Lamoille in the News
by Andrew Martin
Residents of Hyde Park may have noticed lately that their town clock has not been striking. That will soon be remedied however, as a project is in the works that will repair it. Work to the clock, which is located in the Lamoille County Court House, is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year and it should be up and running correctly after that.
The Hyde Park town clock was struck in 1911 after the county courthouse was rebuilt. It was made by the E. Howard Clock Company of Boston and it bears the signatures of the town selectman at the time it was installed. The clock was electrified a number of years ago, but the electric motor that now runs it became obsolete over time and stopped working four years ago. A fundraising campaign was undertaken at that time by the Hyde Park Village Improvement Association (VIA), and the motor was repaired.
The antique Howard clock in the belfry of the Lamoille Court House in Hyde Park. - Courtesy Duncan Tingle
While the work to the electric motor four years ago was successful, it appears that more repairs are now needed.
“The striker now isn’t striking,” VIA President Duncan Tingle explained, “Repairs need to be undertaken to fix that.”
Tingle added that the fundraising campaign of four years ago produced an excess of money that did not all need to be used to fix the electric motor at that time. The VIA set aside those funds for yearly maintenance to the clock and are now using a total of approximately $936.00 to help fund the necessary repairs to the striker.
The VIA has also approached the Town of Hyde Park about covering the remaining costs of the repairs since it is in fact the Town’s clock. At their meeting on Thursday, November 13, the Hyde Park Selectboard heard a presentation by Tingle and voted to approve a total of $1,100 to assist the VIA in making the repairs.
Tingle expects the work to the striker to be completed before Christmas. He also stressed the importance of the clock as a piece of the history of Hyde Park. For many years the town clock was one of the only timepieces available and was used by farmers and other locals in the area and for that reason was an extremely important part of their lives.
by Andrew Martin
Plans by the major telecommunication company AT&T to construct a pair of cell towers in Morrisville are moving along. The company appears to have resolved one of the major issues that would have potentially interfered with one of the towers, which will be located just off Needle’s Eye Road in Morrisville near Cadys Falls. AT&T submitted applications for Certificates of Public Good for the projects in April of this year, and the Town of Morristown had submitted comments on one application in order to make the Public Service Board aware of a potential issue regarding a nearby public water system. The second tower is planned to be located off LaPorte Road (Rt. 100) near Vanesse Road in Morristown.
Both the LaPorte Road and Needle’s Eye Road towers would be 120-foot structures that would serve to increase the wireless broadband service in the area. The Laporte Road tower would increase coverage along the Route 100 corridor between Morrisville and Stowe, while the Needle’s Eye Road tower would increase coverage in the Cadys Falls area as well as on Route 15. Both towers meet the local zoning requirement of not being placed on ridgelines.
The main issue that Morristown officials and local residents had with the Needle’s Eye Road tower is that the tower would have been built on a portion of a seven-acre field that serves as the Source Protection Area (SPA) for the Cadys Falls public water system, which is used by approximately 19 homes in Cadys Falls. However, the town has reached an agreement with AT&T that will involve the company contributing $3,500 towards a project that will see village water extended to the Cadys Falls area, thereby freeing up the SPA as the Cadys Falls water system will no longer be used.
“It’s not a lot of money, but every little bit helps,” Morristown Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas stated, “Once Cadys Falls is on village water, AT&T will not be building on a protection area.”
Thomas went on to explain that the town has agreed to support the Needle’s Eye Road tower application now that the water issue has been mitigated. He went on to add that the current plan is to extend village water to Cadys Falls from the area of Pinewood Estates via a 1,200-foot water line. Thomas is currently looking for other potential funding sources for the project and recently submitted an application to a state-run loan and grant program requesting a total of $25,000 for the project. In total, Thomas estimates that the work will cost roughly $250,000. The approval by voters at Town Meeting of a Special Tax District would also help to fund the project, but Thomas is unsure if that vote will happen this coming March. If it does he would like to see the waterline extended to Cadys Falls during the coming construction season in 2015.
