Archive - Apr 17, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Usually when Nancie Dunn attends the National Stationery Show in New York City she goes as a buyer for her Middlebury country gift store, Sweet Cecily. This year she’ll be on the other side of an exhibit booth, selling her handmade greeting cards.
Dunn started making her own cards about three years ago when her store was low on Easter cards. She took up marker and paintbrush and whipped out a small series of colorful cards to fill the racks. The first batch sold so well, she followed up with another.
“It just took off,” she said. “And they’ve gotten better and better as I’ve done more and more.”
A graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art, where she majored in children’s illustration, Dunn has always felt the pull to create her own art. Frog Hollow Craft Center was just opening when she moved to Middlebury in 1972, and she got a studio downstairs where she worked as a graphic designer.
She created the craft center’s frog logo and worked with its artists and craftspeople to design their business cards, stationery and letterhead, shifting her own illustration onto the backburner for a while. Since opening Sweet Cecily in 1987, the Main Street store has been her priority.
Until three years ago, that is, when she found the perfect creative outlet in her cards.
“It combines my real love of words with my real love of illustration,” she said.
More importantly for Dunn, the simplicity of card-making seems to quiet her perfectionist side.
“I think that when you are a maker of anything … sometimes you hold yourself to a standard that doesn’t allow you to move forward,” she said. “I realized that I didn’t have to be Michelangelo to do greeting cards.”
By JOHN FLOWERS
MONTPELIER — State lawmakers on Wednesday began reviewing a menu of $46.3 million in potential spending cuts and revenue adjustments to compensate for an estimated $24.5 million shortfall in Vermont’s fiscal year 2009 general fund budget.
The potential spending/revenue adjustments were developed by the Joint Fiscal Office and representatives of the House, Senate and Douglas administration. Released at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the proposed adjustments seek to remedy a major revenue shortfall predicted on Tuesday by state economists.
Since lawmakers and Gov. James Douglas have vowed to not raise any broad-based taxes this year, the Legislature will have to find economies within the $1.2 billion spending plan passed earlier this month by the House.
Red ink is also looming in the state’s transportation and education funds, which pushes the total potential fiscal year 2009 revenue shortfall to around $30 million.
“People are working cooperatively to do the dirty job of looking where to cut,” said Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Weybridge, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee and is Senate majority whip. “I don’t think there will be anything held sacred, except for the education fund.”
The menu of potential cuts unveiled on Wednesday included:
• $5.6 million from the executive branch, including hiring freezes, possible job cuts and a 25 percent reduction in the travel budget.
• $20.5 million from human services, including elimination of state-only prescription programs under Medicare Part D; closing the Northwest State Correctional Center in St. Albans and sending those inmates out of state; and limiting inflationary increases to 1.25 percent for nursing homes, mental health care agencies and developmental services agencies.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters on May 20 will be asked to approve local option taxes of 1 percent on sales, rooms, meals and alcohol transactions in town for the next three decades in order to raise $7 million for a new bridge that will span the Otter Creek at Cross Street.
Selectmen made that decision on Monday evening, only hours after Gov. James Douglas signed into law a charter change that would give Middlebury the authority to implement local option taxes.
The board also decided on Monday to limit the lifespan of the new taxes to 30 years — the same timeframe for payback on an already-approved $16 million bond issue to fund the bridge, which will link Main Street with Court Street as a means of reducing gridlock in the downtown.
Middlebury College has pledged to cover $9 million of the project costs. The institution will make annual payments of $600,000 over 30 years, beginning when the span opens to traffic — perhaps as soon as the fall of 2010.
Figures provided by the Vermont Tax Department indicate a 1-percent local option tax on sales, meals, rooms and alcohol would’ve netted Middlebury $725,319 in 2007. That sum acknowledges the 30 percent in local option tax revenues that Middlebury — and any other community implementing such taxes — must turn over to the state for its payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program.