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August 2017 Year in Review

On Aug. 1 the Ferrisburgh selectboard signed a $337,500 purchase and sale agreement to sell the town-owned 34.91-acre parcel at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A to Monkton malt maker Andrew Peterson. Peterson hopes to move his business, which processes a major beer ingredient for Vermont microbrewers, from a Monkton barn to the site. The board just hopes the deal, which was pending at year’s end, closes — unlike two previous sales, both of which fell through.
On Aug. 2 the Whiting zoning board held a site visit and hearing on the zoning notice of violation issued to a Stickney Road gun range. The violation alleges it is an illegal commercial range, and neighbors complain it is loud and unsafe. Its owner maintains he accepts only donations, its hours are reasonable, and its topography makes it safe. The board eventually upheld the violation notice, which calls for fines of $200 a day dating back to May, but the situation was unresolved at year’s end. Neighbors have also complained about informal shooting ranges in Goshen, Lincoln and Ripton.
The Bristol selectboard, however, put an end to discussion of the town’s proposed gun ordinance. All board members voted against adopting the law, saying it was unwieldy and unnecessary. They noted public opposition and said the spring incidents that prompted the proposal had not been repeated.
Ilsley Library officials released a study from an architectural firm that they said supported the need for a $9.6 million project that would renovate the building’s existing 19,000 square feet and add 6,600 more. According to library board representatives, that investment, hopefully paid for by grants and fundraising as well as by residents’ wallets, would serve Middlebury for the next 50 to 100 years. The project, if approved as proposed or scaled back, remains several years away.
Vergennes and Middlebury youth swimmers capped an enjoyable summer by taking titles and setting records at the Vermont championship meet. Vergennes swimmer Will Clark won four races and set a record in the 50-yard freestyle, and the Middlebury boys’ 14-and-under relay team of Fraser Milligan, Nathan Stone, Oliver Poduschnick and Will Carpenter set a state mark in winning their event.
Local displays of Confederate flags on private properties in Middlebury and Vergennes triggered protests and heated debate in the county, especially after violence triggered by self-proclaimed white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va. About 100 protesters gathered in Middlebury to express solidarity with Charlottesville counter-protesters.
Officials responded to the issue of racism and bigotry in all its forms. Addison Central School District created a task force to recommend ways of creating a more racially sensitive environment in its schools following incidents among students. In Vergennes, the city council adopted a resolution supporting inclusivity, tolerance and universal rights, and rejecting hatred.
One thing seemed to unite county residents in August: Many gathered one warm and sunny afternoon to watch the sun — or more specifically the partial eclipse of the sun that could be seen from this region of our planet.
Many also agreed that the third annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival was a success: record numbers of viewers checked out the offerings, and directors enjoyed enthusiastic give-and-take sessions after many showings.
As the month closed the sun was back in the news. The Vermont Supreme Court overturned the Public Utilities Commission’s approval for a New Haven solar array off Route 7, ruling the commission had to consider comments its members had ruled were filed too late. According to a town attorney the decision marked the first time Vermont Supreme Court had reversed a utility commission Certificate of Public Good for a solar array. The town, the commission and the owners of the already operating array were still talking at year’s end about the next steps. 

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