October 2016 chronology
The summer’s hot and dry weather affected the 2016 apple crop. Orchardists reported in October they had beautiful apples with plenty of flavor, but that the apples were smaller and less plentiful — the crop size was down by about a third. That sunshine did lead to plentiful flowers, however, and a bumper honey crop for local beekeepers.
The drought also affected the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, based in Shoreham, which closed operations early because of the low water level in Lake Champlain. The ferry began to scrape the bottom of the lake, its owners said.
In New Haven, the selectboard made final its deal with the Vermont Green Line companies, who plan to site a 400-megawatt power station in that town as well as run a power line in some town rights-of-way. The town could reap $1.4 million for 40 years and $4 million toward a new fire station and town garage, plus other considerations.
But the VGL companies also failed to win a key contract in southern New England, casting some doubt on the project’s future. VGL officials, who are also negotiating a big-money deal with Ferrisburgh, insisted that it was “business as usual” and their power line — planned to carry wind and hydro power from Beekmantown, N.Y., and then under Lake Champlain to Ferrisburgh on its way to New Haven and then the larger New England grid — was still a go.
The Green Mountain Care Board approved a $76 million operating budget for Porter Hospital for 2017, a spending plan that hospital officials said would increase spending by just 0.07 percent. The budget will also allow Porter to set aside money for capital improvements, officials said.
Porter also announced it planned to affiliate with University of Vermont’s Health Network and Medical Center in Burlington, a move that came after months of study and public feedback. Such a partnership will end Porter’s 91 years of autonomy, but officials said it would offer financial stability and shared resources and allow for facility upgrades. Porter also named Fred Kniffin its permanent CEO, removing an interim tag.
Major renovations were wrapping up at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes’ School Street headquarters in October under the guidance of new executive director Jill Strube, who took over late in the summer from longtime club head Mike Reiderer. As well as a needed facelift, the work included a full kitchen that will allow the youth club to expand its meals program and cooking classes.
In campaign finance news, Bristol-area House candidate Mari Cordes proved to be the big pre-election winner — documents released in October revealed the Progressive/Democratic candidate raised an unprecedented $19,000 in her first run for the statehouse. The next most successful fundraisers at that point were two of her competitors: Bristol-area House Republican candidate Valerie Mullin ($9,541) and incumbent Bristol Rep. Dave Sharpe, a Democrat ($9,235). Addison Republican Peter Briggs garnered $8,880 in his Addison County Senate bid. Sharpe was the only winner among that lot.
VTrans released a new four-year, $40 million plan to replace the two deteriorating downtown rail bridges in Middlebury. The plan called for the most intensive work to be done in a 10-week period in the summer of 2019. Many in the downtown continued to question a project design that would do so much damage to the normal course of business and did not include compensation to business or property owners.
Meanwhile, one of those major downtown properties went under contract. Burlington’s Nedde Real Estate, which has done several significant projects in Middlebury, agreed to buy the Battell Block from Battell LLC, headed by Bruce Hiland of Middlebury. The deal was expected to become final in December.
In Cornwall, work began on $441,000 of renovations to Cornwall’s Town Hall that will include roofing, a new library, storage and upgraded business space. The town had been setting aside $100,000 a year since 2012 to pay for the project, which means town business will for a few months be conducted out of a nearby trailer.
Lincoln found a new trash hauler, Moose Rubbish and Recycling of Shoreham, in October, ending months of impasse with Casella Waste Systems about a new contract. Casella said in May it wanted more money to continue to serve Lincoln. The deal was structured differently to protect both parties, according to the Lincoln selectboard.