Lamoille in the News
by Mickey Smith
JOHNSON – Two weeks ago Johnson State College Athletic Director Jamie Ventura was warning the SHAPE Facility pool at JSC was in need of serious repairs. At the time he said it could be a couple months or it could be a couple weeks; unfortunately for the patrons of the pool, the latter became the accurate prognostication and the antiquated dehumidification/heating unit broke for the last time on Sunday, November 8.
Despite the pool’s heating system breaking again, an Open House (fittingly planned to promote the issues with the heating system) went off without a hitch on Saturday, November 15 at the Johnson State College SHAPE facility – the pool’s temperature even stayed at a comfortable temperature. The good news from the open house is the college has secured a loan to get the heating unit fixed. - Smith photo
Good news was received later in the week in the form of approval for a long-term loan from the Vermont State College's Green Revolving Fund to replace the unit with a new, energy efficient unit at a cost of about $265,000. The new unit will not be available until February of 2015 and with a “temporary fix” price tag of $25,000, the decision was made to close the pool until that time, starting Tuesday, November 18, at 1:30 p.m. (the end of open pool time). Ventura warned, though, the temperature will continue to fall until the 18th without a heating system.
Barb Flathers, a member of a committee formed to raise funds to replace the heating system, said there wasn't a guarantee the $25,000 repair would even hold until February, so they could not justify spending that much money on something that would be defunct in three months, while they waited for the new unit to be constructed.
Ventura said the closure of the pool will also give them time to do a little housekeeping and spruce up the pool area. Although, he explained, the extent of this work has not been determined as they check to see what kind of budget they may have for improvements.
He also said they are willing to work with people who have purchased passes to use the pool.
by Andrew Martin
The pedestrian infrastructure in Morrisville should see more revamping in the next few years. A pair of projects are now planned that will rework and extend the sidewalk system in Morrisville beginning near A Street and eventually extending to the new pedestrian underpass near the Bishop John A. Marshall School.
The first of the two projects is planned for 2016 and will involve a complete sidewalk and road reclamation along Historic Route 100 from the area of A Street down to B Street in Morrisville. According to Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas, the current sidewalk in that area is old, in poor condition, does not meet ADA requirements, and is not believed to be in the town right-of-way.
Plans of the new sidewalk are available at the town office.
Thomas explained that the plans for the project call for a new six-foot sidewalk to be constructed at road level on the uphill side of the road, just below the existing sidewalk. In order to make room for this new sidewalk, the road will actually be shifted a few feet to the east. A small section of additional new sidewalk and crosswalks will also be constructed in the area of East High Street.
As part of the project the intersection of Historic Route 100 and Randolph Road will also be realigned to form a T intersection. The existing slip road off Randolph Road will be closed down, but the left-hand turn lane for south-bound traffic on Historic Route 100 will remain. The islands in the middle of the road will be removed however, as will many of the overheard signs.
“It’s going to look more like the quaint village road that the traffic counts show it to be,” Thomas explained.
He added that like Maple Street, the section of Historic Route 100 in question is built on a concrete base. As part of the work, the road and its concrete roadbed will both have to be torn up before the highway routing is shifted and rebuilt.
According to Thomas, the plan is for all of the work to the road to take one construction season. He expects there will be traffic delays while the work is going on, but stated that the town has enough room in the project area to possibly keep two lanes of traffic moving while work continues on another section of the road. However, he added that flaggers will likely be needed at times when the road is closed down to one lane, and detours may be necessary for certain periods of time. The entire project is already funded, as the town received a federal earmark of roughly $500,000 over a decade ago for the project. Morristown is expected to provide a match for the project, but town officials began putting money aside to cover that match years ago and the town now has approximately $129,000 for that purpose.
The second new pedestrian project would involve a new sidewalk being constructed from the end of the other project near B Street all the way to the new pedestrian tunnel under the alternate truck route near the Bishop John A. Marshall School. A scoping study on the project has been completed, and the Morristown Selectboard finalized plans for the work at their meeting on Monday, November 10.
According to Thomas, the sidewalk will be six feet wide for much of its length. However, the section running from B Street to Jersey Way will actually be eight feet wide. That section will be wider in order to allow it to potentially become a part of the Stowe to Morristown Bike Path that is still in the works.
