Lamoille in the News
by Andrew Martin
The grand opening of the long-awaited Route 100 Alternate Truck Route is upon us. A ceremony to celebrate the opening of the bypass will be held on Friday, October 31 from noon until 2 p.m. The project to build the truck route, which has taken place over the last two years, will be completed just before the event.
The Morristown Alliance for Culture & Commerce (MACC) is ready for the opening of the Alternate Truck Route on Friday, October 31st. The "grasshopper" bridge across the Lamoille River is one of the longest slant bridges in the country. Learn more about the big changes in Morrisville.
The celebratory event will begin at noon with the truck route opening up to pedestrians and bikers. Tours of the bypass will be given starting then and running until the 2 p.m. ribbon cutting, which will take place at the roundabout where the bypass and Route 15 meet. Representatives from local and state government will join individuals from both federal and state transportation agencies and the community in celebrating the event. An auto parade down the bypass will occur following the ribbon cutting.
Before the alternate truck route can open a few small jobs must be completed. According to VTrans’ Chris Jolly the long-delayed traffic light for Bridge Street arrived on Wednesday, October 22 and was scheduled to be installed over the next few days. Other miscellaneous work that remains includes sign installation and top soil work. The line striping of the entire project, which had been scheduled to take place last week but was delayed due to the wet conditions, will also be completed this week.
Along with work to the actual bypass the Vermont Agency of Transportation must also complete a few jobs in other parts of Morrisville. Work will be done to upgrade and improve the light at the intersection of Brooklyn Street and Route 15 during the upcoming week, and the light at Harrell Street is scheduled to be removed on Thursday, October 30.
Other traffic patterns will also be changing in Morrisville. The most visible of these will occur at the intersection of Bridge Street and Brooklyn Street. A stop sign will be installed at the end of Brooklyn Street, thereby requiring traffic turning right or left onto Bridge Street to come to a halt before continuing. Bridge Street will now be a through street and cars traveling along it will no longer have a stop sign due to the anticipated higher volume of traffic that will be coming off the bypass at that intersection. According to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley the new stop sign will be installed early on the morning of Monday, November 3.
“We had planned to install it on the Friday of the grand opening, but Friday afternoon is a bad time to do that,” Lindley explained. He also added that a police officer will be present at the intersection after the change is made to aid motorists and direct traffic.
Other changes that will occur include the fact that both Wilkins Street and Professional Drive will no longer provide access to the other side of the bypass. Both roads will cease being through streets on October 31, with only Stafford Avenue continuing to serve that purpose and giving access to the businesses located on the other side of the truck route. Two new roads, Gallery Lane and Old Creamery Road, will also access locales on the other side of the bypass from the truck route itself.
“There are a lot of traffic changes that are going to happen that are all related to the opening of the bypass,” Lindley explained.
“We just ask that people be patient,” he continued, “There are entire new traffic patterns. Everybody just needs to be safe.”
by Mickey Smith
The Green Mountain Technology and Career Center has entered into an agreement with the Brewster Uplands Conservation Trust (BUCT) to use the 40 acre Robtoy Farm for community educational purposes.
GMTCC Director Joe Teegarden explained the land is part of a nearly 200 acre tract just over the Brewster River from the Cambridge Elementary School and the BUCT was looking for proposals for ways the land could be used and remain open to the public.
GMTCC submitted a proposal which would offer public usage and educational opportunities to everyone from kindergarten aged children up to adults. He said the exact details are still being worked out but their proposal included ideas like: summer camps, an agriculture related technical education class, and continuing education classes providing farm based education for adults. He envisions the land being used as a working-training farm, similar to how the forestry program learns skills while managing the land at their Hardwick operation. There is also room to partner with post-secondary education opportunities, like Sterling College where sustainable agriculture is a key area of focus.
Officially the land will be leased for $6,000 a year, but Teegarden said the agreement allows for in-kind payment and it is believed there are enough skills available at GMTCC, like forestry management and construction, to pay that lease without actual money changing hands.
“Obviously a new program has expenses like a teacher and supplies,” said Teegarden, noting these types of expenses exist for all programs.
Teegarden said the program is a work in progress, he estimated they would begin erecting a building that could serve as a classroom/community room next year and thought the first actual agriculture class at GMTCC would begin in 2016-17.
Unlike other programs that close the doors in June and start back up in the fall, an agriculture-based program would have to be year round. He said the plan would call for both crops and animals to be raised on the farm, so there would have to be some level of care throughout the summer as well. One suggestion was to create a year round, half day course rather than the standard full day through the school year approach. This, Teegarden said, would allow for students to have time during their school day for work or other classes. He said this might open up the program to college prep students who have a few classes they are taking their senior year, but would like to learn some new skills as well.
by Andrew Martin
Election Day, 2014 is now just one week away on November 4, and voters in Morristown will be deciding on the future of their municipal offices at that time. On Saturday, October 25 the Morristown Selectboard held the first of two public meetings beginning at 10 a.m. in order to better inform the community about the $600,000 bond vote that will be used to help fund the purchase of the Tegu Building, where the town offices are currently located.
