The new Stowe Arena is slated to have its grand opening on Saturday, December 7, from noon to 3:30 p.m.
The $6.5 million enclosed facility replaces the open-air Jackson Arena and will feature year-round ice and turf recreational activities.
The opening ceremony will feature the 158th Fighter Wing Base Honor Guard, the Vermont Air National Guard, a figure skating exhibition and hockey demonstration. Free skating, tours of the facility, music and food will also be available.
The new facility is still located on Park Street in Stowe, near the elementary school.
by Mickey Smith
A new pizza restaurant and a credit union appear to be the first tenants lined up for the ground floor of the Arthur’s Main Street in downtown Morrisville.
Jeremy Foster-Fell, of Pall Spera Real Estate, said “Pizza on Main” has signed a lease for about one-third of the space, and the real estate agent is awaiting final approval from a credit union for the remainder of the ground floor.
The two new tenants are slated to open shop in August of 2014, to coincide with the completion of the remodeling work for the rest of the building. Lamoille Housing Partnership and Housing Vermont purchased the former Arthur’s Department Store block and are currently remodeling the building to house 14 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments.
by Andrew Martin
The changes proposed to recycling in Vermont as part of the Universal Recycling Law, also known as Act 148, could be moving closer to reality. On Thursday, November 21, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources issued a report to the Legislature recommending that Act 148 be fully implemented. The report was based on data compiled by the ANR regarding waste composition in the state and how the new law could impact Vermont. Act 148 was passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2012.
Among other aspects Act 148 will require universal recycling beginning on July 1 of 2015. This aspect of the law will ban all recyclables from landfills, a list that includes aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles and jars for food and beverages, cardboard, paper, PET and HDPE plastic containers, paper mail, newspapers, magazines, box board, and paper bags. The law will also ban leaf and yard debris as well as clean wood waste in landfills as of July 1, 2016 and food scraps by 2020.
As part of the installation of these new restrictions, Act 148 will require that any facilities that offer trash collection services also must offer collection of recyclables by July 1 of 2014, leaf and yard debris by 2015, and food scraps by 2017. These facilities will not be able to charge a separate fee for the collection of residential recyclables, but the cost of collecting it can be included in trash collection fees. The facilities also have the option of charging for the collection of leaf and yard debris and food scraps. The law also includes similar restrictions and rules for any haulers that offer services for managing trash.
Once implemented, the Universal Recycling Law is expected to double Vermont’s recycling and composting rate from 30 to 60 percent, thereby greatly decreasing the amount of materials sent to landfills.
The rules and restrictions of the Universal Recycling Law will soon be felt in Lamoille County. According to Susan Alexander, who is the operations manager for the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District, the first step for her organization is to have all facilities ready to accept recycling free of charge by next July. (Using that date in Lamoille County, leaves a year until the state law begins with no exceptions.) LRSWMD facilities currently charge 25 cents per 15 gallon bin of recycling. As the staff at Lamoille Solid Waste prepares the upcoming budget they are already accounting for this loss in revenue.
Lamoille Solid Waste is also currently working with any haulers in order to allow them to be ready to meet their own deadlines with regards to the changes in recycling law.
Alexander also explained that extensive planning is required in order to determine how to handle the large amount of organic waste that will no longer be allowed in landfills as part of Act 148. Figuring out what is to be done with these materials, where it will go, and establishing the infrastructure to make those changes possible will be something that the district works on in the coming months and years.
“We need to reduce our food waste to begin with,” commented Alexander, “And then we need to figure out what to do with the remaining organic waste.”
The changes associated with Act 148 could also have another effect on LRSWMD. The mandates associated with the law will likely require more space for different operations at transfer stations and like facilities. This could mean that some stations have to be moved or altered. The Morrisville Transfer Station was recently relocated to another lot on Trombley Hill, but according to Alexander that lot is likely not large enough to account for any expansion in the services offered by the station. This means that the search for a larger, permanent home for the Morrisville station will continue over the next year.
Despite these challenges, Alexander expressed optimism and stressed that her organization is looking forward to working with the community in meeting and overcoming these obstacles. Anyone with questions about the impact of Act 148 locally can contact the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District at 888-7317 or by visiting the organization’s website or Facebook page.
by Mickey Smith
Ann O’Laughlin has been working with Jack, a Stowe eighth grader with cerebral palsy, for 12 years. Over that time she has watched how the adaptive ski program has helped him and others grow. So, she came up with a fun way to introduce others to the program, while helping raise some money for it as well.