“That section of the sidewalk will already be there and be the proper width if the shared use path from Morristown to Stowe comes to be,” Thomas explained, adding that there is only a small cost increase to make the sidewalk two feet wider now while it would be much more expensive to add two feet onto an existing sidewalk there in the future.
According to Thomas this new sidewalk system will likely cross Historic Route 100 just south of Rock Art Brewery and then continue to the pedestrian underpass further south. At this time no funding is currently on hand for the project, and Thomas explained that for this reason the town plans to build small sections of the project each year.
“It will be done piece by piece over time,” Thomas added.
Thomas also stated that the project could begin as early as next year. However, it is more likely that the first sections of the new sidewalk are built in 2016.
by Mickey Smith
JOHNSON – The title doesn't do the extent of the work justice as Johnson looks for a replacement for Steve Towne. In order to fill the position, the municipality is looking for someone who can run the water, sewer and electrical departments, including work as lineman.
Johnson's Municipal Manager Duncan Hastings said it’s not uncommon to find someone with water and sewer management backgrounds, as those two roles often go hand-in-hand, but along with those duties they need a working foreman who can handle linework for the village power company. That is a specialty that is not as often grouped with water and sewer work, and with linework only making up about 50% of the time, it makes it harder to attract qualified lineworkers.
Towne is leaving employment as of January 1, Hastings said he gave them plenty of notice, three months, so they would not be left in a lurch. The ads they have placed for the position call for all three positions, but at the same time they are exploring other alternatives, including contracting out some or all of the linework for the utility. Hastings said they have reached out to Vermont Electric Co-op and Morrisville Water & Light, both of whom have shown an interest in exploring that option.
Hastings said right now all parties involved are in the “data gathering stage.” He said VEC and MW&L have been asked to submit a proposal regarding how the contracted services would work. He stressed no decision would be made until they received those bids and wanted to let their users know they are not looking at completely selling the 950 customer power utility. In the meantime, they will be evaluating all applications and the proposals as they arrive.
He said because of their size, owning their own power company has been beneficial to the ratepayers, contracting out linework could actually result in more savings, as there are some fixed costs for equipment, safety training and regulations that might be spread out or even absorbed by a deal with a larger utility.
Hastings said both the Village Trustees and Town Selectboard have begun having discussions about the future of municipal governance, as himself, Towne and Road Foreman Steve Smith have talked about retirement in the next couple years. Towne's announcement moved that part of the discussion to the front burner.
The Waterbury Police Department is currently investigating a burglary that took place at the Subway restaurant located at 149 South Main Street in Waterbury. The incident occurred at approximately 3:40 a.m. on Wednesday, November 12.
During the burglary an undisclosed amount of cash was taken. Police caught the suspect on video, and the Waterbury Police Department would like help in identifying the subject. Images from the video are available on the facebook page for the Waterbury Police Department. Anyone with any information should call the department at 1-802-244-7339.
by Andrew Martin
The budget for the Wolcott Town School District will now be decided in a new manner. At a Wolcott Town School District Special Meeting held on Wednesday, November 12, nearly 100 Wolcott voters turned out to overwhelmingly support Article I, which proposed that the school budget be determined by Australian Ballot rather than from the floor at Town Meeting every year. The meeting was held at 6 p.m. at the Wolcott Town Offices.
The proposed article was voted on by voice vote following a brief discussion of the pros and cons of voting on the budget via Australian Ballot. The main benefit cited by those in favor of the article was the fact that an Australian Ballot vote would allow more than just the 100 or so voters who attend Town Meeting every year to vote on the school budget. According to Wolcott Town Clerk Linda Martin, the “ayes” carried a strong majority during the actual vote.
“The working people have spoken,” stated Wolcott resident and business owner Cindy Lowell, who started the petition that led to the vote, “That was my goal… I wanted to allow the working people the opportunity to vote on the school budget.”
“People thanked me for starting the process,” she added, “It seemed fairly unanimous… after it passed the whole room just applauded.”