The Morristown Selectboard listens to questions about the proposed bond vote to purchase the Tegu Building for the permanent home for the Town Offices. - Martin Photo
The article for the bond vote asks that voters approve or disapprove a total of no more than $600,000 that will be borrowed for a period of no more than 30 years to be used to purchase and make improvements to the Tegu Building, located at 43 Portland Street. The actual purchase price of the building and lot is $900,000, and when that total is combined with the planned improvements for the building the total for the project is $1,050,400. The town of Morristown currently has $471,000 already set aside to be used for the project in addition to the bond. Town officials have entered into a Purchase and Sales Agreement to finalize the purchase that is contingent upon voter approval of the bond.
The planned improvements to the Tegu Building that would be completed if the purchase is made include $38,000 in energy efficiencies upgrades that would result in a yearly saving of roughly $3,000. Work to upgrade the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system would also be conducted at a cost of $79,000. The windows of the building would also be upgraded for a cost of $33,400. Along with the planned improvements to the Tegu Building the town has also brought in several experts who feel that the building is structurally sound and has the additional benefit of being easily expandable if the town is ever required to enlarge its offices.
During the informational meeting on Saturday, October 25 Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley went over a cost comparison for those present. He explained that the town currently leases and pays taxes on the building. That total yearly payment is currently $46,217 and it is estimated that the figure will rise to approximately $72,000 over the next 20 years. The annual cost of paying back the bond for a 20-year loan would range between $38,000 and $40,000 per year depending on the interest rate the town receives. That total is even lower for a 30-year loan, which would likely have an annual loan payment between $28,500 and $30,500 depending on the interest rate. For this reason the purchase of the building would actually have no adverse impact on the tax rate due to the fact that either loan payment would be less than what the town currently pays in taxes and lease. The loss of the building from the tax rolls also would not necessarily have a negative impact due to the fact that the town was paying the taxes anyway.
Lindley also went over the other potential lots in Morristown that could be purchased for town offices if the voters choose to vote down the Tegu Building option. The two options he discussed were the lot on Hutchins Street owned by J.B. McKinley and the municipally-owned lot across from the Morristown Centennial Library on Richmond Street. Municipal officials are estimating that building new town offices on either lot that would be roughly the same size as the current town offices would cost approximately $1,200,000. The Hutchins Street lot would also likely have a purchase price in the vicinity of $90,000. While both lots do have positive aspects they would both have to have funding provided for the installation of an elevator as well as site improvements and could potentially not allow for future growth of the town offices. Work to add parking spaces at the Richmond Street lot would also need to be done, and the anticipated cost of each of the other lots did not include the cost of moving.
As part of the meeting a question and answer session was held following Lindley’s presentation. Questions regarding the potential need for an elevator and sprinkler systems in the Tegu Building were asked. According to Lindley until an expansion of the building does occur the town would not have to pay for either since nearly all town business is currently conducted on the ground floor and the building also currently falls under the square footage total that requires a sprinkler system. Lindley also explained that while the town will likely have to make other large purchases in the next five years, such as new highway equipment, there are reserves that have been established for that purpose and the town tries to level out the costs of those big purchases, so there is not one large increase in any given year.
The second informational meeting regarding the bond vote will be held on Monday, October 27 beginning at 6 p.m. as part of the regularly scheduled selectboard meeting.
by Andrew Martin
In recent weeks a discussion has been ongoing in Morrisville regarding the fact that the new Route 100 alternate truck route is not open to non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians. However, that fact may change in the near future. On Saturday, October 25 the Morristown Selectboard voted to request that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) remove the ban on non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians on the bypass, which is supposed to be classified as a limited access highway and will be opening later this week.
According to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley officials at VTrans have made it clear that if both the Morristown Selectboard and the Lamoille County Planning Commission recommend to the agency that the ban be lifted than it likely will be. A discussion of the benefits and issues of the potential lifting of the ban took place at the selectboard’s meeting on Saturday, October 25. Lindley told the crowd one of the main issues of concern for the town was the question of if lifting the ban on non-motorized traffic and removal of the limited access label would mean that more curb cuts,, in the form of driveways and new roads, would be allowed on the bypass. The project is not permitted for that to occur and if it did it could drastically alter the landscape of Morrisville, something the town wishes to avoid. The second concern dealt with the potential for the bypass actually becoming a class one town road rather than a state highway if the change occurred.