Ann wrote a short story, The Amazing Bi-Ski Rescue. It’s geared to the eight to 12 year old reader so she would not lose their attention – about Jack and his “bi-ski” adventures. After hearing about Jeremy Foster-Fell, a book publisher out of Wolcott, she contacted him about turning her story into a reality. She was impressed with how quickly he got back to her about it and the interest he showed in helping her and the ski program out. Foster-Fell said he was willing to donate his services if Ann would too.
The book is out now and available around Stowe, specifically at Bear Pond Books, Green Envy and the Stowe Mountain Ski Shop. It’s also for sale through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
O’Laughlin, a special educator, explained the adaptive ski program is not just for those with physical issues. She said a lot of people are locked/trapped in their bodies for whatever reason. Through the adaptive ski program, adaptations can be made to allow them to get out on the mountain and be free.
In the book she introduces the reader to two forms of adaptive skiing, Jack and his bi-ski where an instructor can steer a seat on skis. The reader also learns about a friend of Jack who has autism, she is capable of skiing on her own but likes to go straight down the hill (so she goes real fast). They were able to create a tether system with an instructor that forces her to work on turning.
Although the names are changed for Jack’s friends in the books, his instructor, Keja, is a real person, and the bond between Jack and Keja is real. Ann said while the book is about the two of them, the bond is the same for so many of the skiers and that is what she wanted to get across.
“Jack has no control out there,” said Ann, explaining how much trust he has to put into Keja. “He’s resting in the hands of another.”
She said in the end, she wrote the book for three reasons. The first being to honor the instructors, the second to bring awareness to the program and the third’s function is to raise money for Stowe Adaptive Sports. She said Stowe Mountain pays for the instructors, but money needs to be raised so the students can get out there and ski.
Keja is also helping to spread the word and raise money for adaptive skiing in other ski areas. Each year there is a large adaptive ski training in Breckinridge, CO, this year Keja will be bringing copies of the book and selling it at wholesale prices to others who might want to use it as a fundraiser for their program.
by Andrew Martin
A potential solution to the problem of the flooding along the North Wolcott Road could be in the works.
The Vermont River Conservancy (VRC) is currently working with town officials and landowners in Wolcott to possibly purchase conservation easements along the banks of the Wild Branch in order to help alleviate future flooding concerns by letting the river take its natural course, thereby reducing potential flooding upriver in areas such as the recreational park owned by the town. Over the past few years the softball field and rest of that park have suffered damage due to extreme flooding.
As part of their work together, VRC’s Lydia Menendez met with the Wolcott Selectboard at the board meeting on Wednesday, November 6. At the meeting, Menendez explained what options the VRC could offer in helping to protect the recreation field on the North Wolcott Road, which is already under a FEMA easement.
At the meeting Menendez outlined a plan that would allow the VRC to pay several willing landowners along the North Wolcott Road a certain amount to enroll portions of their land into conservation easements. The goal of these easements is to protect these lands, which would be open flood plains, in order to allow the Wild Branch to flow naturally and thereby keep the waters from backing up and flooding further upriver, thereby protecting towns, villages, roads, and in this case the recreation field as well.
The easements being discussed along the North Wolcott Road would be funded using state grants. According to Wolcott Town Clerk Linda Martin, the property owners along the North Wolcott Road would likely only be placing approximately 50 feet of their property along the banks of the Wild Branch into the conservation easements. This 50-foot buffer would serve as the flood plain and could never be developed. However, if the river eroded its banks the buffer would continue to move outward as the river did. The VRC would control any river management actions inside the easement, including vegetation growth, once it became official.
Martin also explained that, to her knowledge, the VRC is only working with two potential landowners with regard to the easements. However, VRC leaders must actually decide if they want to officially approve the project before moving any further forward. Again, to her knowledge, no official decision had yet been made. VRC representatives were unavailable at press time to provide any further updates on the project.
Neil Van Dyke, of Stowe, has been picked to be Vermont’s first Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator. He will work with local, county and state rescue teams with their training and development.
Van Dyke was a founding member of the Stowe Mountain Rescue Team in 1980 and has led the team for the past 25 years. He is a past president of the national organization, the Mountain Rescue Association.
“Neil’s broad experience, proven leadership and approachable personality will be a benefit to the state,” said Major Dennis Reinhardt, of Vermont Fish and Wildlife, “He’s the ideal person to coordinate the diverse groups involved with search and rescue efforts. We look forward to partnering with him.”
His duties will also include: maintaining and updating a statewide inventory of search and rescue resources; will develop SAR training for volunteer and first response organizations who wish to participate in search and rescue operations; and will assist in identifying equipment and training needs for the Vermont State Police Search and Rescue Team. The position will also involve outdoor recreation public safety messaging and acting as a professional resource to assist in SAR operations around the state.
