Archive - 2007 - Page
January 8, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Residents in the seven Addison Central Supervisory Union towns will vote this Tuesday, Jan. 9, on $935,500 in repairs and improvements to Middlebury Union High School, including a new elevator, new hot water storage system and extensive roof work on the “H-wing” of the MUHS building.
If the project sounds familiar, that’s because district voters on Feb. 28, 2006, agreed to spend $486,000 to replace the MUHS elevator and hot water system. The school’s current freight-style elevator doesn’t meet the state’s fire safety laws, while the existing hot water system is 50 years old and needs to be replaced, according to ACSU officials.
While voters approved the project last winter, school officials quickly learned that the voted money was insufficient to do the job. The lowest of three bids received from prospective contractors came in $60,000 above the $486,000 budget.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Legislature will play a huge role this year in determining whether a small-scale hydroelectricity project proposed for the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury — and similar ventures throughout the state — will sink or swim.
“We will hopefully use this plan for others, throughout the state, as an ice-breaker,” said Anders Holm, who is spearheading the project, last week. “Legislation is being penned as we sit here.”
That legislation, being shepherded by Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Weybridge, would set up new state laws that would exempt from federal oversight hydro-power projects generating less than 5 megawatts of electricity; and simplify the state permitting process for small-scale hydro proposals.
By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
RIPTON — Bill Biederman likes living in Ripton, but the mountains that surround his home often make communicating with the outside world difficult. He hasn’t owned a television for 25 years because the reception is so poor and he describes his use of the Internet over a slow, dial-up connection as “incredibly painful.” And then, of course, when the phone lines get knocked out by inclement weather even that is gone.
But all that changed on Dec. 6 when the Ripton Broadband Cooperative (RBC) began offering wireless, high-speed Internet access to the first 50 co-op members.
“My son came down to me and said, ‘Geez, Dad, I was just watching English soccer on the Internet, this is fantastic,’” Biederman said.
January 4, 2007
By INDEPENDENT STAFF
ADDISON COUNTY — The changing of the calendar at the beginning of the new year has traditionally prompted people to resolve to turn over a new leaf in their own lives.
New Year’s resolutions come in many forms and may be geared toward personal good or the public welfare. Some resolutions are strictly practical while others are pretty improbable.
The Independent staff surveyed county residents on their hopes and wishes for 2007. Our friends and neighbors often resolve to improve themselves in some way. Just as often their optimism for the betterment of the world as a whole resurfaces.
January 1, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
ORWELL — As the town of Middlebury’s director of operations, Dan Werner keeps track of a lot of pipes, from four-inch water mains to jumbo culverts.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Each Tuesday night, Werner makes the long drive from his Orwell home to Montpelier, where he spends a solid two-and-a-half hours with another set of pipes — bagpipes, as a member of the Catamount Pipe Band.
It’s indeed a labor of love for Werner, who took up the bagpipes later in life, during his mid-40s.
“I think it came from when I was a kid,” Werner, now 50, said of his deep-seated love for the odd looking Scottish musical instrument. “My parents took us to parades, and that sound kind of stuck with me. Over the years, I always said, ‘I’ve got to do that.’”
January 1, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
MIDDLEBURY — In the three years since the Vermont Biofuels Association was founded to increase demand and capacity for locally produced biofuels — a term that describes biologically based fuels like ethanol and methane — the industry has changed a lot. According to Netaka White, executive director of Middlebury-based VBA, the industry in 2007 will see a large change to one of its smallest components: algae.
“Next year is going to be a big year for algae. You watch,” White said.
White expects that some researcher or company will find a controlled way to produce biodiesel from algae in the coming year. By 2008, he predicted algae-based fuel systems could be commercialized. If successful, this could make a big difference to production of biodiesel in Vermont.