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As you may have read, the COVID-19 pandemic situation is particularly bad right now in California — particularly Los Angeles. Hospitals are full and families crammed into small apartments are losing their breadwinners. In Santa Ana, Latino Health Access (LHA) uses “Promotores” — trained community workers — to educate, provide mutual aid, and network with families at risk. Here’s a way you can help: If you sew masks, Lise Anderson is collecting cloth masks sewn by Vermonters (all sizes and all styles) so that the Promotores can take them on their visits. Sewn masks add smiles to faces, reduce...

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...
BRANDON — Next year’s proposed Brandon town budget will please budget-conscious taxpayers as it features a decrease in expenditures and almost no increase in taxes. The Brandon Select Board Monday night approved a $3,244,020 budget for fiscal year 2021-22 with $2,744,135 to be raised by taxes. Overall spending is down 0.68%. The amount to be raised by taxes is 0.95% more than what was approved for the current fiscal year, or less than 1 percent. The spending plan does not feature any big-ticket items cut or added. Rather, it features small cuts in spending across departments. There is a...
VERGENNES — Raymond William White, 34, of Vergennes on Monday pleaded not guilty in Addison Superior Court, Criminal Division, to a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly shot a man on Sunday morning at his First Street home in Vergennes. The victim, a 42-year-old man, was in “critical, but stable condition” at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington on Monday, according to Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel. The Independent is not identifying the victim or a third man involved because of an ongoing investigation and unsubstantiated allegations of illegal activity...
VERGENNES — Vergennes residents will decide on Town Meeting Day whether to allow legal retail marijuana sales within their city — subject to future city ordinances and zoning permits for any shops. At its Tuesday, Jan. 12, meeting, the Vergennes City Council approved unanimously a motion that would allow residents to decide the question, which resident and former city planner and development review board member Jason Farrell brought to the councilors’ attention. Farrell noted the Legislature this past session passed a law allowing communities the choice to opt in and regulate shops “subject...

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...

THIS DIGITAL POSTER has been circulating among far-right social media circles in the past few days. On Monday the FBI warned law enforcement agencies around the country that armed protests might occur at the capitols in all 50 states, as well as at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
MIDDLEBURY — The best thing local communities can do to reduce the prevalence and potential threat of conspiracy movements like QAnon is to educate people. That advice comes from Alex Newhouse, who monitors QAnon and other extremist groups for the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. The baseless but dangerous narratives pushed by such movements tend to appeal most strongly to the isolated and socially alienated, Newhouse told the Independent. “My hunch is that one of the best things we can do is to promote recreation...
The debunked Pizzagate conspiracy is considered to be a precursor to the baseless QAnon conspiracy. It held, falsely, that the emails of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, John Podesta, contained coded messages about a nonexistent human trafficking and child sex ring run by high-ranking Democrats. One of the most popular pizzarias in Washington, D.C., Comet Ping Pong, was falsely believed to be involved. Despite the theory being thoroughly discredited, the conspiracy continued to spread through conservative websites and far-right conspiracists like Alex Jones, until Dec. 4...

LINCOLN AUTHOR ELLIE Bryant’s great uncle Bures Paxton sits with a couple other fellows on a huge metal still for making moonshine back near Bryant’s Virginia home. Her new book tells a history of moonshine.
LINCOLN — What is known about the life of Virginia bootlegger Willie Carter Sharpe comes together in a patchwork of fact and legend, but one thing was for sure: She could drive like hell. It’s estimated that during Prohibition, Sharpe hauled more than 200,000 gallons of moonshine from points south to points north, and she could earn as much as $50 a night doing it. “With the flick of a special switch, she could turn off her taillights, making her harder to spot from behind,” writes Lincoln author Louella Bryant in her new book, “Hot Springs And Moonshine Liquor.” “When revenuers shot at her...

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Addison County Independent