July 2017 Year in Review
As July opened it became public that longtime Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs would retire in August. Gibbs served the town in its police department for 31 years, beginning in 1986 and taking over as its leader in 1997.
Also in Bristol, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union teachers and support staff ratified a new two-year deal that would give them pay hikes, but require them to chip in more for the cost of the health insurance benefits.
In Vergennes, residents early on learned the combined new school and municipal tax rate would mean a reasonable 1.8-percent increase of about 4.25 cents on their overall tax rate. A little later the Middlebury selectboard pegged a new tax rate with an even more modest 2-cent increase.
Brandon wasn’t so lucky in another matter: the town was hardest hit in the area by flooding when heavy rains struck in early July after a wet June. Several area roads saw flooding, although officials said a recent $2.3 million project to protect downtown from the Neshobe River prevented damage there.
In Middlebury local businessman Tony Neri closed a deal for the long-vacant Greg’s Meat Market property and pledged to re-establish a grocery store there. The project is still in the permit process at year’s end.
United Way of Addison County officials announced in early July that their just-concluded 2016 campaign raised $651,364, slightly more than its $650,000 goal.
In major July 4 sports news, the Bristol Financial team of Coleman Russell, Chris Wood and Sophie Wolak prevailed in the Great Bristol Outhouse Race after falling a few feet short in the 2016 final.
Stop the presses: school tax rates dropped in Addison and Waltham by 13 and 10 cents, respectively. The 10-cent discount for Addison Northwest School District unification was largely responsible. Later in the month Ferrisburgh adopted a new tax rate that for homeowners was almost 15 cents lower.
Cooperation between the Addison Northwest and Northeast districts took a step forward when a deal to share food services, purchasing, and a director, Kathy Alexander, became official. Food reviews, already positive in Bristol, improved in Vergennes.
Controversy struck usually quiet Whiting. Neighbors of a gun range that town officials said was illegal complained about noise and safety and about two dozen showed up at a zoning board hearing to oppose ongoing shooting there. The owner said he no longer runs the range as a business, although he would accept donations. An Aug. 2 site visit was scheduled.
Guns made news in Bristol, too. A proposed law to regulate firing guns in Bristol drew about 70 residents to a selectboard hearing, with most opposed to anything that would limit rights to fire weapons. The proposed law, banning discharging weapons within 500 feet of someone else’s property, had been suggested after spring incidents of guns being fired near homes. The board decided to do more research and revisit the issue.
Two local sports figures made news in late July. Fish & Wildlife officials certified as a state record a 33.25-pound carp caught in April by 10-year-old Ferrisburgh resident Chase Stokes, and former Middlebury College basketball player Koby Altman was named the general manager of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers (translation: Altman is technically LeBron James’ boss.)
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