While the switch to Australian Ballot does have the potential to allow more individuals to vote on the school budget, there are some fears that more people will now just simply vote down the budget due to the fact that they can no longer discuss and modify it at Town Meeting.
“I’m concerned that people will just go and vote down the budget without coming to the informational meetings we will have beforehand,” stated Wolcott School Board Chair Christine Languarand. Towns and school districts that vote on budgets by Australian Ballot customarily have at least one informational meeting before the actual vote in order to explain the budget to voters and to answer questions. Those meetings are meant to take the place of the discussion and questions that are asked at Town Meeting.
“If it gets more voters out it’s a good thing though,” Languarand added, “We will just have to see how it plays out.”
At this point Languarand was unsure how many informational meetings the Wolcott School Board would hold before Town Meeting and the vote in March.
The passing of Article I means that it will take effect at Town Meeting 2015 unless a petition for a revote is submitted within 30 days of the passing of the article. Town Clerk Linda Martin did not believe that voting on the school budget via Australian Ballot would incur any major new expenses. According to Martin one of the only expenses she could foresee for the town was the need to keep the polls open slightly longer and to keep election staff on hand. She also added that she expects the school district to incur the additional expense of publishing extra warnings before the informational meetings and vote itself.
by Mickey Smith
MORRISTOWN – Several long time downtown Morrisville establishments are changing addresses and a couple new businesses will be opening in the next few months.
Starfire Jewelry will be the first to make a move when they close their doors on Saturday, November 22. When they reopen, on Tuesday, November 25, they'll be in their new location at 74 Portland Street (the former Water N' Woods Building).
Jaime Berry, who owns Starfire Jewelry, along with her husband Ross, said with the move they are changing the business' name to better match up with what they offer. The new name will be “The Space – A Gallery of Local Artisans.”
She said with about a doubling of their space, they will be able to bring in new artisans, including some who offer products not associated with the jewelry businesses, so they wanted a name that wasn't so specific. “The Space” started as the way they referred to the new location as they began preparing for the move. She said one would say to the other, “I'm running down to the space for a minute,” and the name stuck.
The Space will have plenty of room for the traditional jewelry shop items, like wedding/engagement rings, watches and earrings, plus, she said, with about twice as much shop space, Ross will still be able to offer the repair services for which the business has long been known.
Jaime said they will be focusing on smaller hand crafted items, like metal work, wall art, fiber art, etc. She expects those pieces will complement the other half of the building, where Rogue Artisans, a new custom built furniture store will be selling larger handcrafted items. Building owner Jon Mogor is co-owner of Rogue Artisans and is also putting a cafe/bar into their half of the building. Along with beer, wine and spirits they will have sandwiches, pastries and other light fare foods. They hope to become a place people can come and relax by having refreshments while checking out the artisan crafts in both halves of the building. They said they aren't installing a full kitchen – so the menu will be limited. Rogue Artisans hopes to open in January, but doesn't have a set date.
The two businesses plan to work together; a door between the two halves will allow shoppers to browse both sections without going outside. This will allow the two to work together for special events like gallery showings, where each may feature an artist's work.
Another Portland Street business that’s on the move is Power Play Sports, and its subsidiary Green Mountain Sports. Since purchasing Green Mountain Sports about a year and a half ago, owner Caleb Magoon has wanted to get the two businesses under one roof (since the purchase, Green Mountain Sports as been located next door to Power Play Sports in the area where the Space will be opening).
He has reached an agreement to move across the street into the old Maynard's Building, which Gary Bourne is remodeling. Magoon said they hope to be in the new space by Christmas, but don't have a set date quite yet.
Around the corner on Main Street, Pizza on Main is starting to take shape in the former Arthur's Department Store location. Marisa Menendez is in the process of fitting up the space and is looking at a late December, early January opening.
Menendez said they hope to have construction completed by early December, which would allow for a soft opening before the end of the year. Once open they will be featuring New York style pizza, including by the slice and delivery, as well as pasta dishes and other homemade foods. She said the recipes come from her favorite place in New York City.
On Pleasant Street, Bob and Susan Titterton have purchased the former unemployment office building (next to Pleasant Street Auto Care) and will be housing the Morrisville Food Co-op (MOCO) when they are ready to open. In the meantime, the Tittertons have stated they will hold the space while the MOCO board adds more members.