The Lamoille County Planning Commission Board of Directors will be submitting their own comments on the two tower projects following their November 25 meeting.
A third new tower could potentially be built in Eden by the Vermont Telephone Company (VTel). That project would involve the construction of a 90-foot single-carrier pole just off Warren Road on property owned by the Gagner family. Located on the tower would be nine panel antennas and two dish antennas. The goal of the project would be to increase wireless broadband service to the residences and businesses in Eden along Routes 100 and 118 as well as to the Eden Central School. The LCPC Board of Directors will also possibly be submitting comments on this tower project following their November 25 meeting.
by Andrew Martin
Local businesses will have to wait a bit longer before finding out if their signs will be allowed on the new Route 100 alternate truck route. A meeting has been scheduled for December 5 between Morristown officials and representatives from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. At that meeting a discussion of the truck route signage will take place as all involved attempted to determine what signs will be allowed on the bypass. If the statute limiting signage primarily directed at traffic on the bypass is enforced, several businesses along the truck route may be forced to remove or cover their signs. Businesses whose signs are primarily directed at town highways instead of the bypass would be allowed to keep their signs.
“The hope is that the meeting will help both parties, local and state, understand how VTrans will interpret and enforce the law prohibiting signs on a limited access highway,” stated Morristown Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas.
According to Thomas the meeting will NOT [N&C emphasis] be open to the public as previously thought and will instead only involve himself, Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley, Morristown Community Development Coordinator Tricia Follert, and the representatives from VTrans. During the meeting those involved will look at the precedents set in similar towns around Vermont where limited access highways have been built. Two examples he listed are found in Rutland and St. Albans.
Thomas also explained that at this point he now believes it unlikely that the Vermont Legislature will rework the state statutes and bylaws that deal with limited access highways. Instead, he believes the best fix would be a revised definition that differentiates between limited access highways like Interstate 89 and a more local truck route like the Route 100 bypass. However, before he and the other towns seek to work with local legislators to make that happen, they are waiting to see what occurs at the December 5 meeting.
“In fairness to VTrans, they are only enforcing existing state statute about signage on a limited access highway,” Thomas stated in an email to business and landowners along the alternate truck route, “There might need to be a subcategory of limited access highway legislation drafted and passed by the legislature that treats the Truck Route more like the section of Rte. 100 that it is instead of applying the same sign laws as if it were I-89.”
“This subcategory for a limited access highway could still preserve State control over new curb cuts,” Thomas added.
Yankee Magazine has named Mt. Mansfield Creamery's “Inspiration” as the Editors Choice Food Award winner in the November/December issue of the magazine.
Inspiration was rated one of the top four cheeses in the New England by their panel. This prestigious award is given out annually to food categories like cheese, chocolates, and other specialty foods.
Inspiration is a French washed rind cheese made by cheesemaker Stan Biasini, of Morrisville.
Stan and his wife Debora have produced many award winning cheeses in the four short years of the business.
In 2011, the Inspiration washed down with Rock Art Brewery's Mt. Holidays in VT, took second in the American Cheese Society competition, and in 2014 took a first and gold medal at the Big E cheese competition held in Springfield, MA, eaten with Lost Nation's Pitch Black. In addition, their “Sunrise” cheese, a 10 month old Romano rubbed with Lake Champlain Chocolate's cocoa and olive oil placed 98 points at the World Cheese Competition held in April.
Mt. Mansfield cheeses can be purchased locally at Green Top Market and Rock Art Brewery in Morristown and Harvest Market, Mountain Cheese and Wine, Stowe Seafood, Mac's Market, Shaws and Stowe Mercantile in Stowe. They will soon be available at the new retail center at Mansfield Dairy.
by Mickey Smith
After allegedly threatening two people with gun, Jacob Baker, 18, of Eden, led police on a high speed vehicle chase from Morristown to North Hyde Park on Tuesday, November 18.
Morristown Police allege Baker pulled a gun on two people who had been staying with him and were trying to retrieve their stuff from Baker's car when they met up at the Morristown Plaza Parking Lot.