“Neil’s previous experience makes him perfectly suited to coordinating Vermont’s search and rescue efforts,” said Vermont Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn. “We believe this step forward in creating a unified approach to managing search and rescue operations in Vermont will result in the efficient and successful resolution to incidents involving lost and injured individuals.”
Van Dyke and his family own and operate the Golden Eagle Resort in Stowe.
by Andrew Martin
Work to make the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail a reality is moving along quickly. Two meetings were hosted by LVRT officials in Morrisville on Tuesday, November 12, and Tuesday, November 19, with potential contractors in order to familiarize them with the trail system. The first of the meetings was held at the Tegu Building while the second was held at River Arts.
“The goal of the meetings was to familiarize potential contractors with the condition of the trail,” explained Jessi Hudson, who serves as the LVRT Technical Coordinator for the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), “We did not discuss any specifics that will be included in the actual plans.”
Hudson went on to explain that the two meetings in Morrisville dealt with section 1B of the LVRT, which will run from Morrisville to Cambridge Junction. Two similar meetings were held in St. Johnsbury at the same times that dealt with section 1A of the trail, which runs from St. Johnsbury to West Danville. Hudson added that at each of the four meetings, the LVRT representatives took the contractors present through a virtual site visit using a power point presentation and pictures. According to Hudson a total of 17 potential contractors attended the meetings.
“We went over the conditions in the right of way,” explained LVRT Manager and Engineer Alan Robertson.
“We really wanted to get them familiar with the trail before snowfall,” added Hudson.
The need to familiarize potential contractors with the trails is due to the fact that the jobs of building each section of trail will be put out to bid sometime in January, meaning that the trails at that time and any work needed on them could be less visible due to snow. The contracts for the two projects should be awarded later in February, with the hope that both projects can begin as soon as the weather allows in the spring.
Along with the virtual site visits at the November meetings the LVRT representatives also offered to take any interested contractors on an actual site walk, but none chose to do so at that time. However, any interested contractors are encouraged to do so and can call Jessi Hudson at 1-802-229-0005 ext. 18 for information on trail access areas and places to park.
According to Robertson, pre-bid meetings are scheduled for January before the bids go out. The actual plans and specifications of each project will be discussed at that time.
Students and staff at Morristown Elementary School are reading lots of books! This year their reading challenge is called "Reach for the Stars." Everyone is participating with the goal of reading at least 8,700 books by the end of the school year. Students are reading both at home and during the school day to accomplish this goal and collect stars to keep track of their reading. A broader goal is that they will all be lifelong readers who find reading both enjoyable and informative. Happy reading to everyone!
In picture: Mrs. Nicholls' kindergarten class in
front of Reading Challenge bulletin board.
by Mickey Smith
The family of the late Dr. Edward and Elsa French has donated their family home, located on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Main Street to the Village of Hyde Park. Among plans for the newly acquired property will be bringing the village offices back into the village, as soon as next spring.
Members of the Board of Trustees, along with Village General Manager Carol Robertson met with family representative Edward French, Jr. for the property closing last Tuesday, November 19.
French said it was an easy decision for him and his eight siblings to choose the option of donating the property to the village. He said the option of donating the property to the village was the first choice of all nine of them.
For the Village, the agreement to accept the property made as much sense. Trustee Jack Anderson said the Frenches were such incredible members of the community, their name will always have a special connection with the village.
“He was more than just the town doctor,” said Anderson.
As for the future, the trustees are still working out all of the plans for the property and hope the community will support their ideas that include both the house and the grounds as well.
Charlie Aronovici said villages have long been considered the hearts of their community and moving the village offices from across Route 15 into the village makes a lot of sense to keep this alive. He said it also gives the village a local base for all of the revitalization efforts that are starting to pop up in the village.
With projects like the Courthouse addition and elementary school renovations and new sidewalks linking the rail trail and town offices to the village, changes are in the works for the village “and this gives the trustees an option to be a player,” said Anderson.
Robertson said they have longer range plans as well. She said the courthouse upgrades are going to include geothermal heating, something they are considering for the French property. Being centrally located, she said the lot could be used to house the infrastructure for the wells of a small scale geo-thermal operation to heat/power some of the village. They are also looking at solar, she said, as they look at ways to help cut reliance on oil.
Of course, Yarrow pointed out, they are trying to be mindful of the economic situation in the community. He said they are trying to look for ideas that are not as much “pie in the sky,” but are affordable to the community while offering some value/benefits.
by Mickey Smith
– Budding sock designer Michael Schwarz’ careerhit a huge road block when he suffered a severe head injury during a snowboarding accident in 2009. Mike continues to recover and went back to work but was soon hit with a second roadblock when the company helping him produce his socks announced they were shutting down. But just like the first time, he didn’t give up and found a sock company to help him... Morristown’s Wheel House Designs.
