COVID-19


PANTON SELECTBOARD CHAIRMAN Howard Hall, left, shown here in 2019 with Town Hall Committee Chairman David Raphael, has hopes for federal pandemic relief money his town will get but will be careful about how it is spent. Independent filed photo/Steve James
PANTON — Panton Selectboard chair Howard Hall is looking forward to a “Christmas bonus” that his rural, creekside town on the western edge of Addison County expects to receive in June. But that gift — as much as $200,000 from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act — also raises plenty of questions for the local leader, whose hometown has just 677 residents. Hall would like to spend some of the money, which amounts to close to one-third of the town’s $624,000 annual budget, on digitizing Panton’s municipal records. That’s a costly project taxpayers likely would not be thrilled to...
The Addison Central School District’s announcement that it will return students in grades 7-12 to full capacity, in-person instruction with 3-foot physical distancing instead of the current 6-foot rule, flies in the face of CDC guidance on school safety and endangers our community. The CDC’s published guidance for middle and high schools is clear: in communities with a “High Transmission” risk rating, students should maintain 6-foot distancing at all times. In communities with lower risk ratings, 3-foot distancing is acceptable. This risk rating is determined based on the rate of cases in a...
Vermonters 16 to 18 years old can register for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Saturday at 10 a.m., two days earlier than originally planned, officials announced at a press conference Friday. The rest of the latest age group — 16- to 29-year-olds — will be able to register for the vaccine Monday at 6 a.m. Gov. Phil Scott said the step would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to make sure they can register for a Pfizer vaccine, which is the only option for people in their age group. “I wanted to give them a bit of a head start to make sure all the appointments weren’t taken by the time they had an...
I opted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 because I wanted to get the whole vaccination process over with as quickly as possible. One and done sounded fun to me. Instead, I got days of agony and anxiety and cancelled appointments. Many folks are in a similar dilemma. So I thought I’d share how it went down, and how I resolved it. When the vaccine opened up to my age group, 30-plus, on Monday morning, I booked a state-run J&J clinic for May 5. But on Tuesday morning, when I spotted some open appointments the very next day at CVS in Burlington, I booked one. Moments...
MIDDLEBURY — U.S. Rep. Peter Welch figuratively applied a little salve to Middlebury’s municipal and educational pandemic wounds on Tuesday evening with news of federal recovery grants: $2.57 million for the town, and $3.14 million for the Addison Central School District. That money is Middlebury’s cut from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was aimed at helping the nation rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken a financial toll on municipalities, schools, businesses and individuals. The Vermont Democrat delivered the good news during a 15-minute Zoom...
VERGENNES — After two COVID-19 cases at Ferrisburgh Central School led Addison Northwest School District officials to switch the elementary school to remote learning on Tuesday, three infections at Vergennes Union High School cropped up on Wednesday that have forced a number of students and staff members into quarantine. Hardest hit was The Walden Project, the VUHS alternative education program, according to a Wednesday email sent out to families and staff members by ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule. “Today we learned of three COVID positive individuals at the Vergennes Union High School....
FERRISBURGH — Two new COVID-19 cases at Ferrisburgh Central School have prompted Addison Northwest School District officials to switch the kindergarten-6th grade school to remote learning as of Tuesday. ANWSD Superintendent Sheila Soule on Monday, April 12, announced the first case and the decision in an email to ANWSD staff and families. She sent another email Tuesday announcing the second case. According to the COVID dashboard at anwsd.org, Ferrisburgh Central School staff and students have collectively experienced 18 of the district’s total of 44 cases since the beginning of the school...

ONE OF THE hotter segments in Addison County’s real estate sector is new construction, such as this in-progress home on Commodore Drive in Vergennes. That For Sale sign is rare right now, as inventory is tight in a market that favors sellers. Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy
ADDISON COUNTY — When veteran real estate appraiser Bill Benton left his Vergennes office one recent morning, one of his stops was to appraise a Weybridge home that had been placed on the market for $435,000. It was under contract for $475,000, without a financing clause that would make the sale depend on Benton’s appraised value matching the agreed-upon price. Benton recalled the seller asking him if it was anything he had seen before in his four decades of evaluating Addison County real estate. “I said, no, it isn’t,” he recalled. “COVID has made a big difference.” What Benton described is...
VERMONT — “We have roughly 90 to go, 90 days to stay united so we can get back to normal,” Gov. Phil Scott said at his Tuesday, April 6 press conference. After July 4, Scott said he anticipates the state will only issue guidance — recommendations rather than requirements — for safe business and social practices. “We now have three safe and effective vaccines in our toolbox, which gives us a level of predictability we didn’t have before,” he said. “Based on vaccination rates we’re now able to forecast when we expect to reach key milestones.” Specifically, Scott outlined three steps for a...

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE'S STUDENT newspaper The Campus published a 120-page magazine last March marking the one-year anniversary of the college’s announcement that it would discontinue in-person classes because of COVID-19. The magazine includes articles, letters, essays and art produced by students weathering the pandemic from various corners of the world.
MIDDLEBURY — The cover of a March 10 special magazine, “A Year In,” published by the Middlebury College student newspaper, The Campus, says it all: “A year ago today, Middlebury students got a piece of news that would define a generation. One year later, The Campus asks the question: What has changed?” On March 10, 2020, the college announced it would discontinue in-person classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were given a few days to pack up their belongings and leave campus. The period has come to be known as March Madness or The Great Evacuation, and it has left an indelible...

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Addison County Independent