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Archive - Aug 2008

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Date
Type

August 14th

Middlebury to keep town gym open this winter

By KATHRYN FLAGG

MIDDLEBURY — In the second of two discussions this week focusing on the winter use of the municipal gym, Middlebury selectmen backpedaled during their Tuesday board meeting from tentative plans aired last month to close the space to reduce heating bills and conserve energy.

Town Manager Bill Finger reassured those who use he gym — including a large contingent from the growing teen center — that plans to close the gym had been tabled. Currently, he said, he’s exploring other solutions to counter a spike in heating prices that could double the already-steep $44,000 bill Middlebury paid to heat the town offices and municipal gym last year.

“The thought of closing the gym is not foremost in my mind — it’s more how can we reorganize the programs that are in the gym and how can we better control the heating system and make that more efficient,” he said.

Finger said that the “guestimate” is that the gym is responsible for around 70 percent of the entire building’s 20,000-gallon heating oil consumption. 

Tuesday’s conversation followed on the heels of a meeting Monday for “stakeholders” in the municipal gym space, including members of the teen center, the Russ Sholes Senior Center and members of the recreation department. 

Many of those same supporters turned out for Tuesday’s selectboard meeting to reiterate the importance of the space — including the role it plays in creating a vibrant downtown community.

“One of the things we all agreed on last night is how important this building is,” said Emily Joselson, a co-founder of the Addison Central Teens group that uses the 94 Main teen center. “We also agreed that everyone — you guys who work here, and we guys who play here — deserve a better building.”

full story

August 11th

County looks to repair damages from latest floods

By JOHN FLOWERS

RIPTON — Gov. James Douglas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are confident that widespread flood damage caused by the Aug. 6 rainstorms will qualify for a major infusion of federal aid.

Douglas and FEMA Regional Administrator Art Cleaves came to that conclusion on Thursday while surveying some of the  infrastructure in several Addison County towns, including roads and bridges, that had been devastated by floodwaters.

As the Addison Independent went to press, officials were still tallying up damage in the hard-hit communities of East Middlebury, Ripton, Hancock, Goshen, Granville, Salisbury, Leicester, Bridport and Forest Dale. Authorities said they expected the damage to easily eclipse the $1 million needed to trigger a federal emergency declaration from the White House, thereby paving the way for up to 75 percent reimbursement for flood-related repairs.

“We’ve been to Ripton, East Middlebury and Salisbury and the damage is quite extensive,” Douglas said during an interview Thursday afternoon at Middlebury State Airport, where he quickly boarded one in a convoy of four Vermont Army National Guard helicopters that flew over the destruction.

“I think this is the most significant (natural disaster) in my tenure,” he added.

Road crews have been working overtime to restore access to roads and bridges heavily damaged when the Middlebury River and a collection of other brooks and streams jumped their banks, sending water cascading across already-saturated ground.

Workers on Thursday had restored emergency access to Route 125 between East Middlebury and Hancock, though it may be many more days before regular, two-way traffic resumes on the busy road.

full story

Field Days delights with racing pigs, Jersey calves and more

By KATHRYN FLAGG

Editor’s note: The 60th edition of the Addison County Fair and Field Days last week offered, as ever, a smorgasbord of sights, sounds, smells and sensations. With so many events, demonstrations, fried treats and heated competitions to take in, we picked just a few favorites for our readers to savor. Here’s a sampling of what we saw.

The ribbon above April’s stall proudly declares this four-month-old Jersey calf a “novice champion.” She and her handler, Ethan Sausville, 8, of Addison, snagged top honors at the Thursday morning 4-H competition in handling and showmanship. But for the youngest of the Weybridge Willing Workers (WWW), the real marvels in the 4-H Dairy Barn are not the ribbons, but the cows themselves.

Sausville, Matthew Ouellette and Addy Parsons of Weybridge, all 8, crowd around a few of the calves the club is showing this year at the fair. Two little Jerseys, April and Lila, are munching away happily on their grain, perfectly content to let their handlers stroke their backs and necks.

The calves seem pretty happy to be shown, the kids explained — though “sometimes April gets spooked,” Sausville says. She straightens up once her show halter is on, Parsons chimes in.

It’s not easy, they explain — though the calves are sweet-tempered, they can be stubborn.

“You’ve got to really work with them,” Sausville says.

And occasionally, accidents can happen.

“Last year, when I was a PeeWee, I got kicked in the stomach by a really big cow,” Ouellette confides, not without a note of pride. The children confer on the size of the “really big cow” before ultimately deciding she was somewhere along the lines of Cinnamon’s height, gesturing to a massive Jersey lolling in the sawdust a few stalls down from the calves.

full story

August 7th

What's new is old again at Field Days

By KATHRYN FLAGG

NEW HAVEN — From the get-go, the Addison County Fair and Field Days has drawn crowds, said Lucien Paquette, the 92-year-old Middlebury resident who started Field Days in 1948. In the early days, families piled into their cars, traveled to whichever local farm was hosting the fair that year and congregated to learn about the latest revolutions in agricultural technology.

This was after the Second World War, Paquette recalled, when change was happening at an extraordinary pace. The latest advancements — ranging from artificial insemination for cattle to dynamite blasting in ponds — fascinated fair-goers.

“Many of these things were novel,” Paquette said. For the first time since the war, he said, new technologies were becoming rapidly available to consumers — and in Addison County, the Field Days celebration was exactly the place to learn about these advancements.

