Archive - Nov 17, 2008
By KATHRYN FLAGG
MIDDLEBURY — What does a “downward dog” tunnel have to do with fighting hunger?
Plenty, if Otter Creek Yoga owner Joanna Colwell and one of her yoga students have anything to say about it.
Acting on a suggestion from Lila McVeigh, who has regularly practiced yoga with Colwell, Colwell is hosting a whimsical yoga class this week for pre-school-age children and their parents. While the class is free, she and McVeigh are suggesting parents bring a donation of $10 or non-perishable food items for the food shelf at the Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) agency on Boardman Street.
As it turns out, Colwell’s yoga studio is one of several businesses chipping in to stock local food shelves this fall. And requiring a food donation for a food shelf is popular with other events, as well.
Across town, the Middlebury branch of the Chittenden Bank is participating in the company’s Share the Bounty initiative. Their three-month-long food drive, which started last month, will also be contributing donations to a local food shelf.
Other businesses and events in the county supporting area food banks include:
• Screening of “The Fragrant Spirit of Life” documentary film. Organizers of the Dec. 2 event in Bristol said donations of canned food will be accepted.
• Hypnosis Works at 52 Liberty St. in Bristol. A group hypnosis session on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. is free with a non-perishable food donation for the food shelf or a $3 donation to Heifer International.
• The Cool Yule kick-off event in Bristol on Dec. 5. The lighting of the bandstand and memory tree on the town green, which will also feature seasonal songs by school choruses, will include a food collection for Bristol’s food bank.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Vermont Soapworks officials hope to move the growing business from its current Exchange Street headquarters to a building on Industrial Avenue that will double the company’s production space and allow it to potentially double its workforce during the next two years.
Vermont Soapworks President Larry Plesent launched the manufacturing company in 1992 in a 1,700-square-foot farmhouse in Brandon. A steady increase in business prompted Plesent to look for larger accommodations, which he found in 1996 in the Neri business incubator building at 616 Exchange St. Vermont Soapworks initially occupied around 2,500 square feet in the 31,000-square-foot structure, but has gobbled up additional space during recent years as production demands have grown. The company now occupies 10,000 square feet of production space and 1,000 square feet of retail space in the Neri building.
But once again, Vermont Soapworks finds itself at an enviable crossroads. Now producing hundreds of soap-related products that it markets to thousands of firms, stores and lodgers in 43 countries, the company has been growing at a rate of 25 percent per year. It again needs more room.
“Now we have totally outgrown our space here,” Plesent said, watching some of his 26 workers trim bars from large soap blocks, pack products into huge boxes and tend to the small store that offers locals and tourists a sample of Vermont Soapworks’ wares.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
VERGENNES — The latest director of the Northlands Job Corps center in Vergennes plans to improve students’ experience and academic achievement at the MacDonough Drive campus through better discipline, and to tackle a long-standing issue for the federal job-training program: recruiting more Vermonters.
After taking over this past summer, Tony Staynings, 55, first had to deal with a hospital stay for health problems, and now he is back on track in his mission of improving the center for his employer, the Kentucky firm Rescare Corp.
Staynings said his top focuses are improving employment prospects and job skills for the center’s roughly 230 economically disadvantaged students from around New England.
The son of a British Army sergeant major, Staynings is an accomplished long-distance runner who competed in two Olympics and described himself as “like a drill instructor with a sense of humor.”
“I like to have fun. I want the students to have fun,” he said. “I want the kids to know that education should be and can be a fun experience for them. But I also make it very clear there are rules. You have to be responsible and accountable for what you do.”
As well as longstanding prohibitions on drugs, alcohol and violent behavior, rules now include requiring passes to wander the campus during daytime classroom hours and banning “public displays of affection,” which Staynings said are not acceptable in the workplace, and therefore not at Northlands.
“We’re training these folks to be ready for the workplace, (teaching) what we call employability skills, social skills,” he said.