by Andrew Martin
Work to rebuild and rehabilitate local sections of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is moving along well. Work is ongoing to several portions of section 1B of the trail, which runs 17 miles from Tenney Bridge in Morrisville to Cambridge Junction.
Looking down the LVRT toward Willow Crossing in Johnson. Work is going extremely well on brush clearing, ditching and surfacing the rail trail. - Martin photo
Nearly all of the necessary mowing and cutting along the entire length of 1B has been completed. Ditching work has also been finished in the area beginning near the state garage in Cambridge all the way to Depot Street in Hyde Park. Several other select spots have also been ditched, and work to ditch the trail area near the MSI pit in Johnson was recently undertaken after that area had been skipped previously.
Other ongoing work includes the grading of the trail, a process that includes scarifying and windrowing. Sections of the trail, including one near the MSI pit, are also having material added to build up the trail. Once a section of the trail has been graded, the next step is for the trail to be rolled. Then staymat is laid down. When the staymat is added to the trail, and rolled, it measures about nine feet across, and the staymat layer is a minimum of two inches thick.
The application of staymat has already occurred along several sections of the trail in Johnson. Staymat is already down and rolled on large sections of the trail in the area of Willow Crossing as well as sections near West Settlement Road and Johnson Hardware and Rental. Workers are now moving easterly toward Hyde Park as they continue to apply the staymat.
Both sections 1B and 1A (which runs from St. Johnsbury to Joes Pond in Danville), have a scheduled completion date of the summer of 2015. However, officials believe that given the large amount of work that has been done in just over a month to all sections of 1B, the majority of the work to that section of the trail will be completed this year. Work that will likely remain next year will include the installation of culverts, bridges, and cattle passes.
LVRT officials are encouraging people to stay away from areas of the trail where work is ongoing and to wait until a section is complete before using it.
by Mickey Smith
Upon returning from special assignment, Morristown Police Senior Patrolman Jason Luneau had himself a new patrol partner. Viper, a six month German Shepherd, has been riding along with Luneau getting accustomed to the community and life as a K9 unit.
Morristown Police Senior Patrolman Jason Luneau and his dog, Viper, in front of the cruiser that has been modified to serve as a canine unit. - Smith photo
Luneau said working with officers with dogs in the past few years helped him to decide it was a good time to pursue getting a dog for himself. Chief Richard Keith said Viper is the first K9 unit for his department, but he is confident having a dog in the department will be a help. In recent years, Lamoille County has had a K9 unit operating out of the Vermont State Police outpost housed at the Morristown Police Department. VSP Trooper Christian Hunt and Ryko have been called upon to assist on many occasions.
During the last month, Viper has been riding with Luneau getting used to being around people and becoming familiar with the area. Luneau said it was suggested to him to do simple things like taking Viper in and out of the sliding doors at grocery stores so he isn't surprised by something like that in the future. Viper has also been making friends with Ryko, as the two will be spending a lot of time in the office and on cases together.
K9 units can be used in drug cases, and money seized in cases with a conviction is kept by the department. Money seized in prior drug cases is being used to help pay for Luneau and Viper's training. While this may be how Viper earns his keep, Chief Keith said Viper will be a valuable asset to the community in search and rescue situations.
It will be almost a year before Viper is completely ready to serve in his new role. The two partners will soon be heading to school for four months to learn the basics of police dog work. This will include search and rescue. In early 2015 they will head back to school for six weeks for specialized training in dealing with drugs.
Viper comes to the Morristown Police Department from Stronghold German Shepherds in Wolcott. Chief Keith said the breeder, Penny Strong, was great to work with and helped Luneau find the perfect partner.
by Andrew Martin
The long awaited repairs to the Junction Bridge in Cambridge are now in the works. Town officials are moving forward with plans to repair the bridge later this year after receiving word that they will likely be receiving outside funding for the state. The bridge has been closed to traffic for several years after structural issues were discovered.
“There was a failure during construction,” Cambridge Road Foreman Bill Morey explained, referencing the rehabilitation work that occurred to the bridge several years ago.
