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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 1148.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 181.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 136.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Declaration of image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images.inc on line 112.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_area::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_area.inc on line 81.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Non-static method views_many_to_one_helper::option_definition() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /home/addison/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 25.
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December 17th

Little drummer girl

MARY HOGAN ELEMENTARY School first-grader Ayana Mason drums along with her classmates during a presentation with artist-in-residence Rob Zollman last Thursday afternoon.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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Addison County to host green energy expo

December 17, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Local environmental groups and business leaders are planning the first in a series of annual events they hope will give Addison County a reputation for being the state’s hub for “green” technology and conservation.

The event, tentatively scheduled for March 1 in Middlebury, is being called the first annual “Green Energy Expo,” a day-long event that will offer visitors workshops on how to make their homes and businesses more fuel-efficient; examples of new technology that can power homes without relying on fossil fuels; and samples of locally grown food.

“It will be a free day for people to come down, participate, learn from workshops and see local vendors,” said Netaka White, an organizer of the event, which will be held in Middlebury College’s McCardell Bicentennial Hall.

White explained that the seeds for the expo were planted during a series of “creative economy” forums held this past summer in Middlebury. Those forums were designed to help the community devise, and follow through, on projects to spice up the local economy.

Creative economy participants came up with three main ideas for Middlebury to pursue, including making better use of the Otter Creek as an economic calling card; founding a creative economy association; and “establishing the Middlebury area as a pioneer in renewable energy production and management.” The first annual Green Energy Expo is a direct response to that third mandate, White noted.

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Festival shines light on solstice

December 17, 2007


By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — Last Thursday’s performance of “Night Fires” drew an enthusiastic crowd to Holley Hall in Bristol for two hours of music, dance and evocative costumes, but it may be the beginning of the end for the annual winter solstice celebration. After 26 years of organizing the festivity, founder and director Marianne Lust plans to step down.

“I’m 60 years old, and it seems time to think about what I should do next,” said Lust, a Lincoln resident.

“Night Fires” is a mix of carnival and opera that recalls centuries of festivities around the shortest day of the year — the winter solstice, which is Dec. 22 this year — and the climb back up to light. It features songs, dances and costumes inspired by cultures around the world in a passionate performance.

Each year the production tells a different story. Previous years have focused on St. Francis of Assisi, a Dutch Jew who died in Auschwitz and the diaries of a young girl whose family settled in Oregon in the late 19th century, among other themes.

“It’s a really unique production,” said Solveig Overby, publicity director for the Night Fires Theater Group Ltd.

Whatever the storyline, every production shares the common theme of a journey, sometimes a struggle, from darkness into light.

“The winter solstice is about going from the darkness into the light, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Lust said. This year’s “Night Fires” is focused on the walls around the world — from Berlin to Israel to the Texas-Mexican border — that separate people from each other and from the natural world, the harm those walls do, and how to break them down.

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Addison wraps up multi-year zoning effort

December 17, 2007


By ANDY KIRKALDY

ADDISON — Addison’s multi-year effort to put new zoning laws into place came to an end on Nov. 27, when selectmen adopted the planning commission’s latest version of updated regulations. Planners had forwarded that version to the selectboard earlier this year.

Selectmen acted immediately after a Nov. 27 public hearing that, unlike earlier hearings on proposed zoning, was sparsely attended. In the spring of 2006 about 200 residents came to a hearing on planners’ initial proposal, and not to heap praise on it — most said proposed zoning laws were too restrictive.

After that meeting planners went back to the drawing board for about a dozen-and-a-half meetings, most of which were also attended by former Addison selectboard chairman Tim Buskey. They worked to create the laws that 30 residents at a May 2007 public hearing generally found acceptable, and that selectmen approved on Nov. 27 after a few more changes.

Current selectboard Chairman Jeff Kauffman said selectmen saw declining attendance at the public hearings as a sign that residents had accepted the new laws, which ended up not making too many dramatic changes to former regulations.

“Our thinking was the questions must have been answered, and the (new) regs are pretty similar to what we have,” Kauffman said.

Planning commission Chairwoman Sally Conway, who plans to step down from the planning board after 12 years when her term expires in March, said planners don’t believe the new laws are ideal, but a key new element will make adapting the laws to the town’s needs easier in the future.

The laws created a separate development review board (DRB) to handle all zoning applications. Planners think that move will free them to focus on the town’s future and on fine-tuning zoning if necessary.

