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Lamoille in the News


  • State’s Attorney Candidates Debate      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 ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
  • Tax Incentives for Downtown      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 ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
  • Arthur’s Main Street Opens      The residential upper floors of two of the buildings formerly housing Arthur’s Department Store in downtown Morrisville, unoccupied for over 30 years, are almost ready for tenants!LHP Executive Director Jim Lovinsky on one of the new apartments above the former Arthur’s block in Morristown.  The apartments are nearly complete and will be ready for tennants in September- Smith photo     On Friday, August 22, from 2 – 6 p.m., Lamoille Housing Partnership and Housing Vermont will be showing 2-3 apartments. Representatives from Alliance Property Management will be on hand to answer prospective tenant questions. They would like to limit this tour to people who are looking for apartments.     Lamoille Housing Partnership is now taking applications for apartments ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
  • First Day of School Next Monday      by Staff     August is nearing its end, and that means that the return of school is just around the corner. The first day of school for each of the towns in Lamoille County can be found below:     In Elmore: all students begin school on Monday, August 25.      In Morristown: Students in grades K-9 as well as all new students begin school on Monday, August 25. All returning students in grades 10-12 begin the following day, Tuesday, August 26.      In Stowe: all students being school on Monday, August 25.      In the Lamoille North District: all elementary schools start on Monday, August 25.  Lamoille Union High School, Green Mountain Technology and Career Center, as well as seventh graders at the ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
  • World Soccer Festival      by Andrew Martin      The World Soccer Festival is here again. The day-long event will be taking place on Saturday, August 23, at Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park. The event, which will feature a number of different soccer activities, will kick off beginning at 10 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m.      The day of soccer will begin with the player parade of nations. After several displays and demonstrations one of the major attractions for the day, the 3v3 Kids’ World Cup, will kick off. The World Cup event will pit teams of youths representing different countries from around the world against each other in 15 minute games. Each team will play at least three games ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
  • LCMH Plans to Reclaim Harrell St. Space in Fall      by Mickey Smith      MORRISTOWN – From the outside, the sign at the end of the driveway and the chain link fence serve as a reminder of the Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center (GMPCC) which was located at the Lamoille County Mental Health (LCMH) offices on Harrell Street. These pieces, as well as modifications inside are to be removed now that the patients and employees have been moved to a new facility in Berlin.     LCMH Executive Director Savi van Sluytman said as part of the agreement for use of the space, the state will return the area to the original configuration. She said the “request for proposal” (RFP) has been released and potential bidders have recently been through the building to get ...
    Posted by Staff News & Citizen
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State’s Attorney Candidates Debate

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     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.

Tax Incentives for Downtown

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     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.

Arthur’s Main Street Opens

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     The residential upper floors of two of the buildings formerly housing Arthur’s Department Store in downtown Morrisville, unoccupied for over 30 years, are almost ready for tenants!

LHP Executive Director Jim Lovinsky on one of the new apartments above the former Arthur’s block in Morristown.  The apartments are nearly complete and will be ready for tennants in September
- Smith photo

     On Friday, August 22, from 2 – 6 p.m., Lamoille Housing Partnership and Housing Vermont will be showing 2-3 apartments. Representatives from Alliance Property Management will be on hand to answer prospective tenant questions. They would like to limit this tour to people who are looking for apartments.
     Lamoille Housing Partnership is now taking applications for apartments at Arthur's on Lower Main Street in Morrisville. These are new apartments and will be available for occupancy in September. There are fourteen 1-bedroom and four 2-bedroom units, four of which are fully accessible (two 2-bedroom and two 1-bedroom).
     Lamoille Housing Partnership Executive Director Jim Lovinsky said the apartments are not cookie-cutter formed. He said the apartments have the same design on the second floor as well as the third, but  they were able to create some different-shaped places on each floor.
     The redevelopment of vacant and uninhabitable residential upper floors of these downtown buildings into 18 new affordable/transitional housing units by Housing Vermont and Lamoille Housing Partnership began in April 2013. The commercial space on the ground floor, formerly Arthur's Department Store, is being rehabilitated to hold two new businesses. A pizza restaurant is planning to take the old Ferris Building (formerly the ladies wear section of Arthurs). The other half, Lovinsky said, is still up for grabs.
     When completed the building the wooden portion of the building will be the gold color which can be seen on the back side right now, with a dark green trim. The trim making the fascia corner boards (up the sides of the building) are a slightly lighter gold color.  Lovinsky said they looked for a color that would fit with the rest of the downtown, while also looking good next to the brick, which will remain.  He said they went with the green trim because it matches colors used on other brick buildings on the street, like Union Bank and Bourne's Energy.
     Subsequent to the brownfield environmental clean-up and demolition, a complete gut rehab of the former Arthur’s residential and commercial properties is taking place. This rehabilitation will breathe new life into a community landmark and revitalize Morrisville's downtown.
     For more information on the open house please call Lamoille Housing Partnership at 802-888-5714 or email info@lamoillehousing.org.  To apply for housing at Arthur’s Main Street or other LHP properties, please call Alliance Property Management – 802-899-3400 ext 111.

