Archive - Oct 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Last week dozens of gangs of teenagers, more than 300 boys and girls in all, roamed throughout Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham.
They were armed — with mops, rakes, paint brushes and sponges — and left in their wake a trail of gleaming windows, pruned bushes, fresh paint and neat lawns.
All were seniors, sophomores and freshmen at Vergennes Union High School. On the mornings of Oct. 9, 10 and 11, while their peers in the junior class took federally mandated tests that disrupted regular classes, they fanned out to their home towns for community service projects organized and supervised by VUHS teachers.
Despite some initial skepticism, the first-year experiment went well, according to both the beneficiaries of the work — town officials, church committee members and librarians — and VUHS administrators.
One skeptic was Ferrisburgh road foreman John Bull, whose employees oversaw VUHS students as they cleaned up the side of Sand Road and a town beach and rebuilt a fire pit at the beach.
Bull admitted he expected his workers “were going to waste three days” with the students, and was happy to say he was wrong after watching students do what he called “downright dirty manual labor,” like raking seaweed, dragging brush and picking up stones and trash.
“They’ve pitched right in,” Bull said. “It’s been superb, above and beyond what we expected. It’s been a bright spot to see young people in our community like this.”
Bull gave students top marks for the way they conducted themselves, and said he hoped VUHS would hold more community service days in the future.
“Their attitude has just been A-plus,” Bull said. “It’s been a really positive experience.”
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
By 12 former Army captains
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.
What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.
Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.
EARL BESSETT OF Addison stands on the deck of the historic Ticonderoga passenger steamship on the grounds of the Shelburne Museum. Bessett, 83, served as first mate on the ship, which cruised Lake Champlain for almost 50 years, in the early 1940s.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
October 15, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
SHELBURNE — Earl Bessett one day last week joined the dozens of people who eagerly scoped out the legendary steamboat Ticonderoga, which sits on the lawn at the Shelburne Museum.
But while most of the visitors marveled at the architectural splendor of the vessel and could only imagine what it must have been like to take her on a cruise in Lake Champlain, the Ticonderoga held no mysteries for Bessett.
That’s because the Addison resident, now 83, became intimately familiar with the boat as its first mate during two eventful summers back in the early 1940s. On Thursday, Bessett returned to the vessel to renew acquaintances and share some of his memories as a crew member in 1941 and 1942.
The Ticonderoga is the world’s only preserved side-paddlewheel passenger steamboat endowed with a walking beam engine. She was built in Shelburne in 1906 and operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain, serving ports along the New York and Vermont shores until 1953. She was the last commercially operating steamer on the lake.
In a what was a truly remarkable feat of engineering, the Ticonderoga in 1955 was moved two miles overland to the Shelburne Museum grounds, where it was painstakingly restored at its unlikely dry dock.
Bessett, who moved to Addison 12 years ago, still remembers the big move via specially-laid railroad tracks from Shelburne Bay to the museum grounds.
“I never thought they could do it,” he said. “I though it would tip over. It’s nice to see it preserved.”
October 15, 2007
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Vergennes Union High School administrators decided last week to base the class rank and grade-point averages (GPAs) of their junior and senior classes on the school’s previous grading system, not the new grading system VUHS adopted for the current school year.
Grades for freshman and juniors will still be reported under the new system.
VUHS Co-Principal Edwin Webbley said last Wednesday that decision was made after “further conversations with board members, parents and the guidance department.” Those conversations included an Oct. 3 meeting with four dozen parents.
“We’re exactly and absolutely going to keep what we have as far as their GPA and class rank for this year and next year,” Webbley said.
Administrators also reversed course on VUHS honor roll standards, which now will be based on underlying numerical grades, not on letter grades. On Oct. 4 they had decided to retain the existing letter-grade based system, but now Webbley said the honor roll will be based strictly on the numbers.
To earn high honors, students will need to maintain an average of at least 90 in all their courses, and to earn a spot on the honor roll a student must achieve at least an 80 on all his or her courses and a 90 in a least one course.
