January 5th, 2015
At the end of each year, the Independent editorial staff pores through all of the issues to pick the ten stories that readers cared the most about in 2014. They span a variety of topics, from the Vermont Gas pipeline to the Middlebury town office, the expansion of solar projects to the success of local high school sports programs.
For the second year in a row, the Vermont Gas Systems Addison Rutland Natural Gas Pipeline Project captivated (and sometimes enraged) county residents, and was the subject of more than 50 articles in the Independent.
After the Public Service Board in December 2013 approved Phase I of the pipeline, which will run from Colchester to Middlebury and Vergennes, Vermont Gas land agents spent the year securing land easements from Addison County residents.
No issue in recent Middlebury history proved as polarizing as the proposal to demolish the municipal building/gym complex at 94 Main St. and replace them with new town offices at 77 Main St. and a new recreation facility off Creek Road.
This past year in Bristol and the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, residents debated two major projects that would require taxpayer-approved bonds: a new Bristol firehouse and a renovated Mount Abraham Union High School.
The Bristol Fire Department inched closer to getting a new firehouse this year, a process that firefighters have discussed for more than two decades.
VERGENNES — In July, new Addison Northwest Supervisory Union Superintendent JoAn Canning discovered — and immediately made public — that the Vermont Agency of Education had sanctioned ANwSU by starting to withhold about $1 million in state and federal grant funds.
After Gov. Peter Shumlin made opiate addiction the focus of his State of the State address in January, Addison County and neighboring areas saw multiple large drug busts and drug-related arrests as well as expansions in services to people seeking recovery or assistance.
As 2014 opened, Porter Medical Center and the Counseling Service of Addison County were in discussions to collaborate on a clinic to provide Suboxone, a drug designed to help a growing number of Addison County addicts break their dependence on opiates.
For some it seemed that 2014 was the year that the predominant crop springing up in Addison County fields was solar arrays. The year saw the approval and development of numerous solar energy projects in Addison County, including Certificates of Public Good awarded to 26 projects by the Public Service Board, the largest number of projects of any county in the state.
The General Election of 2014 saw one local veteran lawmaker go down to defeat, and Addison County voters also added to some tense moments for incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin as the ballots were counted on Nov. 4.
Bristol Republican Fred Baser had failed in 2010 to break through in his bid for one of the two seats representing Addison-4, the House district that includes the towns of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro. But he made up for it in a big way this past November, finishing as the top vote-getter in a four-way race for the pair of seats.