John Flowers

ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County lawmakers will wield influence over issues ranging from COVID-19 relief to education financing, thanks to committee assignments recently handed down by House and Senate leaders. Four of the county’s legislators secured leadership positions. They include Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, who was named chair of the House Transportation Committee; Sen. Chris Bray, who will continue to lead the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee; Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Middlebury, who will again chair the House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee; and Sen....

RIPTON RESIDENT ANZA Armstrong was accompanied to the polls on Tuesday by her dog, Bailey. She and scores of other Ripton residents were asked if their town should withdraw from the Addison Central School District. The referendum passed, 163-107. Now residents in the six other ACSD communities will decide whether to affirm Ripton’s vote. Independent photo/Steve James
RIPTON — Ripton residents on Tuesday voted, 163-107, in favor of withdrawing from the Addison Central School District, while Weybridge residents opted against doing so by a 190-119 margin. The six other ACSD member towns must now vote in favor of Ripton’s bid to leave the district if the proposed exodus is to proceed to the Vermont Board of Education. The state board would then decide whether the town could become its own independent school district. Both the Ripton and Weybridge votes were triggered by citizens’ petitions seeking to prevent closure of their elementary schools. The ACSD board...

ADDISON COUNTY SHERIFF Peter Newton, left, and CJ Campbell, the department’s program director, have launched a fundraising campaign for $1.5 million to enable the ACSD to put two deputies on the road, around-the-clock, to help with county law enforcement. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Sheriff Peter Newton is seeking community support in raising $1.5 million to transform his organization into a one-stop shop for law enforcement and community services ranging from jump-starting stranded cars to connecting people with mental health and addiction counseling. He’s calling it the Addison County Community Support program. It’s primary feature calls for two deputies on the road throughout the county, around-the-clock, seven days per week. “We will be forging a series of new partnerships that will allow us to offer both traditional and non-traditional...

BETHANIE FARRELL IS on pace to give out 1,000 free meals to hungry Addison County folks by the end of this month. Her charitable effort is called the Giving Fridge, which sells donated plants, flowers, honey and other items to raise money for meals that are prepared by local restaurants, using a lot of local ingredients. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — Bethanie Farrell has always felt a call to help others. It’s in her DNA, a ritual she learned as a young girl growing up in the Midwest. She’d accompany her mom while she made the rounds delivering meals to men who couldn’t find room in shelters in Cleveland, Ohio. So when Farrell learned about an increase in the ranks of the county’s hungry and homeless, she knew she wanted to become involved. Her idea of opening a community refrigerator in downtown Middlebury has taken off in a big way. Farrell and her husband bought land in Panton in 2019, with the idea of relocating to...

DR. ERIC BENZ can feel the strength course through his body as he receives the COVID-19 vaccine recently. He got one of more than 760 doses that Porter Hospital has administered in the past three weeks. Porter will have put around 1,000 shots in arms by the end of this week. Photos by Nicole Webb/Porter Medical Center
MIDDLEBURY — By the end of this week, Porter Hospital will have given out a combined total of 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to its staff and other frontline healthcare workers, though state and federal authorities have yet to indicate when the vaccine will be available to the general public. “We want to remind folks that it’s not time for them to call us, at this point,” Porter Medical Center spokesman Ron Hallman said. “We want folks to know that calling us at this point is really not a plan. We pledge we’ll share information the minute we have it, through all of our social media channels,...
VERGENNES / MIDDLEBURY — The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Addison County touched area schools, with Addison Central School District choosing to put more students on remote education in response to positive tests and Addison Northwest School District keeping most of its students in their classrooms. In ACSD, it began on Friday, Jan. 8, when Middlebury Union Middle School interim Principal Andrew Conforti announced that the Phoenix team at MUMS — made up of around 70 students — would spend the ensuing week learning remotely. That’s because a member of the MUMS community had tested positive...
MONTPELIER — Leaders in the Vermont House of Representatives on Wednesday announced committee assignments for the 2021-22 Legislative session. Rep. Diane Lanpher, D-Vergennes, will serve the next biennium as chair of the House Transportation Committee, while Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Middlebury, will continue to lead the House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee. Lanpher, one of the county’s most veteran lawmakers, has served in the House since 2009. She’s spent most of her tenure on House Appropriations, but served on the Transportation Committee early in her legislative career....

A YARD SIGN in Middlebury this week urges voters in Ripton to vote in favor of leaving the Addison Central School District. Independent photo/Megan James
This story was corrected after it was originally posted to correct an error. We found out after the story went to press that the ACSD had updated its FAQ on the Ripton and Weybridge secession votes, and that the two towns would not absolutely loose their small schools grants from the state if they left the school district. Instead, they could seek continuation of their Small School grants if ultimately the state granted them permission to continue as independent school districts. MIDDLEBURY — Ripton and Weybridge residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, Jan. 12, to decide whether they’d...
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury selectboard on Jan. 12 will hold a virtual public hearing on a draft fiscal year 2022 municipal spending plan of $11,724,999. If endorsed by voters it would add 2.23 cents to the current municipal tax rate of 80.3 cents per $100 in property value. The 2.8% increase would continue the Middlebury selectboard’s recent track record of maintaining a stable municipal tax rate. “The past couple of years since the reappraisal, we’ve been pretty much flat with the tax rate,” Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay said. “We had projected slight increases, but due to growth...

PETER KELLERMAN IS leaving the top administrative post at Vergennes-based John Graham Housing & Services after leading the nonprofit through seven eventful years. Photo courtesy Peter Kellerman
VERGENNES — Chronologically, Peter Kellerman has served seven years as executive director of John Graham Housing & Services (JGH&S), a Vergennes nonprofit that runs a homeless shelter, transitional housing, and programs that help people transition to permanent accommodations. But with all the stress and hard work that goes into transforming people’s lives, you’ll understand if Kellerman feels like he’s worked at JGH&S much longer. The last year probably seems like 20 to him, given the challenges of safely housing folks during a pandemic that has required social distancing — a...

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Addison County Independent