by Andrew Martin
A local business has received government financing for an upcoming project. On Tuesday, August 12, the Vermont Economic Development Authority announced that $4.3 million in financing had been approved to support small business, commercial energy, and manufacturing projects for a number of different organizations and businesses around the state. Manufacturing Solutions, Inc., (MSI) of Morrisville, which has its own upcoming project, was one of several businesses selected to receive a total of roughly $1.3 million in direct commercial financing.
“VEDA is pleased to provide financing support to a number of small businesses, manufacturing, energy, technology, and agricultural projects,” explained Jo Bradley, VEDA’s Chief Executive Officer, in a press release on the financing, “Jobs will be created as a result of these projects, helping to boost Vermont’s economic growth.”
The project that MSI has received financing for involves a $62,884 loan that will partially finance the purchase and installation of a cutting table to help meet increased demand. The loan will be used to complete necessary building fit-up as well as the refurbishment of the existing cutting table at the facility.
According to MSI’s Garrett Hirchak, both of the tables are roughly eight feed wide and 24 feet long. They are computer driven and can cut patterns in most types of sheet material. Hirchak added that the new table was installed at MSI approximately six weeks ago.
MSI, which has been in existence since 1996, currently employs 176 people. However, employment at the business is projected to increase to 210 over the next three years. The Union Bank is also providing financing for the project.
Another local business, Caledonia Spirits of Hardwick, was one of several entities that has received funding through VEDA’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation. Caledonia Spirits received $80,000 in working capital for a project that will help the distillery expand in the aged whiskey market.
A single car accident occurred in Smuggler’s Notch on Route 108 in Cambridge on Monday, August 25. The accident occurred when the 2014 Subaru Legacy being driven by 37-year old Spartacus Deslaurier of Jeffersonville struck a section of ledge at the top of the notch.
The Vermont State Police responded to the crash at approximately 1:20 in the morning after getting a report of a vehicle on fire at the top of Smugglers’ Notch. They found the car completely engulfed in flame. However, Deslaurier and his passenger, 34-year old Benjamin Wyckoff of Jeffersonville, were both already outside the vehicle.
Further investigation by the police allowed them to determine that Deslaurier had been driving south on Route 108 towards Stowe when he missed a corner in the road and collided head on with one of the rock ledge outcroppings next to the roadway. According to Deslaurier, he was traveling between 30 and 35 mph approaching the top of the notch. After the collision Deslaurier and Wyckoff were able to escape the vehicle before it became fully engulfed in flame. The car was listed as a total loss.
Deslaurier was transported to Copley Hospital for injuries to his abdomen that he sustained during the crash. Further investigation by the troopers led them to process Deslaurier for Suspicion of DUI. Their findings are pending blood test results. Wyckoff is listed as having suffered no serious injuries. Both men were wearing their seatbelts.
Access through Route 108 was limited while emergency personnel cleaned up the accident. Along with the Vermont State Police other responding agencies included the Stowe Police Department, the Cambridge Fire Department, and Cambridge Rescue.
Vermont Route 108 was closed for several hours on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 20, after a tractor trailer truck became stuck on the road, blocking the traveled lanes. Several agencies responded to the scene to find the vehicle hung up on the rocks at the top of Smuggler’s Notch in Cambridge.
The Vermont State Police responded to Smuggler’s Notch at approximately 1:22 p.m. after it was reported that the truck had become stuck. Officers found that 64-year old Jacques Marchand of Dunham, Quebec had attempted to take his 2011 Freightliner hauling 99,000 pounds of bunker sand south on Route 108 over Smuggler’s Notch to deliver the sand to the Stowe Mountain Golf Club. However, his truck became hung up on the rocks and boulders that border the windy mountain road.
Marchand’s trailer suffered extensive damage as a result of becoming hung up, delaying the reopening of the road even further. A heavy wrecker was called in to help remove the vehicle, and eventually workers were forced to remove all the sand from Marchand’s truck in order to free it from the rocks.
