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By the way for Nov. 19

It’s not too early to think about Christmas, and the nonprofit Sheldon Museum could use a present or two. The Middlebury museum has launched its online miniature Christmas tree raffle, which has become a holiday tradition. The raffle this year features nine one-of-a-kind miniature trees decorated by generous local artists, including Suzanne Douglas, Nancie Dunn of Sweet Cecily, Robin Huestis of Round Robin, Lauren LaBerge of Sweet Charity, Sarah Pope, Donna Sargent, Miranda Gero, Sarah Stahl, Ashley Wolff and a “Secret Santa Artist.” Tickets will be sold through Dec. 20, with the drawing slated for Monday, Dec. 21. Click here to see all the trees, including a video of each tree: tinyurl.com/y3ysreql. To purchase raffle tickets, go to henrysheldonmuseum.org. Please also note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum, its research center and store are temporarily closed.
A reminder that Homeward Bound, the Addison County Humane Society, has a safety net program — Pet CORE — to help under-resourced pet owners with supplemental food, parasite preventative, the cost of cat spaying/neutering, and access to basic wellness vet care. Please visit bit.ly/3eyDsSR for an application.
A lot of focus is being placed these days on federal supports for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s also help available for those who suffered financial losses during flooding that took place in Addison County and elsewhere on Aug. 24. The Small Business Administration – Office of Disaster Assistance (SBA-ODA) is reaching out to victims seeking aid for flood damages. The SBA provides federal assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters.  The loans are designed for the uninsured and the underinsured.  The interest rates are as low as 3% percent for businesses, 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations, and 1.188% for homeowners and renters. Loans are for up to 30 years. Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery or equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed real estate, and up to $40,000 to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed personal properties. For more information email Leroy Frazier of the SBA at Leroy.frazier@sba.gov.
Addison County law enforcement agencies want motorists to be safe over the Thanksgiving weekend. They will be conducting impaired-driving checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout Addison County from Nov. 25 to 29 as part of the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Thanksgiving Day holiday campaign. Officers will also be on the lookout for distracted drivers and those not wearing seatbelts. They are asking all to drive responsibly, make sure to wear seatbelts, not drink and drive, and refrain from using cellphones while behind the wheel. Their takeaway: Be safe and enjoy the holiday.
Vergennes officials and backers of the new bike trails in the city’s MacIntosh Park are happy the trails are proving to be popular. But they want to remind those who use the trails not to park along Comfort Hill, the road on which the park is located. At last week’s city council meeting Mayor Lynn Donnelly echoed park organizer Scott Hardy’s comment to us that bikers and hikers should leave their vehicles elsewhere and ride or walk to the park. The entry to the park is near a sharp corner, Donnelly said, and cars left on the road have posed a hazard.
The Bristol Best Night committee is making official what the 5-Town community is probably already assuming: There won’t be a New Year’s Eve celebration this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of coming together in large groups, organizers are encouraging everyone to find a safe, small pod with which to bring in the new year. If all goes well, Best Night will be back next year. Anyone who would like to join the committee and help make next year’s celebration the best yet, please contact Mary Barnett, Scott Hamshaw, Jeff Pratt, Anne Wallace or Eric Warren.
Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects’ resale store and warehouse were closed last week for a few days pending testing after a possible COVID exposure of a staff member. Everyone has now received negative test results and the store and warehouse have reopened. Meanwhile, pickup of HOPE holiday meal boxes have begun for income-eligible families. Please call 388-3608 or go to hope-vt.org to see if you qualify. The nonprofit poverty-fighting organization will deliver holiday meals to folks who are homebound. 
Rokeby Museum enters the season of giving with hopes for another successful Annual Fund Drive. Many organizations have struggled to adapt to the changing environment, but Rokeby has continued to fulfill its mission through digital and in-person activities, including the reopening of the Education Center to the public in July. This season, we welcomed over 900 visitors who enjoyed the site and exhibits including “Free & Safe” and “Mending Fences: New Works by Carol MacDonald.” The Rokeby this year is seeking to raise $35,000. If you are in a position to donate, please do so by logging onto rokeby.org/support.

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