First Day of School Next Monday

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     by Staff

     August is nearing its end, and that means that the return of school is just around the corner. The first day of school for each of the towns in Lamoille County can be found below:
     In Elmore: all students begin school on Monday, August 25.
     In Morristown: Students in grades K-9 as well as all new students begin school on Monday, August 25. All returning students in grades 10-12 begin the following day, Tuesday, August 26.
     In Stowe: all students being school on Monday, August 25.
     In the Lamoille North District: all elementary schools start on Monday, August 25.  Lamoille Union High School, Green Mountain Technology and Career Center, as well as seventh graders at the Lamoille Union Middle School also start on Monday.  Eighth graders entering the Lamoille Union Middle School are the only students that start on Tuesday, August 26.

World Soccer Festival

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     by Andrew Martin

     The World Soccer Festival is here again. The day-long event will be taking place on Saturday, August 23, at Lamoille Union High School in Hyde Park. The event, which will feature a number of different soccer activities, will kick off beginning at 10 a.m. and run until 1:30 p.m.
     The day of soccer will begin with the player parade of nations. After several displays and demonstrations one of the major attractions for the day, the 3v3 Kids’ World Cup, will kick off. The World Cup event will pit teams of youths representing different countries from around the world against each other in 15 minute games. Each team will play at least three games. Registration for the tournament will run from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 and play will actually begin at 10:40 a.m. and run until 1 p.m.
     More soccer will kick off at 11:30, when the International Exhibition Game will occur. That event will pit a number of different players from all over the world showcasing their talents in a friendly match. An autograph session will take place following the game at 1:10 p.m.
     Along with the actual soccer being played, the World Soccer Festival will also feature a wide variety of other entertainment and cuisine options from around the world. Food from Taste of Nepal, Kingdom Creamery, Hot Tamale, Northern Fire and Slice, and the LUHS Booster Club will be available. Sambatucada will be performing its live Brazilian music all day, and West African drumming will be on display as well. International flags and t-shirts from the event will be available, as will free face painting. Other cultural activities, such as mural painting and a display of capoeira dancing, will also be occurring.

LCMH Plans to Reclaim Harrell St. Space in Fall

posted by Staff News & Citizen   [ updated ]

     by Mickey Smith

     MORRISTOWN – From the outside, the sign at the end of the driveway and the chain link fence serve as a reminder of the Green Mountain Psychiatric Care Center (GMPCC) which was located at the Lamoille County Mental Health (LCMH) offices on Harrell Street. These pieces, as well as modifications inside are to be removed now that the patients and employees have been moved to a new facility in Berlin.
     LCMH Executive Director Savi van Sluytman said as part of the agreement for use of the space, the state will return the area to the original configuration. She said the “request for proposal” (RFP) has been released and potential bidders have recently been through the building to get a better idea of what the work will entail. She said she isn't sure when the bid will be awarded or the work will begin, but the expectation is it will take about six weeks once started. She hopes this will put them back into the space by late October.
     She said since GMPCC moved into their facility many staff members have been sharing office space, sometimes two or three in an office. This will alleviate the crowded conditions. It will also allow the Developmental Services portion of their organization to return to the building.  During this past couple years it has been located near Copley Hospital.
     Also expected to be removed with the closing of GMPCC is the stoplight at the corner of Harrell and Brooklyn Streets. The light was erected as a way to improve the “grade” received by the Harrell St. intersection. Road sections are graded based on factors such as traffic volume and accidents, that intersection received a failing grade of “F” last time it was surveyed, so something had to be done to the intersection because state facilities are supposed to be located on roads that receive a passing grade.
     While the plan called for the light to remain in place as long as GMPCC was located there, the prevailing notion is it will remain at least until the bypass is finished. The bypass is slated to open by October 3.

