Archive - Apr 7, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Fifth- and sixth-graders from Ripton Community School were climbing up the walls — and even across a ceiling — at Mary Hogan School on Thursday morning.
Kids packed into harnesses and helmets scaled the gym wall, which is painted like a mountain range, and pulled themselves up on platforms jutting out from the snow-capped peaks. Around the gym, others were hoisted up to the ceiling and descending down toward the floor like spiders on threads of silk.
Mary Hogan physical education teacher Mike Quinn was busy belaying a boy who dangled from the ceiling, slowly pulling himself across a rope. Quinn and guidance counselor Wes McKee started Mary Hogan’s climbing program about 16 years ago.
“We’ve been very lucky,” Quinn said, never taking his eyes off the boy suspended above him. “We have a great administration … even before (Principal) Bonnie (Bourne), they were really supportive of the program.”
The Ripton students started coming to Mary Hogan to climb about five years ago, the first year Steve Lindemann began teaching sixth grade in Ripton after previously teaching — and working with Quinn with the climbing program — at Mary Hogan.
“We couldn’t afford this up in Ripton, of course,” Lindemann said. “So I thought why couldn’t we take advantage of it, if it’s available.”
Quinn and Bourne said of course it was available, and they extended an open invitation.
Almost every year since then Lindemann brings his Ripton fifth- and sixth-graders down to Middlebury on a school bus in the morning and back to Ripton at lunchtime on an Addison County Transit Resources bus.
Each year they make two trips, giving the kids a chance to get over any fears they might have on their first visit.
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury voters on Wednesday, April 9, will be asked to support a proposed 2008-2009 Mary Hogan Elementary School budget of $5,624,785, reflecting a 2.59-percent increase in spending and restoration of an education technology position that had been cut a few years ago.
If approved, the spending plan would result in an increase of 8.4 percent in the education property tax rate for Middlebury homeowners, a boost that district officials said is associated with the “common level of appraisal (CLA)” provision of the state’s education funding law.
“The budget, to be frank, is pretty unremarkable,” said Mary Hogan Elementary Principal Bonnie Bourne.
She noted the one substantial addition to the proposed budget is an education technologist position that will work with teachers to help students access information through computers and other equipment. The person will also advise school officials on computer infrastructure and Internet access.
The computer technologist position is making a comeback after having been phased out of the budget in recent years as a cost cutting move. Mary Hogan Elementary currently serves 385 students, down from 540 enrolled eight years ago.
While the school is proposing to add a new position, it is preparing to cut others.
The budget reflects 2.1 fewer professional positions, with cuts including a second-grade teacher, to reflect a smaller-than-usual incoming class. There will also be fewer special education staff, to reflect the changing needs of next year’s student body.
By ANDY KIRKALDY
FERRISBURGH — The Vermont Electric Power Co. has fixed one problem with its new transmission line that Ferrisburgh selectmen called “shocking and offensive” in a Feb. 28 letter, and the town’s VELCO committee head believes the company will address two more: the visual impact of a 70-foot-tall structure near Vergennes and of guy wires on Route 7 power poles.
VELCO, which is in the midst of installing a major power line from West Rutland to South Burlington, last week removed a pole it had installed near Greenbush Road to hold an osprey nest. Selectmen and town VELCO volunteer Larry Keyes backed resident Bob Houghton’s contention that it blocked the runway of his private airport. The company ultimately agreed and took it away on April 1, Keyes said.
Still to be resolved are how and whether VELCO will shield the roughly 15 guy wires that hold up poles where the new line crosses Route 7 east of Vergennes, and mitigate the appearance of what selectmen said is the unexpectedly tall double-pole structure on a ridge not far from the new Vergennes substation.
Keyes said VELCO officials have been responsive in his direct talks about those two outstanding issues from selectmen’s Feb. 28 letter to the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB), which approved and is overseeing the erection of the big new VELCO power line, which passes through Addison County.
The main problem with the guy wires, he said, are the yellow safety guards that cover their bottom six or eight feet. VELCO officials have told him they are willing to plant shrubbery to shield the safety guards, and although that assurance is not in writing Keyes said the company has made good on similar pledges in the past.