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Date

College jazz band swings into action

SOUND INVESTMENT JAZZ Ensemble, a revival of a 1930s big band at Middlebury College, runs through a rehearsal in the Center for the Arts last week. The college has a history of big bands dating back to the swing era, but Sound Investment is the first jazz band to be officially credited by the music department in many years.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell


November 26, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — You can’t find a more purely American tradition than jazz music, Derek Long believes. The Middlebury College senior first fell in love with the genre in high school, playing tenor saxophone in a jazz band.

“With jazz there’s this really interesting dynamic,” he said. “On the one hand, you have to work together as a group. There’s a sense of community, of sharing a piece of art. On the other hand, there’s this opportunity for the individual to shine with the improvisation of a solo.

“That sense of standing up on your own two feet and dealing with whatever comes your way, it’s a uniquely American experience,” Long said. 

But jazz has kind of fallen off the map in recent years, Long said. That’s why his band, Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble, is trying to get it off the ground again at the college.

Sound Investment will have its official public debut on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts. The 17-piece band will present a kind of “jazz odyssey,” Long said, playing classics from Glenn Miller and Count Basie as well as more contemporary pieces,

When Long came to Middlebury in 2004, he was shocked to find there was no official jazz band sponsored by the music department; just a student-run organization known simply as Jazz Band.

full story

VUHS considers 5 percent hike in spending

November 26, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — Vergennes Union High School administrators and board members are looking at a first draft of a 2008-2009 budget that could — if approved in current form by the VUHS board in January and by voters in March — boost spending by about 5 percent to $8.45 million.

Rising energy and health insurance costs are pressuring the bottom line. In 2006 the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union also signed a new contract with its teachers giving raises ranging from about 3 to 5 percent, with the higher raises going to the lower end of the salary scale. 

VUHS Principal Ed Webbley said officials have little wiggle room once they factor in those items; expenses mandated by federal and state governments, such as special education; and other uncontrollable costs such as transportation, maintenance, and an almost $700,000 payment on the school’s seven-year-old expansion and renovation bond. 

Unless they want to start cutting non-mandatory programs at the 650-student high and middle school like music, art, agriculture and world language, Webbley said officials have about only $100,000 to play with. 

“Discretionary monies at our high school are $155 per student,” Webbley said. “We can make decisions on only such a small, small fraction of our whole budget. We can make decisions regarding field trips, books and supplies for students, and after that our discretion pretty much runs the course.”

ANwSU business manager Donna Corcoran projected an 8.5-percent increase in health insurance costs for budgeting purposes, although she said she picked that figure to be safe after being told to expect an increase closer to 7.5 percent.

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Middlebury woman seeks to raise suicide awareness

November 26, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

ADDISON COUNTY — After Kathy Jones’ father killed himself, her mother went to great lengths to have his death certificate changed. Instead of reading “suicide” as the cause of death, it now reads “unknown.”

There’s no doubt about how her father died, Jones said. Her mother drove home early from work that day to find him asphyxiating in a running car, closed up in the garage.

But people don’t know how to talk about suicide, Jones said. So for many survivors, it’s easier to make up a lie.

“You learn, when you’ve dealt with a death like this, people act so bizarre,” Jones said. “I’ve had people just shut right down when I tell them how my father died.”

It’s been eight years since the East Middlebury resident lost her father, but this year Jones joined the Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support group in Burlington. Before long, she became a board member for the Vermont chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Last month, Jones joined nearly 100 Vermonters in the fourth annual AFSP “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” in Burlington, helping to raise more than $17,000 toward national and local suicide prevention and awareness programs. She hopes to bring the topic of suicide out of the shadows.

According to the Vermont Agency of Human Services, in 2004 Vermont had the 12th highest suicide rate in the country; there were 93 suicides in the state that year. Addison County has seen a number of suicides in the last couple years and certainly has a reason to be concerned, said AHS field director Sue Schmidt in Middlebury.

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