January 7th, 2010
One of my favorite NPR shows is “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.” Hosted by Peter Sagal, it airs locally on VPR Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon. One segment on this quiz show challenges contestants to distinguish between the real and the phony: actual news stories vs. made-up “news.” products on the market vs. imagined products, etc.
VERGENNES — Gray skies provided a somber backdrop on Wednesday morning as a funeral service at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, a procession through the streets of downtown Vergennes and a Final Alarm at the Vergennes Volunteer Fire Department for longtime Chief Ralph J. Jackman drew about 600 people for an emotional farewell.
Jackman, a Bristol native, Waltham resident and tireless community volunteer whose 55 years as chief of the city department is believed to be a unmatched accomplishment, died at home on Saturday at the age of 85.
VERGENNES — Designing the replacement for the Champlain Bridge will involve a literal, as well as figurative balancing act, according to officials from HNTB, the firm commissioned by the state of New York to plan the new structure.
The new bridge will have to be wide enough to better accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and bikers, but not so wide that it triggers more intensive permitting requirements, HNTB Vice President Ted Zoli told more than 60 area residents who showed up in Vergennes on Monday evening for an overview of how the span will take shape.
VERGENNES — Many who knew longtime Vergennes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ralph J. Jackman were moved to speak about his character, contributions and legacy after Jackman’s death at the age of 85 on Saturday. Still others were overcome by emotion and could not bring themselves to talk in the immediate aftermath of the loss.
Jackman, a U.S. Army veteran who saw action in World War II, had served the fire department for 62 years, 55 as its chief, before resigning Nov. 1.
Among those who paid tribute were:
GOV. JIM DOUGLAS:
ADDISON COUNTY — The anecdotal reports from Main Street this year are promising: A last-minute influx of shoppers, and an uptick of interest in the “shop local” movement, meant many local retailers saw sales increase in December over the same month in 2008.
That good news came late in the month, though, following what was for many businesses a sluggish two weeks at the start of the holiday season.
“It was pretty soft the first week and a half to two weeks,” said John Wallace, the owner of the Autumn Gold jewelry shop in Middlebury. “The end just burst wide open the last two weeks.”
BRANDON — He said he never thought he’d be a school superintendent, but Otter Valley Union High School Principal Dana Cole-Levesque has accepted an offer from the Rutland South Supervisory Union (RSSU) to take over the helm later this year.
Cole-Levesque, 59, announced his resignation from OV effective in June at the school finance committee meeting last week.
“I’m very fortunate,” he said in an interview Monday. “It certainly is going to be a change, but it is a similarly sized supervisory union.”
BRISTOL — Scrambling to cobble together an unexpected $475,000 in spending cuts, the Mount Abraham Union High School board of directors Tuesday reviewed preliminary cost savings that include eliminating three staff positions as well as trimming funding for maintenance and technology spending.
The cuts come after the board discovered last month that an accounting mistake would in many ways send administrators back to square one to draft the high school’s 2010-2011 spending plan, all while grappling with an unexpected deficit nearing $500,000.
SHOREHAM — The workday commute between New York state and Addison County got considerably more challenging on Sunday when the Ticonderoga Ferry closed for the winter.
The ferry — which links Shoreham with Ticonderoga, N.Y. — had to close after its 8 p.m. run on Jan. 3 because its owners were unable to extend insurance coverage deeper into the winter.