“It’s a shame that there was a design flaw,” Cambridge Selectboard chair Larry Wyckoff added. Wyckoff also explained that the planned work is in no way related to the work that was done to the bridge following an accident there a few years ago. While the work to repair the damage from the accident was underway the structural issues with the bridge were uncovered.
The planned work for the bridge project consists of the rehabilitation of the arches of the covered bridge. One of the arches has split and will have to be replaced, while the others are beginning to roll and twist outward. All four corners of the bridge will be receiving added support, which will allow the bridge to maintain its arc.
“It’s not structurally deficient yet, but we have been keeping traffic off it to help preserve it,” Morey added.
Along with the replacement of the split arch on the northeast corner of the bridge, other work will consist of the addition of steel plates from the abutment bearing points to the first arch joint as well as the placement of numerous steel bolts.
The work to the bridge will likely be funded by a Town Highway Structures Grant from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The grant is for the amount of approximately $86,500, and Cambridge will be responsible for a small match. While town officials have not yet officially signed the paperwork for the grant, they have been notified that they should be receiving it soon.
Morey explained that the town has now sent out a request for bid proposals. He added that while the project must be completed within two years of the grant being issued, he expects that the work will take place sometime this fall or early in the winter. Morey added that town officials are shooting to reopen the bridge to cars by next June. The bridge is closed to traffic every winter.
by Andrew Martin
Work is continuing quickly on the multi-year project to repair Maple Street and the municipal infrastructure beneath it in Morrisville. As part of the project, which began in 2013, the municipal sewer, water, and stormwater infrastructure along the street is being replaced before the street is resurfaced.
G.W. Tatro Construction Inc. has been a main contractor for the project, and according to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley workers from Tatro have nearly completed all of the necessary work for the new water main and sewer lines. That portion of the project was actually supposed to take until late August, meaning that, even with the few small jobs that workers from G.W. Tatro have left to complete, the project is still over a month ahead of schedule. At the time of his interview with the News & Citizen Lindley explained that G.W. Tatro was on schedule to be finished all its contracted work by the end of last week.
Work to Maple Street in Morrisville is moving along ahead of schedule. The rebuilding of the water and sewer lines is complete, and work to the new stormwater drainage system is now ongoing. The Morrisville Highway Department can be seen above performing grading work to the roadbed. If the current schedule can be maintained, the road should receive a first coat of asphalt this fall. The final coat will be applied next summer, when work is concluded on the road. - Smith photo
“We are way ahead of schedule,” Lindley added.
The next step in the project will be the portion that calls for changes and renovations to the stormwater drainage system. According to Lindley, the new system will run nearly the entire length of Maple Street, and the work to create it will be done by the town road crew. The stormwater portion of the project was scheduled to begin last week and town officials project that it will take no more than four weeks.
“The system is not very deep or very complicated,” Lindley explained, “Four weeks could be a generous estimate.”
The final step in the Maple Street project scheduled for this year is to have some paving done on the street. According to Lindley once the stormwater portion of the work is done a paving company will be hired to come in and lay down two inches of asphalt on the road before winter arrives. Lindley explained he is just now finalizing a few details before putting the paving job of Maple Street out to bid. He expects to do so in the next few days.
“We are bidding Maple Street separately from the rest of the town paving this year in order to get a contractor in here quicker,” he added.
Work in 2015 to complete the Maple Street project will likely include the installation of new granite curbing, the building of new sidewalks, and the final paving of the road.
Not only is the Maple Street project ahead of schedule, but it is also currently coming in under budget. The project is actually a joint effort between the Town of Morristown and Morrisville Water & Light Department, and according to Lindley the town has actually only spent a small portion of the funds that were budgeted for its share of the project. Out of the $350,000 that was budgeted by the town for the job, only approximately $80,000 has been spent to this point.
“From the town’s perspective the project is well under budget,” Lindley explained, “We likely will not come close to spending what was actually budgeted.”
“There is still work to do and money to spend but we should not get anywhere near that figure,” he continued, “We are doing a lot of the work in house and are working with the village to bring down the costs significantly.”