Lindley explained that he spoke with VTrans, after they conferred with their attorneys, and the lifting of this portion of the limited-access label would not allow for more curb cuts and would not result in the road becoming a class one town highway. A great deal of public input was then taken at the meeting, nearly all of it in support of allowing non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians on the bypass.
Following the public input session of the meeting the Morristown Selectboard passed a motion to send a letter of support recommending that the ban on non-motorized transport on the alternate truck route be lifted as long as no additional curb cuts were allowed and the bypass remains a state highway.
The Lamoille County Planning Commission will consider whether or not to add its own similar recommendation to the Morristown Selectboard’s at the commission’s meeting on Tuesday, October 28.
by Mickey Smith
The third murder trial for Dennis Tribble is tentatively scheduled to begin with a jury draw on Monday, January 5, but Lamoille County State's Attorney Joel Page said a series of motions have been filed by Tribble and a November 12 pre trial conference should determine if the trial can happen on schedule.
Page, who is retiring on January 1, said his role in the case is still to be determined. The new state's attorney will be sworn into office about the first of February. Paul Finnerty is the only name on the November 4 ballot. Page said he could serve in a contracted role for the month of January or the state's attorney-elect could be appointed early to serve in the interim.
Tribble was arrested in 2000 for the shooting death of his North Wolcott neighbor, Michael Borello. He has twice been found guilty for the crime, but each time the verdict was thrown out by the Vermont Supreme Court.
by Andrew Martin
A structure fire that occurred in Elmore on Monday, October 13 has led to a local man being cited for cultivating marijuana. Firefighters responded to a structure fire on property owned by 42-year old Nikos Levin at 590 Tallman Road in Elmore at approximately 5:20 a.m. Several marijuana plants were discovered on the property and an investigation was launched.
The structure found at the address had been completely destroyed by the fire when the Elmore Fire Department responded to the scene. The only portion of the structure that remained at the time was the basement walls. The building was believed to have been unoccupied at the time of the fire, and an origin and cause investigation was requested in order to determine what started the fire and the amount of damage that had been done. Fire Safety Investigator Paul Cerutti responded to the scene first and during his initial inspection of the area Cerutti discovered several marijuana plants growing near the burned out structure.
Following his discovery Cerutti alerted the Vermont State Police, who arrived on scene, confirmed the find, and obtained a search warrant for the premises. The resulting search produced a number of other marijuana plants from around the property. Lights, fans, duct work, and other items that are often used in the indoor cultivation of marijuana were also found during the execution of the warrant.
The homeowner Nikos Levin was not apprehended during the search but later turned himself in at the Morristown Police Department. He was cited in connection with the cultivation of marijuana and will appear in Lamoille Superior Court—Criminal Division at a later date to answer the charges against him.
As of the October 14 press release it was not believed that the fire was deliberate. The house and all its contents were a complete loss. Anyone with any information regarding the fire is asked to contact the police.
by Andrew Martin
Residents of Wolcott will have one more vote to cast after Election Day this year. While voters will be filling out their ballots for local and state elections on November 4 another important vote will be taking place in Wolcott the following week on Wednesday, November 12, beginning at 6 p.m. At that time a Special Town School District Meeting will be held at the Wolcott Town Offices to determine if the yearly operating budget for the Wolcott School District will now be voted on by Australian Ballot or if it will continue to be voted on from the floor at Town Meeting.
The movement to change how the school budget is voted on in Wolcott was begun by resident Cindy Lowell.
“I want to see working people be able to vote on the budget,” Lowell explained.
“I’m self-employed myself,” she added, stating that she has to give up time at her business if she wants to go to Town Meeting and vote. She also added that it is discouraging to realize that in a town with over 1,000 registered voters only approximately 100 are able to attend Town Meeting and vote on such important issues.
“It’s very important that people attend the meeting,” Lowell added in reference to the November 12 meeting and vote, “If this isn’t approved then people will have less of a chance to vote on the school budget in March.”
In order to make her goal a reality Cindy began a petition to have the school budget voted on by Australian ballot rather than from the floor at Town Meeting like it currently is. Placing the petition at the Wolcott Store and at her own business, Lowell was quickly able to compile the signatures of 90 registered voters in Wolcott who supported the idea. A total of 50 signatures are required on such a petition before it can be put up for a vote, and when Lowell turned in her petition to the Wolcott School Board they decided to present it to voters for approval at the November 12 special meeting.
