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March 1st

Migrant worker advocates get support from Washington

March 1, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

ADDISON COUNTY — Local advocates for migrant farm workers on Wednesday hailed a new legislative attempt by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. to legitimize the presence of undocumented laborers currently providing vital service to dairy farms throughout the state.

At issue is the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, And Security Act Of 2007, of which Leahy is a co-sponsor. The legislation would create a “blue card” program, through which currently undocumented people working in agriculture could secure temporary legal status, with the ultimate possibility of qualifying for a permanent legal status (a green card).

In addition, Leahy included a provision within the bill that would give undocumented dairy workers, goat herders or sheep herders a chance to legally work for an initial period of one year, with an opportunity to apply for up to three more years of temporary employment. The provision would also allow the dairy worker who has successfully worked for 36 months in temporary status to apply for permanent residency, subject to visa availability.

full story

City candidate forum

March 1, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — The seven-member Vergennes City Council could have four new members after Tuesday: Mayor April Jin is facing former alderman Michael Daniels for a two-year term, while Alderman Randy Ouellette is the only incumbent in a field of five seeking three council seats.

Ouellette is facing Mathew Chabot, Christine Collette, Peter Garon and Diane Lanpher; The top three vote-getters will earn two-year terms.

All the candidates except Chabot attended a forum hosted by American Legion Post 14 on Feb. 22; Chabot was out of town on business. Jin and Daniels’ opening remarks and responses to questions from the audience of about 20 were excerpted in Monday’s Independent.

full story

Life song

March 1, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — Jer Coons began gathering the tools he would need to become a successful singer-songwriter early. He was born with the talent, he got his first guitar at age six and he befriended his would-be booking manager, Spencer Kelley, in the playrooms of Mary Johnson Children’s Center in Middlebury.

Together, Coons and Kelley, who both graduated from Middlebury Union High School last spring, are jumping head first into the independent music scene, preparing to make a living doing what they love.

“This fall, when Jer started getting serious about his music, we realized we could both benefit from each other,” Kelley said.

And it seems to be working.

full story

February 26th

City candidates speak

February 26, 2007

Editor’s note: The candidates for mayor and the Vergennes city council spoke in a forum hosted by American Legion Post 14 on Thursday night. This article focuses on the two mayoral candidates. An article in our Thursday edition will focus on the five candidates for three seats on the city council.

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — At a forum at American Legion Post 14 on Thursday night, two Vergennes mayoral candidates with long public service résumés — incumbent April Jin and challenger Michael Daniels — differed on approaches to financial questions, the amount of time each could devote to the job, and the future role of volunteerism in solving some of the city’s problems.

full story

Hannaford center spending stays stagnant

February 26, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — Voters in 17 Addison County towns on March 6 will vote on the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center’s $3,079,821 budget, a 0.16 percent increase that keeps the spending plan technically level-funded. Voters will also be asked to approve an additional $143,261, next year’s budget for the Adult Technical Education Program, which has increased by 4.1 percent.

Career Center director Lynn Coale said the major contributing factor to next year’s level-funding was the reduction in the center’s debt related to last spring’s $4.3 million North Campus addition off Mainelli Road.

According to the Career Center’s business manager Mark Bouvier, as a result of the construction the center’s budget last year included $85,000 in short term borrowing funds as well as the project’s annual principal payment of $110,000 plus interest — the Center bonded a total of $2,170,000.

full story

Slow down and taste the food

February 26, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — The Slow Food movement — as a counter to the “fast food” movement — isn’t about slow service in the same way that “fast food” is about the speedy delivery of mass produced foods. But it is about producing foods with local products, celebrating local kitchen culture, and observing the importance of quality foods in our lives.

At a recent gathering in Mary’s at Baldwin’s Creek, a Bristol restaurant, invited guests relished an evening of dining produced primarily from locally-raised foods at a reunion of people devoted to the cause of slow food.

According to John Elder of Bristol, Middlebury College professor of environmental studies and maple sugar maker, Slow Food International “celebrates and promotes the value of traditional food in local cultures.”

full story

February 22nd

Farmers financial stresses topic at legislative breakfast

February 22, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

BRIDPORT — A heartfelt debate on the pros and cons of a bill in the Legislature that would stop the practice of Vermont dairy farmers paying milk hauling fees enlivened Monday’s Legislative Breakfast, which was held at the home of the series’ sponsor, Bridport Grange No. 303.

The bill, now in the Senate Agriculture Committee, would make it illegal for farmers to pay “hauling and stop” charges to the companies that deliver their milk, as has been the practice for decades. Essentially, farmers, who are facing growing financial pressures and historically low milk prices, are the ones who pay to have their milk picked up when they sell it, not the companies that buy it.

full story

Bristol memory project

February 22, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — On the wall of the Bristol Bakery between the main dining area and the back door, a customer can find several portraits to the left of the bulletin board. The pictures are by students at Mount Abraham Union High School, but they are not your typical school art project. They depict orphans from the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar based on photographs mailed to art students, and when they leave the bakery, they will be mailed back to those children.

“This is meant to be a gift that stresses their individuality and importance to the world,” said MAUHS art teacher Elise Cleary, who helped organize the portrait painting. “These kids don’t have much, and they move around a lot.”

full story

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