According to Morrisville Water and Light General Manager Craig Myotte, the portion of the project that his department is responsible for also appears to be coming in on budget. The village estimates that the portion of the project that it will be responsible for paying will cost in total roughly $965,000. That figure includes not only the ongoing and future work, but also costs incurred in the past for the project, such as engineering and cost estimates. Of that total village residents have voted to allow the municipality to borrow up to $541,000 for the project, while the Village Trustees have approved the use of monies from a future capital improvement fund that the municipality maintains to cover the remainder of the costs.
The results of the efforts by town and village officials to work together to lower the costs of the project can also be seen in the final expected totals. Initial estimates by engineers on the total cost of the Maple Street project were that it would cost roughly $2.2 million. However, Lindley expects that even with paving included the cost to actually complete the project will likely come in at just over $1 million.
by Andrew Martin
Another possible energy solution was recently on display in Vermont. Wednesday, July 9, the Burlington-based GSR Solutions held an event releasing the findings of a feasibility study that investigated the possibility of a sustainable distillate fuel production facility that could be located somewhere in Vermont. The facility in question would grow a type of algae that would in turn create a diesel-like fuel that could be used to heat homes and power vehicles. The event releasing the findings was held at the Nordic Dairy Farm in Charlotte beginning at 11 a.m.
The findings of the study detailed the necessary steps for the creation of a commercial facility that could produce the fuel using the algae. The oleaginous algae, which was produced by GSR Solutions in a lab, can grow on the nutrient rich organic carbon waste streams produced by Vermont’s dairy farms and breweries. Along with producing the bio-fuel, the algae biomass also can produce a granular organic fertilizer that can be used on farms to help reduce the phosphorus runoff that results from the use of commercial fertilizers.
According to Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association (VFDA), the feasibility study found that the liquid fuel produced by the algae biomass is in fact interchangeable with heating oil, diesel, and jet fuel. Along with investigating if the process would actually work, the feasibility study also examined what it would cost to create a pilot facility somewhere in Vermont that could begin producing this fuel. As a result blueprints and cost estimates for just such a facility now exist. The plan for the pilot facility is to discover the necessary quantities of the feed products used by the algae that would be suitable to make the commercial production of the biofuel viable.
GSR worked with the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association and the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative on the project, which was funded by a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $51,000 that the VFDA received in 2013. Todd Campbell, who serves as energy advisor for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, was on hand along with Ted Brady, the Director of USDA Rural Development in Vermont, at the announcement of the findings.
At Congressman Peter Welch’s press conference this morning, the Vermont Agency of Transportation provided a list
of the most critical Vermont transportation projects that are in jeopardy if Congress fails to reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund.
Among projects on the list are: the replacement of a bridge over Smith Brook in Johnson, replacement of the bridge over the Little River in Downtown Stowe, as well as a bridge over the West Branch of the Little River on Route 108 and replacement of a bridge over the Seymour River in Cambridge.
The House is expected to take up a short-term reauthorization early this week, without action the Highway Trust Fund is expected to be out of money in early August.
The Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department personnel deepened their understanding of free and impartial policing from a workshop conducted by the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity on Thursday, July 17. Three Vermont State Troopers joined the Sheriff’s Department personnel for the training held at the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department headquarters in Hyde Park.
During its last session the Vermont Legislature passed Act 193 that mandated the adoption of free and impartial law enforcement policies and related training by all Vermont law enforcement agencies.
“In many ways Sheriff Marcoux is ahead of the curve on this issue as his department adopted a free and impartial policy back in 2012 and this training was scheduled nearly six months before the General Assembly passed Act 193 requiring training,” cites Curtiss Reed, Jr., executive director for Vermont Partnership and lead trainer. Mary Gannon co-facilitated the training with Reed.
The six-hour training requires completion of two hours of pre-classroom assignments and four hours of face-to-face guided discussions and exercises. Some of the topics covered included free and impartial policing as an economic imperative, self-identity and implicit bias in law enforcement officer decision making, and promising behaviors and tools that align with law enforcement’s core values of protect and serve within diverse communities.
Vermont Partnership conducts training and consultations for state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, municipal governments, chambers of commerce, civic groups, and supervisory unions in the areas of diversity, inclusion and equity.