Route 108 was closed to traffic for several hours while the truck was removed and, in fact, was not opened again until Wednesday night. Travel on Route 108 over Smuggler’s Notch is prohibited for tractor trailer trucks and large buses. The road is marked with signs on both sides of the notch notifying drivers of these restrictions. Marchand is one of several drivers who have attempted to drive over the Notch this summer and become stuck. He was issued tickets for Failure to Obey Traffic Control Devices as well as equipment violations.
by Mickey Smith
Paving of both ends of the new bypass in Morrisville is scheduled for Monday, August 25, and Tuesday, August 26.
Morristown Police is advising there will be delays at the intersections near the Bishop Marshal School and the Stone Grill Restaurant, as they direct one-way traffic on both days.
by Andrew Martin
Morrisville’s Holly Reynolds put forth another strong showing at the Vermont State Women’s Golf Association (VSWGA) Amateur Championship. Reynolds finished fourth after three solid days of competition. The 2014 VSWGA Amateur Championship was held at the Orleans Country Club from Tuesday, August 19 through Thursday, August 21. Madison Corley of Essex won the event for her second title in two years.
Seven time champion Reynolds opened competition by shooting an 80 on the first day of competition. A second-day total of 80 maintained her position in fourth place, and Holly closed play by shooting a 76. Reynolds final three-day total was 236, 11 strokes behind champion Corley.
by Mickey Smith
MORRISTOWN – Peoples Academy's starting second baseman and leadoff hitter is getting a little extra practice this off-season. Tucker Judkins has been selected to attend the Under Armour Baseball Factory at Pirate City (the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, FL) from November 6-9.
Judkins was selected at a tryout held in August in Burlington, at which he competed against about 50 kids from around the state (primarily Division I schools). PA Assistant Coach Brian Quad told Judkins about the camp, and suggested he try out.
In Florida, he'll have about 9-10 hour practice days, before competing in a tournament where he will be competing against 14-18 year old from around the country. Almuni of the Baseball Factory include Roy Halladay, Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia.
Now, though, the fundraising begins, as he needs to raise $2,199 for the camp plus airfare, so about $2,700 total. In order to do so, he is raffling off a .30-06 rifle. Second prize is a gift certificate to Harrison's in Stowe and third prize is a gift certificate to Vianor Tire. Mom, Jennifer Judkins, said there are several other prizes as well. For tickets, call Tucker at 540-5002.
Other fundraisers are being planned, and direct donations to his trip can be made by sending a check to: PO Box 140, Morrisville, VT 05661.
by Andrew Martin
A celebration event will be held at the Journey’s End swimming hole, in Johnson, on Sunday, September 7. The event, which will take place at and around the recently preserved swimming hole, will take place in the early afternoon.
All are welcome to enjoy this beautiful swimming hole and waterfall,” commented Lydia Menendez of the Vermont River Conservancy. The VRC played a critical role in the preservation of the swimming hole.
With the generous support of many outdoor enthusiasts, Journey’s End, the beautiful swimming hole and waterfall on Foote Brook in Johnson has been protected for all to enjoy, forever. The Vermont River Conservancy purchased this property last October and immediately donated it to the Town of Johnson to be forever protected and enjoyed. Visitors this summer have found a new pullout for parking along Plot Road, and a few signs to guide travelers down to the falls. Swimmers have enjoyed the cool rushing water on our warm days.
The celebratory event will begin with a nature walk that will be starting at 12:15 p.m. Members of the Johnson Conservation Commission will be leading the walk, which will aim to help visitors become acquainted with the area around the swimming hole.
“Nature walks will help orient visitors to this beautiful location in the woods of Johnson,” Menendez added.
Following the nature walk a celebratory gathering at the actual swimming hole will take place at approximately 1 p.m. During the ceremony representatives from all the different partners who helped conserve the swimming hole will speak, giving the history of the site, the project itself, and why it was so important. Future plans for a trail on the site will also be unveiled, and all donors who contributed to the cause will be thanked. A second nature walk will occur at 1:45 after the gathering.
“We hope you will bring your stories and fond memories about the land to share or just come to celebrate what was accomplished when the community came together to protect Journey’s End,” stated the Town of Johnson in a press release on the event.
