Archive - 2008
January 14, 2008
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — A series of fixed and rising expenses that Ferrisburgh selectmen say are out of their control are pushing the board’s spending proposal for the 2008-2009 fiscal year up by almost 13 percent.
Selectmen on Wednesday looked at a final draft budget of roughly $1.47 million that would call for a 12.8 percent spending hike. Unsurprisingly, the largest single spending driver is fuel to keep town trucks running and buildings warm.
Board chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said selectmen would almost certainly adopt that spending proposal at their Jan. 22 meeting. Residents will have the final say by Australian ballot on March 4.
“I don’t see that we can change it … barring any unforeseen circumstances between now and the 22nd,” Lawrence said, while acknowledging the figures are “going to be a shocker for people.”
Lawrence said town office employees estimated that if approved the budget would add about 4 cents to the town’s tax rate, or $40 a year per $100,000 of assessed value.
But, she said, the board has little choice to raise spending from the 2007-2008 level of about $1.3 million. (The face value of the budget was actually about $1.38 million, but that included $78,000 for a land purchase that residents eventually voted against, and the apples-to-apples comparison is based on $1.303 million and $1.47 million.)
“There are some uncontrollable costs,” Lawrence said.
• An increase of almost $21,000 in liability insurance, due in part to an increase in rates and in part to the larger town offices being built.
• An increase of about $14,000 in the town’s Addison County tax bill, which goes to pay for the county court system.
Please see the Monday, January 14, 2008's edition of the Addison Independent for local legislator’s reaction to the speech.
What is it in Middlebury’s water that makes town and school officials react like Nazis to the community’s youth and their related activities?
OK. That’s a loaded and unfair question, but let me explain: The latest incident happened this past week when a parent of a high school basketball player was booted out of the game at half time because he was leading other students and adults in cheering for the Tigers. The alleged violation was orchestrating a waving of the fans’ collective hands and arms (foot-stomping is no longer allowed) in support of their team. The parent who took the lead was later escorted out of the bleachers by a local policeman to talk to Middlebury Union High School Principal Bill Lawson, and then told not to return to his seat. The police log listed the incident as dealing with a fan who was annoying other fans around him and the opposing team. No joke.
The response from those most closely involved — other parents and fans in the auditorium — was outrage at a school policy that is overzealous and, worse, that is zapping the spirit out of MUHS athletics. About 30 athletes and sports boosters (parents) appealed to the MUHS school board on Tuesday to ease up on policies that one parent said is “driving students away” from the games and is now causing “loyal fans to rebel.” (See story Page 1A.)
“When there are less than two dozen students who show up for a big game and the visiting team has a larger cheering section than the home team, something is clearly amiss,” said area resident Linda Pitkin, who co-authored a letter to the school board urging members to review school policy.
Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits a dollar (stomp, stomp, stomp), all for Linda and team, stand up and holler! (Oh, sorry, that’s not allowed.)
WEYBRIDGE AND NEW Haven town officials, state officials, restoration crews and guests cut the ribbon to officially reopen the Rattlin’ Bridge Monday morning. The 100-year-old bridge, which spans Otter Creek between Weybridge and New Haven, was removed last summer for restoration work.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
January 10, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — More than 30 Middlebury Union High School athletes and sports boosters on Tuesday urged UD-3 administrators and board members to ease up on what they say are strict restrictions on cheering that they say are numbing school spirit and thinning the crowds at home games.
Tuesday’s grievances, aired at the outset of the UD-3 board’s regularly scheduled meeting, came in the wake of an incident during the Jan. 3 MUHS home basketball game against Mount Abraham Union High School, during which a parent was asked by school authorities to leave for “poor sportsmanship” and “annoying other fans.”
The “poor sportsmanship,” according to many of those at Tuesday’s meeting, included encouraging other fans to stomp their feet and standing and waving their hands — fan activities they said are commonly seen during varsity games in other high school gyms throughout the county.
Boosters told UD-3 officials that the Jan. 3 incident merely epitomized what they said has been a steady clamping down on fans’ abilities to cheer at home games, a trend one community member said has turned the MUHS gym into a virtual “morgue” when it comes to team spirit and spectator attendance.
“We understand that not everyone at a game wants to be sitting in a noisy section of the stands, but this tends to sort itself out by where people sit,” resident Linda Pitkin told the board, quoting from a letter she helped author on behalf of the group. “We also realize that there are legitimate concerns about crowd control at any sporting event and do not wish to limit the administration’s ability to deal with these concerns. And we certainly do not want the players, coaches, or officials to be taunted or disrespected.
January 10, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
WEYBRIDGE — On the drive back to their Barack Obama campaign office in Boone, Iowa, after sitting in on caucuses last Thursday night, none of the Kirekers, who had flown out from Vermont to work on the campaign for the final week, knew their candidate had won.
Benn Kireker, 23, and his dad, Charlie, knew something was up when a slew of text messages saying, “Congratulations!” and “Way to go!” started streaming in from friends who were watching the news back on the East coast.
Benn’s mother, Marie, found out Obama had won on the radio while driving back from her caucus.
“We had been so on-the-boots involved, we hadn’t been watching any media,” she said. “We were just in our own little world talking one-on-one with people. I really was pinching myself that this had happened.”
The Kirekers, who live in Weybridge, had flown out right before Christmas to help Benn’s twin brother, Matt, who has been working for Obama’s campaign in Iowa since June, with the final push before the caucuses. Both Matt and Benn graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 2003.
Always interested in politics, Matt hit the road for Iowa five days after graduating from Princeton University last spring. He had been hired by the Obama campaign as a field coordinator for Boone County, a largely agricultural region in the northwest with a population of about 35,000.
Matt had had some firsthand experience with American politics before when during the summer of 2005, he interned in the U.S. Senate. The experience left him disillusioned with American politics, which he characterized as full of bitterness and hostility. But instead of turning away from it altogether, he decided he wanted to do something to change it.
January 10, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — During the mid-1990s a group of area drama enthusiasts and community builders came up with the ambitious notion of transforming the former Middlebury town hall on Merchants Row into a performing arts center.
Supporters were long on enthusiasm, but short on funds. Early on, the effort was somewhat reminiscent of the plot line of a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney “let’s put on a show” flick.
A decade later, however, their energy has paid off — with interest. Members of Town Hall Theater Inc. confirmed on Monday they had met their $5 million goal to complete interior renovations and open the facility to performances and other functions by this summer.
“It is great news; we are all ecstatic,” said THT board Chairwoman Gail Freidin. “I always thought we would make it to opening the building, but there were times I wondered how long it would take.”
Theater boosters knew last July that the $5 million goal was within their grasp, after some anonymous donors issued a $500,000 matching grant challenge. The THT board pulled out all the stops and matched the $500,000 — with $18,000 to spare — when time expired on the offer on New Year’s Eve.
Boosters received additional good news in October when Middlebury College announced it would contribute $1 million to THT over the next 20 years in return for the use of space and services in the facility.
“We are absolutely good to go,” said THT Executive Director Douglas Anderson. “It’s thrilling. The capital campaign committee worked very, very hard. Everybody rose to the occasion; no one was going to give up until that challenge was matched. It just worked out brilliantly.”
AMELIA GARDNER AND Nate Gusakov welcomed the first baby born in Addison County in 2008 at their Lincoln home on New Year's Day. Abigail Lucile Gusakov weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
January 7, 2008
By CYRUS LEVESQUE