John Flowers


JENNIFER SHAFER-STOCKER, co-owner of Shafer’s Market & Deli in Middlebury, works the counter at the College Street business earlier this week. She and family members are having to work longer hours while cutting store hours because they — like many other businesses in the county and statewide — can’t find enough employees. Independent photo/William Haig
MIDDLEBURY — Only 14 months ago, Shafer’s Market & Deli at 54 College St. in Middlebury was a no-fail stop pretty much any time of the morning or evening if you needed a sandwich, gallon of milk, soda, pizza and other indulgences. Shafer’s still has the tasty products and household staples, but you have to time your visits more carefully these days. The business has had to temporarily abandon its customary 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. days for a tighter schedule that ends at 7 p.m., at the latest. Why? Try as they might, storeowners Adam Shafer and Jennifer Shafer-Stocker can’t find enough workers...

OPEN DOOR CLINIC RN Martha Redpath administers a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a worker at a Salisbury farm in late March as part of the clinic’s push to vaccinate as many farmworkers as they can. Photo courtesy of Open Door Clinic
MIDDLEBURY — Most people see the COVID-19 vaccine as a ticket to freedom, travel and reconnecting with friends and loved ones after 14 months of pandemic-forced seclusion. Consequently, the vaccine tends to be its own best advertisement. For the most part, “if you offer it, they will come.” But not always. There are hundreds of arms to jab at farms throughout Addison County. Yet those farmworkers’ busy schedules, a lack of transportation, and a reluctance by some migrant laborers to step outside the shadows all adds up to a challenging demographic to immunize from the coronavirus. Until...
MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central School District will receive $5,256,243 in federal grants during the next two years to help its students recover from learning setbacks they might have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the most recent number released by the government. The money in question will flow through three separate installments from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. The funding is being awarded in proportion to each school district’s Title 1 grants that assist low-income and/or at-risk students, according to Caitlin Steele, the...

BETWEEN 130 AND 150 teachers and their supporters held signs and waved at passing cars on Court Street in Middlebury last month to draw attention to their effort to get the Legislature to fully fund their pension fund. Independent file photo/William Haig
MIDDLEBURY — While state revenues this year have been exceeding expectations, it’s not all good financial news in Montpelier. Before the end of the 2021-2022 biennium, Vermont lawmakers will need to chart a new course for a teachers’ retirement system that’s in dire financial straights. That is due to the underperformance of investments, a shrinking population of teachers, the setting of unrealistic rates of financial return and other factors. As a result, educators are nervous about their pensions and taxpayers worried about higher costs. “It’s going to take the state putting in more money...

MIDDLEBURY’S JANE STEELE has distinguished herself as one of the community’s most dedicated volunteers, providing critical support at Round Robin and the Charter House Coalition’s warming shelter. She was also a driving force behind creation of Middlebury’s dog park. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — Folks planning for retirement typically map out activities and bucket lists for their golden years. Jane Steele’s retirement plan was simple: Work even harder — this time on behalf of those less fortunate. At age 75, the former educator, advertising representative and service station manager is busier than she’s ever been, as a volunteer at the Charter House Coalition’s (CHC) warming shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. in Middlebury. And it’s just the latest chapter in her growing story of service to others. Steele’s deep plunge into volunteerism began a decade ago, following the...
MIDDLEBURY — In addition to having claimed the lives of 242 Vermonters (as of Tuesday), COVID-19 has extinguished cherished businesses and organizations that have been unable to survive the pandemic’s toll. Sadly, the Middlebury nonprofit End Of Life Services, or EOLS, will join that list come the end of June, its leaders confirmed this week. EOLS board president Daphne Diego explained several factors combined this spring to end the nonprofit’s run. Diego cited the imminent departure of senior staffers, dwindling resources partly due to the difficulty of fundraising during the pandemic, and...

BETHANIE FARRELL IS moving The Giving Fridge to the former Diner building at 66 Merchants Row. The Giving Fridge pays area farms and restaurants to make nutritious meals for poor folks in the Middlebury area.
MIDDLEBURY — The Giving Fridge — a charity launched this past winter to feed hungry Middlebury-area people and sustain ailing restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic — is about to re-stock. In a big way. Giving Fridge founder Bethanie Farrell recently confirmed she’s signed a two-year lease for the former home of The Diner at 66 Merchants Row, a space that will allow her to ramp up her efforts to feed the hungry and launch nutrition programming. Established this past winter in vacant space at 24 Merchants Row, The Giving Fridge solicits financial contributions and sells plants, honey, crafts...

STACEY RAINEY, LEFT, and Mary Cullinane stand amidst merchandise at Middlebury’s Stone Mill Public Market, which they believe is on the cusp of a major rebound as more investment and interest pours into the downtown area. Rainey and Cullinane own the market. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — It was a wonderful plan for the old Stone Mill, an historic downtown building that needed TLC and more active use. Mary Cullinane and Stacey Rainey bought the venerable structure from Middlebury College in late 2018 and spent the next year transforming it into a hub for retail, dining, shared office space and Airbnb lodging. Stone Mill was just coming into its own in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Emergency health rules put most businesses and hotels temporarily out of commission, and the Stone Mill was no exception. Fast forward 13 months, and the Stone Mill...

AFTER FIVE YEARS of coordinating and bolstering food programs for Middlebury-based Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects, Lily Bradburn is taking a job as Community Health Program manager for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.
MIDDLEBURY — The nonprofit Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) is bidding farewell to its first-ever local food access coordinator, Lily Bradburn, who’s been instrumental in the success of the organization’s food shelf and gleaning efforts that sustain many hundreds of hungry Addison County residents each year. Bradburn recently announced her departure in order to become Community Health Program manager for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. (VYCC). After five years with Middlebury-based HOPE, Bradburn was keen on moving to the Chittenden County area. “I’m thrilled to be able to join...
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury-area secondary school-age students on Monday, May 3, will begin attending in-person classes four days a week, instead of the current two. Addison Central School District Superintendent Peter Burrows announced the transition in a Wednesday, April 15, email to the school community. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, middle- and high school students have been attending in-person classes on either Mondays and Tuesdays, or Thursdays and Fridays, with the balance of their studies conducted online. Now those students will attend in-person classes each day of the week...

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Addison County Independent