Archive - Dec 27, 2007
DOROTHY ORVIS PLAYS a game of toy-car shuffleboard with second- and fourth-grade students from St. Mary’s School during a recent visit to Project Independence in Middlebury. The children are, from left, MaKayla Foster, Libby Marini, Sebastian Huber and Wyatt Norris. Watching in the back are fourth-grade teacher Megan Baker and parent Joe Cotroneo.
Photo by Terry Norris
December 27, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College officials hope to reopen the former Eat Good Food space on Main Street by this coming February, using it for a “chocolate bar,” student night spot, small-scale retail venture and as a spot for town-gown activities.
Tim Spears, dean of students for the college, confirmed the news last week. It was back in August that the institution signed a short-term lease on the 2,700-square-foot space, seeing it as a good spot in which to open a venture that could boost student activity in downtown Middlebury while not competing with current businesses. The college has spent the past four months soliciting campus and public feedback on how to use the former restaurant space, along with sorting how the enterprise will be configured and managed.
Spears said that most of the outstanding issues have now been resolved.
“We’re trying to find a happy medium,” Spears said of the varied uses planned for the prominent Main Street spot. “I think this is definitely an experiment worth taking.”
College officials are currently getting the space ready for:
• A “chocolate bar.” As its name implies, the bar would serve a wide variety of chocolates — both international and local. Spears anticipates the bar will also sell tea, coffee, biscuits and hot chocolate. He believes the chocolate bar could fill at least some of the void left by Calvi’s, an old-fashioned ice cream shop that was a Main Street fixture for decades.
Spears conceded there will be some overlap in products offered by the chocolate shop and Carol’s Hungry Mind Café, also located in the Battell Block.
“We hope that it is not going to step on their toes too much,” Spears said, adding the college will reach out to involve Carol’s in programming at the space.
December 27, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union School Board is considering a first draft of a 2008-2009 budget plan that proposes a 7.03 percent increase in spending to $12,999,836, but officials say the actual impact on taxes would be much smaller.
Some of the proposed spending increase can be attributed to the fact that Addison Northeast Supervisory Union changed how it bills the cost of busing. In an “apples to apples” comparison, the increase is a little less than 4 percent, according to district business manager Greg Burdick.
Students in Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro ride the same buses whether in high school or the elementary schools of each town, and until now the costs of busing have appeared in the spending plans of the respective elementary schools. However, a new law requires school districts to distinguish between spending on elementary school and secondary school.
“Act 130’s basic thrust is to distinguish between K-6 education and 7-12 education,” Burdick said. So the transportation budget for the high school more than tripled, from $148,071 in the 2007-2008 budget to $499,114 in this draft of the 2008-09 spending plan. But nearly all of that increase had appeared in the elementary schools’ budgets in the past, and Burdick said that the transportation expenses for those schools will show corresponding decreases.
At a Dec. 18 meeting, school board members said they had given the supervisory union a goal of creating a budget with an increase of 3 percent or less at a previous meeting, so they asked Burdick to cut roughly another 1 percent, about $130,000, from the draft of the budget by the board’s next meeting, on Jan. 8, 2008.
December 27, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Sometimes the perfect opportunity does come along — just ask new Vergennes Opera House Executive Director Jackson Evans, who was hired in September by the Friends of the Vergennes Opera House, the organization that operates the city hall theater.
Evans, a 29-year-old Northfield native who started full-time in November, has a background that makes him virtually an ideal fit for the job: His résumé includes a fine arts degree in photography and film from Ithaca College in New York and a master’s in historic preservation from the University of Vermont.
And Evans and his wife, Katja, bought a home in Vergennes within walking distance of the opera house just this past spring, and he now can visit his seven-week-old twins, a son and daughter, during his lunch hour.
The couple had been living in Burlington and was seeking a smaller town with a greater sense of community before settling on Vergennes. Evans and a partner were operating a historic preservation consulting firm out of Montpelier, but Evans said when the position at the opera house opened this fall — former director Donna Lord left to pursue another opportunity — it was too good to pass up.
“When my wife and I moved to Vergennes we were drawn to the strong sense of community here anyway, and to be able to be part of that in the work environment was a big draw,” Evans said.
Evans already knew about the Vergennes Opera House and its role in the 1990s revival of downtown Vergennes from his studies at UVM. The Little City is considered a big hit in downtown revitalization, with the opera house getting plenty of credit, he said.