Archive - 2006
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) will pave Middlebury’s Main Street next year at night — while taking Friday and Saturday evenings off — in deference to downtown merchants and restaurant owners who feared the project could cripple their businesses.
Mark Woolaver, the AOT’s paving project manager, confirmed the scheduling adjustments last week after a meeting with Middlebury town officials and business leaders. Locals had feared tremendous economic and traffic repercussions from the downtown Middlebury leg of next year’s scheduled repaving of parts of Routes 7, 30 and 125.
The $2.5 million project will require lane closings and traffic diversions that merchants feared would steer shoppers away from local businesses.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON – A $250,000 grant given to the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, the Bixby Free Memorial Library in Vergennes, Vermont Public Television and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation will fund a major archaeological effort along Lake Champlain, an hour-long documentary, new exhibits for the Bixby and Chimney Point, and a program that local teachers can take into their classrooms.
The grant will fund an in-depth exploration of Champlain Valley history in the 17th and 18th centuries as part of a regional effort to celebrate the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s visit in 1609 to the lake that now bears his name. He was the first European to visit Lake Champlain.
By MEGAN JAMES
BRANDON — The Brandon Police Department is ready to integrate a new weapon into the arsenal its force of seven officers uses to keep the peace in town — the Taser X26 stun gun.
The non-deadly stun gun is promoted by its manufacturer, Taser International, as a safer alternative to firearms that can reduce police-related firearm fatalities. But some civil liberties organizations doubt the Taser’s claim that their device, which shocks a police query with 50,000 volts, is less than lethal and have begun tallying up deaths they say are linked to police mishandling of the weapon.
In Brandon, where the select board OK’d the purchase of two Tasers at a cost of under $1,000 apiece, police say the new tool is needed.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College could break records with a $500 million fund-raising campaign, which, over the next five years, will fund objectives outlined in a recently revamped strategic plan, including increasing the faculty-student ratio, strengthening the financial aid program and improving student housing.
While the college’s board of trustees has not yet approved this figure, college officials said last week nothing short of this amount will allow them to implement the full strategic plan.
Such an ambitious goal, among the largest fund-raising goals ever set by a liberal arts institution of its size, will require the institution to look beyond its existing donor-base of alumni, parents of current students and friends, to other universities and organizations that support Middlebury’s mission to be globally minded, said Dean of Planning John Emerson.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — A local family has started a nonprofit organization to place abandoned dogs with families that are looking for pets, but in doing so, they have run afoul of Bristol’s regulations on dog ownership and control — not to mention having annoyed the neighbors.
JoAnne Bohannon of Bristol began working with stray or abandoned animals in the area of Bryan County, Ga., soon after Hurricane Katrina last year. Bohannon, who used to live in Georgia, said that many of the animals lost or made homeless by Katrina wound up in Georgia, and yet there are few or no animal shelters in that state that have a no-kill policy.
So the Bohannon family started Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence to bring stray dogs from Georgia to Vermont. According to Joy Bohannon, who has been working with her mother, JoAnne, in this effort, Vermont has plenty of people interested in adopting new pets.
By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY — Town officials planning budgets in some local communities got a small reprieve last week when the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) said the cost for the municipal health insurance would increase “only” 12 percent, instead of the 36 percent increase previously forecast.
Several Addison County communities — including Middlebury — buy their insurance through the VLCT Health Trust. The trust has in recent years done business with Blue Cross Blue Shield. But when that company announced a 36 percent increase to re-up for the current benefits package, the VLCT went searching for a more cost-effective proposal. The VLCT believes it has found a better buy in CIGNA.
“We are currently working with CIGNA to ensure that the plans we offer starting on Jan. 1, 2007, will provide your employees with comparable or better coverage than our current Blue Cross offerings,” reads a Nov. 8 letter from VLCT Executive Director Steven Jeffrey to member towns. “VLCT and CIGNA are fully committed to making this change in carriers proceed as smoothly as possible.”
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — With the 16-day rifle deer season getting under way this past Saturday, local and statewide numbers for October’s archery deer season and Youth Hunting Weekend on Nov. 4 and 5 had triggered optimism for area hunters.
During the Oct. 7-29 bow season hunters took 124 deer to Addison County’s eight major weigh stations, a 55-percent increase from the 2005 total of 80.
During this past youth weekend 123 younger hunters brought animals to county reporting stations to have them weighed, an increase of 26 deer over the 2005 weekend total of 97.
In all, the local combined take of youth weekend and the October bow season this fall was 247 deer, up by 40 percent of the 2005 combined total of 177.