Shumlin Gains Plurality Not Majority
by Andrew Martin
While the local races were decided at the polls on Tuesday, November 4, one statewide election is still in doubt. As of Friday, November 7 Governor Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne were separated by only a few thousand votes. In Vermont if neither candidate has received a 50 percent majority the race goes to the legislature. Since neither Shumlin nor Milne has received 50 percent of the vote at this point the election will likely be decided when the legislature reconvenes in January.
Many did not expect the race for governor to be this close, but it quickly became apparent on Election Day that Milne was doing better than expected. As of Sunday afternoon Governor Shumlin had received a total of 89,509 votes, or 46.36 percent. Milne had received 87,075 votes, which equates to 45.10 percent of the total ballots cast in the race. Libertarian candidate Dan Feliciano, who ran against Milne in the Republican primary, received 8,428 votes statewide, which is 4.36 percent of the votes cast in the race for governor.
While Governor Shumlin garnered more votes than Milne statewide that was not the case in Lamoille County. Overall, Shumlin received 3,207 votes in Lamoille County, while Milne garnered 3,810. Not only did Milne receive the most votes in the county, but he also took the most towns. Milne was the top vote-getter in the towns of Belvidere, Eden, Morristown, Hyde Park, Johnson, Wolcott, Waterville, and Stowe. He fared particularly well in Eden, where he received 178 votes to Shumlin’s 77, in Morristown, where he garnered 813 votes to Shumlin’s 682, in Hyde Park, where he received 640 votes to Shumlin’s 480, in Stowe, where he garnered 731 votes to Shumlin’s 641, and in Wolcott, where he received 277 votes to the 209 cast for Shumlin. Governor Shumlin took the towns of Cambridge and Elmore. However, in Elmore he only defeated Milne by a count of 155 votes to 150. In Cambridge, where Shumlin garnered 517 votes to Milne’s 486, Libertarian candidate Feliciano received 76 votes. Shumlin did nearly garnered more votes than Milne in Johnson, where he lost by a count of 341 votes to Milne’s 356.
While Governor Shumlin has already declared victory in the race Milne has not conceded at this point. He criticized the governor for already claiming victory in the race in a statement issued on Thursday, November 6.
“It’s clear that 54% of Vermonters want a new Governor, and a new path forward,” Milne stated in the release. He went on to explain that he and his staff are currently examining all figures and gathering information on how to move forward. A request for a recount is one option Milne and his campaign could choose.
One race that was expected to be close and was not was the one for Lieutenant Governor. In that race incumbent Phil Scott handily defeated challenger Dean Corren. Scott garnered 118,949 votes in the race, which equates to 62.14 percent. Corren received a total of 69,005 votes, or 36.05 percent of the ballots cast. Scott’s strong showing statewide was even more obviously reflected in Lamoille County, where he garnered 5,359 votes to Corren’s 2,242 while taking the most votes in each of the county’s ten towns. Corren was closest to Scott in Elmore, where he received 125 votes to Scott’s 221, and in Belvidere, where he garnered 24 votes to Scott’s 80. In nearly every other town in the county Scott garnered more votes by a wide majority. That was especially true in Hyde Park, where he received 885 votes to Corren’s 324, in Stowe, where he garnered 1,016 votes to Corren’s 437, and in Morristown, where Corren received only 466 votes to Scott’s 1,164. Scott also took the towns of Cambridge, Eden, Johnson, Waterville, and Wolcott by at least 100 votes in each case and by as many as 377 votes in the case of Cambridge.
There was only one federal race in Vermont this year, and that was for the U.S. House of Representatives. In that race incumbent Democrat Peter Welch faced off against Republican challenger Mark Donka as well as several independent candidates. Welch won handily, earning 123,349 votes, or 64.41 percent, to Donka’s 59,432 votes, which equated to 31.03 percent of the votes cast. According to the Secretary of State’s website the four other candidates in the race, Matthew Andrews, Cris Ericson, Randall Meyer, and Jerry Trudell, earned a total of 8,530 votes combined, which equates to 4.46 percent.
