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August 6th, 2007

Porter Medical Center faces doctor crunch

August 6, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center’s staff of physicians include a number of elder statesmen like Robert LaFiandra, who has practiced internal medicine in the Middlebury area for the past 36 years. But in the coming years, the hospital will face a doctor crunch as LaFiandra and several others retire, and the hospital is trying to figure out how to fill their shoes.

“Finding people to replace me and other people of my generation is going to be a difficult problem for everybody,” LaFiandra said. He plans to retire from full-time work around the summer of 2008, but continue to practice medicine on a limited basis.

He isn’t the only one. About half a dozen other physicians will also be retiring from full-time practice within the next three to five years, or are already in semi-retirement and will stop practicing medicine completely, according to Fred Kniffin, president of the medical staff at Porter Medical Center.

“It’s going to be a huge loss when these doctors retire,” Kniffin said.

full story

Anonymous donors give Town Hall Theater $500,000 matching grant

August 6, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Anonymous donors have stepped forward with a $500,000 matching grant that would allow the curtain to fall on a seven-year effort to renovate Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater (THT) on Merchants Row.

Douglas Anderson, THT’s executive director, said theater boosters must match the grant, dollar for dollar, by Dec. 31, in order to collect. The resulting $1 million would pay for the balance of interior renovations to the historic building and allow it to open up to plays and other events next year.

“This grant, if we match it, will get us back in that building,” Anderson said on Friday. “It couldn’t have come at a better time.”

THT received official word of the grant offer on July 27. While Anderson could not reveal the donors’ names, he did say they are Addison County residents “who have been friends of the theater for some time.”

full story

ACCAG maps out five-year plan

August 6, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — One of the county’s main poverty-fighting agencies has drafted a priority list for the next five years that includes reaching out to new prospective clients, providing more counseling to help people escape the cycle of poverty, and establishing a mobile food shelf to assist county residents who can’t travel to Middlebury.

Addison County Community Action Group (ACCAG) officials are currently fine tuning a “strategic plan” that will set forth the agency’s service goals for the next five years. Jeanne Montross, executive director of ACCAG, recently shared some of the priorities in the plan, which has an over-arching principle: Helping people to better help themselves.

“What we’re hoping the results will be, is that our interaction with clients will be less crisis-focused,” Montross said. “There will always be a significant number of people who will need assistance, because there simply isn’t enough money for them to meet their basic needs consistently. What we’re hoping, though, is to help people to become more (financially) stable.”

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August 2nd

All they can muster

MIDDLEBURY FIREFIGHTERS Pat Shaw, left, and David Shaw use fire hoses to push a ball past the Underhill Fire Department’s goal line during a game of water polo at the Vermont State Firefighter’s Convention muster games held in Middlebury Saturday afternoon. Middlebury won the match in overtime. The three-day convention drew hundreds of firefighters and their families to the county. For more photos from the games and Sunday’s parade, see Page 2A of Thursday's Addison Independent.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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College eyes Eat Good Food space

August 2, 2007

By JOHN FLOWERS

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College may soon rent the former Eat Good Food restaurant space in the Battell Block on Middlebury’s Main Street for an as-yet-undefined venture that officials said would be designed to draw students into the downtown area and stimulate the local economy.

“We’re headed in the direction of some sort of agreement where the college would have control of the space while it sorts out its plans,” said Bruce Hiland, a co-owner of the Battell Block. “I’m optimistic.”

In late April Eat Good Food vacated its Battell Block space, which includes a 2,700-square-foot main floor and an 800-square-foot storage spot. Since then, Battell Block management has been reviewing proposals from prospective tenants, who have included restaurateurs and retailers.

full story

Middlebury team raises money in Mongol Rally

August 2, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

MIDDLEBURY — About a week into the 2007 Mongol Rally, an annual extreme car race from London to Mongolia, recent Middlebury College graduates Tommy Heitkamp of Orwell and Joya Taft-Dick, and their friend Alex Switzer, a.k.a. Team Ironsides, stumbled upon a country they didn’t know existed.

Driving “Diana,” their 1995 Fiat Uno — the rally requires participants to drive a beat-up car — the trio had zipped hundreds of miles since the race began July 21, booking through France and Germany and then easing into Eastern Europe via the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Just as they were about to reach the Ukrainian border in Moldova, Team Ironsides hit Transnistria. The 1,600-square-mile region nestled between the two former Soviet republics broke away from Moldova in 1990 but is not recognized as independent by the rest of the world. 

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July 30th

Summer projects

WORK CREWS AT the Middlebury College campus are busy putting the finishing touches on various summer projects undertaken by the college each year, including the final coat on the trim of Old Chapel’s historic cupola.
Independent photo/Angelo Lynn

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Grange insurance nets town $950,000

July 30, 2007

By ANDY KIRKALDY

FERRISBURGH — After more than a year and a half of haggling and delays, an insurance deal was struck last week that will pay Ferrisburgh another $950,000 for the loss of its town-owned former Grange hall, which was destroyed by an arson fire on Feb. 15, 2005, before it could be renovated into a town office building and community center. 

The town had earlier received about $1.03 million from PACIF, the insurance company that underwrote the project and is affiliated with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and its co-insurers. The earlier payment was for the value of the existing Route 7 structure, while the additional money goes toward the value of the finished project, including a duplicate Grange building up to modern code.

The town will be responsible for other elements of what is now estimated by Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Corp. as a $2.87 million project (up from about $2.6 million in late 2005), including a full foundation, new addition to the rear and new front porch. But Ferrisburgh already has most of the money for that in hand, officials said.

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