Sheriff Marcoux stated that Lamoille County is growing and diversity within the county is evolving. "Law enforcement must understand the importance of working together with its diverse community and that involves meaningful education and training for our deputies." Marcoux went on to say that he expected this type of professional development will be ongoing.
Vermont Partnership is a Brattleboro-based statewide nonprofit organization working to build capacity within agencies, institutions and communities to reap the benefits of and address the challenges of Vermont’s changing cultural landscape.
by Mickey Smith
MORRISTOWN – By next year, Copley
Hospital hopes to break ground on a new surgical suite on the backside
of the building near the rehabilitation building (PT). Entrance to the
new surgical waiting area will be through the main lobby at what is now a
large window between the gift shop and registration area.
The plans for the new surgical suite at Copley Hospital. The main entry
to the building is at the left side of the image with the new
construction on the right. At far right the three new operating rooms
can be seen. New beds for pre-op are shown on the bottom and up the
left side, with the recovery rooms in the center. Also in the center can
be found the nurses’ stations and staff changing rooms. At the top are
the new procedure rooms.
- Image courtesy of Copley Hospital
The new surgical unit will replace the former smoking shack (now a
bus stop) and use part of the back parking lot. Despite this, Leah
Hollenberger, vice-president of Development & Community Relations at
Copley Hospital, said they will be increasing the parking in the back.
She said enough earth will need to be removed for the new wing to fill
the area off the south side of the parking lot. She said this will
allow them to increase the parking by 17 spaces.
Along with the changes to the parking lot, they plan to reconfigure
the exit from the hospital, making a permanent exit which goes out the
backside of the building and comes out on Farr Avenue (similar to what
was done during the construction of the new emergency department). The
new building will also necessitate moving the entrance to the PT wing;
Hollenberger said the new PT entrance will be closer to the back of the
The next step in the process is obtaining a Certificate of Need
(CON) from the Green Mountain Care Board. The application has been
submitted for the $12.5 million dollar project. A CON is needed for all
proposed projects over $3 million. Hollenberger said the CON process is
estimated to take between three and six months. It includes an
independent review of the design, which she said is done out of state.
The new surgical suite will include three operating rooms, much
like their current configuration, but will offer greatly expanded
pre-operative and recovery areas. Copley Hospital President Mel
Patashnick said the design will allow some of the pre-op beds to be
convert to post-op as the day progresses and the need changes.
He said Copley Hospital is available for a variety of types of
surgery. Along with general surgery, they also perform cataract
operations, ob/gyn urology, and orthopedic surgery. He said they also
have an oral surgeon who does full mouth reconstructions. The procedure
rooms will be moved from the Outpatient Services Center to the new
suite, allowing the sharing of pre-op and recovery space.
While the new suite does not increase the number of operating
rooms, the hospital plans to keep one of the old OR spaces for the
adjacent Birthing Center.
The new space will also allow the hospital to make necessary
upgrades to modernize the space. Hollenberger said things such as the
required distance from a bed to a wall has changed since the hospital
was built and these changes will help get the space up to federal
“If you have to be in the hospital, we want it to be as pleasant as
possible,” said Patashnick, explaining they have all the modern
equipment and now want to have a modern space as well.
The rectangular space will include a diagonal hallway down the
center coming from the direction of the procedure rooms as well as the
Emergency department. This will reduce time during a crisis.
The surgical suite will also have a dedicated waiting room, as well
as private area where doctors can consult with family members.
To meet the $12.5 million price tag, Copley plans to use working
capital as well as a loan. They are also in the process of raising $3.2
million in donations through a capital campaign. Hollenberger said they
are about 65% of the way to their goal. Of course, donations are always
Patashnick said they have been very appreciative of the support and
generosity of the community and noted that is shows the value the
community places in the hospital.
Designs for the project were prepared by the Burlington-based firm,
Freeman French and Freeman. Hollenberger said they designed the new
utility plant a few years ago, and H.P. Cummings, the contractor for the
ED will lead the construction.
The project is expected to take about 18 months from the time ground is broke.
