate of toy recalls has turned many consumers away from major manufacturers and foreign markets and prompted them to seek out smaller, more environmentally friendly companies — like Middlebury-based Maple Landmark Woodcraft.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in the demand,” said Michael Rainville, founder and president of Maple Landmark. “We are the beneficiaries of the problem that has been going on. And there are not too many U.S. manufacturers (of wooden toys).”

Rainville said that incoming orders in early October were about 70 percent ahead of where they were at the same time last year. Shipments last month were up 37 percent.

“Almost all of this change we’re seeing is related to people being afraid of what they’re buying,” Rainville said. “There is a segment of people that is not willing to trust anything that says ‘Made in China’ on the back right now. So they are coming to us.”

That sentiment has come through loud and clear through client input Maple Landmark has received through its Web site.

“They’ll write all sorts of things in the comment box, like ‘We threw out all our toys and we’re starting over,’” Rainville said. “Some dealers are realizing they have too many ‘Made in China’ toys on their shelves and are looking for a better balance.”

They are looking to Maple Landmark to help achieve that balance, and orders for the company’s more than 1,000 different products have been flying in.

full story

ACCAG gears up for the holiday season

November 12, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Community Action Group (ACCAG) officials are concerned there may be fewer holiday gifts for area needy children this year because eligible families are not getting enough information about a key program that offers free presents.

At issue is ACCAG’s “Giving Tree Program,” through which income-eligible families can fill out wish-list applications for children under 18 years old. The application is then condensed into an tree-shaped tag that is forwarded to participating businesses. Customers and employees of those businesses can pick up one of the tags and buy a present, which is then picked up by ACCAG and given to the family. The recipients’ names are kept confidential.

Last year ACCAG received 760 Giving Tree applications and has previously taken in more than 900 in one year. But ACCAG Executive Director Jeanne Montross on Thursday noted that she had received only 300 applications thus far, a very low number compared to previous years.

Montross theorized a big reason for the drop has been because some Addison County schools have now declined to send Giving Tree Program application forms home with students. In the past, all students had been given the forms and eligible families would then return them to ACCAG. But Montross said some schools don’t want to run the risk of having students bringing confidential family information at school.

“It’s been significant,” Montross said of the impact on the schools’ decision on the Giving Tree program. She said Middlebury schools have continued to send the forms home with kids, but Vergennes and Bristol-area schools have not participated this year.

full story

Five years smoke free

November 12, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

ADDISON COUNTY — Kathy Ciociola of Vergennes had tried to stop smoking more than once, but never managed to stay away completely until she found out about the “Ready, Set… Stop!” program of the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable. Ciociola found the atmosphere of that program more helpful than trying to quit on her own, and she has now been smoke-free since June 15, 2002.

To Ciociola, the difference was the program’s message. “It’s not one of those ‘smoking is bad’ things. It’s more of a positive, ‘How can we help you’ thing,” Ciociola said. “Smokers know it’s bad for them … (Quitting) doesn’t have to be that bad.”

Those looking for a reason to stop smoking could look for help this Thursday, when the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable will join with the rest of the nation in recognizing the Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers take a day away from their cigarettes, cigars and pipes.

Ciociola, 52, decided to quit when she began thinking about her son starting a family of his own.

“I didn’t want to be a smoking grandmother,” she said. When she Melanie Clark, program coordinator of the Addison County Tobacco Control Roundtable (and now Ciociola’s daughter-in-law) asked her for advice about the program, she decided to sign up.

She said the program was successful for her partly because it had an intentionally positive message rather than focusing on the many problems caused by smoking. The health effects of smoking are well documented and the messages right on cigarette packages warn that “smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.

 “Smokers know it’s bad for them,” Ciociola said. “Quitting doesn’t have to be that bad.”

full story

November 8th

The Sound of Music

THE CLASSIC RODGERS and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music,” which originally opened on Broadway in 1959, comes to Vergennes Union High School this week with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The show features Katie Jordan as Maria.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

full story

Whiting rejects school merger plan

November 8, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

WHITING/SUDBURY — The proposal to form a joint school district between Whiting and Sudbury was defeated on Tuesday when the two towns split the decision: Sudbury voters approved the plan, 53-39, and Whiting said no, 47-26.

In order to pass the measure, both towns had to agree.

Bill Mathis, superintendent of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, attended a portion of both town meetings Tuesday night where school board members discussed the merger with residents before the floor vote.

In Whiting, he suspected one reason voters rejected the joint school district was that they wanted to retain a sense of ownership over their village school.

“People have a tremendous amount of pride in their local community,” he said. “It’s something that’s precious to them. And even though their school would remain open, it strikes at some core values.”

According to Whiting Town Clerk Grace Simonds, Whiting voters were also wary of the costs involved in merging the schools, despite calculations distributed by both school boards showing a $134,000 decrease in the annual spending plan — each school would only need four teachers, rather than six, because class sizes would be larger — were the schools to merge.

