Archive - 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — It’s still early in the election year, but Middlesex Progressive Anthony Pollina has already grown weary of leaders in Montpelier saying what they “can’t” do for Vermonters, either due to scant finances or the sheer complexity of the problems at hand.
So, Pollina has decided to run for governor to tell citizens what state government “can” do for them.
“Overall, I would say I share the same frustration that a lot of other Vermonters share with the current governor (Middlebury Republican James Douglas), who tends to be holding us back from dealing with the challenges we face,” Pollina, 56, said during a March 28 interview with the Addison Independent. “The way I would categorize it is, the current governor spends too much time lecturing us about all the things he thinks we cannot do.”
Pollina, during a far ranging interview, discussed his stand on a variety of campaign issues, including health care reform, boosting affordable housing and creating new jobs. He also addressed the perception, held by some in the Statehouse, that his candidacy could siphon votes from a Democrat challenger to Douglas. Vermont Democrats have yet to field a candidate for governor.
Pollina is no stranger to statewide races and controversy.
In 1984, he was the Democratic and Rainbow Coalition candidate for U.S. Congress.
He ran the first-ever Progressive Party campaign for governor in 2000, polling 10 percent of the vote. He followed that up in 2002 with a bid for lieutenant governor, garnering 25 percent of the vote in a very competitive race.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — The winter months, when fields are covered with snow, have always been lean times for farmers. While some who till the lands simply tighten their belts, a few Addison County growers have banded together to create a new online farmers market to reach customers at a time of year not usually associated with fresh, locally produced food.
“Customers are coming fairly quickly,” said Bay Hammond, whose family owns the Doolittle Farm in Shoreham.
The Doolittle Farm joined with seven other Addison County farms to launch the Addison County Locally Grown Web site, which went live at the beginning of March.
This time of year, well outside the growing season for fruits and vegetables, most of the products at the online farmers market are meat, dairy and baked goods. In addition to helping farmers, Hammond said the market will strengthen the local foods movement, which has sometimes struggled in the winter months.
“There are a lot of local products that aren’t vegetables,” Hammond said. “The local movement gets pushed through the summer, but it really needs to be year-round.”
In addition to Doolittle, the other farms selling their products online are Singing Cedars Farmstead in Orwell, Ledge Hill Farm in Weybridge, Kent Ridge Orchards in Cornwall, Camomile Blue in Ripton, New Leaf Organics in Monkton, Crawford Family Farm in Whiting and Boundbrook Farm (which is affiliated with Good Companion Bakery) in Ferrisburgh.
Items currently for sale range from kielbasa and leg of lamb to lip balm and scoured wool.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — In all his 30 years of teaching English, there’s one memory Charles Sabukewicz still can’t shake: While supervising a large study hall, he noticed students huddling around a table. When he peeked into the crowd to see what they were watching, he saw that one boy had caught a fly, tied a long strand of hair around it, made a loop at the other end of the hair and attached it to a pencil.
The fly, still alive and buzzing, circled the pencil as the kids looked on.
“Now why would I remember something like that?” Sabukewicz said over a cup of coffee on Monday.
Many of the 70-year-old’s memories are like that — a dollar bill floating in on the tide at a Rhode Island beach, catching a mosquito and pasting it into his notebook — haphazard but lasting images that over the years he has sculpted and carved into poetry.
Sabukewicz, who retired from Middlebury Union High School in 1999, recently released a book called “Rowing in Twilight,” a collection of short poems inspired by the natural world, the local community and his childhood in Narragansett, R.I. He will give a reading of his work at the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury on Wednesday, April 9, at 6 p.m.
“I have a tendency to become interested in things other people might not be interested in,” he said.
But that’s not entirely true.
In a poem called “The Bee Keeper,” Sabukewicz evokes local beekeeping legend Charlie Mraz, whom Sabukewicz got to know through a series of interviews he conducted for a documentary about Mraz for Middlebury Community TV in the ’90s.
Mraz, who established Middlebury’s Champlain Valley Apiaries, was known around the world for his innovative use of bee venom to treat arthritis pain, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — The town of Bristol is getting nearly $250,000 in federal funds for improvements to the road, sidewalk, streets and pedestrian walkways in the village center, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Thursday.
“We’re really pleased to get this money,” said Bristol town administrator Bill Bryant. “These funds will help implement some of the physical improvements that have been planned for several years as part of an effort to maintain the downtown's vitality,” he added.
Bristol selectmen aren’t sure yet what specifically the money will be used for, according to Selectwoman Carol Wells. The selectboard has a number of projects it would like to address in the downtown area when time and money become available.
“We’re getting prices for some of the different plans we have,” said Wells, who is also a founding member of the Bristol Downtown Community Partnership, a nonprofit group devoted to improvements in Bristol downtown.
