May 2016 chronology
May took off with a boom — the supersonic boom of Captain Green Up making his annual return to Middlebury Union Middle School to lead students in picking up neighborhood trash for Vermont’s 47th Green Up Day, May 7.
The Lincoln town office staff began working out of their temporary home in the Lincoln Library the first week of May. The library housed the town office from May through early November, as the new building was being constructed.
Middlebury College announced that it would increase 2016-2017 tuition by 4.7 percent, bringing the cost of a year at Middlebury to $63,917. The college’s financial aid program, however, ensures that many students will pay far less. The average debt for students graduating in 2015 was $17,797.
On May 6, the Orwell town clerk received a petition calling for a revote on the town’s possible participation in the proposed Slate Valley Unified Union School District.
A special plea for world peace came from Hiroshima A-bomb survivor and U.S. citizen Shigeko Sasamori, who spoke to a packed crowd at Middlebury College’s Mead Chapel in early May. And to mark the 71st anniversary of the Allied victory in World War II, the Independent featured an excerpt from New Haven resident George Jaeger’s oral history, now in the Library of Congress, in which he recounts what it felt like to liberate Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, in 1945.
Following up on a March Memorandum of Understanding for Panton to host a proposed 40-acre Green Mountain Power solar array, the town and GMP began discussions on how the power company could contribute to energy efficiency throughout the town.
Meanwhile, Ferrisburgh continued its negotiations with Vermont Green Line representatives over how VGL would compensate the town for carrying a portion of its 400-megawatt transmission line across its boundaries.
Bristol passed a $1.1 million water bond. The bond was essential to Bristol being able to move ahead with a proposed business park behind the new fire station on West Street.
The 2016 race for state office continued. House Speaker Shap Smith threw his hat into the ring for lieutenant governor. Ripton Democrat Willem Jewett announced that he would not run for reelection to the Vermont House, and soon thereafter Cornwall resident and MUHS/MUMS school board Chair Peter Conlon, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for Jewett’s seat.
Watch out, horse thieves, the Addison-Bridport Detective Society, the country’s oldest still-active association of private investigators, celebrated its 200th anniversary.
Doctors at the Brandon Medical Center secured the necessary licensing and funding to prescribe the opiate treatment drug Suboxone, a key development in the fight to treat drug addictition. Previously, patients seeking treatment had to go to Rutland or Bristol.
In May, Travis Park was named the new principal for Addison Central School. Kevin Robinson was chosen to be the new principal of Bristol Elementary. Leicester resident and MUMS grad Kristin Holsman-Francoeur accepted the top post at Middlebury Union Middle School.
Area high school students shone in a number of accomplishments throughout the month. MUHS student Nick Beauchamp won a Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will give him a clear financial path through undergraduate and graduate studies. Beauchamp was the only Vermont recipient of the 1,000 GMS aid packages awarded in 2016. MUHS students Dace Eaton, Ronan Howlett, Henry Ganey, Joshua Bechhoefer and Elias Wyncoop placed fifth at the national Scholars Bowl competition in Chicago, a first for MUHS and the state. Mount Abe senior Hannah Funk reported for the Independent on the state’s largest youth-driven environmental rally in Montpelier. And 38 local high school students joined a group of 200 students selected from around the country for the four-day New England Young Writer’s Conference on the Bread Loaf campus in Ripton.
New Haven residents said yes to the Vermont Green Line converter station, 252 to 128. Having repeatedly pledged they would not go to the Public Service Board without New Haven’s approval, VGL representatives got ready to submit the project’s 45-day notice and approach the PSB for a certificate of public good.
Seniors at Vergennes Union High School were the first group of area students to graduate by meeting proficiency-based graduation requirements. PBGRs, as they are known in education circles, will be required of all Vermont schools and students by 2020.
Late spring found many Addison County parents and educators gearing up for fall preschool placements. Vermont’s Universal Pre-K Law (Act 166), which provides 10 free hours a week of preschool at state-approved programs, was slated to go into effect Sept. 1. By May 26, 19 area preschools had been approved to receive Act 166 funding.
The Independent sat down with interim Porter Medical Center CEO (and longtime medical director) Fred Kniffin to take the pulse of the county’s hospital. Kniffin was appointed interim CEO in March to replace Lynn Boggs, who quit after nine tumultuous months on the job. Kniffin took the lead in the face of budget troubles, staff cuts and high staff.
As May drew to a close, the Independent took a trip out to Bridport’s Blue Spruce Farm, where the pioneering eco-dairy was gearing up to accept food-scraps slurry into its energy-generating methane digester. Blue Spruce’s cow-poop-powered digester was one of the first in the state. Vermont’s Universal Recycling law, passed in 2012, is phasing in an end to food waste. The target is to redirect all food waste from landfills to more productive uses by 2020.
At the end of May, political activist Van Jones gave the commencement address at Middlebury College’s 215th graduation. Reiterating “it takes two wings to fly,” Jones told the 517 graduates that Americans of all stripes must work together to bring about societal change.