The official warning for the November 12 meeting presents voters with one article, which states “Shall the Wolcott School Board adopt its budget article or articles by Australian Ballot.” According to Wolcott Town Clerk Belinda Clegg the meeting will likely consist of an informational session where the vote is explained to the residents in attendance and discussed. A vote will then be conducted from the floor to approve or deny the article. If the article is approved than the next school budget that is presented to voters on Town Meeting day in March will be voted on by Australian Ballot.
According to Clegg, any additional costs of having the polls in Wolcott open longer on Town Meeting Day in order to implement the Australian Ballot vote have not yet been completely calculated. The town’s election officials would be required to stay until 7 p.m., which could provide an additional expense. Vote tabulation will also have to take place following the closing of the polls. Clegg did add that the town’s vote tabulator, which is normally only used in general elections, would likely not be used for the school budget Australian Ballot vote. The main reason for this is that using the tabulator does not make sense financially for smaller votes. Clegg also added that how any additional costs would be paid will likely be discussed between the town and school district if the vote passes.
Anyone who is not already on the voter checklist and would like to vote at the November 12 meeting must register to vote at the Wolcott Town Clerk’s Office before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 5. The Town Clerk’s Office will remain open from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. on November 5 to accept applications.
by Mickey Smith
Constantly changing protocol directives have the staff at Copley Hospital in constant contact with the Center for Disease Control and the Vermont Department of Health regarding the treatment of potential Ebola cases at Copley Hospital.
Joanne Rheume, director of Emergency Services and Transports and Copley's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, and Celeste Kane-Stebbins, director of Quality and Risk Management, agreed the risk is low, but they feel it is important to be prepared just in case.
"We have a motto in the emergency room," said Rheume, "prepare for the worst, hope for the best."
Protocols are in place to deal with infectious diseases, they explained while some of the specifics surrounding Ebola are constantly changing, many of the protocols are the same for other diseases like H1-N1 or enterovirus.
An Ebola suspected patient would need to be quarantined in a private room with a private bath. They said a sentinal could be posted to ensure minimal exposure, and they are currently refreshing the staff on how to put on and remove personal protective gear that is needed.
One question that had not been fully answered when the News & Citizen spoke to Rheume and Kane-Stebbins was how long a patient that is expected to have Ebola may stay at Copley. They said the decision whether to keep a patient at a hospital the size of Copley or to transport them immediately to Fletcher-Allen Health Care was still being discussed. Current discussion from the CDC centers around creating a Rapid Response Team, kind of like a SWAT team, that could respond to any hospital in the US within 24 hours. If something like this was created, they said, Copley could certainly care for such a patient for that long and would take immediate preventative measures to minimize exposure.
by Andrew Martin
One of Morristown’s breweries is helping a local non-profit to fulfill its mission. Rock Art Brewery is donating the proceeds from the sale of its limited-release Humble Harvester IPA to Salvation Farms, the Morrisville-based organization that seeks to foster agricultural surplus management and thereby build increased resilience in Vermont’s food system.
According to Rock Art owner Matt Nadeau he and his wife Renee have been involved with various projects and organizations similar to Salvation Farms for a number of years.
“We’ve wanted to work with Salvation Farms for awhile now and finally found the opportunity,” Nadeau explained.
“I think it’s fabulous,” commented Salvation Farms Executive Director Theresa Snow, “Rock Art has been a supporter of our work for quite a while now.”
According to Nadeau the Humble Harvester is an IPA that blends a number of popular hops together to create a beer that offers citrusy, flowery, and grapefruit flavors and aromas.
“It’s a delicious IPA and has a very aromatic blend of hops,” Nadeau added.
Rock Art brewed the limited-release 45-barrel batch of Humble Harvester about a month ago and the beer hit the shelves and taps soon after. After expenses are covered all profits from the sale of the beer will go to Salvation Farms. The beer is available locally at a number of different spots and according to Nadeau the brewery itself has a good supply still remaining.
Salvation Farms Executive Director Theresa Snow feels the partnership between her organization and the brewery is beneficial in a number of ways. Along with the financial support Salvation Farms is also receiving a great deal more exposure and increased visibility. The label for the beer is actually the logo for Salvation Farms, and the partnership is helping to spread the word on the work that Salvation Farms is doing.
“We are greatly appreciative of this form of support,” Snow commented, adding that the funds her organization receives as part of the partnership will likely go towards the general maintenance and operation of the non-profit. Salvation Farms is actually increasing its staff size in the near future, making any aid they receive even more important.
“The beer is also a great embodiment of Salvation Farms,” Snow stated, “We are pretty robust and pretty earthy, and the beer is both of those things.”
“They made a great beer to help support our organization,” Snow concluded.
“We are really excited we got to work with Salvation Farms,” Nadeau added, “The beer came out great, and everybody that has tried it has loved it.”
“It’s a great beer for a good cause,” he concluded.
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