Those projects may include adding trees, a grassy area, footpaths, curbs and sidewalks to Prince Lane between Brooks Pharmacy, Shaw’s Supermarket and the back of the Main Street businesses. The town may also add curbs to the Brooks Pharmacy parking lot or the corner of the town green near the playground equipment or new lights to the town green.
An estimate made in 2007 for the Prince Lane project alone was about $400,000, so the town would have to seek grants from other sources to support the rest of the work.
By JOHN FLOWERS
GOSHEN — The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday issued a majority opinion overturning the felony “cultivation of marijuana” conviction of a Goshen man on grounds that the man’s constitutional rights were violated by authorities’ aerial search of his property.
The ruling is expected to set a major precedent for how law enforcement in Vermont conducts aerial searches.
In June of 2005 Addison County District Court Judge Christina Reiss sentenced Stephen Bryant to 45 days in jail in connection with his cultivation of 49 marijuana plants that he said he’d been using to treat chronic pain from a horrific construction site accident he had sustained in 1974.
Vermont State Police detected his illegal crop during a helicopter flyover of Bryant’s Goshen property on Aug. 7, 2003. They executed a search warrant the next day.
Bryant and his attorney, Robert Keiner of Middlebury, argued that Bryant had been using the marijuana for medicinal purposes and that the aerial photographs constituted an illegal search. A majority of the Supreme Court justices agreed to the latter argument but did not take up the former.
The opinion, written by Justice Marilyn Skoglund, noted — among other things — testimony offered by the defense quoting witnesses as saying the VSP’s surveillance helicopter was less than 500 feet above Bryant’s property for around 30 minutes.
“The (lower) court concluded that the police surveillance was not so intrusive as to violate the Vermont Constitution,” the opinion reads. “We disagree and reverse.”
The justices also noted that state laws governing aeronautics require that aircraft must maintain an altitude of at least 500 feet, except above water or sparsely populated areas.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
NEW HAVEN — New Haven resident and property owner Steve Dupoise has filed a petition to rezone 20 acres of land along Route 7 south of Belden Falls Road to allow commercial development.
If the town votes to support the petition, Dupoise said that Town and Country Homes, a dealer of manufactured housing now based in Vergennes, would move to a five-acre parcel on the corner of Belden Falls Road and Route 7.
The planning commission of New Haven decided not to endorse the change, but the petition will result in a town vote on the matter.
In anticipation of the townwide vote, the commission will hold a public hearing to discuss the plan on Thursday, April 3, at 7 p.m. in the town hall. The selectboard will hold a hearing after that and then the vote will be scheduled.
Steve and Marcia Dupoise own a parcel of about 30 acres on the west side of Route 7, south of Belden Falls Road. The southernmost 10 acres is zoned as highway commercial and is already the site of Ethan Allen Highway Storage, which they own.
Steve Dupoise said Town and Country Homes owners Pat and Lisa Whitley approached him to see about moving their business to the Route 7 site for greater visibility. Whitley could not be reached for comment, but if the proposal to rezone the area is granted, Dupoise said Town and Country Homes would probably resemble a housing development, with two or three sample homes on the site and a small office.
Dupoise said he had no plans for the space between the existing storage company and the proposed site of Town and Country Homes, although the proposal to rezone includes that parcel, too.
According to New Haven Planning Commission chairman Al Karnatz, the commission had decided not to recommend the change when Dupoise approached them.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) on April 28 will ask the Middlebury Development Review Board for permission to build a new headquarters off Creek Road to accommodate the organization’s growing bus fleet, which serve the region’s increasing demand for public transportation.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The organizer of a Dec. 28 underage drinking party that caused $10,600 in damage to the former summer home of Robert Frost in Ripton will not serve any jail time, but will pay $3,500 in restitution, perform 100 hours of community service and be on probation for two years.
Those were the main components of a plea agreement negotiated between Addison County State’s Attorney John Quinn and 18-year-old Ripton resident Andrew Ford, who fainted during a courtroom discussion with Addison County District Court Judge Helen Toor as she accepted the plea deal on Tuesday.
Ford suddenly collapsed and appeared to lose consciousness as judge Toor queried him on his reasons for organizing the party at the Homer Noble House that drew more than two dozen people, many of them Middlebury Union High School students. Most of those students have already accepted court diversion as punishment for their roles in the destructive party, which has garnered national publicity.
Court officials quickly cleared the courtroom after Ford’s collapse, but called off an ambulance after he quickly regained composure and completed the sentencing hearing, with his parents at his side.
“I have never scared someone so much that someone fainted in my courtroom,” Toor told Ford in a brief light moment after order had been restored. “I was trying to scare you a little bit, but not that much.”
Ford’s punishment includes a suspended jail term of six- to 12 months and an educational course that he and the other culprits will have to attend. Quinn confirmed on Tuesday that he is speaking with Jay Parini, author and D. E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College, about leading the course to enlighten the youths about Frost’s iconic status as an American poet.