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December 13th

Two horse open sleigh

STARKSBORO FARMER DAVID RUSSELL takes a group of children from Starksboro Cooperative Preschool for a horse-drawn wagon ride up into the Christmas tree stand above his Starksboro dairy farm Tuesday morning. Russell helped the children cut down a tree and deliver it back down the hill.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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UD-3 school board proposes 4.73 % spending increase

December 13, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — The UD-3 school board on Tuesday agreed to send voters a proposed 2008-2009 spending plan of $15 million and a request to spend almost $400,000 in surplus funds on security and energy efficiency upgrades to the Middlebury Union high school and middle school buildings.

The proposed budget places the district safely below the per-pupil spending penalty threshold prescribed under the state’s education funding law. Under that law, districts that spend 125 percent of the statewide average per-pupil spending level are taxed at a higher rate, with the “penalty” revenues used to help pay for education in poorer towns.

Addison Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Lee Sease said the draft budget reflects a 4.73 percent increase in overall spending compared to the current year.

District officials are still firming up numbers on how the budget will affect taxpayers in the UD-3 member communities of Middlebury, Cornwall, Weybridge, Shoreham, Ripton, Salisbury and Bridport. The UD-3 budget reflects education expenses for both MUHS and MUMS.

Sease acknowledged that the district was in large part able to keep its budget under the state’s per-pupil spending threshold because 12 teachers have voiced interest in participating in an early retirement program. This program will allow the district to either keep some of the positions unfilled or hire new teachers at a lower wage scale.

But Sease added a cautionary note about the retirements in a recent memo to UD-3 board members.

“These early retirements have not been fully processed,” Sease wrote. “If for some reason these retirements do not come to pass, then substantial reductions-in-force will need to be made to meet the budget as presented.”

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Future of Vergennes summer childcare program in jeopardy

December 13, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — A chronic funding shortfall could end a summer childcare program that has served up to 100 Vergennes-area children and their families in recent years.

Mary Johnson Childcare Center co-director Ilana Snyder said the Vergennes Summer School Age Program has been losing between $20,000 and $25,000 annually for the past three years. After seeing the latest numbers at the end of this past summer the MJCC board voted to pull the plug unless more funding could be found. 

But MJCC officials are still working on ways to pay for the program, which has operated either at Vergennes Union Elementary School or Vergennes Union High School in recent years and was based at VUHS this past summer.

No one who knows the program — which offers arts, sports, field trips, swimming, and other activities, plus lunches — wants to see it end, Snyder said: Many working-class families rely on it for childcare while schools are out of session, and it also serves many families whose tuition is subsidized by the state. 

“It would be a loss for that community,” she said. “A hundred kids with no place to go … That’s an issue. That’s a cause for concern.”

Families not helped by the state paid $125 a week last summer for the seven-week, full-day program, which has operated when schools are closed and grew out of the Roxanne Bannister Provencher summer recreation program in the 1990s.

Snyder said MJCC is pursuing additional state funding and private grants for the program, which is too expensive for tuition alone to support.

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Bringing in trophy bucks is a family affair

December 13, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES and ANDY KIRKALDY

LINCOLN — The Sargent family of Lincoln will have lots of venison in the freezer this winter and stories to share for years to come thanks to a fortunate combination of hunting acumen and good luck last week.

First Stanley Sargent bagged a trophy buck with one shot from his muzzleloader, then three days later his son Brett Sargent felled an even bigger buck, also with a single shot.

“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” Stanley said with a wry smile in his voice when asked how he felt upon learning that his son had got the bigger buck. Then he added, “Really, I’m tickled.”

It started on Wednesday, Dec. 5. “Everybody had been up there looking for this deer,” Stanley said that afternoon, as he nudged the 160-pound animal back into the bed of his truck, blood dripping onto the snow beneath it as he closed the rear gate.

Early that morning he swapped deer stories with fellow hunters while filling up on breakfast at Kinfolk Kountry Restaurant in Bristol. He’d been in the hospital only a week before for a hernia operation, so he hadn’t been able to hunt in Vermont muzzleloader season yet.

“If I get one, someone’s going to have to help me out,” he recalled telling the folks at the restaurant.

Sargent left Kinfolk, and not half a mile up the road, he saw the deer on the edge of the woods, evidently in pursuit of a doe, he said. He pulled over, grabbed his muzzleloader, got out of his truck and shot.

“I see feet flying and horns flying everywhere,” he said. But he didn’t have any powder left. He’d put his pouch full of muzzleloader paraphernalia away earlier this fall after hunting in New York during muzzleloader season there. After his surgery, Sargent forgot to put it back in his truck.

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