Gail Wheel Bourne’s sock company has built a reputation for their dog-based socks over the years. Many locals might recognize Wheel House Designs by their annual sock sale. But this was an opportunity for Gail and her staff to pass along the skills they have learned during nearly 25 years in business, to help someone who is starting out in the business.
Mike, who hails from Chester, was a Fine Arts major at the University of Vermont and a member of the UVM Snowboard Team when he suffered his brain injury. As part of his senior internship, he was working with Eesa Socks out of Waterbury. He had created his first design, “First Tracks” prior to his head injury. While he was on the road to recovery, they produced that first sock for him. When the company closed, they gave Mike control of all of his designs from his time with them, and said he could use them as he wished. Now his company, El SchwarEZ Designs, creates socks designed for the snowboard and skate crowd that he knows so well. Using a clip art program he is able to copy and paste the intentions of his designs, and Wheel House Designs gets them ready for production.
“We take his designs and get them mill ready,” said Gail. “He buys and sells them, we just get him his socks.”
To date, he has about seven designs... his most popular looking like the insides of watermelons... seeds and all. But he isn’t about to stop, with new designs in the work.
Mike has also become involved with a group called High Fives, out of California, that helps winter athletes get back onto their feet after suffering injuries. He’s designed a pair of socks for them and it is now available through their fund raising efforts.
Recently, Mike and his family made a trip to Wheel House Designs to meet up and spend some time together. Of course, for both groups the trip was filled with ulterior motives. Mike and his parents were able to get some advice about the sock business and Gail was able to explain a timeline to getting his products ready to be shipped off, when things are quite stressful at Wheel House. But most of all, the meeting was a chance for the crew at Wheel House Designs to see the progress Mike has made on his road to recover and to share the love he emits whenever he meets new people, especially those helping him put his socks on more people’s feet.
For more information about Mike’s socks, visit his website www.elschwarezdesigns.com.
by Andrew Martin
New recreational opportunities could be on the way in Wolcott. At the Wolcott Selectboard meeting on Wednesday, October 16, the board voted to move forward in a collaborative effort with the Lamoille Valley Fit and Healthy Council (LVFHC) to conduct a recreational improvement project at the Wolcott Athletic Fields on School Street.
According to Kate Whitehead, of the Lamoille Valley Fit and Healthy Council, her organization has already conducted a Healthy Community Design Assessment for the Town of Wolcott in order to help identify any opportunities that could help increase the accessibility for locals to walking, biking, and other outdoor recreation facilities in the town. As part of their assessment, the LVFHC distributed a community input survey while also gathering information about what would best serve the area and promote healthy living.
Whitehead further explained that the assessment by the LVFHC showed that the Wolcott Town Plan supported the development of a ‘bike and pedestrian friendly community, encourages the enhancement and maintenance of the local recreational areas and promotes the availability of locally grown foods to lower income residents. These policies provide the community with a strong supportive foundation for health.”
The assessment further showed that while the language of the Wolcott Town Plan supported the idea of this, the community actually needs safe places for walking, biking, more healthy retailers, and the possibility for future enhancements to local recreational areas. A community meeting in Wolcott was eventually held to report back the findings of the assessment, and at that meeting the first area identified as an area for improvement was the School Street athletic fields.
The recommended improvements for the School Street fields includes a walking and multi-use path, a natural playscape, improved access to the river, a dog-friendly area, signage, a water fountain, lighting, and a picnic area.
“It is envisioned that the park will be a safe, inviting place where community members of all ages and abilities can come to walk/bike, run, play and enjoy the benefits of being in nature,” explained Whitehead in an email interview.
Whitehead went on to explain that the overall design of the entire School Street park will be completed sometime this fall, with a community work day to be organized in the spring of 2014 to begin the initial improvements. The initial focus will be set on creating the walking path and playscape elements.
“We are more than happy to work with the Lamoille Valley Fit and Healthy Club to offer a rec path around the field,” stated Wolcott Selectboard Chair Belinda Clegg.
Work on the park would progress in stages following those initial improvements until all the desired features for the park have been put in place.
“It is envisioned that improvements will be completed in phases as funding becomes available,” Whitehead continued. The LVFHC has enough funding available through June of 2014 to assist in paying for the initial design of the park and the implementation of the first steps. Additional grant funding will be sought to continue funding further improvements in the future.
A small community work group has been created in order to help develop the action plan for the improvements to the park while meeting the needs and wishes of the local population. Any Wolcott community members and residents are encouraged to join the group if interested. For more information, please call Kate Whitehead as 1-802-279-1869 or email email@example.com.