Archive - Feb 25, 2008
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — The Vermont Senate is considering a bill to legalize industrial hemp for growth and sale in Vermont. Rep. Michael Fisher, D-Lincoln, one of bill H.267’s sponsors in the Vermont House of Representatives, said that hemp could make a new, very versatile crop for Vermont’s agricultural industry.
“I’ve been hearing for a long time that this was an important crop for Vermont farmers to grow,” Fisher said.
Hemp can be used for a wide variety of products, including textiles, biodegradable plastics, biofuels and even food. However, it is closely related to cannabis sativa, better known as marijuana. “Law enforcement has said for a long time that they don’t want us to grow hemp because it looks like marijuana,” Fisher said.
Industrial hemp produces far too little of the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be usable as a drug. Fisher explained that his hemp bill, H.267, includes a number of requirements to ensure that hemp farmers are not growing plants high in THC. A farmer applying for a permit would have to go through a background check, get fingerprinted, report the exact area and location where hemp would be grown, keep production and sales records for at least three years, and more.
The bill overwhelmingly passed the Vermont House, 126-9, on Feb. 7. All area House members voted in favor of the bill. It is now in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Sen. Harold Giard, D-Addison County and Brandon, was optimistic about the bill passing the Senate as well, though no date for a vote on it has been set.
Gov. Douglas could not be reached for comment, but his spokesman, Jason Gibbs, said that Douglas did not think the issue was very important.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — As the effort to build a duplicate Grange Hall on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh nears the half-way mark, the project is on schedule, on budget, and at the point where its interior — which when finished will hold town offices and meeting spaces for town boards and hearings, the community and Grange members — is taking shape.
Project manager Paul Wyncoop of Bread Loaf Corp., the Middlebury construction firm that is the general contractor for the $2.8 million project, said even winter weather has not caused any delays.
“It’s going well. Things are pretty much progressing on schedule,” Wyncoop said late last week. “It’s pretty much water-tight and weather-tight.”
Scott Dearborn, Bread Loaf’s onsite project superintendent, sounded even more optimistic about a project that began in early October, is now in the sheetrock phase and has a June occupancy date — although construction-veteran realism also cropped up in his assessment.
“The overall schedule that Paul did, we’re a couple weeks ahead,” Dearborn said. “But we’ll lose that somewhere. It just happens.”
Town Clerk Chet Hawkins, a regular visitor to the site, said he has been pleased with the quality of the work, as have others who have inspected the effort to build a historically accurate reproduction of the structure that burned in February 2005.
“The first thing that everybody who’s come in to tour the building has said is that the workmanship is first-rate,” Hawkins said during a stop at the site on Thursday.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Even in Baghdad, Adi Raval couldn’t escape talk of the U.S. democratic primary. Back in August, when the BBC Baghdad bureau chief was working in Iraq, he found himself all too often answering Iraqis’ questions about the nominees’ campaign rhetoric about pulling out the troops.
“These people watch television, they read newspapers, American blogs,” Raval said in a talk at Middlebury College on Thursday. “They’re probably, in a lot of ways, more tuned in to what’s going on with American politics than most of us are. Because in a lot of ways, the election here matters more to them than it does to ordinary Americans.”
Although he currently is a producer for the BBC at the White House, Raval has been stationed in Baghdad three times since 2004. From his post in the Green Zone, the 1998 Middlebury College graduate and San Francisco native has watched the best and the worst of America play out side by side, he told a standing-room-only audience last week.
During the spring of 2004, when he was deputy bureau chief for ABC News, Raval was one of only a handful of journalists who watched the American Coalition Provisional Authority hand back sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
“The ceremony itself was in some ways emblematic of how the major of military operations were carried out,” Raval said. “It was rushed, it wasn’t very well thought out.”
On that 120-degree day in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, the pro-council of the U.S. government at the time, stood in his L.L. Bean hiking boots and handed a legal contract to the Iraqi vice president and interim chief justice of the Iraqi High Court.
Raval clutched his satellite phone, ready to break the news to the world that Americans had returned sovereignty to the Iraqi government.