This Week's Photos
A lone balloon with Mt. Mansfield as a
backdrop from the Stowe Balloon Festival, Saturday, July 12. Taken from
Stagecoach Rd. near the Morristown/Stowe line.
- Gordon Decker photo
by Mickey Smith
As part of investigation into the purported theft of a digital camera, Morristown Police executed a search of the home of Izaak Draper, 42, of Elmore. As a result of the search, Draper was charged with possession of stolen property and felony possession of marijuana.
Morristown Senior Patrolman Jason Luneau applied for the search warrant based on information he had received in the case of a stolen camera last month. He said they began to execute the search warrant on Tuesday morning, July 10, and discovered what they believed to be marijuana during the course of the search. Based on that discovery, they applied for and received a second search warrant which allowed them to keep searching for drugs. Sr. Patrolman Luneau said they found about one and a quarter pounds of marijuana at the Beach Road residence, $19,260 cash, along with the digital camera.
guns seized during a search of Izaak Draper’s house in Elmore. Police
allege the guns were loaded and were found along with marijuana. - Smith photo
Editor’s Note: These weapons were possessed legally.
Luneau said they also found firearms, which were seized along with the money and marijuana, and what he described as evidence of marijuana distribution. Fourteen firearms were found in the house, ranging in caliber. Morristown Police allege they were all loaded with high capacity magazines but none had rounds in the chamber. One handgun, which was also loaded, was found in a closet. Most were described by the MPD as military style. Police seized the guns because they allege they were found in a gun cabinet with the marijuana. The guns were estimated to be at least $12,000 in value by a local firearms dealer.
Luneau said the investigation is continuing and more arrests could be made in the future. Draper was cited to appear in Lamoille Superior Court – Criminal Division on Wednesday, August 20.
Gizelle Guyette, newly hired Morristown Centennial Librarian
Gizelle Guyette, current young adult librarian at the Burnham Library in Milton, has been hired by Morristown Centennial Trustees from a field of more than 20 applicants, to fill the head position at Morristown’s library from which Mary West is retiring.
To get the important stuff out of the way, Gizelle is a born and bred Vermonter who has lived all over the state, including Burlington and Middlebury. She graduated from Middlebury College with a humanities degree, worked in schools for a decade and eventually kind of fell into her career in libraries.
She explained that one night she found her school librarian needed help shelving books, from that found there was a need to fill the slot of an assistant librarian – and she was off!
“I always had a great deal of respect for libraries,” noted Gizelle. She helped as an assistant for nine years and loved the literary lifestyle. She began to talk with folks in the library business – “I forged connections,” she said. “Librarians are the great levelers,” she explained. As she worked as a bookmobile librarian for six years, she said it was clear that a librarian’s object “…is to get you whatever it is you’re searching for.”
Ms. Guyette is single and now lives in her family home, that was her grandmother’s in Milton. The former church is a big job, she tells the interviewer. She adds she will be looking for a home in the Morrisville area. “ I’m an intrepid Vermonter… [but] commuting will be a challenge… so I’m looking,” she said. She is a Vermont state certified librarian.
Gizelle thought it is only respectful to first learn the culture of the place. “I need to familiarize myself with the collection and the community.”
“This is a library steeped in traditions,” she felt. She honestly has no agenda in mind for immediate changes. “My opinion may not be correct,” she admitted and said she needed to talk with the current staff. “Libraries are living organisms that adapt to continual metamorphosis,” she said earnestly, people will tell her what will work and what is needed in Morrisville. “The community drives what it should be,” she felt. “If I came with an agenda that would be a great disservice,” she ended.
As far as the need for fundraising, if needed in the future, she says she is up to it. She said she will do whatever is necessary to make the library sustainable for the long term.
Gizelle described herself as “a bit nerdy and an amateur writer” but this interviewer would describe her as friendly, conscientious, a bit serious, and willing to listen.
"It is my first time being director, I appreciate the Board of Trustees’ and Mary’s support,” said Gizelle with fervor. “I’m very grateful to be here.”
Oh! Gizelle had one piece of advice for us all – “Don’t just Google it” she emphasized, ask your librarian if you want to find the real answer!