Archive - Nov 3, 2008
The following seven questions, along with a requested word limit, were asked of each local candidate for the Vermont House.
The questions are not repeated in the context of each candidate’s response, but are recalled by subject at the beginning of each answer.
Election Day is Nov. 4.
1) HEALTHCARE: The state’s Catamount Health plan is up and running, are you satisfied that it is meeting its goals and, if not, what additional steps should the state take to expand health care coverage? (Maximum 150 words.)
2) ELECTRICITY: The expiration of Vermont’s contracts with its two big electricity providers, Hydro-Quebec and Vermont Yankee, is looming. And there are concerns about re-licensing Yankee. What should Vermont do to meet its energy needs? (150 words.)
3) AGRICULTURE: What state-level supports and policies regarding family farms would you promote as a legislator? (150 words.)
4) PROPERTY TAXES: The idea of a property tax cap to limit the rise in school spending has been suggested, but such reductions in funds could diminish the quality of education in our schools over time. How do you solve that dilemma? (150 words.)
5) HEATING: Vermonters are worried about how they will pay to heat their homes and gas up their cars this winter. What can the Legislature and state government do to help? (150 words.)
6) ECONOMY: State government is cutting back as tax revenues fall short of expectations. What can state government do to improve the Vermont economy? (150 words.)
7) SINGLE ISSUE: Discuss an issue of importance to you that you would work to address if elected. (100 words.)
In the race for the Addison-2 House seat — which represents Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury — John “Ike” Hughes faces Willem Jewett.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board’s (DRB) conditional approval of a proposed Staples store off Route 7 South is being appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court by both the developer and neighbors opposed to the project.
The Middlebury Development Review Board in September approved the proposed 14,737-square-foot-store for The Centre shopping plaza with several conditions, including that:
• Developers (Middlebury Associates LLC) submit a final master plan for The Centre showing that it will “be deemed fully built out with the Staples, based on the zoning limitations of traffic capacity, parking and town plan conformance.”
• Access connections be built between The Centre and the neighboring Middlebury Short Stop and former Dollar Market.
• A series of sidewalk connections, entrance upgrades, crosswalks improvements and landscape additions be put in to enhance pedestrian safety and aesthetics within the plaza.
• Traffic signal timing adjustments be made at the Route 7 South/plaza intersection to ensure extra traffic generated by the Staples store does not exacerbate gridlock on Court Street/Route 7.
A notice of appeal filed with the Environmental Court by Middlebury Associates LLC attorney David R. Cooper states that “although the decision technically approves the project, it imposes unreasonable conditions upon the appellant, and should be modified.”
Meanwhile, a group of 10 people who had opposed the Staples application have also filed an appeal with the Environmental Court.
“They think no permit should have been issued at all,” said their attorney, Bristol-based James Dumont, on Friday.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
BRISTOL — Bristol’s Prince Lane — the alley space that runs behind the buildings on the north side of Main Street adjacent to the Shaw’s and Rite Aid parking lots — is slated for a makeover, thanks to federal and state funding approved this year.
Bristol was one of five towns tapped last week by the Vermont Downtown Development Board to share more than $300,000 in state grants to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements in their downtowns, officials announced last week.
Bristol’s $74,772 piece of that pie, in addition to $241,000 in federal earmark money secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., last winter, will be used to bury utility and power lines, build a new sidewalk to open up access to the rear of the buildings, clean up neglected areas and improve pedestrian safety.
“The stars were all aligned,” said Bristol Downtown Community Partnership board member Larry Buck, who last week joined Town Administrator Bill Bryant and BDCP President Kevin Harper for a presentation to the Downtown Development Board on the grant proposal.
The plan to bury the utility lines has been in the works for years, according to Bryant. A group that eventually became the Downtown Designation committee conceived the project at least three years ago, while working on achieving official Downtown Designation status, which made Bristol eligible for this grant funding.
Motivation for burying utility lines is “primarily aesthetic,” Bryant said, but those improvements will also allow for new sidewalk construction, which will, in turn, let Main Street businesses provide more handicap-accessible entrances to their buildings.
Buck and Bryant both said that they also hope the improvements will encourage business owners to “spruce up” the rear entrances and backsides to their buildings.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — It took 93 years, but Addison County on Nov. 7 will get its first-ever turn hosting the Vermont farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention.
The two-day event will see the state’s farm community discuss the condition of Vermont agriculture and draft priorities to push during the upcoming legislative session. The 54 elected Farm Bureau delegates — including four from Addison County — will conduct their business at the Middlebury Inn.
Tim Buskey, administrator of Vermont Farm Bureau Corp., explained that Addison County had not previously hosted the organization’s annual meeting because there was no lodging/convention venue big enough to accommodate the crowd of 150 or more people the event has drawn in recent years.
But in a bittersweet development for the county, participation at this year’s annual meeting is anticipated to be around 125 people, making it a good fit for the Middlebury Inn, Buskey noted.
“This will be one of the smallest groups we’ve had; it’s simply a sign of the times,” Buskey said. “It has contracted a little bit.”
Indeed, this year’s annual meeting/convention was originally scheduled to by a three-day affair, beginning Thursday, Nov. 6. But Buskey said organizers were forced to cut out Thursday’s program when the major event set for that day — an agricultural business tour — failed to draw enough sign-ups.
Still, farm bureau officials are pleased to finally bring the convention to one of the state’s most active farming counties.
“It gives us an opportunity to see an area we haven’t seen,” Buskey said, noting last year’s gathering was held in Burlington and next year’s will be in Rutland.
Our office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27
Our Thanksgiving edition will be on the stands on Wednesday, November26, and in mailboxes, as usual, on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.