Archive - Sep 18, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
SHOREHAM — This summer’s wet weather may have been tough on corn and hay fields, but it has helped produce a bumper crop of apples at local orchards.
“Most people are looking at a good crop,” said Steve Justis, marketing specialist for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “If we can get through the next few days of wind, I think we’ll be looking at a good year.”
Vermont orchards yielded approximately 800,000 bushels of apples last year, according to Justis. This year could be substantially better.
“I think the numbers could be up 10 percent for this season, if we can avoid complications from hurricane winds,” Justis said on Monday, alluding to the remnants of Hurricane Ike that had battered portions of Texas over the weekend. Thankfully, the forecast for Vermont for the balance of this week was for sun and mild temperatures. And another big plus: Most Vermont orchards averted hailstorms this past spring that did significant damage to fruit crops in New York state.
Addison County continues to be the largest apple producing region in the state, according to Justis. Economic pressure, brought on primarily by competition from abroad, has whittled down the state’s major commercial apple producers to a solid core of around 25, according to Vermont agriculture officials.
Bill Suhr of Shoreham-based Champlain Orchards anticipates his operation will exceed the 27,000 bushels of apples it produced last year. Not only is there a greater abundance of fruit, but the individual apples are larger and more colorful than last year.
Suhr explained that a dry May helped create good pollination conditions for the crop. The rain nourished the apples, with key periods of recent sunshine helping to give the fruit a particularly vibrant rosy hue.
“We had an ideal growing season,” Suhr said.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Addison Northwest Supervisory Union this summer won a U.S. Department of Education grant that could total more than $900,000 in the next three years, an award that officials believe will help transform physical education in ANwSU schools and boost students’ academic performance while putting them on the path toward lifetime fitness.
The grant, one of 96 the DOE awarded in 2008, will pay for fitness equipment that will include high-tech heart-rate monitors, low-rope climbing courses at the three ANwSU elementary schools and a high-ropes course at Vergennes Union High School, in-line and ice skates, cross-country skis, snowshoes and dance video games.
It will also fund healthy after-school activities to be offered jointly with community groups that include the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes and the Willowell Foundation.
But ANwSU Superintendent Tom O’Brien said more importantly that the Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant would help create a “culture change” at the four schools.
“Assuming that over the three years of the grant we are able to establish the goals ... it is a culture change,” O’Brien said. “It’s much more of a focus on personal fitness, and personal responsibility for fitness ... that will last (students) for their lifetime ... And the increased physical activity, at least according to the research, will have some benefit in the classroom. I’d say this is pretty significant.”
The grant was fleshed out by ANwSU curriculum coordinator Carol Spencer, VUHS PE teacher Ed Cook and Vergennes Union Elementary School PE teacher Robyn Newton, and then polished by a professional grant-writer, for whose services Newton won a grant.
For Cook and Newton, the DOE grant can help change the focus of PE away from competitive ball sports and to personal fitness activities.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Officials in more than a half-dozen Addison County towns breathed a collective sigh of relief this week after learning that extensive road and bridge damage caused by a powerful storm on Aug. 6 will qualify for federal disaster aid.
Federal authorities confirmed the presidential declaration of disaster on Sept. 12. That means that repairs to flood-ravaged bridges and roads will qualify for up to 75 percent federal reimbursement — great news to the locally affected towns of Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Bridport, Leicester, Goshen, Hancock and Brandon.
The federal declaration will also give the Mary Hogan Elementary School board the option of seeking reimbursement for an additional school bus that could be put on the road to serve students on Lower Plains Road in East Middlebury. Families on that road must currently provide their own school transportation because the flood damage closed the Lower Plains Road bridge — the only direct route into the rest of Middlebury. Serena Eddy-Moulton, chairwoman of the ID-4 board, said on Tuesday that she and her colleagues will convene late this week to discuss the federal disaster declaration and the role it can play in restoring bus service to students who must currently be detoured to school via Salisbury and Route 7.
“We will send a letter to parents on Friday (Sept. 19) letting them know the progress,” Eddy-Moulton said.
Federal, state and local emergency management officials were scheduled to meet at Middlebury’s Ilsley Library on Thursday morning to hold a briefing “designed to help local officials understand federal disaster eligibility requirements and the reimbursement process for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, restoration and replacement of public facilities,” according to a memo issued by Vermont Emergency Management.