April 3rd, 2008
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.
By JOHN FLOWERS
SALISBURY — Don Ballou concedes that his body and mind are showing some signs of wear and tear.
He’s more than entitled.
Ballou, a resident of the Shard Villa senior care home in Salisbury, will be celebrating his 100th birthday on Friday, March 28.
“I’ve been very fortunate in a lot of ways, and I’ve had a lot of help,” Ballou said on Monday, in reflecting upon a very rich life that has included some 31 years as a mathematics professor at Middlebury College and a fulfilling retirement during which he has traveled to all corners of the globe.
“I’m quite indebted to all the folks who have helped me along the way, such as here (at Shard Villa) and at Elderly Services (in Middlebury),” he said.
Don Ballou was born on March 28, 1908, in Chester, Vt. Theodore Roosevelt was in the White House. Frenchman Henri Farman had just piloted the first passenger flight, and Robert Baden-Powell had just established the Boy Scout movement.
Chester was a wonderful place in which to grow up, Ballou recalled. He enjoyed going to school, where he developed a particular fondness for English and math.
He completed his undergraduate studies in English at Yale University, but decided to switch his focus to math after deciding that his mind “worked better” solving equations rather than “talking around a subject” in English.
So, Ballou went on to Harvard University for his graduate studies in math then took his first teaching job, as a mathematics professor at Georgia Tech in 1934.
He considered himself fortunate to land the job.
“It was toward the end of the (Great) Depression,” Ballou said. “There weren’t many positions available.”
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Local planners and developers joined the Douglas administration last week in panning a House-passed affordable housing bill they said was more of an anti-sprawl measure that would not substantially boost the state’s stock of low-cost homes.
The bill, which received final approval in the House on Wednesday by a 79-61 tally, proposes to create economic incentives and streamline the Act 250 permitting process for developers proposing projects containing at least 20-percent affordable housing in and around designated downtowns and villages.
The bill also amends criterion 9L of Act 250 in a manner that opponents believe will make it harder to develop housing in rural areas and communities that don’t yet have designated downtowns and villages.
“I don’t doubt that the intentions of the bill are worthy, but the unintended consequences will be just the opposite of what it’s hoping to accomplish,” said Bill Sayre, a Bristol resident and leader of Associated Industries of Vermont, an organization that advocates for public policy that protects the “private enterprise economy” in the state.
Sayre and other opponents of the bill argue that it may actually make it harder for developers to build affordable housing — even at the monetary threshold prescribed by the legislation. That threshold is 80 percent of Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s limit for new homes, which translates to $219,200 in Addison County — an amount that many argue is too high to be considered affordable. The legislation calls for the units to remain ‘affordable’ for at least 15 years.
Officials in communities that have designated downtowns or villages note there is little room left in, or around, those areas in which to create new housing, let alone at an affordable price.