Archive - 2008 - Page
By KATHRYN FLAGG
BRISTOL — Autumn Harp Inc., the largest private employer in Bristol, announced Wednesday that the company is folding its Bristol operations into its Essex facility.
The 30-year-old manufacturer of cosmetics and personal care products employs 160 full-time employees at its Bristol facility and 40 in Essex. All of the company’s Bristol-based employees will be offered the chance to work in Essex, and the company intends to offer transportation for the 30-mile commute between Bristol and Essex.
Autumn Harp owner David Logan said that while it is impossible to know how many of the employees currently working in Bristol will make the jump to Essex, he is hopeful that most of the 160 will consider the offer.
Logan said that the Bristol property will make a great home for another small business, but that Autumn Harp has outgrown the 47,000-square foot facility on Pine Street.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a residential neighborhood,” Logan said, “and we’re very restricted in the amount that we could expand and grow the company here. We just can’t change that.”
Logan also said that the lack of a town wastewater disposal system contributed the decision to move out of Bristol.
Plans are in the works to expand the company’s 77,000-square foot Essex facility to roughly 125,000 square feet. Logan said that the company also hopes to expand its workforce, which currently stands at around 200 full-time employees, incrementally over time.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE FRESHMAN Elissa Goeke, far right, celebrates with volleyball teammates Olivia Minkhorst, Jane Handel, Natalie Dupre and Caroline Cordle after scoring a point for the Panthers during a match with Williams last Wednesday night. Handel, upper left, was NESCAC player of the week for the week of Oct. 20, when Middlebury went 4-0.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
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.
By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County voters are expected to turn out in droves at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4, to cast ballots for the candidates they want to represent them in venues ranging from the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier to the White House in Washington, D.C.
Locally, there will be contests in four of Addison County’s six Vermont House districts. Officials in some towns will also take advantage of Election Day turnout to decide a school bond (Bridport), a fire equipment purchase (Vergennes) and a possible expansion of the local selectboard (Bridport).
Also at stake on Tuesday will be races for Vermont governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor of accounts and treasurer.
And Green Mountain State voters will also make an impact on politics in the nation’s capital, as they decide the next president of the United States and who will represent them in the U.S. House.
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said around 64 percent of eligible voters have tended to cast ballots in a presidential election year. She is expecting an even bigger turnout this year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at 69 percent,” Markowitz said on Tuesday.
She noted town clerks have been seeing a heavy turnout of early voters.
“Some towns have already seen a quarter of their checklist turn out,” Markowitz said. “And there is a national trend out there for voting early.”
As of Monday, around 1,000 of Middlebury’s 4,492 registered voters had voted early or absentee, according to Town Clerk Ann Webster. That’s already a big jump from the total 732 voters who cast ballots early during the presidential election of 2004.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
MIDDLEBURY — Matthew Dickinson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, isn’t your typical blogger.
He’s every inch the bespectacled, professorial type, a Bay Stater who came to Middlebury in 1992 by way of Harvard. And his Web site, “Presidential Power,” reflects that same academic slant. Absent are the flashy ads, graphics, and daily polls — but present in large doses is crisp, thoughtful political analysis.
While that staid approach to election commentary seems to be in the minority among Web sites and blogs tracking the election in its last few days, Dickinson’s blog is growing in popularity among a small cohort of dedicated readers — and first and foremost, among his students.
That, Dickinson said, is his audience. The blog has its roots in a series of e-mails that Dickinson began sending to his students over a year ago. Every fall, the political scientist teaches a class at the college on the American presidency, and he noticed last year that his students had taken a strong interest in the upcoming election. He also noticed, though, that “they weren’t getting the full story.”
“The media coverage, the stuff that they talked about when they came into class, was — inaccurate is too strong a word, but it was misleading,” Dickinson said. That semester, he began e-mailing his students almost every night, commenting on a story in the day’s news that he felt deserved a second look.
Soon, his students were forwarding Dickinson’s e-mails on to parents, friends and other relatives. Before Dickinson knew what had happened, his political e-mails were going out to a diverse and vast list of readers. From there, the leap to blogging — a medium that he said has played en even larger role in this election than in the 2004 race — was a logical choice.