John Flowers


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...
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...

AN ADDISON COUNTY resident named Annie is among a handful of sexual and domestic violence survivors who lent their stories to a new report on the economics of abuse. The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence prepared the report. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — Annie initially decided she’d to try to forget she’d been raped, rather than report it to police and risk having to relive the traumatic episode over and over again. “I tried to forget, but I was having nightmares almost daily,” the Addison County resident recently related to officials at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (Vermont Network). “My anxiety level was through the roof.” But she mustered the courage to not only report the incident, but also to recount her experience during two trials. The first proceeding resulted in a mistrial. The defendant was...

THE MIDDLEBURY STUDIO School has hired its first-ever executive director, Sarah Briggs, and is searching for a downtown location to supplement its thriving space on Route 7 south.
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Studio School, growing in popularity even through the coronavirus pandemic, has hired its first-ever executive director and is looking to expand programming into a downtown location. “We really want to have a presence in town and to be a part of an art community, and make Middlebury more of a destination for the arts,” said Mary Lower, president of the studio school’s board. The Middlebury Studio School was founded in 2009 by staff, instructors and friends of the former Frog Hollow Craft Center. George Dorsey acquired the former craft center space that same year...

THE REV. ANDY Nagy-Benson, pastor of the Congregational Church of Middlebury, is an architect of “Table 21,” a nonprofit created to evaluate applications from businesses seeking a portion of the donated money to mop up red ink and make payroll.
MIDDLEBURY — The unofficial guardian angel of small, struggling Middlebury-area businesses has made another huge donation — this time for  $350,000 — to help those that have taken a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The anonymous benefactor — who lives overseas but has ties to Middlebury — has now given a total of $650,000 this year to help area farms, restaurants, and now stores that are barely making ends meet during a pandemic that just marked its grim one-year anniversary. The Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson, pastor of the Congregational Church of Middlebury, is an architect of “Table 21,”...

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Addison County Independent