Archive - Oct 27, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association (MVAA) is seeking permission to build a new, 11,860-square-foot headquarters on a one-acre site just north of Porter Medical Center.
The new, $1.5 million facility would relieve cramped conditions at the MVAA’s current headquarters off Elm Street and give the growing organization room to expand in the future.
Middlebury College owns the land on which the new building would be built. Plans call for the college to lease the property to the MVAA, which would build a structure that would include a four-bay garage to accommodate up to eight emergency response vehicles; a conference room; a training room; a second-floor storage area; offices; changing rooms; sleeping quarters for up to eight workers; kitchen facilities; an exercise room; and a future dispatching office.
The land slated for the new headquarters currently serves as an emergency helicopter-landing site. That site would be temporarily relocated on the Porter campus.
Dispatching for the MVAA is currently done through Porter Hospital. Bill Edson, executive director of the MVAA, explained that there may come a time when the ambulance association will have to do its own dispatching.
“By building in a dispatching office, it will make that transition a lot easier,” said Edson, who anticipates the new headquarters will meet the MVAA’s needs for at least the next 50 years.
The organization has grown in recent years, mostly due to increasing calls for service. Edson said the organization is on target to answer upwards of 2,000 calls this year, which would be the most in the MVAA’s 30-year history.
The MVAA currently has 13 paid staff (seven of which are full-time); three paramedics; and 47 volunteers who Edson said provide invaluable service, particularly on weekends and during the evenings.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — Skyrocketing grain and hay prices are making the cost of keeping horses harder to saddle for some Addison County stables.
“It’s quite a serious issue,” said Kate Selby, the owner and trainer at the Equestry in New Haven. “In a relatively break-even business for all of us, the rising cost of hay in particular, being so sudden, is hard to handle.”
Higher fuel prices appear to have driven up the price of hay.
Selby said she’s seen hay triple in price from last summer, from roughly $1.50 per bale out of the field to $4.50 today. The Equestry does not put up any of its own hay, unlike some other local stables. With fuel costs so high this summer, though, Selby said she’s heard from other stable owners that their hay cost twice as much to produce this year.
Also increasing, stable owners reported, is the price of grain, with 50-pound bags selling for around $15, said Linda Schmidt, who sits on the board of directors at the Eddy Farm School in Middlebury.
“When you’re feeding 28 horses, that adds up,” said Jill Phillips, the owner of the Wishful Thinking stable in New Haven.
These feed costs — along with rising farrier and veterinary fees, which Selby attributed to high gasoline prices — are “taking a toll,” Selby said.
Despite rising costs and tough economic times, Selby said, most horse owners are doing their best to make ends meet rather than sell their animals.
“If you’ve made the commitment to owning a horse … it’s not the first thing that goes,” she said. “You don’t sell your dog. That’s not the first thing (horse owners) are going to do. They may cut back on lessons but they’re not going to cut back on care.”
By POOJA SHAHANI
ADDISON COUNTY — In a little more than a week American voters are going to cast their votes in an historic election as the nation faces one of its worst economic crises.
For area dairy farmers who have become more and more dependent on migrant laborers, one issue has transcended party affiliation: immigration reform. And for many there is an urgent need for something to happen.
“We need a realistic immigration policy — a system with a good and solid policy including a reasonable border control discouraging illegal immigration, but open to a thoughtful program permitting migrant workers to enter the United States to work in industries that American workers do not want to work in,” said John Roberts, who keeps 200 cows on his Cornwall farm and employs two migrant laborers.
Today, Vermont’s dairy farms employ an estimated 2,000 migrant workers, 500 of which work in Addison County. Migrant workers help with milking cows, working in the barns, and maintaining the daily operation of dairy farming.
“If I were to snap my fingers to remove every migrant worker in America, it would bring the country to a standstill. They fill low-skilled but very important jobs,” Roberts said.
“It’s not just agriculture and not just Vermont. The Hispanic workforce is booming nationally,” pointed out Tim Howlett, who milks 950 cows on his Bridport spread. “The way I view it is that you can either import the labor or export the jobs. Do you want to buy milk that’s produced in a country that has nowhere near the regulations and safety net that we do here?”
Howlett employs three migrant workers.