Initially police were called to the plaza at about 6:19 p.m. on Tuesday evening, but while on their way it was reported the car had left and was heading west on Route 15 from Munson Avenue.
Morristown Corporal Michael Reeve said he saw Baker's blue Chevy Cobalt stopped at the red light at the Brooklyn Street and Route 15 intersection. Morristown Police Corporal Garth Christensen also came up on the vehicle in that area, but Baker is alleged to have taken off at a high rate of speed. In his affidavit, Cpl. Reeve estimated Baker was doing 60 mph through the new roundabout. He said Baker did not try to negotiate the curve – simply going straight over the bricks.
Baker is alleged to have turned up Centerville Road in Hyde Park, where he nearly struck a vehicle. This caused him to lose control and wind up facing back towards Routes 15 and 100, as Cpl. Christensen turned up the road. Cpl. Christensen stated in his affidavit Baker came directly at him at a high rate of speed, causing Christensen to brace for an impact, but Baker swerved at the last second, continuing northerly on Rt. 100.
Cpl. Reeve stated the left rear tire on Baker's Cobalt began to disintegrate, but he continued at speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour.
Baker came to a stop in North Hyde Park and was taken into custody. In his affidavit, Cpl. Reeve said Baker had an open blade knife on him, and a semi-automatic handgun was seen on the floor of the car with a shotgun on the front passenger-side seat.
Baker was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, reckless endangerment, grossly negligent operation, and eluding police officer. He was held at the Northeast Regional Correctional Facility for lack of bail.
by Mickey Smith
A few tweaks have been made, but there is still "something happening in Johnson" on Friday, December 5, when the annual Johnson Holiday Jubilee hits Main Street. The hours have been changed to 3 to 7 p.m., in hopes of offering something for the crowd just getting out of school.
Santa Claus will be at Tangles Salon and some of his elves will be at Northern Highlights Salon. Across the street at Maple Addiction, you never know exactly "Who" might show up. New this year, Kyle Nuse, new owner of The Studio Store, plans some crafts like ornament and dreidel making.
At about 5 p.m. the area churches plan to meet and organize Caroling along Main Street. There will also be music at the United Church and students from the Lamoille Union Band will be performing in the open space at Woody's.
One of the main stays of the Jubilee is back this year, the Scavenger Hunt features cash and gift certificates as prizes and will again have separate contests for kids as well as adults.
Sterling Market is offering samplings of Kingdom Creamery Ice Cream, as well as face painting.
Greg Stefanski, part of the Johnson Works committee that puts the event together each year, said there are more participants than ever before this year with things taking place all the way down to the new Landmark Restaurant (formerly the Long Trail Tavern).
The Village Green will once again serve as the main hub for all the activities. They will also be collecting toys for the Lamoille Family Center and food for the Johnson Food Shelf at that location.
Check for more information about the Jubilee at www.johnsonconnect.net. Johnson Works plans to keep post the schedule and other events at that website.
by Andrew Martin
The Limited Access Highway designation of the new Route 100 Alternate Truck Route appears to be causing issues again. While the ban on non-motorized traffic for the new road no longer seems to be an issue, a state statute pertaining to signage on all limited access highways could severely curb the signs that many businesses located along the bypass have placed and can place on their own buildings. Town officials in Morristown are now working with officials from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) to find a workable solution to this potential issue. Many businesses along the route already have signs that would need to be removed if this statute were enforced.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation may require that certain businesses along the new Route 100 alternate truck route remove their signage. A state statute currently prohibits business signs that are primarily visible from limited access highways, such as Interstate 89 or the new bypass. A team from VTrans will likely be coming to Morrisville later this week to determine what signs could possibly be in violation of this state statute. The sign for the new Mattress and Sofa Warehouse seen above, from the end of Professional Drive, is one that VTrans officials have raised issue with in communications with town officials.
- Smith photo
The statute in question states that “No on-premise or exempt sign may be erected if it is so located as to be readable primarily from a limited access facility.”
