Archive - Mar 13, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — When Ned Castle met Jean Luc and David Dushime at his father’s company picnic in Burlington last summer, the young ethnographer could only speculate about the distance the two young Rwandans had covered to arrive in Vermont.
The Dushime brothers worked for Castle’s father at Rhino Foods, the company that makes the cookie dough, among other goodies, for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Jean Luc Dushime attended Champlain College during his time off.
Castle had recently moved back to his hometown of Charlotte after dropping out of a graduate program in photography — he doesn’t actually consider himself a photographer, just “an interested person with a tape recorder and a camera.”
So he set out to document their stories.
What Castle found after sitting down with the Dushimes was a window into the community of refugees living in Vermont. Over the next eight months, through connections he made while volunteering for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, Castle interviewed and photographed 13 other refugees from around the world.
His finished work, a collection of portraits and stories called “In Their Own Words, Stories from Refugees Settled in Vermont Communities,” is on display at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury through June 14.
At a gallery talk on Tuesday evening, Castle explained his motivation for the project.
“It’s not that I want people drop everything and start volunteering at the local refugee organization, which would be great,” he said. “But it’s a willingness to be open to the (idea) … that the places we’ve come from and the experiences we’ve had are incredibly important to the people that we are.”
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Gov. James Douglas on Monday encouraged lawmakers to come closer to his priorities on developing new affordable housing, a tight fiscal year 2009 budget and new strategies to stem Vermonters’ property tax burden.
Douglas outlined these and other legislative goals during his annual appearance at Addison County’s legislative breakfast series, held at the Middlebury American Legion headquarters on Wilson Road.
Calling it the toughest budget year in the six he has served as governor, Douglas warned that state legislators will be challenged in the coming weeks to make some tough decisions on spending priorities.
The most recent financial forecasts indicate a 1-percent drop in general fund revenues for fiscal year 2009, according to Douglas.
“It is a time for making choices,” Douglas said, quoting, as he did in his first budget address, President John F. Kennedy who said, “To govern is to chose.”
Douglas noted he had outlined his budget priorities in a draft 2008-2009 spending plan he unveiled in January. That budget has drawn fire from some House and Senate leaders for proposed cuts to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals and for a proposal to lease the state lottery to generate an estimated $50 million the governor would use to pay for school construction aid and to draw down property taxes.
“This is a year to make those difficult choices, and I know we can work them out and decide what’s most urgent for people in the coming year in a time of softening economy and decreasing revenues,” Douglas said.
By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
MIDDLEBURY — Addison District Judge Helen Toor on Monday sent George Dean Martin back to jail for another year for causing the deaths of two children in a July 4, 2002, boating accident on Lake Champlain.
Martin was convicted in 2004 of two counts of boating while intoxicated death resulting and sentenced to six-to-10 years in jail — three-to-five years for each of the two counts. But after he spent three years in prison, the Vermont Supreme Court last August ordered Martin’s release and resentencing saying the law allowed for only one count in this case since both deaths occurred during the same incident.
Toor could have sent the former Charlotte resident, who had been living with his mother in Rochester since his release, back to prison for two more years. Noting nine mitigating factors, the judged settled on ordering a single year of additional jail time. The formal sentence was four-and-a-half to five years, with all suspended but four years.
Martin accepted the sentence silently. After hugging a family member, the bailiff took him from the court and back to jail.
Charlotte residents Steve and Laura Mack — whose children, four-year-old Trevor and nine-year-old Melissa, were killed in the boating accident — were in the Middlebury courtroom for the sentencing. They said they were satisfied with the sentence.
“It’s time to put it behind us,” Steve Mack said. “I think he has remorse. He lost a child (years ago), he knows what we are going through.”
CHANGE IN THE LAW