The celebratory event will take place on September 7 rain or shine. Visitors are encouraged to bring their hiking shoes for the nature walks and should park in the driveway at 337 Plot Road. Light refreshments will be served at the celebratory gathering at 1 p.m. Anyone with any questions about the event should call the Vermont River Conservancy at 1-802-229-0820.
by Mickey Smith
budding entrepreneurs from Peoples Academy got a chance to see what it
takes to start up and operate their own business through a new program
offered by the Governor's Institutes of Vermont (GIV).
Emma Rapp and Kayla Carr
From July 7 to 12, Vermont Tech in Randolph Center hosted the first
Entrepreneurial Institute (GIV-E), which was open to high school
students who are entering their sophomore to senior year of school.
Kayla Carr will be a junior this year and Emma Rapp is entering her
senior year. They each learned of the program through PA English teacher
Moira Donovan, who encouraged them to apply.
For Kayla, it was
an opportunity to get a taste of what it takes to run a business. She
said she likes the idea of owning a business, but isn't quite sure yet
what she wants to do. Emma has a path already in mind. She's a baker and
hopes to open her own bakery at some point.
The program ran
through idea generation and evaluation, all the way to a “rocket pitch”
competition where the teams had 10 minutes to pitch their business ideas
to a group of experts – including business professionals and faculty.
Along with spending their week getting their business idea ready for
the pitch, they had interactive learning sessions, including time with
the new product development team at King Arthur Flour and guest
lecturers from the business world, including Chris Kaiser, of
Morristown's Vermont Peanut Butter Company.
created a website called “Moosic,” which would serve as a booking
service for up and coming artists. Artists could upload their music to
be heard by bookers for bars and clubs. Emma's group (which won the
competition) created Charr Development – an app that would sync smart
phones to share music, sort of a virtual earphone splitter.
Kayla said at first it all came across as a little intimidating, but as
they got involved everything became more exciting. Emma noted at first
she wasn't sure she would be able to start her own business, but she
left with the confidence to think she might be able to do it.
This Week's Photos
of employees at Vermont Electric Cooperative participated in the ALS
Ice Bucket Challenge on Friday, August 15 after being nominated to do so
by Green Mountain Power. Along with a large group that completed the
challenge in Johnson VEC also had employees at their offices in Grand
Isle, Newport, and Richford also participate. All told 60 employees of
the utility took on the challenge. Seen above on the right is VEC CEO
David Hallquist as he is doused by Scott Gillespie. On the left Kathy
Thompson can be seen dumping an ice bucket on a kneeling Rich Hughes.
While VEC is prohibited from making formal company donations without
permission, individual employees of the utility have been making
donations to the ALS Northern New England Chapter. - Martin photos
About 50 people attended a debate designed to introduce the community to the two candidates in the State's Attorney race for the position being left open when Joel Page retiree. Current Lamoille County Deputy State's Attorney Christopher Moll and current Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Paul Finnerty are the Democratic candidates. The debate was sponsored by the Stowe Reporter and Managing Editor Tom Kearney served as moderator.
Tom Kearney (far left) listens to State's Attorney candidate Paul Finnerty (center), as candidate Christopher Moll prepares to speak.
The debate opened with Kearney asking several prepared questions and then the floor was turned over to the audience, which was given the opportunity to ask more questions.
Many of the questions looked at the two men's philosophies regarding how the office should be ran and what kind of outcomes should be expected by the voters.
Moll thought voters could tell if he was doing a good job based on how cases were being closed out. He explained with a large volume of addiction-related cases, this might mean fewer cases going the traditional route through the courtroom and more cases being sent to programs being established to allow people to get the help they need early on. He added people need to watch to see if the big cases are going the state's way.
Finnerty said the end result is, “Is this a safer place to be?” at the next election cycle. He pointed to a concern he has heard that in Lamoille County a lot of lewd and lascivious cases are being pled down to prohibitive acts. He said the reduced sentence does not carry any sex offender requirements. He asked are people going untreated and unchecked.
Cambridge's Bill Sander asked about Lamoille County's unsolved murder – the Cheryl Peters case. To date, no charges have been filed in the case, but there remains a primary suspect. Current State's Attorney Joel Page has said in the past since there is no statute of limitations. he does not want to take the case to trial without solid evidence. Sander asked each how he would handle that case.
