Archive - Apr 10, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Volunteer rescue workers from the Saranac Fire Department Technical Rescue Team of Saranac Lake, N.Y., joined the effort to locate missing Middlebury College Student Nicholas Garza on Wednesday morning with an underwater search of Otter Creek.
Members of the Middlebury Fire Department assisted about 16 rescue workers from Saranac as they lowered video cameras into the dark water and prodded through debris along the shoreline.
Don Uhler, chief of the Saranac team, has been following the Garza case for weeks. Last Thursday he contacted Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley to offer the expertise and technology of his team, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) swift water rescue team that incorporated underwater cameras into its searches two years ago.
Without underwater cameras, searchers may have had to wait until water levels receded later in the spring to conduct a full search of the river.
Uhler’s search includes three main functions: attaching a boat to a high-line rope system and dropping a camera into the water around the falls and near the footbridge; sending two teams along the shoreline to search debris piles with probes; and searching the river’s eddies, the outer corners where water becomes slow-moving.
“There is clearly a good reason to believe we could locate a person if they were a victim of the river,” he said. “The river is very predictable.”
When a person falls into a cold-water current like the Otter Creek in February, the process is always the same, Uhler explained. A body will descend through three phases, known as the top, middle and bottom load. If the person is conscious, he will remain in the top load longer as he fights the current. If he is unconscious, or cannot beat the current, he will sink to the middle load and finally the bottom.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury and Weybridge selectmen on Monday balked at signing an agreement with the state to initiate major repairs to the historic Pulp Mill Bridge, arguing some of the proposed work will simply perpetuate architectural flaws within the span and that the town could not afford to have the structure closed for a full year during renovations.
Erected in 1820 across the Otter Creek, the Pulp Mill Bridge links Middlebury with Weybridge across Seymour Street. It is one of only six double-laned covered bridges remaining in the United States, according to Sean James, an engineer with Hoyle, Tanner & Associates. The firm recently completed a study of the span, including a proposed list of repairs needed to ensure its ongoing ability to handle heavier vehicles and traffic.
The proposed repair list includes:
• Replacing of the standing seam roof installed on the bridge three years ago. James explained the current roof will need to be removed to allow heavy equipment to access the network of rafters, cross-braces, tie beams and knee braces that will require extensive work/replacement.
• Performing major work on the bridge’s truss system, including replacement of many of the vertical timbers.
• Replacing of 16 percent of the exterior north arch and 27 percent of the exterior south arch.
• Complete replacing of the floor deck, along with 16 percent of the floor beams.
• Installing new siding on the span.
• Paving 100 feet at each approach of the bridge.
By JOHN FLOWERS
ADDISON COUNTY — Local public works crews throughout the county are moving into “spring cleaning” phase to remove a particularly dense layer of sand left over from heavy application to area roads this past winter.
Many Addison County towns at least temporarily ran out of salt during what was a particularly snowy winter. This forced communities to rely more heavily on sand, or a sand-salt mix, during the latter stages of the winter. With the snow now almost gone, many roads are left covered with large mats of sand — especially at intersections — contributing to tire-spins and the pinging of pebbles against vehicle windshields.
Dale Hazzard, highway division chief for the Middlebury Public Works Departments, said the town’s street sweeper is being run through the downtown and subdivisions. The street sweeper has a hopper into which the sand is collected and hauled away.
Middlebury’s rural roads will be swept with a broom tractor, which will push the sand and other debris off to the side.
Meanwhile, Vergennes put its new street sweeper into motion on Monday — but not before using a Bobcat utility vehicle to loosen the gritty sand from the Little City’s roads.
“It’s a really tedious, messy sweeping (process),” City Manager Renny Perry said. “We will probably have to do a couple of revolutions on all the streets.”
Vergennes acquired its street sweeper last year. The city had rented a sweeper in prior years.
In Bristol, Town Administrator Bill Bryant said the local road crew will get to work sweeping as soon as it can rent a sweeper — a hot commodity around this time of year.
“It does seem like we have a lot of dirt on the roads this year,” Bryant said. “We will get started (sweeping) as soon as we can.”