John Flowers


JENNIFER MAYHEW
MIDDLEBURY — For people in recovery, temptation never sleeps. Turning Point Center of Addison County (TPC) Executive Director Jennifer Mayhew knows this, and she and her staff are trying to do something about it. They announced last week the launch of a new “Rapid Access to Recovery Coaches” program that’s giving those battling addiction instant access to a compassionate, steadying presence at any time, with only a few taps on a computer or smart phone screen. “Some of these conversations need to happen in the middle of the night,” she said. “That window for change, that window of opportunity...
RIPTON — Residents of the newly minted, independent school district of Ripton will go to the polls on June 30 to form a new local school board that faces some major tasks. Those include developing a budget to cover K-12 expenses and affiliating with a nearby supervisory union to receive support services. “It finally feels like our efforts can shift from a more defensive stance, where we are constantly threatened with the closure of our school, to a pro-active one where we can begin envisioning and developing the next iteration of our school,” said Molly Witters. She is a member of a Ripton...

THE TURNING POINT Center of Addison County is hoping to use the former St. Mary’s School building at 86 Shannon St. in Middlebury as a venue to deliver programming — and perhaps someday transitional housing — for people recovering from substance use disorder and other addictions. Independent photo/John S. McCright
MIDDLEBURY — The Turning Point Center of Addison County (TPC) is in talks with St. Mary’s Catholic Church parish for potential long-term use of the former St. Mary’s School building at 86 Shannon St. in Middlebury as a center for people recovering from substance use disorder and other addictions. At the same time they’re trying to negotiate a lengthy lease, TPC officials are also exploring potential funding sources for repairs that would allow the building to reopen. St. Mary’s School, across Shannon Street from the church, closed in June 2016 in the wake of declining enrollment, which is...

MIDDLEBURY’S TOWN HALL Theater is marking its 10th year of offering educational programming, and this year’s offerings are creating quite the buzz ... in part by raising a “bee” on the building’s bell tower.
MIDDLEBURY — Town Hall Theater leaders want their patrons to experience the two “Es” when they come to a show at the performing arts hub in downtown Middlebury. The first “E” of course stands for enjoyment. But the second “E” might some as a surprise to some. “Education.” The THT is marking its 10th year of delivering educational programming to children and adults of all ages. And those who partake this year will learn their A, Bee, Cs, as evidenced by the colorful bumblebee that was hoisted onto the theater’s façade last week. Educational entertainment at the THT has come a long way since it...

LAURA FLINT, COMMANDER of American Legion Post 27 in Middlebury, and Dave Gipson, squadron commander of the Middlebury Sons of the American Legion, pose for a photo at the annual Legion birthday dinner in March 2019. The Legion was unable to have the event in 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic was just setting in.
ADDISON COUNTY — While Memorial Day parades are being cancelled out of an abundance of precaution, the county’s three American Legion posts are steadily regrouping and reopening as state and federal authorities continue to lift COVID-related restrictions. Interviews with officials at Bristol Post 19, Middlebury Post 27 and Vergennes Post 14 show that monthly meetings for members are resuming and hall rental opportunities are imminent. But over the past year, the American Legions’ pattern of incredible generosity has been constant — in spite of the pandemic’s brutal effects on fundraising and...

NORTH BRANCH SCHOOL Co-founder/Director Tal Birdsey leads students through a reading of the Cormac McCarthy’s novel, “The Road.” It’s been a challenging, emotional — and satisfying — pandemic year for the school and its 26 students. Independent photo/John Flowers
RIPTON — North Branch School Co-founder/Director Tal Birdsey has heard some people refer to the COVID-19 pandemic as “the lost year.” Not so fast. “I think that’s the wrong philosophical place to start,” Birdsey said during a teaching break last week.  “It was a different year in which to learn about who we are and what’s important. To me, it was a year of discovery about what is essential, what matters.” And it was certainly a year of discovery at NBS, a small private school in Ripton serving 26 children in grades 7-9. North Branch School has earned a reputation for learning outside of the...

MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School’s Class of 2021 will enjoy in-person graduation, prom and other events to cap their academic careers in June. MUHS Principal Justin Campbell, left, and lead Nurse Kelly Landwehr are playing major roles in organizing year-end activities. Independent photo/Steve James
ADDISON COUNTY — After enduring nearly 15 months of COVID-19 restrictions, from masks and social distancing to remote and hybrid classes, local high schools are on the verge of having an almost “normal” graduation season. According to new guidelines released by the Vermont Agency of Education on April 23, schools may host indoor proms, in-person commencement ceremonies and other end-of-the-year activities, as long as they follow certain public health protocols. Officials at Mount Abraham, Vergennes and Middlebury union high schools will all be offering in-person, career-closing events for...

THE SUNSHINE CHILDREN’S Center in Middlebury will close later this year after its home at 13 Washington St. Ext. is sold. Sunshine owner-Director Deedee Fleming plans to open a smaller child care operation in her Addison home, but the county will see a net loss of slots at a time when child care is in high demand. Independent photo/William Haig
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury’s Sunshine Children’s Center will close later this year, a development that’s bound to create new challenges for local parents already struggling to find quality care and early education options for young kids in Addison County’s shire town. Deedee Fleming, owner-director of the Sunshine center, confirmed her family is selling the sprawling, 3,618-square-foot Victorian home at 13 Washington St. Extension in which the center is based. IPJ Real Estate is currently listing the property at $545,000. Sunshine is approved for 24 slots for kids ages 3 to 5, though Fleming...

CHRISTINA JOHNSTON WILL soon reprise her role as principal of Weybridge Elementary School, which she helmed for 26 years prior to leaving for a job at Middlebury College in 2019.
WEYBRIDGE — The next principal of Weybridge Elementary School will need no introduction to the community she’s about to serve — again. Addison Central School District Superintendent Peter Burrows confirmed Christina Johnston will move into the job, which she vacated two years ago in order to take a job as a lecturer in Education Studies at Middlebury College. It should be noted that Johnston will maintain her role at the college as she returns to helming the school — on a part-time basis — that she had led for 26 years prior to her departure in 2019. Johnston will succeed current Weybridge...

MIDDLEBURY RESIDENT ROSS Conrad, left, peers down at his notes as he and other area residents air concerns about a Vermont Agency of Transportation request to again spray herbicides on part of the Middlebury State Airport property. Photo courtesy of Ross Conrad
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Agency of Transportation will test soil and water at and near the fence line of Middlebury State Airport in response to concerns raised by area residents that the ongoing use of herbicides and/or pesticides in that area might be affecting wildlife — and possibly even the aquifer that supplies town water. Ross Conrad and other area residents brought their concerns to the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and Agency of Agriculture, Foods and Markets after VTrans last month applied for a state permit to apply the herbicides “Garlon 4 ULTRA, Garlon 3A, Oust Extra...

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Addison County Independent