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By the way for Oct. 15

Leaf-peeping opportunities can still be found in the area, but travelers — particularly those hoping to connect with Route 100 — should remember the Lincoln Gap Road will close for the winter beginning Thursday, Oct. 15. The closure point will be past the last house on the road (No. 2668, on the Lincoln side). Barriers will be installed on both the Warren and Lincoln sides of the gap. Please be sure your vehicle is not parked up there on Oct. 15 or it will be blocked in.
Save the date: On Saturday, Oct. 24, the fire departments of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro will again open their station doors from 9 a.m. to noon for the annual “Five-Town Fire Department Food Drive.” All food and non-perishable items collected benefit the Have-A-Heart Food Shelf that serves all five communities. Please consider making a donation to this cause. Cash and check donations will also be accepted. Suggested donation items include spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, soup, canned beans, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, cereal, toilet paper, bar soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Please: no expired products or soda and sugary beverages.
Last week the Vermont Department of Labor announced an increase to the state’s minimum wage. Beginning Jan. 1 Vermont’s minimum wage will increase by 79 cents, from $10.96 to $11.75 per hour. This adjustment also affects the minimum wage of tipped employees. The Basic Tipped Wage Rate for service or tipped employees equals 50% of the full minimum wage, or $5.88 per hour starting Jan. 1. The minimum wage is set to increase to $12.55 per hour in 2022, in accordance with current state statute. After 2022 the minimum wage will resume increasing annually with inflation, as calculated by the Department of Labor.
The Starksboro Food Shelf will be open this week on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. until noon. The food shelf is open to all Starksboro residents and is located across the parking lot from the Starksboro Post Office. Due to the pandemic, access to the building is restricted to volunteers only. When you arrive at the food shelf, please stay in the parking lot and a volunteer will bring groceries to you. If you’re heading to the grocery store this week, please think of the Starksboro Food Shelf and maybe pick up an extra item or two. The facility is gathering food items for Thanksgiving. Non-perishable items such as cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, quick breads, pumpkin pie filling and crust, cake mixes and frosting are in high demand. 
As cool weather encroaches, Middlebury police get questions about fire pits, which are considered separate from open burning. Open burning requires a permit, and those won’t be issued until Nov. 1. Open burning involves yard refuse, brush, tree limbs on uncontained open ground. But a backyard fire pit is allowed if it’s small and in an enclosure. Please burn only clean wood, and try to ensure the smoke doesn’t cause problems for your neighbors. On a complaint from an adjoining neighbor, you may be asked to extinguish the fire.
In preparation for the general election on Nov. 3, the League of Women Voters of Vermont offers voters their nonpartisan election resource, VOTE411.org. This “one-stop shop” offers simple, helpful tools to assist Vermonters in navigating the voting process. VOTE411 provides candidate information, allows voters to compare positions of candidates who responded, and view side-by-side responses for any two candidates running for office. Visit Vote411.org, click on “See what’s on your Ballot,” and enter your address to get a list of all the races in your area. In addition, VOTE411 provides voter registration, polling places, and other election-related resources. 
For those looking for some safe Halloween fun: A “spooky Halloween full moon community drum circle” will be held at Middlebury’s Riverside Park (near the Otter Creek Falls) on Oct. 31, from 5-8 p.m. Grab your drum, wear your Halloween mask (costumes encouraged) and revel in the moonlight. This event will also be a stop on downtown Middlebury’s trick-or-treat route. There are also lots of great restaurants right in town offering takeout, so plan a picnic and support our local businesses while you’re there. Be sure to space your blanket or chairs out for safe social distancing. Don’t have an instrument? Make one. The past few circles have included cardboard boxes, Tupperware and homemade shakers. Be safe — wear your mask, space yourself out from others, pack some hand sanitizer, and please stay home if you have any symptoms The event is brought to you by the Better Middlebury Partnership and Bundle.

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