In Sudbury, cutting costs was a key issue, but one that led the voters to draw the opposite conclusion. The school’s student body is declining — it serves 31 students this year — and taxpayers face a potential penalty from the state if the trend continues into next year. This is a typical problem for schools with small populations because at a certain point a school’s infrastructure costs remain fairly consistent even when the number of students falls.

full story

Ferrisburgh vet survived two sinkings in 17 hours

November 8, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

FERRISBURGH — Sixty-nine years ago, Ferrisburgh’s John Lenk joined the U.S. Navy because jobs were scarce during the Depression, his older brother had already signed, and the Brooklyn native bought into a famous marketing slogan.

“There wasn’t much going on, and I said I’d join the Navy,” Lenk, now 89, said at his Basin Harbor Road home. “‘Join the Navy and see the world.’”

It was 1938. Lenk didn’t know that World War II loomed, and he would see more of the world than he ever imagined: Japan; China; Hawaii; the Phillipines, where a kamikaze and a torpedo gave him two unscheduled dips into the Lingayen Gulf; the Aleutian Islands; Panama; Leyte Gulf; the Palau and Admiralty Islands; Guam and Guadalcanal, to name a few stops.  

“I had no idea,” said Lenk, who served the Navy for 20 years in all — after the war he continued traveling the seas on two ships before ending his military career with California shore duty. 

During WW II he worked as a water tender and non-commissioned officer in the steam room of the high-speed mine-sweeper U.S.S. Long, keeping her engines purring as she cleared the way for Pacific Ocean invasions.

Before the war Lenk first trained at Newport, R.I., and Norfolk, Va., then headed to Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. It was there he was assigned to the Long, a 314-foot  destroyer capable of 25 knots. The Long was soon converted to a minesweeper and sent through the Panama Canal to the West Coast, where it joined the Pacific Fleet.

OFF TO WAR

On Dec. 5, 1941, the Long was in Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and was sent on maneuvers 700 miles to the west. There, Lenk and his shipmates received the stunning news of the Dec. 7 Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor.

full story

Murder-suicide rocks Brandon

November 8, 2007

By LEE J. KAHRS

Brandon Reporter

BRANDON — Two young children are without fathers after a love triangle erupted in a tragic murder-suicide in Brandon on Nov. 1.

Police said Todd English, 32, of Forestdale went to an apartment at 26 Union St. to confront his ex-girlfriend, Amanda Corey, 27. The couple had split up in September and Corey was in a relationship with Richard Griffin, 35, whom she had been with in the past, police said.

According to the account given by Brandon Police Chief Christopher Brickell, English forced his way into the apartment and began to argue with Corey, who led English back out of the house. English then re-entered the apartment and shot Griffin in the stomach with a .357 Magnum revolver. The injured Griffin stumbled outside and went to the neighbor’s for help. English then stood on the front steps of the apartment and shot himself in the head. He died instantly.

Griffin later died of his injuries following surgery at Rutland Regional Medical Center. The incident took place at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Thursday, capping a deadly 24-hour period in Western Vermont in which five people were killed.

Corey had a child with each man, a 14-month-old daughter with English, and a two-year-old son with Griffin. Brickell said only the baby girl was in the apartment at the time, but did not witness the shootings.

Brickell said Corey got a temporary restraining order against English on Oct. 18, which was valid for 10 days and expired  four days before the shootings. The chief said Corey apparently never pursued a final abuse order against English.

Whether or not that would have prevented last week’s tragedy is uncertain.

“It’s debatable,” Brickell said. “If there had been a final order in effect, maybe he would not have done what he did.”

full story

November 5th

Fire consumes Bristol antique shop

BRISTOL ASSISTANT FIRE Chief Peter Coffey, New Haven Chief Mike Dykstra and Bristol Chief Mark Bouvier take a much-needed break after battling an early morning fire at Beck’s Alley Antiques Shop in downtown Bristol last Friday.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell


November 5, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — The Beck’s Alley Antiques Shop on Main Street in Bristol burst into flames Friday morning. No one was hurt and firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, but damage to the building was heavy.

“It looks like there is an extensive amount of damage inside,” said Steve Leopold, co-owner of the building with his wife Bridget. He said they have lost most if not all of the antiques inside.

The blaze began around 7 a.m. Linda Smith, owner of the Village Corner Store across the street from the antiques shop, said that a regular customer first noticed flames and called her attention to it. She came out to look in time to see the windows blow out from the heat, and called 911. The Bristol and New Haven fire departments responded quickly and blocked off that section of Main Street for about three hours while they worked.

According to the Bristol Fire Department Assistant Chief Peter Coffey, the fire probably started on the west side of the building near the main door of the antiques shop. Neither the cause of the blaze nor the extent of the damage had been determined as the Addison Independent went to press. Bridget Leopold said that there was a propane gas heater next to that wall of the building.

Neither of the neighboring buildings was damaged.

full story

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