Christopher Ross

This photo taken last month shows how quiet downtown Vergennes was at the height of the pandemic. Today some businesses are opening up. Independent photo/John S. McCright
ADDISON COUNTY — Vermont retailers, closed for seven weeks to halt the spread of coronavirus, on Monday began a gradual reopening, after Gov. Phil Scott loosened his “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.  Nevertheless, many retailers in Addison County did not rush to open their stores as they sought ways to keep customers and employees safe during the ongoing public health emergency. Under state guidelines all employees at retail outlets must wear face covering and maintain a distance of 6 feet. Stores will also be required to stay under 25% of their maximum legal capacity, and conduct health and...

CREWS AND HEAVY equipment have taken over downtown Bristol as the long-awaited Paving and Sidewalk/Lighting Replacement projects get started. The projects, which have merged under the supervision of the Vermont Department of Transportation, were supposed to be completed Oct. 9, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the end date is now up in the air. Independent photo/John Flowers
BRISTOL / VERGENNES — After a couple of slow and quiet months, downtown Bristol is suddenly abuzz with activity — great yellow machines, masked workers with helmets, excavation, grading, upgrading. The Bristol paving and sidewalk/lighting replacement projects, which were delayed for a month because of the pandemic, are finally under way. The same contractor has also begun work on a paving project in Vergennes — milling a portion of Route 22A/Main Street this week. Workers are closing one lane at a time, with flaggers onsite to direct alternating traffic on the one open lane.  The project will...
MIDDLEBURY — Thanks to online publishing and social media’s ready-made audiences, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be the most written about phenomenon in human history. Most of us are writing publicly, in the moment and for the moment, with little regard for the “historical record.” Some of us are writing in private. And then there are those, like Middlebury College sophomore Christine Nabung, who are writing privately now for a future public record — which is where it gets kind of complicated. Nabung and 35 of her classmates are participating in the Twilight COVID-19 Diary Project, which...

AS THEY DO every year for Memorial Day, volunteers for the Vergennes American Legion Post 14 have been erecting 1,100 American flags at cemeteries and other spots throughout Addison County. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, they’re wearing facemasks. Photo courtesy of Cookie Steponaitis
ADDISON COUNTY — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer organizations in Addison County are making sure that veterans will be remembered with honor and dignity for Memorial Day. Vergennes American Legion Post 14 is still planning to erect 1,100 American flags throughout the county in tribute to members of the U.S. armed services. And they’re getting plenty of help. “This year, in terms of volunteers, we’ve actually seen more interest from community members,” said American Legion volunteer Cookie Steponaitis. Earlier this month 18 volunteers put up 400 flags at one county cemetery.  “They...

SUSAN O’DANIEL, SHOWN directing the Vergennes Union High School marching band in the 2019 Memorial Day parade in the Little City, has been a regular presence in the parade for four decades. Next Monday would have been her 41st — and final — Vergennes Memorial Day parade had the event not be canceled. Courtesy of Dana Ambrose Photography
VERGENNES — Had it not been canceled because of COVID-19, this year’s Vergennes Memorial Day Parade would have been Susan O’Daniel’s 41st — and because the Vergennes Union High School Band Director is retiring in June — her last. “It was a hard day when they canceled the parade,” she told the Independent by phone. “I feel empty — it’s really difficult right now.” When Gov. Phil Scott closed Vermont school buildings in mid-March, O’Daniel and many others had hoped that the emergency would pass quickly. School would resume before the end of the year and the May 25 Memorial Day parade would...
MONKTON — The Monkton Town Office and Library building project is taking shape, despite the pandemic, and construction could begin ahead of schedule this summer. “Our target is Aug. 1, but we might be able to move that forward,” said Monkton selectboard chair Stephen Pilcher. “It would be nice to reach a point in the construction where the building can at least be enclosed for the winter.” Monkton voters approved a $1.7 million bond for the project on Town Meeting Day.  The two-story building will be located next to the Friends Methodist Church, which is located at 77 Monkton Ridge, and will...

SCORES OF COUNTY residents last Saturday logged into an online performance space called “Lincoln Live,” where people to performed music, read poetry or told jokes while safely distant during the pandemic. The weekly events are the brainchild of musician Nate Gusakov.
LINCOLN — Since its first Zoom meeting on April 11, a virtual open mic series called “Lincoln Live” has gradually increased in size and popularity. Last Saturday’s event — the fifth so far — attracted more than twice as many people as the first. Its founder, Lincoln resident Nate Gusakov, is pleased with the way it’s going.  And he hopes it will end soon. “It’s been wonderful to look at the gallery of neighbors’ faces, but also a little scary to realize that seeing people on a screen is the best we can do for a feeling of community togetherness,” Gusakov told the Independent in an email. “I’m...

HELLEN GATHONI KIHORO, a WMI scholar and medical student battling coronavirus in Kenya, provides hand-washing resources and information in her community. The project was funded by the Wells Mountain Initiative, which also helps fund Kihoro’s education. Photo courtesy of WMI
BRISTOL — With grant money she received from the Wells Mountain Initiative (WMI), Hellen Gathoni Kihoro this week launched a project in her home village of Gitogothi to increase pandemic awareness and provide hygiene resources. “It was hatched so as to emphasize the information that is being recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization) and (Kenya’s) Ministry of Health on matters of prevention of COVID-19,” Kihoro told the Independent in an email. Kihoro, 30, studies medicine at Mount Kenya University and is one of several WMI Scholars — whose educations are funded by the Bristol-based...

CORNWALL'S LILY WADE makes voluminous notes on her electronic device then turns it into music that has made its way onto two self-produced albums. Independent photo/Christopher Ross
Lily Wade dreams of being a full-time musician someday but she tends to avoid talking about it. “It’s such a big statement,” said the 16-year-old recording artist, who may be better known around Addison County — at least for now — as Lily Isham. “I feel like if I tell people, then I have to live up to it almost.” But in many respects, she already has. In February, Wade released her second self-produced album, “5teen,” a collection of nine compact indie-rock tracks whose sophistication brings to mind the words of William Butler Yeats: “A poem comes right with a click like the closing of a box...

A NEARLY ABANDONED campus back in March when the college first suspended in-person classes. Independent file photo/John S. McCright
MIDDLEBURY — A far-flung network of Middlebury College student volunteers has emerged during the coronavirus pandemic to help staff and faculty children with their remote-learning studies. It all started on April 3, when the college Staff Council posted a message on the “Middlebury Staff Solidarity” Facebook page. By that time Vermont public school buildings had been closed for almost three weeks, to slow the spread of COVID-19, and local students and their families were struggling to adjust to remote learning programs. “Staff Council has heard from many staff that one of the needs seems to...


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
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