This Week's Photos
This electric car is plugged in at the new EV (Electric Vehicle) Charging Station in Morrisville’s Municipal Parking Lot. An outlet that had been leftover from when the Farmer and Artisan’s Market was in the corner of the lot was recently converted to an official charging station and will soon appear on maps and apps utilized by EV users visiting the area.
by Andrew Martin
The 2014 mid-term elections have come and gone, and while there were only a few contested races in Lamoille County those elections turned out to be extremely close.
A race that was contested was the Lamoille 2 district for the House of Representatives, which is a two-member district that consists of the towns of Johnson, Hyde Park, Wolcott, and Belvidere. There, Democratic incumbents Mark Woodward and Linda Martin saw challenges from Republican candidates Lucien Gravel and Shane Bouthillette. Woodward and Martin emerged from the race victorious, with Woodward collecting 1,351 votes, or 29.12 percent, while Martin received 1,323 votes, or 28.52 percent. Long-time challenger Lucien Gravel finished 163 votes behind Martin with a total of 1,160 votes, good for 25.11 percent of the ballots cast. Bouthillette finished in fourth in the district with a total of 800 votes, which equates to 17.25 percent.
Democratic candidates Linda Martin and Mark Woodward stand in the parking lot at the Hyde Park Town Offices on Tuesday, November 4. The pair were seeking reelection to the Vermont House of Representatives for the two-member Lamoille 2 district, which consists of Hyde Park, Johnson, Wolcott, and Belvidere. Both were reelected, with Woodward drawing the most votes in the district and Martin close on his heels. - Martin photo
Gravel actually collected the most votes in Belvidere with 56 and also fared well in his hometown in Wolcott, collecting the second most votes behind Martin. Woodward easily received the most votes in his hometown of Johnson with 450, while Martin finished second in that town with 362. Gravel finished well behind both Woodward and Martin in Johnson with 281 votes but fared better in Hyde Park where he collected 572 votes, just 38 less than Woodward and 34 less than Martin.
The other hotly contested race in Lamoille County was found in the Lamoille-Washington district, which includes Morristown, Elmore, Woodbury, and Worcester. In that two-member district incumbent Democrat Shap Smith and newcomer Avram Patt faced off against Republicans Mickey Smith and Emily Lapan. Shap Smith won reelection handily with 1,737 votes, good for 35.20 percent of the ballots cast in the district. The race for the second seat proved much closer, with Patt eventually prevailing with a total of 1,172 votes, or 23.75 percent. Mickey Smith finished just 102 votes behind Patt with a total of 1,070, good for 21.68 percent of the votes cast. Lapan also had a good showing at the polls, receiving 951 votes, which was 19.27 percent of the total ballots cast.
Shap Smith received the most votes of any candidate in each of the four towns in the Lamoille-Washington district. In Worcester, Smith received 278 votes while Patt nearly matched him, garnering 277. Mickey Smith and Lapan finished well behind either of their opponents in that town, garnering 95 votes and 87 votes, respectively. Both Republicans had better showings in Morrisville, which saw Shap Smith receive 1,013 votes, Mickey Smith receive 731, Lapan receive 622, and Patt receive 533. The final margins for the race were made up in Elmore and Woodbury, which saw Patt and Shap Smith each receive more votes than Mickey Smith and Lapan.
A number of incumbents in Lamoille County ran unopposed for their seats this year. Lamoille County Senator Rich Westman ran unopposed on both the Republican and Democratic tickets and received 6,197 votes, which accounted for 98.85 percent of the votes cast. The only town in Lamoille County that is not in Senator Westman’s district is Wolcott, which is located in the Essex-Orleans two-member district. In that race incumbents Robert Starr and John Rodgers won reelection over challenger Marcia Horne. In his entire district, Starr received a total of 7,152 votes, Rodgers received 5,708 votes, and Horne received 3,687 votes. In Wolcott, Starr received 279 votes, Rodgers received 277, and Horne received 203.
