November 2017 Year in Review
November began with many Vermonters dealing with a record-breaking number of statewide power outages and cleaning up after a major windstorm. The winds started to blow on the night of Oct. 29 and continued on Oct. 30, with winds topping 120 miles per hour on Mount Mansfield and reaching 80 miles per hour in Addison County. Schools closed that Monday due to impassable streets (and some didn’t open again until Wednesday), roughly 12,200 Addison County residents lost power, and a shelter opened in Monkton for those who just wanted a warm place to rest and take a shower.
Independent reporter Andy Kirkaldy connected the storm with Vermont’s other strange weather patterns that occurred this year: record-breaking October heat that was a whopping 10.5 degrees warmer than average, eight out of 10 months in 2017 were warmer than average (as of the beginning of November), below-average snowfall until March, and above-average rainfall every month between April and July.
Legislators resumed the debate over a carbon tax at a Middlebury forum called “Everyone’s Economic Opportunity in Climate Action.” The tax would encourage consumers to move away from fossil fuels and generate funds to help low-income residents make their homes weather-tight.
In a 93-vote margin of defeat, Addison Northeast Supervisory Union residents on Nov. 2 rejected a $36.6 million renovation plan for Mount Abraham Union High School. The close vote gave project proponents hope that a third vote could be the charm for getting five-town residents to endorse major repairs to their almost-50-year-old secondary school building. Later in the month, a group of citizens urged members of the MAUHS board to delay any new bond vote until Town Meeting Day in March. They hope to see 60 percent voter participation, and a 60 percent voting yes.
After the federal government cut this year’s Vermont Health Connect open enrollment period in half, from 12 weeks to a six-week period, Vermonters rushed to enroll. Those who missed the Dec. 15 deadline could have to wait until 2019 to get their health insurance coverage.
Nine percent of Middlebury voters turned out in early November to green-light three free easements on public land that Vermont Gas needed to serve roughly 15 potential downtown natural gas customers. Those who petitioned for the vote felt that Vermont Gas should negotiate a price for the use of town-owned property, but Vermont Gas officials said Middlebury would be setting a precedent if it required the company — a utility — to pay for the easements.
Fifteen people from all over the world became United States citizens at the Ripton Elementary School in mid-November. “I’ve wanted to be an American citizen because I love American people and America,” said Mary Magot from Sudan as she clutched a small U.S. flag and her citizenship certificate after the ceremony.
Porter Medical Center and three other hospitals in the UVM Health Network — University of Vermont Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital — plan to purchase an Epic-brand electronic medical record system that will allow patients’ histories — including medical lists past procedures and hospital stays — to be seamlessly transferred and viewed by health care professionals within the network.
A Vermont company proposed to build a 40-acre solar farm on a 112-acre parcel of land off Halladay Road in Middlebury. Developers promised the arrays would be tucked away from street views.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, turkey producers in Addison County had raised tens of thousands of turkeys that were ready for processing. Orwell’s Stonewood Farm contained 2,500 turkeys in each of their eight massive turkey barns.
Middlebury College looked to push its campus beyond carbon neutrality with the announcement of an anaerobic digester with would process 100 tons of manure and 165 tons of food waste every day to create a kind of natural gas. The gas would be piped from the digester on the Goodrich Farm to the college campus in Middlebury.
The Independent reported that organizers of Middlebury’s late winter Chili Fest have decided to temporarily suspend the event, citing a shrinking downtown footprint and burnout experienced by regular entrants. Instead, the Better Middlebury Partnership will replace Chili Fest with an inaugural “Winter Fest,” to be held at the Middlebury Recreation Park on Feb. 24, 2018.
At the end of November, Cindy Peet concluded a 45-year run on the Bingham Memorial School Board in Cornwall. Her husband’s grandfather donated the 5-acre parcel on which the school sits, and that parcel was carved from the farm where Peet resides with her husband. “I felt I brought some history to the school,” Peet said.
Dana Hart, a New York City transplant who dreamed of relocating closer to some family in Vermont, was appointed as the new director of the Ilsley Public Library. Hart, 28, served as administration manager for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Thomas J. Watson Library.
Norman L. Baker, an 89-year-old Massachusetts man who led an extraordinary life of exploration and excitement, died while traveling to see his family in Starksboro for Thanksgiving. He was piloting a four-seat Cessna airplane when it crashed in Pittsford.
Area deer hunters claimed success after taking 554 bucks in the second-best rifle season in 13 years.
The Vermont Green Line, a high voltage direct current electric transmission project designed to harness renewable energy in New York and deliver it to southern New England, hit a major roadblock that could result in its demise. The companies heading the project withdrew their request for a permit to build.
A new mom, Sammie, got a big lift from John Graham Housing & Services, a nonprofit that runs the Vergennes shelter and five multi-until apartment buildings in the county. Sammie found herself in Addison County a year ago with no place to stay and no resources. After learning of her pregnancy, her shelter-mates supported her, and the shelter guided her to the Addison County Parent-Child Center. In late November she was ready to start a job in a Vergennes food service business while another former shelter-mate, who now lives in an apartment, will serve as a caregiver to her son, Hunter.
This Christmas season will be the last in the business for 72-year-old Phil Kivlin, a veteran Christmas tree farmer located in Shoreham. After 33 years selling trees, Kivlin is ready to move on. “I’m starting to recognize the limitations of what my body can do,” he said. “It’s been really fun.”
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