October 15, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
BRANDON — When Anthony Albarello was in junior high school in Harlem, he took a picture of a single typewriter key for his first photography assignment. It was an awful photo, he said. But for some reason, he couldn’t stop tinkering with it.
“I thought, I can make that better,” he said. “I can make that stupid typewriter key a work of art.”
The answer, he soon found, was in the lighting: With the right light, he could make anything beautiful.
Albarello is 62 now, living in Brandon and a seasoned photographer, having spent the last 40 years shooting high-end fashion, commercial and finally, his passion, architecture photography around the world. Through it all, his keen sense of light — and his patience to wait for it — has almost singularly defined his work.
A selection of Albarello’s architecture and interior photographs is on display through Oct. 22 at the Watershed Tavern in Brandon. The photos, chosen primarily from his work in New York City, create an architectural landscape with the lines and details “that make a room a piece of art,” he said.
Starksboro Meeting Hall has been removed to allow work to be done as part of an ongoing restoration project. Several area towns are working to bring iconic local structures up to date.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MONKTON — The East Monkton Church is one of the fine old buildings in the area that are relics of an earlier era. The white, wooden building, constructed in the classic New England style, predates phones and electricity, and, for that matter, cars. But it is still used each summer as a place of worship.
And like a few other local pieces of the past — notably public buildings in Starksboro and Bristol — the community group that manages this church is hoping to restore it.
Candace Polzella, who helped found the East Monkton Church Association Inc. three years ago, said her group plans to keep the church in use as a valuable part of the town.
“It’s a historic building, and it’s been a part of our community since 1867,” Polzella said.
Some work has already been done on the building on Church Road. The association raised enough money to re-roof the building in the summer of 2006. But Polzella said they would eventually like to do a lot more work, including replacing some windows and rotted wood, repainting the exterior, and repairing the front entrance and foundation of the 140-year-old building.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — While Middlebury’s Cross Street has been squarely in the headlines for its potential to host a new in-town bridge over the Otter Creek, an ad hoc committee has been quietly mapping out a new retail-office hub that could be located mere yards from the proposed new span.
Representatives of the Middlebury Economic Development Initiative Committee (EDIC) on Tuesday unveiled some conceptual drawings of a 40,000-square-foot commercial building that could be erected on land located behind the Ilsley Library. The roughly 77,000 square feet of land in question is primarily used now as a municipal parking lot and is owned by Middlebury College and the town of Middlebury.
College and municipal officials recently joined forces to take a closer look at the downtown property and its potential in hosting a project that could improve the economic vitality of downtown while boosting Middlebury’s grand list.
Middlebury Town Planner and EDIC member Fred Dunnington on Tuesday presented selectmen some conceptual drawings showing a 40,000-square-foot building bordering Cross Street between the current Steele’s Service Center property and the rim of the Otter Creek off Bakery Lane (see map).
While the plans are still very much in flux, Dunnington said the building could boast as many as three stories, built above as many as three levels of parking. There could be around 100 spaces for each level of parking, according to Dunnington.
October 11, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MIDDLEBURY — Congressman Peter Welch this week in Middlebury voiced concerns about some parts of the 2007 Farm Bill, but he said that the parts most important to Vermont’s agricultural community, such as the Milk Income Loss Contract, were preserved in the version of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The first job was to keep that safety net part of the Farm Bill,” the Vermont Democrat said at the annual Addison County Farm Bureau meeting on Monday.
The Farm Bill recently passed by the House and now awaits discussion by the Senate agricultural committee. The 2002 Farm Bill was set to expire last month, but was extended until November.
Details of the bill will have a significant effect on the agricultural community, and Welch said the bill could affect the rest of the state nearly as much. “A lot of the benefit is that those of us who live in Vermont … get the collateral benefit of this local, cultivated land,” Welch said, referring to side benefits like tourism dollars. “The more there is local agriculture, the better.”
However, there were some portions of the House’s version of the bill that Welch disapproved of, such as a price support program for commodities like wheat, corn, rice and other staples. He argued that too often the program wound up funding farms that didn’t need any extra help.