Representative Bernie Juskiewicz, who serves the voters of Cambridge and Waterville in the Lamoille 3 district, also ran unopposed on both major party tickets. Juskiewicz received a total of 1,155 votes, or 96.73 percent of those cast in his race. Stowe’s Heidi Scheuermann ran unopposed in the Lamoille 1 district, garnering a total of 1,264 votes. That total was good for 98.14 percent of the ballots cast in Stowe. Representative Mark Higley, who represents Eden, Jay, Lowell, Troy, and Westfield in the Orleans-Lamoille district, ran unopposed as well this year and received 943 votes, good for 97.12 percent of the votes cast in his election. Higley received a total of 228 votes in Eden.
Two other county-wide elections that saw unopposed candidates were the race for Lamoille County State’s Attorney and Lamoille County Sheriff. Incumbent LCSD Sheriff Roger Marcoux received 6,567 votes in his reelection bid, which was 98.54 percent of the total votes cast. New Lamoille County State’s Attorney Paul Finnerty ran on both the Democrat and Republican tickets and received 6,277 votes, good for 99.24 percent of the ballots cast in that election.
by Andrew Martin
Residents of Hyde Park now have another vote to consider sooner than expected. After turning out in high numbers for the November 4 elections and school building bond vote, the residents of Hyde Park will be asked on December 2 to vote to decide if their school budget will now be decided by Australian Ballot rather than from the floor at Town Meeting like it has been in the past. The Special Town Meeting that will be held to determine how the school budget will be decided will begin at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at Hyde Park Elementary School.
Article 3 of the warning for the December 2 Special Town Meeting states “Shall the voters of Hyde Park adopt the Hyde Park Elementary School budget article or articles by Australian Ballot?” The Special Town Meeting was planned after the town received a petition in late October asking that the school budget be voted on by Australian Ballot. The petition was begun by John Clegg and bore the signatures of 152 registered voters when it was turned into school officials.
“The school board received a citizens’ petition that triggers a special meeting of the school district to decide whether we should adopt our annual budget article(s) by Australian Ballot…” stated HPES School Board Chair Raven Walters in an email communication with the News & Citizen.
“…I anticipate there will be more vigorous discussion in Hyde Park over the next few weeks,” Walters added.
The planned December 2 vote makes Hyde Park the second town in Lamoille County to consider changing how its school budget is voted on. Residents of Wolcott will be attending their own Special Town Meeting on Wednesday, November 12, to decide if their school budget will now be decided by Australian Ballot as well.
While they will soon be deciding the method for how future budgets are voted, residents of Hyde Park have already answered one major question regarding their school. Voters turned out in force to vote down the proposed $18.3 million bond vote that would have funded a major rebuild and renovation project at HPES. The final tally for the bond vote stood at 1,037 votes against and just 211 votes for. The 1,262 votes cast in Hyde Park on Election Day represents well over half of the 2,027 registered voters in the town.
According to Hyde Park School Board Chair Raven Walters, the board will now consider how best to move forward regarding the future of the school. The board will begin that process at its next scheduled meeting, which will be on November 17.
“We’ll plan to debrief the vote at the meeting, and at least begin the conversation about how to proceed,” Walters explained.
“The high voter turnout suggests that more people are now at least aware of the situation with the facility,” Walters continued, “…the board very much hopes that this will translate to increased community involvement in the next phase of the project.”
by Mickey Smith
Thomas Zapantis, 32, of Johnson, was sent back to jail after he violated the conditions of his furlough, reports Dale Crook, director of field services for the Department of Corrections. Zapantis was shot outside of Cumberland Farms in Morrisville in late September after an argument between two men turned violent. Chris Burnor, 39, of Waterville, was arrested for the shooting after a day long manhunt.
Crook said they do not comment on specific cases, but could verify Zapantis violated the conditions of his furlough and was returned to custody for that offense.
“It was addressed appropriately,” said Crook.
Morristown Police assisted with the Wednesday, October 29, incident that led to Zapantis returning to jail. Morristown Police Chief Richard Keith said Zapantis failed a drug test and apparently as a Corrections officers attempted to take him into custody, Zapantis resisted arrest and tried to flee.
As of Monday morning, November 10, he was still being lodged in the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury. Chief Keith said Zapantis had an underlying offense of DWI #2 and driving with license suspended, which carried a six to 36 month sentence.
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