Moll said he does not know much about the particulars of that case. He said he would not be unwilling to look at it again. He said from what he did know there would have to be something that could get a conviction.
Finnerty said he had learned some of the details from Morristown Police Chief Richard Keith. He said, based on what he has learned, that case could be a candidate to be presented to a grand jury, which, he said, would reflect the values of the community. He felt the State Police Cold Case unit could look at the case. He added the family deserves closure.
During the next round of questions, Moll said he is not afraid to try almost any case. He said he felt a grand jury should be saved for cases where the availability of evidence is not going to change over time, he was not sure this case met that.
Sheriff Roger Marcoux asked if both candidates would consent to people talking to former employers about their time in those offices. Moll did not feel the need for anyone to talk to past employers, but in the end told Sheriff Marcoux and the crowd, “sure, go speak to them.” Lamoille County State's Attorney Page has not endorsed either candidate, wanting to let the voters decide for themselves.
Finnerty said two of his past employers have since passed away, but said his current employer, TJ Donovan, encouraged him to run for the Lamoille County seat.
In one of the few areas where both agreed, Kelli Prescott, the former victim's advocate for domestic violence and sexual assaults in Lamoille County, asked about holding people accountable for domestic violence crimes.
Moll said these cases are often labor intensive. He said they need to work with victims early, so they can create a case that can work without cooperation from the victim if need be.
Finnerty agreed with the gist of this approach. He said he believes in holding batterers accountable and more details, including video recordings at the scene, can help make the case stronger in the event that the victim does not wish to be involved later.
One of Finnerty's more high profile cases was also brought up, as he argued the case against the teenager who struck a pedestrian while driving in Chittenden County. Moll compared the outcome, she received a deferred sentence, to a Lamoille County case where a teenager was huffing an aerosol can and struck and killed a person on a motorcycle. Moll pointed out cases like this are not a youthful indiscretion and that is why in the huffing case he tried he made sure it involved jail time.
Finnerty called this a cheap shot, and noted anyone involved with the case, including the victim and her family, did not disagree with the outcome. He noted her deferred sentence included going back in front of the judge for sentencing for any moving violation in the next five years.
With Independent Todd Shove stepping out of the race, the two Democrats are the only people running in the race. This effectively makes the Democrat primary the race for the seat. The winner of the primary will be unopposed in November without another challenger coming out of the other primaries. Anyone wishing to vote in the race will have to vote in the Democrat primary.
by Andrew Martin
Work to revitalize several downtown buildings throughout Lamoille County recently received a major boost. On Monday, August 11, Governor Peter Shumlin announced that $2.4 million in tax incentives had been awarded to a total of 37 downtown projects around the state. Among those 37 projects were four in Lamoille County: two in Morrisville, one in Johnson, and one in Jeffersonville.
Butternut Mountain Farm will be receiving aid when the business begins rehabilitation work to its two-building store in Johnson. The planned work to the building was one of four downtown renovation projects in Lamoille County that has received tax incentives. A total of $50,000 in tax credits was awarded to the project, which should cost roughly $325,000 and will be completed by next spring. What was formerly Windridge Tennis Camp in Jeffersonville will soon be receiving a facelift. The building and grounds are in the process of being transformed into the Cambridge Community Center, and the project recently received $29,750 in tax credits to help rebuild the façade and bring the interior of the large rec building up to code. - Photo courtesy of John Dunn
“These incentives are proven to jumpstart transformation in communities and have brought jobs, business and housing to downtowns and villages across the state,” Governor Shumlin stated in a release published by Vermont Business Magazine, “And when we put people to work revitalizing our communities, we not only support local economic development – we’re building a better and stronger Vermont for the next generation.”
“These tax incentives have underpinned the dramatic changes seen in Brattleboro, St. Albans, Barre, Hardwick and Morrisville,” said Department of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Noelle MacKay in the same article, “The legislature’s support of a $500,000 increase to the program allowed the Downtown Board to support a record number of projects to spur building rehabilitation and economic development in 26 communities.”
One of the four projects receiving the credits in Lamoille County is located in Jeffersonville, where work to turn the former Windridge Tennis Camp into the Cambridge Community Center is ongoing. The former tennis camp has been largely unused since 1988 and the goal of the project is to make the facility a hub for both indoor and outdoor activity in the area while also serving as a community gathering place. The total project is estimated to cost roughly $500,000, and the project received tax credits in the amount of $29,750 to aid the work.