VTrans Aug. News - Bypass by Oct 3!

posted by Staff News & Citizen

     by Andrew Martin

     Summer is winding down, and a number of VTrans projects around Lamoille County are moving along quickly towards their completion dates. Projects on Route 12 and Route 100 are both on schedule to be finished this year while the project to build a bridge on Route 15 in Hyde Park has recommenced and is moving along quickly again.
     The work to rebuild Route 12 in Elmore and Morristown, which is scheduled to be completed on October 15, has now progressed to the paving stage. Before any paving could begin, the roadbed along the 6.6 mile stretch of Route 12 had to be completely rebuilt. Once the roadbed had been rebuilt and leveled, workers began laying a three-inch base of cold mix pavement. The installation of the cold mix base along the entire area of the project was scheduled to be completed by Saturday, August 9.
     According to VTrans Resident Engineer Jeff Cota, the next step in the work will depend partly on whether or not the moisture level in the cold mix base has dropped enough for workers to go back and begin installing the top layer of pavement. If the moisture level has not dropped quickly enough, the installation of guard rails along the route will begin. Once the cold base is ready, then workers will begin laying the necessary “shim” before installing the inch and a half of top layer pavement at the Morristown end of the project. This final stage of the paving portion of the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.
     Additional work that needs to be completed includes ditching, the painting of the lines, and signage.
     “We are on schedule,” Cota explained, “The weather has been cooperating.”
     Work to pave portions of the Route 100 alternate truck route have also been continuing. According to VTrans’ Chris Jolly just under half of the entire route of the bypass has now been paved. He expects that paving subcontractor Pike Industries will be back sometime in mid-August to resume paving.
     Work to the roundabout portion of the bypass project is also progressing. The truck apron portion of the roundabout was scheduled to be completed on Friday, August 8. The completion of the truck apron means that work to finish installing the curbing on the north side of roundabout can now occur. Other work that remains to the done at the roundabout site includes paving markings, street lighting, and signage installation.
     A few jobs also remain to be done on the rest of the bypass project. According to Jolly, those tasks include quite a bit of cleanup as well as the placement of some topsoil in certain areas. The construction of various side roads must also occur. General contractor Winterset Inc. has recently been blasting in the area of the southern terminus of the bypass in order to remove ledges and level the approach to the truck route. The installation of guard rails, additional curbing, signage, and the painting of the lines along the route must also occur.
     Other work that needs to be finished is the installation of a traffic light on Bridge Street where the bypass crosses that road. Improvements to the current intersection of Routes 100 and 15 next to McMahons will also be made. Those improvements will center on new signal lights that will make the intersection more efficient and functional.
     “It’s going to be close, but things are looking good,” Jolly explained regarding the deadline for the project, which is October 3.
     “The plan is for the route to be open to traffic at that time,” he added.
     Jolly also explained that one upcoming task that will be completed that is outside the project zone is the alteration of signage in Morrisville regarding Route 100. Along with the signs for the new Route 100 bypass other signs will be installed in Morrisville referring to what was formerly Route 100 as ‘Historic Route 100’.
     “There is a new road in town that has to be identified,” Jolly explained.
     Work to build the new bridge on Route 15 over Centerville Brook in Hyde Park has recommenced after a break of several weeks to wait for supplies. Workers from St. Onge began building the two abutments for the bridge last week after finally receiving the rebar that they were missing to do that work. Earlier work on the project moved ahead at such a rapid pace that the rebar ordered for the job had not been delivered by the time that St. Onge was ready to begin building the abutments.
     According to St. Onge’s Carl Gleason once the abutments are completed the next step in the project will be to install the steal I-beams. The deck for the new bridge will then be laid. Even with the delay of several weeks the project is still where St. Onge hoped it would be at this point in the season.
     “We are still on schedule,” Gleason explained, “The plan is for the new bridge to be completed this year.”
     If all goes according to plan and the new bridge is completed this year then workers from St. Onge will begin tearing down the temporary bridge. The bridge project actually has a completion date of 2015, so any work that is not completed this year will be finished up in the spring of next year.


This Week's Photos


The 57th Stowe Antique and Classic Car Show was packed with cars on display and attendees last Saturday on a gorgeous day. Cars of every era were displayed side by side. Everyman’s Rambler (top) was quite near the 1920s Rolls-Royce (bottom) that sported this engine with brass carburetor and fittings. Sunday, the cars were lined up and displayed by class. Over 8,000 people attended the show and flea market, as one could guess by the traffic!