That tradition of demonstrations and agricultural education — so fundamental in the fair’s earliest years — continues today. But while the fair — which opened its 60th incarnation on Tuesday and will continue in high gear through the fireworks on Saturday evening — certainly includes its fair share of novelties, one of the largest and most popular exhibits today looks not to the future, but rather at the past.

The case in point is an old barn tucked away in one corner of the New Haven fairgrounds, where Field Days moved in 1968. The barn, originally built around 1825, was moved to the fairgrounds in 1993 and lovingly reconstructed. It now is the hub of the sprawling antique equipment demonstration, featuring an expansive collection of old farm and household items dating back as far as the early 1800s.

full story

Middlebury seeks revival of Otter Creek Falls area

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — A citizens’ committee is seeking around $260,000 in grant money to introduce new walkways and a terraced viewing area to provide better access to, and enjoyment of, the Otter Creek Falls in downtown Middlebury.

The Middlebury selectboard and the committee will present the plan at a public meeting set for 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the town offices on South Main Street. It’s a plan assembled by an ad hoc “Riverfront Committee” that has spent recent months discussing ways Middlebury could more effectively use the Otter Creek Falls as a calling card to draw more visitors and commerce to the downtown.

“It would be so good for Middlebury to make that area accessible,” Riverfront Committee member Nancy Malcolm said in referring to the Otter Creek Falls. “It’s really a jewel.”

A jewel that has been likened to a “diamond in the rough” by many town officials. Many a visitor has “oohed” at the sight of the Otter Creek cascading beneath the Roman arch Battell Bridge on Main Street. Trouble is, one of the only unencumbered vantage points from which to view the falls is the footbridge that links the Marble Works to Frog Hollow. Business leaders, environmental groups and selectmen have promoted a cleanup of the debris that collects at the base of the falls, so that the area can be landscaped and made more inviting. Selectmen several years ago commissioned a study that included a suggestion to beautify and develop the rear facades of Main Street businesses that border the falls area.

full story

August 6th

Floods hit region: Two bridges out and more than a dozen roads closed

By JOHN FLOWERS, KATHRYN FLAGG and LEE KAHRS

ADDISON COUNTY — The streams and rivers in Addison County are normally postcard-perfect images of tranquility this time of the year. But this summer’s unrelenting rain transformed many local waterways into proverbial freight trains on Wednesday, sending water careening into roads, bridges and backyards in a swath from Leicester and Brandon north and east to Granville and Hancock.

Emergency crews responded in at least eight area towns. Flooding compromised at least two bridges — one on Route 53 just south of Lake Dunmore and the other on Lower Plains Road in East Middlebury — prompting their closure. Numerous roads in southern Addison County and in the White River Valley were closed because of flooding.

As the Addison Independent went to press, authorities had closed 18 roads and streets due to floodwaters. They included:

• Route 53 along Lake Dunmore in Salisbury and Leicester.

• Olde Town Road in Ripton.

• Fernville Road, the Leicester-Whiting Road, Fern Lake Road and Shaddock Road in Leicester.

• Silver Lake Road, Dutton Brook Road, Flora White Road, and Carlisle Hill Road in Goshen.

• Three Mile Bridge Road in Middlebury and portions of Lower Plains Road (which was evacuated) in East Middlebury.

• Route 125 between Route 116 and Route 100 in East Middlebury, Ripton and Hancock.

• Newton Thompson Road, Wheeler Road, Union Street, Barlow Avenue, and Forest Dale Road in Brandon.

Authorities were still assessing flood damage Wednesday afternoon, when the floodwaters appeared to have crested and even receded in some areas. But officials cautioned that conditions could quickly worsen in the event of new rainfall. Showers were forecast through this Saturday.

full story

Floods hit region: Two bridges out and more than a dozen roads closed

Addison County Independent: Breaking News

By JOHN FLOWERS, KATHRYN FLAGG and LEE KAHRS

ADDISON COUNTY — The streams and rivers in Addison County are normally postcard-perfect images of tranquility this time of the year. But this summer’s unrelenting rain transformed many local waterways into proverbial freight trains on Wednesday, sending water careening into roads, bridges and backyards in a swath from Leicester and Brandon north and east to Granville and Hancock.

Emergency crews responded in at least eight area towns. Flooding compromised at least two bridges — one on Route 53 just south of Lake Dunmore and the other on Lower Plains Road in East Middlebury — prompting their closure. Numerous roads in southern Addison County and in the White River Valley were closed because of flooding.

As the Addison Independent went to press, authorities had closed 18 roads and streets due to floodwaters. They included:

• Route 53 along Lake Dunmore in Salisbury and Leicester.

• Olde Town Road in Ripton.

• Fernville Road, the Leicester-Whiting Road, Fern Lake Road and Shaddock Road in Leicester.

• Silver Lake Road, Dutton Brook Road, Flora White Road, and Carlisle Hill Road in Goshen.

• Three Mile Bridge Road in Middlebury and portions of Lower Plains Road (which was evacuated) in East Middlebury.

• Route 125 between Route 116 and Route 100 in East Middlebury, Ripton and Hancock.

• Newton Thompson Road, Wheeler Road, Union Street, Barlow Avenue, and Forest Dale Road in Brandon.

Authorities were still assessing flood damage Wednesday afternoon, when the floodwaters appeared to have crested and even receded in some areas. But officials cautioned that conditions could quickly worsen in the event of new rainfall. Showers were forecast through this Saturday.

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