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February 1st

City shaping up for lively campaign

February 1, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

VERGENNES — A lively five-week campaign is shaping up in Vergennes, where a challenger has emerged for Mayor April Jin’s job and a five-way race for three city council seats includes only one incumbent, Randall Ouellette.

Jin, an alderman who ran unchallenged for mayor two years ago, will face Michael Daniels, a 59-year-old Vergennes native who served on the city council from 2001 until 2004 before stepping down.

Daniels, a 38-year veteran of the city fire department and a district manager for the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services, said he has been considering returning to city politics for the past two years. When Alderman Michael Sullivan, who was planning to run for mayor, died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, Daniels decided to challenge Jin. 

full story

For love of state or opportunity

February 1, 2007

By LEIGH ARSENAULT

VERMONT — After graduating from college most individuals are thrilled with the seemingly limitless opportunities open to them as they ponder their life options.

Some young Vermonters have found, however, that this ideal only applies to the work world outside their home state.

“The type of employment opportunities in Vermont are limited,” said Harley Brakeley. “Realistically, all the good jobs, once people get them, they hold on to them.”

He should know. The 22-year-old Middlebury native graduated from Colorado College last spring and currently is working at a local job that isn’t as fulfilling as he might have hoped for but does at least allow him to live in his home state.

full story

January 29th

Area school budgets below state's per-pupil spending guideline

January 29, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — All seven communities in the Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) have crafted proposed 2007-2008 school budgets that are below the state’s per-pupil spending guideline, though some of the towns may be in store for hefty education tax jumps — particularly if they haven’t recently conducted town-wide reappraisals.

ACSU officials recently unveiled school spending plans for the towns of Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge. The K-12 budgets showed increases ranging from 2 percent (Shoreham) to 6.3 percent (Bridport), though local taxpayers would see education property tax rate increases ranging from 2.7 percent (Cornwall) to 15.9 percent (Shoreham) if the budgets are approved as submitted.

full story

Second major Middlebury business to close doors

January 29, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS AND JOHN McCRIGHT

MIDDLEBURY — For the second time this month local economic development officials and a contingent of more than 100 manufacturing workers are rallying to pull things together after the announcement of a Middlebury plant closure.

Standard Register Co. on Friday said it will close its Route 7 South plant in March, putting 112 people out of work. The Middlebury facility, which prints customized checks and forms, primarily for businesses, hospitals and government agencies, “will continue to perform limited production through March,” a corporate press release said.

The announcement from the Dayton, Ohio, corporate headquarters of Standard Register provided a second dose of bad news for the Addison County economy this month. Bristle-maker Specialty Filaments closed its doors on Jan. 5, sending 175 people in search of new jobs, though an Illinois-based company is making a strong push to acquire and reopen that operation (see related story, this page).

full story

VELCO gets slapped with class action lawsuit

January 29, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Two local lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against the Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO) on Friday, arguing among other things that the company had “misrepresented the scope of its condemnation authority” in acquiring land for transmission lines that will also carry fiber optic wires.

The four-page complaint, filed in Addison County Superior Court by attorneys Peter Langrock and James Dumont on behalf of as many as 1,000 Vermont landowners, asks that a judge:

• Prevent (VELCO) from further construction, installation and leasing of fiber optic lines along its electrical transmission rights-of-way across plaintiffs’ land and to remove any lines that are not directly needed for the transmission of electricity.

full story

January 25th

Potential buyer for Specialty Filaments surfaces

January 25, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Local economic development officials, union representatives and corporate lawyers were working feverishly this week on a deal through which an out-of-state company would buy, and resurrect, the former Specialty Filaments plant at 3046 Case St.

“The development corporation is working closely with a potential buyer of the facility,” Addison County Economic Development Corp. (ACEDC) Executive Director Jamie Stewart said on Tuesday. “If we can put together a deal that is viable, there is a possibility of the re-hire of all of the former Specialty Filaments employees.”

Stewart said the name of the prospective buyer is being kept under wraps pending the purchase of the Specialty Filaments business out of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rutland, along with negotiation of a financial incentives package that would give the buyer tax credits and some short-term reductions in electricity rates.

full story

Middlebury may go it alone on new bridge

January 25, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Faced with what they said have been numerous roadblocks thrown up throughout the years by state officials, Middlebury selectmen are exploring whether the community can build a new in-town bridge on its own.

“This is uncharted territory, and it’s a course that we cannot at all be sure where it will lead,” Middlebury selectboard Chairman John Tenny said on Tuesday. “It may in the end show that it is not a viable path. But we do not feel, at this point, that we have any good options trying to continue on the standard course — working with the state. We are not being supported there, and it doesn’t look like we will gain support in any reasonable time.”

full story

January 22nd

Job fair aimed at recruiting former Specialty Filaments workers

January 22, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — More than 30 employers from throughout the state converged upon Middlebury on Thursday hoping to recruit some of the 175 people who lost their jobs when Specialty Filaments closed its doors earlier this month.

Husky of Milton, Vermont Teddy Bear of Shelburne and Johnson Filaments of Williston joined Addison County companies like Goodrich Corp., Autumn Harp, Middlebury College and Carrara & Sons Inc. at a special job fair held at the Middlebury American Legion Hall on Boardman Street.

Fifteen minutes before the fair opened, an estimated 50 people were waiting to enter the hall and one observer said it was busy all day.

full story

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