Archive - Feb 2008 - Page
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The United Way of Addison County (UWAC) is putting the finishing touches on a 2007 fund-raising campaign that has thus far yielded an all-time record $801,350 for services to the area’s neediest citizens.
“Bob (LaFiandra) and I are very pleased,” said Ann LaFiandra, who co-chaired the 2007 fund drive with her husband.
The couple was particularly gratified by the way donors comfortably exceeded what had been a $760,000 goal. The books don’t officially close on the campaign until Feb. 29.
“We were stunned, but in a way not surprised, because this is a very caring community,” LaFiandra said. “We honestly did not have to hard-sell.”
As of Tuesday, UWAC had received 2,144 contributions ranging from payroll deductions of 50 cents to individual checks in excess of $10,000.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — While a series of winter storms has made snow days and cases of cabin fever even more common than usual in February, local road crews and highway budgets may have been the hardest hit of all.
Compounding problems for town managers, highway foremen and truck drivers has been a shortage of salt. That shortage, a problem officials said stretches across the northern United States, has meant icier roads, more trips out of town garages for workers, and more headaches for drivers and town officials alike.
Ferrisburgh road foreman John Bull said first and foremost drivers should remember circumstances have limited what highway crews can do: Speeding, tailgating and approaching intersections carelessly are even worse ideas than normal.
“The big thing we want to get out there to everybody is you just have to slow down. It’s not business as usual,” Bull said. “It’s slippery, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
BY JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury citizens last Wednesday got a chance to see the first conceptual designs of a proposed Cross Street bridge that town officials hope will be in place before winter of 2010.
The plans were unveiled on Feb. 13 in the municipal gym during an informational meeting at which town officials vastly outnumbered citizens on a rainy, slushy evening.
Despite the dismal turnout at the meeting, selectmen are hoping residents become intimately familiar with the plans before they cast ballots on Town Meeting Day on a $16 million plan to build the bridge as a link between Main Street and Court Street over the Otter Creek via Cross Street. The project — which would include a roundabout intersection at Main and Cross streets — would receive $9 million in funding from Middlebury College. Town officials would like to bankroll the remaining $7 million in costs through local option taxes on meals, rooms, sales and alcohol sold in Middlebury.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Gailer School’s quest for a permanent home sustained another setback last week when the Middlebury Development Review Board (DRB) voted 4-0 against a proposal for the school to settle in the town’s industrial park.
The DRB on Feb. 11 voted against the proposal, which called for the Gailer School to relocate from the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society (CVUUS) campus on Water Street, into a 6,000-square-foot office building at 88 Mainelli Road. That structure has previously housed Bread Loaf Corp., the National Bank of Middlebury and law offices, among others.
Gailer School officials realized from the outset that their proposed move would be a tough sell. Schools aren’t permitted in Middlebury’s industrial zone, even as a conditional use. And several business owners in the park had been candid about their opposition to the plan, citing the potential dangers resulting from students walking along roads heavily traveled by large trucks.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — With heavy snow expected later this week, the search team that since Monday has been prodding the snow-covered Middlebury College campus for signs of a missing first-year student has postponed its search until skies clear up this weekend.
But the investigation into the whereabouts of Nicholas Garza, a 19-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M., who disappeared more than a week ago, will continue unabated, according to Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley.
“The physical search is just a recovery operation, in the event that something befell the student,” Hanley said. “The other piece is the missing person investigation. We’re going to be interviewing a ton of people, primarily students and people who knew him over the next few days.”
The physical search has turned up nothing since it began, and if there are any clues out there, the snow, more than a foot of which has fallen since the morning after Garza went missing, continues to cover them up.
Garza was last seen at a social gathering in Stewart Hall, a first-year dormitory on the Middlebury College campus, around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5, according to the Middlebury police. The campus was relatively empty that night since most students, including Garza’s roommate and many of his friends, were gone for February break, the week between J-term and the start of the spring semester.
Garza left the party alone, presumably to return to his dorm room in Allen Hall, about a third of a mile across campus, according to reports authorities got from students who attended the gathering. But a friend grew suspicious the next day when he could not reach Garza. He alerted his Commons Residential Advisor (CRA), who then reported the matter to the college’s department of public safety.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Local voters here on April 9 will be asked to approve a 2008-2009 Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $5,624,785 that reflects a 2.59-percent increase in spending and restoration of an education technology position that had been cut a few years ago. If approved, the spending plan would result in an 8.4 percent property tax increase for Middlebury homeowners.
“We are excited about being able to bring this position back,” Mary Hogan Elementary Principal Bonnie Bourne said of the education technologist, a person she said will work with teachers to help students access information through computers and other equipment. The person will also advise school officials on computer infrastructure and Internet access.
Bourne explained the position was squeezed out of the budget in recent years as the school board looked for ways to cut expenses in the face of declining enrollment. The school currently serves 385 students. It was only eight years ago that 540 students attended the Mary Hogan school.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Sixteen of the more than two dozen suspects implicated in a Dec. 28, 2007, underage drinking party that caused an estimated $10,600 in damage to the former summer home of Robert Frost in Ripton have agreed to go through a court diversion program rather than have their cases adjudicated in Addison County District Court.
Those suspects — most of them teens, many of them Middlebury Union High School students — were among two dozen people that were arraigned in Addison County District Court on Monday. Seven youths pleaded innocent to charges.
The 16 who were offered, and accepted, diversion were primarily first-time offenders cited for criminal counts of unlawful trespassing at the Homer Noble Farm in Ripton.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School board of directors has signed off on a spending plan totaling $12,919,874 for the 2008-2009 school year.
The plan represents a proposed increase in spending of 6.37 percent over the current year’s budget, but officials attributed almost half of that increase to the fact that in past years busing costs appeared in elementary school budgets but this year they appear in the high school budgets.
According to Mount Abe school board Chairman Lanny Smith, the effective proposed increase in spending is about 3.2 percent.
Residents of Addison Northeast Supervisory Union towns — Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro — will vote on the proposed Mount Abe spending plan, approved at the board’s Jan. 22 meeting, on Town Meeting Day. Supervisory union business manager Greg Burdick said that education tax rates had not been set by the state legislature as the Addison Independent went to press, so the exact impact of the budget on area towns cannot yet be determined.