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November 27th, 2006
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — School directors and educators in the Addison Central Supervisory Union’s (ACSU) six rural schools have ratified a new, four-year contract that will maintain current health insurance benefits and ultimately raise teachers’ base salaries to be on par with their colleagues at Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School.
The new pact comes after more than a year of negotiations between ACSU school directors and negotiators representing the teachers union, called the Addison Central Elementary Association. The contract will apply to the approximately 60 teachers who work at the elementary schools in Bridport, Cornwall, Weybridge, Ripton, Salisbury and Shoreham.
The teachers’ previous contract had expired in June of 2005. They spent the past school year (2005-2006) working under the terms of that expired pact.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — David and Cheryl Werner last week looked nervously upon the Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO) equipment that has mobilized off Painter Road, right across from their Middlebury tree farm.
They know it’s only a matter of time before that equipment springs into action, erecting a new set of transmission lines in the VELCO right-of-way that runs through their 10.4-acre property.
The Werners are desperately hoping the VELCO equipment fires up later, rather than sooner. That’s because major construction on the Werner property within the next five weeks could dramatically take the wind out of the couple’s Christmas tree sales.
“We just opened today, and we’ve already had three customers leave, because they couldn’t tag a tree,” David Werner said on Friday morning. “We can’t let them tag trees that could get run over.”
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) will pave Middlebury’s Main Street next year at night — while taking Friday and Saturday evenings off — in deference to downtown merchants and restaurant owners who feared the project could cripple their businesses.
Mark Woolaver, the AOT’s paving project manager, confirmed the scheduling adjustments last week after a meeting with Middlebury town officials and business leaders. Locals had feared tremendous economic and traffic repercussions from the downtown Middlebury leg of next year’s scheduled repaving of parts of Routes 7, 30 and 125.
The $2.5 million project will require lane closings and traffic diversions that merchants feared would steer shoppers away from local businesses.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON – A $250,000 grant given to the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, the Bixby Free Memorial Library in Vergennes, Vermont Public Television and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation will fund a major archaeological effort along Lake Champlain, an hour-long documentary, new exhibits for the Bixby and Chimney Point, and a program that local teachers can take into their classrooms.
The grant will fund an in-depth exploration of Champlain Valley history in the 17th and 18th centuries as part of a regional effort to celebrate the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s visit in 1609 to the lake that now bears his name. He was the first European to visit Lake Champlain.
By MEGAN JAMES
BRANDON — The Brandon Police Department is ready to integrate a new weapon into the arsenal its force of seven officers uses to keep the peace in town — the Taser X26 stun gun.
The non-deadly stun gun is promoted by its manufacturer, Taser International, as a safer alternative to firearms that can reduce police-related firearm fatalities. But some civil liberties organizations doubt the Taser’s claim that their device, which shocks a police query with 50,000 volts, is less than lethal and have begun tallying up deaths they say are linked to police mishandling of the weapon.
In Brandon, where the select board OK’d the purchase of two Tasers at a cost of under $1,000 apiece, police say the new tool is needed.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College could break records with a $500 million fund-raising campaign, which, over the next five years, will fund objectives outlined in a recently revamped strategic plan, including increasing the faculty-student ratio, strengthening the financial aid program and improving student housing.
While the college’s board of trustees has not yet approved this figure, college officials said last week nothing short of this amount will allow them to implement the full strategic plan.
Such an ambitious goal, among the largest fund-raising goals ever set by a liberal arts institution of its size, will require the institution to look beyond its existing donor-base of alumni, parents of current students and friends, to other universities and organizations that support Middlebury’s mission to be globally minded, said Dean of Planning John Emerson.
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
BRISTOL — A local family has started a nonprofit organization to place abandoned dogs with families that are looking for pets, but in doing so, they have run afoul of Bristol’s regulations on dog ownership and control — not to mention having annoyed the neighbors.
JoAnne Bohannon of Bristol began working with stray or abandoned animals in the area of Bryan County, Ga., soon after Hurricane Katrina last year. Bohannon, who used to live in Georgia, said that many of the animals lost or made homeless by Katrina wound up in Georgia, and yet there are few or no animal shelters in that state that have a no-kill policy.
So the Bohannon family started Georgia Animal Rescue and Defence to bring stray dogs from Georgia to Vermont. According to Joy Bohannon, who has been working with her mother, JoAnne, in this effort, Vermont has plenty of people interested in adopting new pets.