Cambridge resident John Dunn is one of the leaders of the project, and according to him the tax credit funds will be used to make code upgrades and façade improvements to the field house portion of the former camp. The planned code work will include new exit signs, emergency lighting and hardware as well as work to exit doors, asbestos abatement, and substitute fire proofing of the boiler room. Improvements to the façade of the building will include the creation of a new entryway at the north end of the building near the new parking lot that will be built. The siding of the building will also be repainted and a section of the wall will be repaired in preparation for an outdoor climbing wall.
According to Dunn the project to restore the former camp is coming together slowly.
“The tax credits are good for up to three years, and we cannot begin any restoration work on the buildings until we receive our Act 250 amendment,” Dunn explained.
He went on to add that the application for the project’s Act 250 amendment is nearly complete, and the group working on the project expects to have all the necessary permits within the next several months. How fundraising goes over the coming months will also determine how quickly the actual work takes place. Other than the planned work to the façade and bringing the building up to code, the major expense for the project will be building a new access road and parking lot and connecting onto the Jeffersonville sewer system.
“Receiving these tax credits shows that people at the state level believe this is a worthy project, and we have the ability to carry it out,” Dunn stated in regard to receiving the tax incentives, “We have successfully shown both the need for such a community facility, as well as the impacts it will have in helping to restore our historic village center and contributing to local economic development.”
“We believe others will continue to join and invest in this effort and, over the next couple of years or so, we will create a facility that will help make a great place to live even better,” he concluded.
The project in Johnson that also received tax incentives involves the rehabilitation of the Butternut Mountain Farm retail store, located at 31 Main Street. The store, which has been in business for several decades selling maple products and equipment, is in need of a makeover.
“We are doing a total rehab of the building,” Butternut Mountain Farm owner David Marvin explained, “We repurposed the buildings 25 years ago from their original uses as a blacksmith shop and a firehouse.”
According to Marvin, the main work that will take place at the store will aim at making the facility more efficient and accessible while also increasing its curb appeal and preserving the historic character of the building.
“We want to be more customer friendly,” Marvin added.
In total the project is estimated to cost roughly $325,000. Butternut Mountain Farm received $50,000 in tax incentives for the work, which Marvin expects to begin this fall. However, the project may be put on hold after it starts between late fall and Christmas – so as not to interrupt business. Despite that potential delay, Marvin fully expects the entire project to be complete by next spring.
A pair of projects in downtown Morrisville also received tax incentives this year. The first is the brick Slayton Building, which is located at 84 Lower Main Street and is currently owned by Demars Properties. A great deal of work is actually planned for the building, but the tax incentives the project received will be used specifically to help fund the restoration of the façade of the building. The project received tax incentives in the amount of $6,763 to help with the overall costs of $27,050.
According to Dan Demars, a restoration company has already been hired for the project and the planned work should begin sometime in the next few weeks. The work will consist of a chemical washing of the front of the building as well as repairing the mortar between the bricks. The granite surfaces on the outside of the building will also be cleaned, and the trim of the building will be repainted.
“It’s a complete restoration of the façade,” Demars stated.
According to Demars, once begun, the restoration work is expected to take between three and four weeks. He also stressed that the Haymaker Gift and Card shop located in the building will remain open throughout the façade work. Workers performing the restoration will be operating around the entrance to the building, which will remain safe for customers to use.
“This is an excellent program for downtowns,” Demars added with regards to the tax incentive program. “I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that this is not a good thing for downtowns.”
Demars also added that other future separate work that will take place in the building involves bringing it up to code.
The final building in Lamoille County that has received tax incentives for restoration work is located at 79 Lower Main Street in Morrisville. The building, which houses a beauty salon as well as rentals, will also see restoration work to the façade as part of receiving the tax credits. According to Susan Wickart, the main work will consist of the rebuilding of the façade as well as repainting it. The total cost of the project is estimated at $20,000, and the project received $5,000 in tax credits. According to Wickart, the hope is that the work will be done within the next year.