Archive - Dec 11, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
CORNWALL — Santa Claus will have a busy agenda on Dec. 24, but he may not be able to resist spending a little extra time at the Tillmans’ home in Cornwall this Christmas Eve.
There, he will find a veritable Santa “shrine” — a collection of hundreds of Santa dolls, figurines and other Saint Nick likenesses that Carol Tillman has avidly collected during the past three decades.
At last count, Tillman had assembled a cheerful legion of more than 500 Santas that she dutifully takes out of warm-weather hibernation each Thanksgiving for display around her home when the window panes start getting frosty.
She tenderly places as many of them as she can on the limited perches she has in her home, including on shelves in her small Moonlit Alpacas retail store off Route 125. It’s impossible not to feel the holiday spirit while under the gaze of the many rosy-cheeked, cherubic St. Nicks, each one a little different than the other.
Tillman confesses to being a little incredulous every time she pulls her collection out of mothballs. Even she has a tough time keeping track of where all the jolly men came from.
“It’s a question, when you have to move them, you really ask yourself,” she said with a chuckle.
But she vividly remembers her first Santa, which she received as a gift when she was 18. It’s a German “smoker” — a pipe toting Santa in which one can burn incense.
“That kind of started it, and it went from there,” said Tillman.
Each ensuing year, there was no mystery about what was prominently featured on Tillman’s Christmas list. She wanted Santas, Santas and more Santas — and her friends and family have dutifully obliged.
Tillman has also picked out her own share of Santas, paying from a few bucks to several hundred dollars for creations that meet her fancy.
By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY — A group of Addison County clergy and nonprofits are teaming up to offer emergency shelter and food for a growing number of people expected to be homeless and hungry this winter.
Leaders of the Congregational Church of Middlebury confirmed on Monday a portion of the church’s historic Charter House on North Pleasant Street will be used to temporarily house as many as three homeless families this winter.
Meanwhile, John W. Graham Emergency Shelter Executive Director Elizabeth Ready announced two new plans to beef up its services to the homeless.
First, the John Graham Shelter will soon reconfigure one of its “family rooms” as an eight-person bunkroom to accommodate single people who would otherwise find themselves out in the cold during the upcoming winter months.
Second, according to Ready, the shelter has received permission to use an Addison County Community Trust home on Washington Street Extension in Middlebury as temporary lodging for one, perhaps two, area families who find themselves without shelter this winter.
“The idea is to have a place for families, as well as individuals,” Ready said.
She stressed the ultimate goal will be to make the Washington Street Extension housing transitional in nature. The ultimate goal, Ready said, will be to get homeless individuals the counseling, health services and employment information they need to quickly get them into jobs and permanent housing.
“You can’t just put people in a bed and expect things to improve,” Ready said.
The Washington Street Extension home has five bedrooms and should be ready for occupants soon, according to Ready. She would not disclose the exact location of the home in order to preserve the anonymity of the people who will reside there.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — As deadlines for creating budgets for the next school year draw near, the county’s public school boards are juggling a slew of challenges as they stitch together barebones spending plans — not least of which are a slumping economy and as yet unknown state tax education rates and per pupil spending allotments.
Add to that list of challenges Act 82, an education funding law, also known as the “two-vote mandate,” passed in 2007 and that kicks into effect for the first time this year. Act 82 will force some Vermont school districts to obtain additional voter support for spending increases that exceed the rate of inflation — and that’s a hurdle that has some administrators worried.
“There’s a difference between an unpopular law and a poorly written one,” said Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Bill Mathis in Brandon. “As a piece of law, it’s just a clumsy and silly and ineffective mechanism.”
Act 82 — which was concocted last year as a compromise between Gov. Jim Douglas, who wanted to cap school spending, and the Democratic leadership in the state Legislature — is expected to come into play directly in about half of the school districts in the state. Budget writers in the other half undoubtedly are keeping the new law in mind as they go about their business, too.
School budgets will be subject to Act 82 if they meet two criteria. First, district spending per student in the previous year must have exceeded the statewide average. Then, if a school board also proposes a spending increase higher than the rate of inflation, that proposed spending plan will appear on ballots as two separate items.
The first item will ask voters to approve what will be referred to on the ballot as the school’s “total” budget — that is, last year’s spending plan plus inflation.