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September 2017 Year in Review

As September opened the Mount Abraham Union board decided to ask Addison Northeast voters to approve a $35 million bond to overhaul the high school, with big ticket items to include more gym space, a bigger lobby and main office, better ventilation, and renovations to the science classrooms, library, auditorium and locker rooms, plus a laundry list of mandated items and other improvements. The board scheduled a vote for Nov. 2.
Officials from Addison Central School District and Middlebury College forged a partnership wherein college students would help the primary and secondary schools in the area transition to an International Baccalaureate program.
For the first time in more than 20 years, the Aurora School, an alternative K-8 school in Middlebury, did not open its doors for the school year. Declining enrollment made it financially impossible for the school to continue, officials said.
Another long tenure of more than 20 years was ending in Ferrisburgh. Jane Williamson said she would be stepping down as executive director of the Rokeby Museum at the end of the year.
While preparing to say goodbye to Williamson, Kathleen Haughy began her tenure as the new executive director of the Vermont Folklife Center, a Middlebury institution that is the repository for thousands of Vermonters’ stories.
Addison Northwest became the last local district to reach a new two-year deal with its teachers. But a mysterious holdup prevented the board from signing the deal for a couple of months, to the frustration of educators, who were kept in the dark. It proved to be a technicality about the beginning and ending of workday hours that negotiators on both sides worked to smooth over by the end of November, and the contract was made final by the end of the year.
Other labor agreements were inked: Porter Medical Center nurses and Porter’s University of Vermont Health Network managers reached terms on a new three-year deal, and Hannaford Career Center teachers signed a two-year pact.
The Northlands Job Corps director left after less than a year, with no clear explanation. News broke only in an email to the Vergennes City Manager just after the company that runs the federal job training center, Chugach Alaska Corp., denied any change was in the offing. Sources and documents obtained by the Independent said the director was not popular among the center staff and students.
Bristol hired a new town administrator, poaching Valerie Capels from Waitsfield, where she had served as that town’s administrator since 2006. Bristol selectboard member Peter Coffey was especially happy to see Capels sign on — he had been serving as interim administrator.
Despite a survey showing 71 percent of 773 respondents favored legalizing recreational marijuana, the Middlebury selectboard moved far more cautiously on the issue. The board voted to take a position that the drug should be legal for recreational use only after “related safety, public health and local regulatory and budgetary concerns are adequately addressed.” That statement slightly modified a stand recommended by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. Owners of shire town convenience stores mourned the loss of a potential increase in Doritos sales.

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