John Flowers

Gov. Phil Scott in mid-August gave communities — particularly college towns — greater latitude in tightening coronavirus-related restrictions if local officials determined such action was necessary to avert a new wave of COVID-19 cases. Scott’s executive order — made in concert with his extension of the ongoing state of emergency — specifically allows towns to limit: •  The size of gatherings. The legislative body of each city and town may enact local requirements regarding gathering size limitations that are more restrictive than those established by the state •  Alcohol sales. The governor...

MICHELE HERNANDEZ BAYLISS and her daughter, Alexia, completed visits to all 251 Vermont municipalities this summer. Here they display a state map, created by Weybridge neighbor Aiden Cole, that includes photos of all the individual town welcome signs they photographed during their odyssey. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELE HERNANDEZ BAYLISS
Everyone likes a good road trip. You pile into the old station wagon and let the good times roll. The odometer clocks your miles, but there’s no measuring stick for great memories Well, there’s “road trips,” and then there are road trips. Michele Hernandez Bayliss and her daughter, Alexia, certainly experienced the latter, during a summer-long odyssey that was equal parts scavenger hunt, wanderlust and togetherness — all safely logged within the confines of the beautiful Green Mountain State. The extra payoff for what they’re calling their “Pandemic Peregrinations” — that is, visits to all...
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County public school districts are organizing a series of childcare hubs that will offer safe, supervised space for young students on days they won’t physically be attending classes during a very unusual fall semester. The hubs are being set up as schools change the way they are delivering education in response to the dangers posed by COVID-19. When school opens next week, most county schools will have half of the students in the building for two days a week and the rest being taught through remote connections.  A new, $12 million grant program — funded through federal...

NEW HAVEN — Jon Christiano of New Haven spent four years shepherding the Addison County Republican Committee. Now he wants to represent his party and constituents as state senator, representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore. “I’ve been thinking about running quite a bit, and I did it (this year) to demonstrate solidarity with the other Republicans, and also to give Addison County Republicans a second name on the ballot to vote for,” Christiano said during a recent phone interview. Christiano, 78, enters a race that includes fellow Republican challenger Peter Briggs of Addison (...

ADDISON — Peter Briggs is only 30, but already a veteran of the Addison County elections circuit. And while he’s yet to capture a seat in the Legislature, he’s garnered respectable vote totals in all three of the elections in which he’s competed. He hopes his fourth major election, coming up on Nov. 3, will be the charm: Another run for one of the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore. He’s in a field that includes fellow Republican challenger Jon Christiano of New Haven, and incumbent Democratic Sens. Chris Bray of Bristol and Ruth Hardy of East...
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury residents this fiscal year will see an 8.9-cent increase in their local property tax rate, a jump that’s almost exclusively associated with rising school costs. The Middlebury selectboard in August set a fiscal year 2021 municipal property tax rate of 80.34 cents per $100 in assessed value, which is virtually level with the 2020 municipal rate of 80.26 cents. The residential education property tax rate, predicated on K-12 spending, comes in at $1.6261 per $100 in assessed value, up 8.82 cents compared to fiscal year 2020. So the total fiscal year 2021 property tax rate...

JIM GISH, LEFT, community liaison to the downtown Middlebury rail bridges project, walks with reporter John Flowers near the opening of the massive new concrete railway tunnel under Main Street and Merchants Row. The project is in week six of a scheduled 10-week, around-the-clock work schedule. Independent photo/Alexa Lapiner
MIDDLEBURY — There was a time in my 20s when I dreamed of reporting to work in a war zone wearing a helmet and flak jacket emblazoned with the word “Press.” Life took me to a different, peaceful place — Addison County — though the flak jacket might have come in handy during some of those Vermont Gas pipeline hearings in Shoreham and Middlebury back in 2013-2014. But finally, at age 58, I was able to don a helmet for a reporting assignment. It happened on Friday, Aug. 21, and the setting was indeed a dusty, upended urban setting that had endured blasting. Downtown Middlebury. The blasting in...

RICHARD LAFONTAINE CELEBRATED his 106th birthday earlier this month. He resides at The Residence at Otter Creek in Middlebury, where he recently spoke with the Independent about a fascinating life during which he’s seen the end of two World Wars, the industrialization of America, and the moon landing, to mention a few watershed events. Independent photo/Alexa Lapiner
MIDDLEBURY — Centenarians deservedly receive a lot of fanfare. Hitting triple digits is a rare feat, and it’s rarer still when those endowed with such longevity are still vital, inquisitive and delightfully conversant. Richard LaFontaine is indeed a prime example of such a person. And heck, he left the number-100 road marker in the rearview mirror six years ago. Child’s play. The only person in these parts that can call him “Junior” is Bristol’s Bob James, who turned 109 earlier this summer. And let’s quickly dispense with the question everyone wants to ask Mr. LaFontaine, who recently sat...
MIDDLEBURY — New entertainment options for those spending a lot of time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic are arriving on Thursday, Aug. 27: A panoply of films — both short and feature length — will be accessible online as part of the first-ever virtual edition of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF). Under normal circumstances, filmmakers and movie enthusiasts from throughout the world would be converging on Middlebury this week for the sixth annual MNFF, which customarily offers more than 100 film screenings at five venues in Addison County’s shire town. The festival is also...

MANY LOCAL FIRE departments cut back or eliminated training during the height of the pandemic, but they still, of course, responded to emergencies. Photo by Mark Bouvier
BRISTOL — Many area fire departments are getting back into their regular training and meeting regimens after having been temporarily sidelined by state-mandated restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. And recognizing that departments have had to curtail operations since mid-March, the Vermont Fire Academy will allow firefighters until June of 2021 to accumulate the 24 hours of annual training needed for recertification, according to New Haven Assistant Fire Chief Dean Gilmore. Firefighters are customarily required to fit that 24 hours into the calendar year. “This is mainly because at...


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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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