“Since the new VT 100 is a limited access facility, this means that otherwise legal signs must be primarily oriented toward ‘regular’ (i.e. non-limited-access) highways rather than toward the new VT 100,” stated VTrans’ official Kevin Marshia in an email correspondence with Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley. In layman’s terms, this means that the sign or signs of any business along the truck route must primarily be visible from a town road, not the bypass. This is true even if the business or sign lies outside the right-of-way of the highway.
“There is no 100-foot exclusion zone;” Marshia explained, “It’s permissible for a sign to be incidentally visible from the limited access facility as long as its primary orientation is toward the town highway.”
“Basically, if a sign happens to face a town road it’s ok, even if it’s also visible from the bypass,” explained Morristown Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Todd Thomas.
Marshia went on to explain that VTrans is required by law to enforce this statute consistently around the state. He did also add that discretion must be used by both the sign owner and VTrans in each possible situation.
“As this is a new highway with its own unique circumstances there is a learning curve for all of us in adhering to the statute…” Marshia added.
According to Todd Thomas, the enforcement of this statute would require that a number of the businesses along the truck route remove or cover their signs. While some of the businesses are actually located along the new town road, Old Creamery Road, and have their signage facing that road many others do not have that luxury. The fact that the other access road on that side of the bypass, Gallery Lane, is a private road means that the businesses in that area do not have a town road nearby to orient their signs toward. The next closest road, Professional Drive, is also a private road.
Thomas further explained that he has been approving signage permits for many of these businesses due to the fact that they are allowed under Morristown zoning. He stated that he plans to continue doing so, but is now warning business owners that the state may require them to remove the signs if the statute is fully enforced. However, he added that the town plans to take a stand for those businesses.
“The Town is going to do its best to help all the businesses,” Thomas stated.
“These businesses are only accessible from the truck route, and the state is now saying they can’t have a sign,” he added, “It’s pretty hard to do business without a sign.”
He further explained that he feels that the best way to remedy this problem is in Montpelier.
“We need a legislative fix,” Thomas stated, “The law needs to be tweaked…We need to work with legislators to find something that fits the situation that exists in Morrisville.”
“You can’t compare a limited access highway like the bypass to Interstate 89,” he added, explaining that the statute applies to both types of highway in the same way despite the fact that the two roads are so different.
“In my opinion, treating signage on the Truck Route like I-89 is not an apples to apples comparison,” he stated in an email sent out to all land and business owners along the bypass.
Thomas also explained that the Route 100 bypass is even different from the bypass recently completed by VTrans in Bennington.
“That bypass is not in a developed area,” he stated, “Part of our bypass was built through an existing developed area.”
As part of the negotiations between Morristown officials and the Vermont Agency of Transportation a meeting and site visit will be taking place later this week. An entire team from VTrans will be attending in order to help interpret the law, decide how to enforce it, and determine which signs and businesses it applies to. Thomas has already notified land and business owners along the route of the impending meeting and reasons in his email and will be updating those individuals when an actual time and place for the meeting is determined.
This Week's Photos
"I have always been committed to Stowe: from opening Ferro Jewelers back in 2006, renting the space in the former Stafford pharmacy to purchasing the building, renovating it, and finally bringing in Plate and Coldwell Banker real estate. My wife and I are proud to be part of this strong community and helping to revitalize this historic building on Main Street. We greatly appreciate and thank all of those who have been supportive of us through this process and look forward to being an integral part of the town."
- Bryan Ferro, Owner of Ferro Properties & Ferro Estate & Custom Jewelers
Community members gathered to celebrate the future home of the Morrisville Food Co-op (MoCo) at 46 Pleasant Street in downtown Morrisville! The building was purchased by Bob and Susan Titterton, with the intention of eventually leasing the ground floor to MoCo once membership levels grow and sufficient capital is raised. Want to see this co-op open in downtown Morrisville? Become a member-owner today! Visit www.morrisvillecoop.com or call 802-498-8611, 802-498-8611.
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.
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