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November 6th, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
VERGENNES — The second time proved to be the charm for Vergennes Democrat Diane Lanpher, who pulled off an upset of sorts by winning one of two House seats in the traditional GOP stronghold of Addison-3, toppling one-term incumbent and former Vergennes mayor Kitty Oxholm in the process.
Lanpher, a Vergennes City Council member, received 1,928 tallies in heavy voting in the House district that includes Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes and Waltham. She finished second in the balloting to three-term incumbent Greg Clark, R-Vergennes, who topped the field with a total of 2,220 votes.
Oxholm, finishing her first term, was third with 1,858 votes — 70 behind Lanpher. Rounding out the field was first-time candidate Jean Richardson, a Ferrisburgh Democrat, who garnered 1,558 votes.
Lanpher credited her win to a lot of hard work, both by her and supporters who worked on her behalf. She walked door-to-door within the district and said she was gratified by how many people knew her. Some of the people with whom she spoke in her travels even thought she was an incumbent representative.
“I took that as a positive,” Lanpher said, adding her recent election to the Vergennes City Council and voters’ interest in Barack Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket probably also helped her House bid.
Lanpher had finished fourth, with 1,217 tallies, in a five-way race for the two Addison-3 seats in 2006. She said she is pleased to have prevailed this year.
“I’m very, very excited,” Lanpher said on Tuesday night. “I feel I’m in a position to get things done.”
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — Yes, Addison County and Brandon did.
Most local voters joined their peers statewide in backing President-elect Barack Obama as Vermont became the first state that national news networks placed in the Democrat’s column on Tuesday night, just minutes after polls in the state closed at 7 p.m.
In heavy turnout that averaged 78 percent and topped 80 percent in at least a dozen local communities, Addison County and Brandon residents also backed statewide winners, including three candidates for major offices who faced opposition: Republican Gov. Jim Douglas of Middlebury, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and Democratic Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, who garnered the most votes in these parts in all contested races (see chart).
In every case, local voters’ support for the statewide and national winners, all of whom prevailed by comfortable margins, exceeded their margins statewide.
As of mid-morning on Wednesday, Obama, a first-term U.S. Senator from Illinois, had claimed 67 percent of the Vermont vote with 87 percent of the overall ballots reported counted.
Assuming that percentage holds, that will be the second-largest margin of victory Obama enjoyed in any state in the nation, trailing only his birth state of Hawaii, where he polled 72 percent. Rhode Island came in third at 63 percent. The heavily African-American District of Columbia backed Obama by an even greater 93 percent.
With 100 percent of the local vote counted, Obama swept to victory in all 24 towns and captured roughly 70 percent of the ballots cast. In four towns, more than 80 percent of voters favored Obama over Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee.
Ripton led the way with 83 percent of voters supporting Obama, and voters in Goshen, Lincoln and Middlebury all backed the winning Democratic ticket at a rate of roughly 81 percent.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
BRISTOL — Autumn Harp Inc., the largest private employer in Bristol, announced Wednesday that the company is folding its Bristol operations into its Essex facility.
The 30-year-old manufacturer of cosmetics and personal care products employs 160 full-time employees at its Bristol facility and 40 in Essex. All of the company’s Bristol-based employees will be offered the chance to work in Essex, and the company intends to offer transportation for the 30-mile commute between Bristol and Essex.
Autumn Harp owner David Logan said that while it is impossible to know how many of the employees currently working in Bristol will make the jump to Essex, he is hopeful that most of the 160 will consider the offer.
Logan said that the Bristol property will make a great home for another small business, but that Autumn Harp has outgrown the 47,000-square foot facility on Pine Street.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a residential neighborhood,” Logan said, “and we’re very restricted in the amount that we could expand and grow the company here. We just can’t change that.”
Logan also said that the lack of a town wastewater disposal system contributed the decision to move out of Bristol.
Plans are in the works to expand the company’s 77,000-square foot Essex facility to roughly 125,000 square feet. Logan said that the company also hopes to expand its workforce, which currently stands at around 200 full-time employees, incrementally over time.
MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE FRESHMAN Elissa Goeke, far right, celebrates with volleyball teammates Olivia Minkhorst, Jane Handel, Natalie Dupre and Caroline Cordle after scoring a point for the Panthers during a match with Williams last Wednesday night. Handel, upper left, was NESCAC player of the week for the week of Oct. 20, when Middlebury went 4-0.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Development Review Board’s (DRB) conditional approval of a proposed Staples store off Route 7 South is being appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court by both the developer and neighbors opposed to the project.
The Middlebury Development Review Board in September approved the proposed 14,737-square-foot-store for The Centre shopping plaza with several conditions, including that:
• Developers (Middlebury Associates LLC) submit a final master plan for The Centre showing that it will “be deemed fully built out with the Staples, based on the zoning limitations of traffic capacity, parking and town plan conformance.”
• Access connections be built between The Centre and the neighboring Middlebury Short Stop and former Dollar Market.
• A series of sidewalk connections, entrance upgrades, crosswalks improvements and landscape additions be put in to enhance pedestrian safety and aesthetics within the plaza.
• Traffic signal timing adjustments be made at the Route 7 South/plaza intersection to ensure extra traffic generated by the Staples store does not exacerbate gridlock on Court Street/Route 7.
A notice of appeal filed with the Environmental Court by Middlebury Associates LLC attorney David R. Cooper states that “although the decision technically approves the project, it imposes unreasonable conditions upon the appellant, and should be modified.”
Meanwhile, a group of 10 people who had opposed the Staples application have also filed an appeal with the Environmental Court.
“They think no permit should have been issued at all,” said their attorney, Bristol-based James Dumont, on Friday.
By KATHRYN FLAGG
BRISTOL — Bristol’s Prince Lane — the alley space that runs behind the buildings on the north side of Main Street adjacent to the Shaw’s and Rite Aid parking lots — is slated for a makeover, thanks to federal and state funding approved this year.
Bristol was one of five towns tapped last week by the Vermont Downtown Development Board to share more than $300,000 in state grants to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements in their downtowns, officials announced last week.
Bristol’s $74,772 piece of that pie, in addition to $241,000 in federal earmark money secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., last winter, will be used to bury utility and power lines, build a new sidewalk to open up access to the rear of the buildings, clean up neglected areas and improve pedestrian safety.
“The stars were all aligned,” said Bristol Downtown Community Partnership board member Larry Buck, who last week joined Town Administrator Bill Bryant and BDCP President Kevin Harper for a presentation to the Downtown Development Board on the grant proposal.
The plan to bury the utility lines has been in the works for years, according to Bryant. A group that eventually became the Downtown Designation committee conceived the project at least three years ago, while working on achieving official Downtown Designation status, which made Bristol eligible for this grant funding.
Motivation for burying utility lines is “primarily aesthetic,” Bryant said, but those improvements will also allow for new sidewalk construction, which will, in turn, let Main Street businesses provide more handicap-accessible entrances to their buildings.
Buck and Bryant both said that they also hope the improvements will encourage business owners to “spruce up” the rear entrances and backsides to their buildings.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — It took 93 years, but Addison County on Nov. 7 will get its first-ever turn hosting the Vermont farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention.
The two-day event will see the state’s farm community discuss the condition of Vermont agriculture and draft priorities to push during the upcoming legislative session. The 54 elected Farm Bureau delegates — including four from Addison County — will conduct their business at the Middlebury Inn.
Tim Buskey, administrator of Vermont Farm Bureau Corp., explained that Addison County had not previously hosted the organization’s annual meeting because there was no lodging/convention venue big enough to accommodate the crowd of 150 or more people the event has drawn in recent years.
But in a bittersweet development for the county, participation at this year’s annual meeting is anticipated to be around 125 people, making it a good fit for the Middlebury Inn, Buskey noted.
“This will be one of the smallest groups we’ve had; it’s simply a sign of the times,” Buskey said. “It has contracted a little bit.”
Indeed, this year’s annual meeting/convention was originally scheduled to by a three-day affair, beginning Thursday, Nov. 6. But Buskey said organizers were forced to cut out Thursday’s program when the major event set for that day — an agricultural business tour — failed to draw enough sign-ups.
Still, farm bureau officials are pleased to finally bring the convention to one of the state’s most active farming counties.
“It gives us an opportunity to see an area we haven’t seen,” Buskey said, noting last year’s gathering was held in Burlington and next year’s will be in Rutland.
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