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Date

May 21st

Legislative roundup

May 21, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Local lawmakers last week gave a passing grade to the 2007 legislative session, giving particularly high marks to measures that will expand Internet/cellular phone coverage throughout the state and give Vermonters more assistance in making their homes energy efficient.

The Legislature adjourned on May 12 after a four-month marathon that saw lawmakers endorse, among other things, an education cost-containment bill and partial state subsidies for pre-kindergarten programs.

On the other hand, lawmakers took a pass on several controversial, high-profile measures, including an impeachment resolution and “right-to-die” legislation.

All in all, it was a good session, according to Rep. Steve Maier, D-Middlebury.

“I think the Legislature was really productive this year,” said Maier, chairman of the House Health Care Committee. “There was a real sense that people worked very hard on behalf of Vermonters.”

full story

Whiting/Sudbury school plan to gather feedback

May 21, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

WHITING/SUDBURY — After less than two months of public meetings, the Whiting and Sudbury school boards have drafted a joint contract agreement to consolidate their elementary school operations for the 2008-2009 academic year. Now they hope to begin gathering feedback from their respective communities.

Each town will hold a special town meeting on Nov. 6 at which a final plan will be presented and residents in each town will vote on the idea.

“The school boards wanted to get the proposed contract out to the citizens for review and suggestions,” said William Mathis, Superintendent of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union. “At this early date, we have time to consider and revise as needed.”

As the draft reads now, starting in the fall of 2008, the Whiting school would serve kindergarten through second grade students and the Sudbury school would serve third- through sixth-graders.  

full story

May 17th

Revote saves school

May 17, 2007

By JOHN S. McCRIGHT

HANCOCK/GRANVILLE — After casting votes on Town Meeting Day that appeared to doom the Granville-Hancock Village School, residents in the two Addison County towns at separate meetings on Wednesday night reconsidered their March 6 decisions and voted instead to fund the school for another year.

“I’m very pleased,” said Granville school board member Kristi Fuller. “If I learned any lessons it’s that you need to hang on to your school as tight as you can and you need to get the people in Montpelier to understand that Vermont is a rural community and we’re not going to consolidate all the schools in the state.”

Granville and Hancock merged their separate village schools three years ago and teach about 36 children in kindergarten through sixth-grade at two buildings, one in each town. Many in both towns have defended the unique education that their children get in this setting.

full story

Briarwood returns with new name and management

May 17, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — About three years after it closed, the Briarwood Nursing Home will be returned to its former mission in Vergennes under new management and with a new name: Spruce Gardens Residential Care Home.

Building contractor Alan Giguere has a contract to purchase Briarwood from owner John LaBerge, who has been marketing the 10,000-square-foot building on a 4-acre lot at 1 Alder Place for $1.2 million.

Ferrisburgh native and 1986 Vergennes Union High School graduate Earl Dionne, who will manage Spruce Gardens for Giguere, said Giguere now has a lease on the property, but that a sale is planned for mid-June.

Not too long after that Dionne and Giguere hope to start filling the 19-bed facility, which is about three blocks north of Main Street, with its target population: seniors who need some help but still have most skills intact.

full story

May 14th

Legislation to help farmers gets approval

May 14, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MONTPELIER — The state’s General Assembly last week overwhelmingly supported a bill that directs the Vermont Milk Commission to establish a minimum milk price that would relieve farmers from the costs of having their product hauled to processing facilities.

The bill, if signed into law, could result in savings of $7 million per year to Addison County farmers alone, according to Sen. Harold Giard, D-Bridport, the chief architect of bill S.78.

“This is such a monumental piece of legislation,” Giard, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said on Tuesday. “This is $7 million that will stay in Addison County. This is jobs on Main Street.”

Approximately 60 cents per hundredweight of milk is currently deducted from farmers’ milk checks to cover the expense of hauling their product to processors. Farmers pay another $6 to $8 every time a hauling truck stops for a load of milk, according to Giard.

full story

Developers eye large city subdivision

May 14, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — After years of waiting for new zoning laws to be adopted, the owners of a large vacant parcel on West Main Street are now ready to sell their property to developers who are seeking approval to build 54 single-family homes on the land in a planned residential development (PRD).

Farmers Marcel and Paul Bourgeois have an agreement to sell their parcel, which also fronts on Otter Creek and Hopkins Road, to Rivers Edge Associates LLC for an undisclosed sum. The parties to the deal said some contingencies remain.  

Rivers Edge, which has as its principals Peter Kahn of Charlotte and Alan Bartlett of Colchester, has held a series of meetings with the Vergennes Development Review Board (DRB) in recent months to iron out details of the final application for a project they have dubbed “Claybrook.”

full story

May 10th

Otter Valley High School budget shot down again

May 10, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

BRANDON — For the second time this spring, voters in Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union towns have rejected a proposed 2007-2008 spending plan for Otter Valley Union High School. The tally in Tuesday’s balloting on a revised budget of $10,884,962  was 587 opposed and 455 in favor.

The original budget proposal, which was $106,565 larger than the one voted on this week, was defeated, 1,250-911, on Town Meeting Day, along with $10 million in renovation and construction bonds.

With informational meetings hosted by the OV school board poorly attended since officials first floated the bond proposals last fall, it was no surprise to some that Tuesday’s revote attracted less than half the turnout of the original vote in March.

full story

Mosquitoes ... they are a-comin'

May 10, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

BRIDPORT — Receding flood waters and cold nights have helped keep biting bugs at bay thus far this spring, but officials in the county’s two mosquito-control districts know that warming temperatures will soon lead to a sizable hatch of insects.

Last week saw representatives of the Brandon-Leicester-Salisbury-Goshen (BLSG) and Lemon Fair Insect Control Districts (LFICD) get their equipment and larvicide stocks ready for what has become an annual battle against swarms of bloodthirsty insects.

“We are surveying every day and keeping a close watch on things,” said BLSG district Coordinator Kim Schroeder. “It has been a wet spring, and we’re hoping things dry up a bit more before it warms up.”

That’s because mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet conditions. The insects lay their eggs in swamps and pools of standing water. With help from the sun, those eggs mature into larvae, then full-fledged mosquitoes.

full story

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