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Archive - Mar 17, 2008 - Page

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Date

Weybridge moderator retires his gavel after 33 years

By JOHN FLOWERS

WEYBRIDGE — For more than a half-century, a man with the last name “James” has held the gavel at Weybridge town meetings.

That long run has now come to an end, as Stanley “Kelly” James Jr. presided over his last town meeting on March 3. James had been Weybridge town moderator since 1975, after taking over for his dad, who had run the annual meeting for the previous 26 years.

“I’m not getting any younger,” James, a very youthful looking 79, said with a smile last Wednesday while he took a break from splitting wood.

“I guess it’s time to let some newer blood in.”

Kelly James was the new blood 33 years ago when he took up his post in front of Weybridge town meetings. His dad, Stanley James Sr., was ready to step down, and Kelly decided to give it a shot.

“I guess it was bred into me to be active in town,” he said. “My dad was doing a good job (as moderator), but it was getting harder and harder for him, and I just fell into it.”

Indeed, Kelly James has been a devoted public servant to Weybridge over the years. He has served on the local planning commission, zoning board, UD-3 school board and on committees to build the Weybridge and Cornwall schools. He continues to serve on the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center board.

“I guess the only thing I haven’t been is a selectman,” James said with a chuckle.

Used to be that town moderators in Vermont were quite often the communities’ legislators in Montpelier. When James Sr. became moderator each Vermont community had its own representative at the Statehouse. Kelly James said the legislator-moderator link made sense in most towns because lawmakers were well schooled in parliamentary procedures.

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Eyewitnesses to history talk about Hiroshima from both sides

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

MIDDLEBURY — The end of World War II was a relief for both Kazue Edamatsu Campbell and David Winer but they saw the event from opposite sides. In the summer of 1945, Campbell was a Japanese schoolgirl living about 25 miles from the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Winer was a radar engineer in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in the Pacific theater and preparing for an invasion of the Japanese homeland.

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and three days later dropped another on Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people and prompting Japan to surrender on Aug. 15.

Campbell, now 75, and Winer, 82, last Thursday spoke with more than 50 Middlebury Union High School students about the war and the years leading up to it, providing a view of history they don’t normally get.

As a teen living in Japan during the war, Campbell said that grossly distorted images of Americans were all the Japanese saw. She read at that time, for instance, that President Roosevelt kept the skulls of Japanese soldiers on his desk.

“We got brainwashed,” she said. “There was tremendous (propaganda) going on.”

On the American side, in addition to racist propaganda, soldiers and the public believed Japan was so militaristic that civilians, even women and children, would fiercely resist any ground invasion, perhaps resorting to spears or improvised weapons. The truth was simpler.

“As a little girl, I didn’t want war to happen,” Campbell said.

She had an aunt who had emigrated to Oregon before the war. As wartime rationing began and it became impossible to get many foods in Japan, her aunt sent Campbell’s family a large bag of sugar, just before she was taken to an internment camp like more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent. Campbell’s family made the sugar last through the war.

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MUHS junior slams the competition in poetry contest

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — When Caleb Smith-Hastings performed his final poem — “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” by Wilfred Owen — at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Poetry Out Loud Competition in Montpelier last week, he made a last minute staging decision: At a particularly dramatic moment in the poem he turned to the judges, who were lined up to his side, and yelled the words directly at them.

They all jumped in their seats.

With that performance the Middlebury Union High School junior earned the title of Vermont State Champion.

At the end of April, Smith-Hastings will head to Washington, D.C., to vie for the national Poetry Out Loud title and a portion of the $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes. For his win in Montpelier, Smith-Hastings received a $200 prize and a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for MUHS.

This was Smith-Hastings’ second time performing in the Poetry Out Loud competition; last year, he took second place. The program has been expanding in Vermont recently and this year contestants from 20 Vermont high schools participated. Smith-Hastings also noted there were more male participants this year.

“Last year there were two, this year there were three,” he said.

Last week’s competition, which was held at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier, unfolded in three rounds. For each of those rounds Smith-Hastings performed a different poem.

Right away he decided to make the Owen poem his finale. A graphic and angry piece written during the First World War, “Dulce Et Decorum Est” was a little too unsettling to work as a good opener.

“I didn’t want to kill the audience and then have to bring them back to life,” he said.

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