Johnson Village and MW&L Partnership

posted Aug 14, 2014, 10:37 AM by Staff News & Citizen

     by Andrew Martin

      A cooperative venture between two local municipal utilities is nearing completion. At their annual meeting on April 1, 2014 voters from the Village of Johnson approved the purchase of 15 percent of the Morrisville Water & Light Department 34.5kV transmission system. That purchase was executed on June 17, and the Village of Johnson is now completing the final work needed to make the actual physical connection to MW&L.
     The article that was approved by Johnson voters in April authorized the Johnson Village Board of Trustees to borrow a sum of money not to exceed $270,128 for a period no longer than five years to purchase a partial ownership of the transmission system. The purchase, which is meant to serve as a cost saving measure over both the short and long term for the village, allows Johnson to own a portion of the transmission line that runs from the Green Mountain Power (GMP) substation in Johnson to the MW&L substation #3 in Morrisville to the Vermont Transco LLC 115 kV substation in Stowe.
     The cost saving that will be generated for Johnson Village comes from the fact that the current Network Service Agreement between Johnson Water & Light (JW&L) and GMP requires Johnson to pay annual fees to GMP to “wheel” power over GMP’s transmission system to serve load requirements. Over the next five years the village expected to pay an average of $90,760 to GMP in the form of these “wheeling” fees, if the arrangement they had with GMP had been left in place. That figure was also expected to go up after the five years.
     By purchasing a portion of the ownership interest in MW&L’s transmission system Johnson Water & Light will have a direct connection to VT Transco’s high voltage transmission network, meaning the village will no longer be forced to pay the wheeling fees to GMP. During the life of the five year loan, the payments that Johnson Water and Light expects to make to MW&L will be roughly $57,102. The village will also be contributing to any ongoing and standard maintenance to the system, meaning that a few thousand dollars a year extra could be added on to their yearly bill during those first five years. In total it is estimated that during those first five years of the financing period for the loan Johnson Village will save an annual average of $24,533.07. However, once the loan used to make the purchase has been paid off, the village will be saving roughly $82,000 per year depending on what maintenance and repair work is needed for the system. Those savings are expected to increase over time.
     “This is a great cooperative effort between two municipal power utilities,” Johnson Municipal Manager Duncan Hastings stated, “We are doing something that is going to benefit both communities.”
Hastings went on to explain that along with the obvious benefits to JW&L, the agreement will also benefit MW&L ratepayers since they will now be responsible for less of the maintenance and repair costs that are associated with the system.
     “It’s a nice cooperative effort,” he added.
     “It’s a win-win for both Morrisville and Johnson,” MW&L General Manager Craig Myotte stated.
     Myotte also explained that MW&L is able to make such a deal due in part to the additional capacity that their transmission system has. The  MW & L system has a 30 megawatt capacity and it only has a load of roughly 10 megawatts at this time.
     “We are selling a block that we will likely never use and are able to get something in return that we can invest back into the system,” Myotte added.
     “There has always been a cooperative effort among local municipalities to keep the rates as low as possible, and this is one of those strategies,” Myotte concluded.
     According to Hastings the final step necessary to complete the cooperative effort is making the actual physical connection with MW&L. The parts needed to make that happen have been ordered, and he believes the work will be done by the end of September.
     “Once the primary metering is in we will be switching,” Hastings explained.
     Hastings also added that while JW&L will no longer be paying the wheeling fees, an agreement is being finalized that will allow JW&L and MW&L to use the GMP system for emergency backup service if necessary.

