Archive - Aug 2006
By HARRIETTE BRAINARD
ADDISON COUNTY — What could be America’s largest demonstration calling attention to global warming is scheduled to kick off in Addison County on Labor Day Weekend.
A concerned group of citizens covering the spectrum from farmers, hikers, hunters, birdwatchers, students, businesses, scholars and sugar-makers from across the Champlain Valley have signed up to walk from Ripton to Burlington in a five-day event dubbed “The Road Less Traveled: Vermonters Walking Toward A Clean Energy Future.”
Participants will gather at noon Thursday, Aug. 31, at Robert Frost’s writing cabin off Route 125 in Ripton. The hope is that by leaving from Frost’s cabin, participants will “find strength within Vermont’s Yankee heritage, which addressed problems forthrightly and figured out how to solve them,” said Will Bates, a recent Middlebury College graduate who organized the walk along with a half dozen other local people.
What follows falls in the realm of the “It-can’t-possibly-be-true category,” but it is and it’s an outrageous example of how this nation’s political system has become increasingly dysfunctional. The issue is farm subsidies, and the salient fact is that the federal government spent $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all.
None. Some of the individuals collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in crop subsidies without even planting a seed. Mary Anna Hudson, an 87-year-old resident of the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston, received $191,000 over the past decade, according to research done by the Washington Post and reported in last Sunday’s edition. Houston surgeon Jimmy Frank Howell received a total of $490,709 over the same period, while 67-year-old Donald Matthews of El Campo, Texas, built his dream house in the heart of rice country on an 18-acre suburban lot and he receives $1,300 in annual “direct payments” on the 17 acres that surrounds his elaborate home. Matthews, an asphalt contractor, readily admits he’s “no farmer” and disagrees with the government’s policy, but his desire to give the money back to the government was fruitless, so he now takes the money and has created scholarships for the local school and 4-H club.
Political movements that catch the public’s imagination can spread like a prairie fire across the nation. From town to town, state to state, the movement’s idealism is spread by word of mouth — fanned by media coverage and today’s internet — and fueled by millions of people wanting to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The political movement that most fits this description today is global warming. Al Gore’s book “An Inconvenient Truth,” and the subsequent movie have done much to popularize the issue in recent months, taking off from previous works on environmental issues, including Bill McKibben’s landmark book, “The End of Nature.”
In an attempt to harness the eagerness of people to embrace this issue and make it the number one cause on America’s agenda, a well-publicized five-day walk is scheduled for Labor Day Weekend starting in Ripton and ending in Burlington. That the walk starts in Ripton has much to do with the fact that McKibben lives there, that Robert Frost’s writing cabin is there, and that Middlebury College student Will Bates and a few others who helped organized the walk, could imagine no better place to reflect on Earth’s beauty and the reasons why it is so important to protect what is within our ability.
Middlebury Language Schools Commencement, August 18, 2006
Associate Dean for International Affairs
President Liebowitz, members of the Board of trustees, thank you. It is truly a great pleasure for me to be here: what greater honor could I possibly hope for than to become a member of this community, one that is surely the leasing provider of language programs in the whole country?
It’s been a tough 10 days for all those of us who believe that moving people around the world is important if they are to understand each other. The news from England, that we must once again find tighter security methods for airline travel, is a blow. But for me that means that it is more important than ever to reflect on, and to celebrate, international experience. For those graduating today engagement with other cultures is already ingrained, is something to which you are committed. Sharing this commitment, I have been reflecting on two things we do when we travel: acquisition, and participation. I want to question the first, and applaud the second.
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By HARRIETTE BRAINARD
BRANDON — Brandon officials recently approved a preliminary application from Robert N. Hockaday Jr. of Roland Enterprises for a new development of 70 single-family homes called “The Woods at Spring Pond.”
Hockaday, who is based in Baltimore, Md., was granted approval for his firm’s preliminary application in the middle of July by the town’s development review board. The preliminary application requires approval from local services — including police, fire and rescue departments, water and sewer, and the local school system — to ensure that the town’s infrastructure can accommodate the needs of the development.
“When you’re awarded approval at this juncture, it means that the town has awarded you approval in principle,” says local realtor Skip Davis, whose office has listed the property for sale. The developer will now have to submit more detailed engineering drawings for the final permitting process.
By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
BRIDPORT — By a 81-75 vote, Bridport residents on Thursday approved a plan to spend $600,000 to build a new town garage and move the fire department across the street into the current municipal garage.
With the vote behind them, town officials hope to begin construction of the new garage in late September, with the road crew and its five town vehicles taking occupancy by the time snow flies.
Building the new, five-bay garage is estimated to cost $500,000 and will be erected on a 16-acre parcel of town-owned land at the intersection of Crown Point Road and Short Street. The spot is already the site of a sand and salt shed operated jointly by Bridport and the state of Vermont.
The town will spend an estimated $100,000 to renovate the current, four-bay town garage to accommodate the Bridport Volunteer Fire Department, which officials say has outgrown its two-bay firehouse. Four fireßtrucks are parked bumper-to-bumper in the firehouse, another truck is parked in the town garage, and a sixth is out for repairs.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
NEW HAVEN — The tally of visitors to Addison County Fair and Field Days last week didn’t just break the old record, set in 2005.
No, the attendance for the Tuesday-Saturday event handled the old record like a Hummer would treat a demo derby beater: About 78,000 people paid their way into the annual county fair, almost doubling the old mark of 40,000 achieved just a year ago.
First-time fair director Cara Mullin and other fair officials were, unsurprisingly, ecstatic with the results.
“Every day was just amazing, the amount of people that came through,” Mullin said.
Also happy were Field Days vendors, who moved plenty of t-shirts, maple products and fried dough.