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February 12th

Bristol sees surge in candidates

February 12, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — Eight candidates will be on the Town Meeting Day ballot for seats on the Bristol Board of Selectmen. Incumbent John “Peeker” Heffernan is unopposed in his effort to be re-elected to a two-year term, but seven candidates are vying for the two other open seats.

Ted Lylis, Nate Bouvier and Carol Wells are all running for the three-year seat that will vacated by Selectman Dave Sharpe, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election. Sharon Compagna is one of four candidates to fill the remaining year in the seat held for seven years by her husband, Armand Compagna, who died Jan. 12. Peter Diminico, Ken Johnson, and Pam Jennings are also running for the one-year seat.

full story

February 7th

Redefining business when manufacturing wanes

February 8, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

ADDISON COUNTY — The latest setbacks for Specialty Filaments and Standard Register are emblematic of what has been a multi-year slide in the manufacturing industry both locally and statewide, prompting economic development officials to refine the manner in which they recruit new businesses.

Addison County last month receive two doses of bad news from the manufacturing industry when Specialty Filaments and Standard Register announced they would be closing, resulting in the elimination of a combined total of 287 jobs.

Specialty Filaments received a reprieve when the Illinois-based Thomas Monahan Co. bought the business out of bankruptcy and reopened it on Monday with roughly 60 percent of its previous 175-member workforce. But Standard Register will lay off the last of its 112 Middlebury employees next month, while putting its 115,000-square-foot building on Route 7 South up for sale.

full story

War, healthcare, school funding tops first legislative breakfast of year

February 8, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

BRISTOL — The 2007 session may be only a month old, but the familiar topics of school funding, the Iraq War and better maintenance of the state’s roads and bridges are topics already surfacing to the top of the Vermont Legislature’s agenda.

Local lawmakers discussed those and other issues at the season’s first legislative breakfast, held at American Legion Post 19 in Bristol on Monday. Area legislators — some of them recently appointed to committee leadership posts — gave the approximately 30 breakfast attendees an early glimpse at what has been going on under the Golden Dome.

They explained education-funding reform has already been making some headlines. Gov. James Douglas, along with Vermont House and Senate leaders, presented a unified front late last week in endorsing a property tax reform strategy that would emphasize cuts and new economies of scale, rather than tax increases.

full story

Promoting equality locally

February 8, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — Every time Marichal Gentry calls Comcast to ask why Black Entertainment Television (BET) isn’t included in his standard cable package — he’s been doing this regularly since 1999 when Adelphia was the local provider — the representative offers the same curt explanation: Sorry sir, the market just doesn’t demand it.

This isn’t news to Gentry. The associate dean of Middlebury College, who grew up in North Carolina, has lived in Middlebury for eight years as part of one of Addison County’s smallest minority groups: African Americans. He is used to having unique needs.

Here in Vermont, he scours Shaw’s Supermarket for soul food to satiate his southern taste buds. He treks up to Horizons Salon in Essex Junction to get his hair cut by an African American woman who has experience working with black hair. And he leaves the state frequently, traveling to North Carolina and Tennessee where he can sing with his choir, visit his family and stock up on the recorded gospel music that’s difficult to find up north.

full story

February 5th

Schools struggle with water regulation

February 5, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS, CYRUS LEVESQUE AND MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — Several Addison County schools will be asking local voters on Town Meeting Day to borrow up to $25,000 for federally mandated water system improvements.

At issue are provisions of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act that require public schools to have water disinfection systems wipe out any impurities that might be found during regular water tests.

“The goal is to oversee safe delivery of water from the source to the end-user tap,” said Tim Raymond, water systems operations manager for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Water Supply Division.

full story

Proposed Bristol budget sees increases

February 5, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — On Town Meeting Day, Bristol residents will weigh in on a proposed 2007-2008 town budget that would increase spending by 3.85 percent from the current year to $1,783,146. The budget, approved by Bristol selectmen last week, includes $1,436,546 to be raised by taxes, an increase of 4.27 percent over the current fiscal year.

If approved, the spending plan would increase the Bristol municipal tax rate to about 55.5 cents per $100 of property value, an increase  of about 2.25 cents.

Voted appropriations made up the second-smallest section of the budget, at $351,925, but the largest percentage increase in expenditures, with an 8.56 percent increase over the current fiscal year. All the money for these appropriations, which include things like $15,000 for Howden Hall restoration, would be raised from taxes.

full story

Mary Hogan tightens security

February 5, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

MIDDLEBURY — Starting this week visitors to Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School will have to buzz into the front office to gain entry to the building.

What Mary Hogan Principal Bonnie Bourne called a “low-level” security concern last week prompted school officials to add a buzzer and video camera to the school’s handicap-accessible front door and to lock that door and the two doors next to it.

Assuming the equipment arrives and is installed in a timely manner on Monday, visitors will buzz in and be identified by front office workers before they are allowed to enter.

full story

February 1st

Illinois manufacturer purchases Specialy Filaments plant

February 1, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — An Illinois-based manufacturer of brooms, brushes and mops won the right on Tuesday to purchase the former Specialty Filaments plant out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Burlington, in a deal that could see more than half of the plant’s former employees return to work by this Monday, Feb. 5.

The Thomas Monahan Co. (TMC) of Arcola, Ill., submitted the lone, successful bid of $3.125 million for the 3046 Case St. property in Middlebury, which includes the Specialty Filaments plant and 60 acres.

Specialty Filaments, which had been one of the world’s largest makers of filaments for brooms and brushes, had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 11. The closing left 175 people out of work.

full story

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