Archive - Oct 18, 2007 - Page
AMERICORPS AND VERMONT Youth Conservation Corps volunteer Paul D’Agnolo carries an old tire away from the shore of Otter Creek below the falls in Middlebury last Thursday morning. About a dozen volunteers worked last week to clean up the falls basin area and provide better access to Otter Creek from the Marble Works. The two-day cleanup was an outgrowth of the "Creative Economy" workshops in Middlebury last spring. More photos from the clean up are in the Oct. 18 print edition of the Independent.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — A Shoreham teen is asking United States District Court to compel Middlebury Union High School to officially recognize the on-campus religious club of which she and other students are members.
The lawsuit sets the stage for a legal test of the federal doctrines relating to the separation of church and state, a fight that backers of the lawsuit — Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — vowed to take all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
A girl identified simply as “V.O.” filed the complaint on Oct. 12 in U.S. District Court in Burlington. The court has granted anonymity to the plaintiff because she is a minor. The Addison Independent knows the identity of the girl, but has agreed — at the request of her parents — to not name her unless she decides to come forward voluntarily or until the court lifts her legal veil of secrecy.
The complaint names UD-3; MUHS Principal Bill Lawson and Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) Superintendent Lee Sease as defendants.
V.O. alleges in her lawsuit that UD-3 officials have unjustly denied the Youth Alive Club the same official school recognition as other district-sanctioned clubs, such as the Gay/Straight Organization; the Arabic Club; the Outing Club; and the Student Coalition on Human Rights.
Officially recognized clubs at MUHS, according to the complaint, can be listed in the MUHS yearbook with an accompanying photo; can have their names listed on the MUHS Web site and in the school’s student-parent handbook; can have access to an advisor; and can receive access to district resources, including equipment, supplies and club funding.
By MEGAN JAMES
ADDISON COUNTY — Before moving to East Middlebury last year, Jeff Jones lived in the Caribbean, where he ran a food distribution company for the Turks and Caicos. It was there, a stone’s throw from the main island’s electricity plant, which ran on low-grade diesel fuel, that he first started tracking the peak oil crisis.
“The plant was a mile and a half away and it was just belching diesel fumes to provide energy,” Jones said. Without a dryer in the house, he would try to gauge which way the wind was blowing before hanging his clothes out to dry.
“My clothes would smell like I just got out of the garage after an eight-hour shift working on diesel engines,” he said. “This can’t be sustainable, I thought.”
Since then, Jones has been “ringing the alarm bell” about the rapidly-approaching expiration date of cheap oil, and that’s what drew him to Step It Up 2, the sequel to last April’s nationwide day of climate change demonstrations led by Ripton author Bill McKibben and a group of Middlebury College graduates.
“What we have to do for one, if we do it right, will help the other,” Jones said of global warming and peak oil, the time when half the world’s total oil reserves has been pumped out of the ground and people begin to face a scarcity of petroleum.
On Nov. 3, Jones will join area residents in making a second call to the U.S. government to “Step it up: cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.” But this time, the campaign doesn’t just offer a goal, but an outline of changes the country needs to make to get there.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — Last week dozens of gangs of teenagers, more than 300 boys and girls in all, roamed throughout Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham.
They were armed — with mops, rakes, paint brushes and sponges — and left in their wake a trail of gleaming windows, pruned bushes, fresh paint and neat lawns.
All were seniors, sophomores and freshmen at Vergennes Union High School. On the mornings of Oct. 9, 10 and 11, while their peers in the junior class took federally mandated tests that disrupted regular classes, they fanned out to their home towns for community service projects organized and supervised by VUHS teachers.
Despite some initial skepticism, the first-year experiment went well, according to both the beneficiaries of the work — town officials, church committee members and librarians — and VUHS administrators.
One skeptic was Ferrisburgh road foreman John Bull, whose employees oversaw VUHS students as they cleaned up the side of Sand Road and a town beach and rebuilt a fire pit at the beach.
Bull admitted he expected his workers “were going to waste three days” with the students, and was happy to say he was wrong after watching students do what he called “downright dirty manual labor,” like raking seaweed, dragging brush and picking up stones and trash.
“They’ve pitched right in,” Bull said. “It’s been superb, above and beyond what we expected. It’s been a bright spot to see young people in our community like this.”
Bull gave students top marks for the way they conducted themselves, and said he hoped VUHS would hold more community service days in the future.
“Their attitude has just been A-plus,” Bull said. “It’s been a really positive experience.”