Taxing District Aids Morristown Growth

posted Aug 14, 2014, 10:35 AM by Staff News & Citizen

     by Andrew Martin

     Town and village officials are looking to utilize the municipal Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) District that exists in Morristown to continue aiding local growth. A project is in the works that would see the extension of the municipal infrastructure, including water, sewer, and electric, to the area of a future industrial park between Center Road and Trombley Hill Road.
     “This is one of the economic development tools that the town has and can control,” explained Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley.
     Tax incremental financing is a public financing method that can be used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other projects aimed at improving a community. The basic idea behind a TIF District is that when the town provides funding for a project, such as the extension of infrastructure, the value of the surrounding real estate, and therefore the tax revenue generated by that real estate, increases. Oftentimes a town or municipality can pay for such work by borrowing against this future increase in property tax revenues. In Morristown a development fund that normally has roughly $100,000 has been created and is used for such projects.
     Morrisville has actually utilized a TIF District in the recent past. Several years ago the town used money from the development fund to expand the municipal infrastructure up Harrell Street to the existing industrial park. This work allowed several of the businesses in the industrial park to connect to municipal sewer and then expand onto the areas formerly housing their septic systems. The resulting development increased the value on the grand list, as well as created around 30 new jobs. The investment that Morristown made into the project was “paid” back within three years thanks to the increased tax revenue that was generated by those expansions.
     “We are now using that money to reinvest in the new industrial park,” Lindley explained, “Part of the challenge is creating the necessary infrastructure for growth.”
     Town officials are working on the project with Morrisville Water & Light, which currently still owns the lot where there planned industrial park would be located. When sections of the lot are sold to individual businesses those portions of land will return to the tax rolls. According to Lindley even if the planned lots are returned to the tax rolls with no infrastructure or buildings the entire property would be worth roughly $1 million. By extending the infrastructure to the planned park and allowing businesses to build there that figure will increase substantially.
     The positive outcome that can result from such investment can be seen in the Harrell Street project in Morrisville. According to Lindley that project resulted in roughly six million dollars in new investment added to the town’s grand list, and officials believe that the investment from the Trombley Hill project could triple that figure. Lindley also reiterated that the Trombley Hill project will be entirely increased value on the grand list, because the land was previously owned by the Village – which does not pay taxes.
     Not only will investing in the expansion of the municipal infrastructure result in an increase in tax revenue, but more industry will also mean more jobs.
     “The hope is that we are going to be creating jobs in Morrisville,” Lindley added.
     Moving forward, town officials will continue to work not only with representatives from MW&L but also with the potential business owners interested in purchasing the lots to make the plan a reality. The exact layout of all the infrastructure has not yet been planned, but the necessary engineering should be complete and a more concrete plan in place within the next month. Lindley believes that actual construction work to expand the municipal sewer, water, and electric system will take place beginning in the spring of 2015.
     “I don’t believe we will be ready this fall,” he explained.
     However Lindley did add that once begun, the work should only take between 60 and 90 days to complete.
     “It’s a pretty easy project,” he stated.
     One reason the work should occur relatively smoothly is the fact that municipal sewer already runs to the bottom of the hill where Center Road intersects Route 15 while the municipal water and electric already extend up the hill near where the proposed industrial park would be located. Final cost estimates for the project will be available once the final layout for the project is complete.

Ribbon Cut at Airport

posted Aug 14, 2014, 10:33 AM by Staff News & Citizen

     by Mickey Smith

     MORRISTOWN – A summer long project came to an official close on Tuesday, August 5, as  Governor  Peter Shumlin and other state and  local officials cut the ribbon ceremonially marking the reopening of the Morrisville-Stowe State Airport. The governor and Stowe Aviation's Russ Barr also talked about the public/private partnership which is expected to bring additional investment (primarily for an upgrade to the terminal) to the airport, it will also include a new air charter company with service to and from cities such as New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington D.C.

A crowd gathered on the runway for the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the Morrisville-Stowe Airport on Tuesday, August 5.    - Smith photo

     “People from all over the country want to come to Vermont to enjoy all our state has to offer,” Gov. Shumlin said. “By securing federal funds to make these necessary investments to aging infrastructure, we’ve now made it possible for the private sector to go to work making further improvements that will bring more visitors to the Morrisville/Stowe Region. And with them will come businesses, jobs and expanded economic opportunity for Vermonters.”
     A crowd of about 75 people walked around the freshly paved runway and airplane parking area, while also looking at some of the new aircraft at the airport.  During his speech, Barr told how his desire to get involved with upgrading the airport  was spurred by his son and his desire to learn how to fly.
     The Morrisville/Stowe airport had been closed since mid-April for a full reconstruction of the runway area, including rebuilding and paving the runway and taxiway, as well as installing a new approach lighting system. The total cost of the project was $4.4 million, 90 percent of that from federal funds provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.
     In their speeches, the governor and Barr explained, these new public investments will provide a platform by which Stowe Aviation, the new Fixed Base Operator at the Morrisville-Stowe Airport, hope to draw approximately $20 million from the private sector in the form of investments to further develop  the airport. Those investments are expected to include a new passenger terminal with a café for use by air travelers and local residents, a new air charter company to and from the Stowe region to large cities, a flight training academy featuring full-motion simulators, an advanced piston and turbine aircraft maintenance facility, and a professional aircraft management company.  A press release from Governor Shumlin's office states, “The private investment will come through the EB-5 program.” Once financing has been secured, the project’s estimated time frame is eight months.
     “This is a textbook case of a public-private partnership that works. The State, through Aviation Director Guy Rouelle, has worked tirelessly with me for the past two years to bring about this public investment and assisted me in reaching the right people in State government to put together the financing,” said Barr.  “I’m looking forward to building the next phase of the airport redevelopment that will result in high paying jobs and great opportunities that are going to come to the entire region."

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