Lamoille in the News
by Andrew Martin
Another state road in Morristown could see a major overhaul in the next few years. While the long-awaited Route 100 Alternate Truck Route was completed last year another project that has been in the works for years is moving forward. Officials at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) have completed right-of-way plans and will likely soon begin right-of-way negotiations for a major project involving Route 15A and Tenney Bridge in Morrisville.
According to VTrans Project Manager Carolyn Carlson, the work that will take place at the Tenney Bridge location will involve more than simply replacing that temporary bridge that was installed there eight years ago. The plans for the project call for a realignment of the entire roadway near the bridge. The bridge itself will also be relocated downstream slightly, with the new centerline of the roadway crossing the bridge being located approximately 55 feet downstream from the current centerline of 15A. This new bridge would be a three span structure measuring roughly 200 feet long.
The shifting of Route 15A to meet this new bridge will require an extensive amount of fill under the new roadway. On the side of the bridge closest to Morrisville the road will be shifted and some fill added, while on the side closer to the intersection with Route 15 as much as 14 feet of fill will be added to what is currently a field in order to bring the grade of the road up to meet the bridge.
“It’s really going to look different,” Carlson stated. She also explained that due to the extensive fill and work to move the roadway the project will likely take two construction seasons once work actually begins. The final designs of the project are now being completed and VTrans officials plan to continue the right-of-way negotiation process in the next few months.
“Within two months or so we plan to start doing appraisals,” Carlson explained, adding that there are likely only four or five property owners that VTrans will be working with as part of that process.
If the right-of-way process goes smoothly and all property owners involved decide to sell, then that could push up the date that the project is advertised. If that does not occur and the properties are seized in court via eminent domain then the latest advertising would likely take place is in the fall of 2016. Given that timeline, the actual construction of the project would likely occur during 2017 and 2018. If the right-of-way negotiations goes more smoothly than that timeline could be moved up slightly.
According to Carlson the completion of the Tenney Bridge project has been pushed to the forefront at VTrans due to the fact that it has been on the docket for so long.
“Tenney Bridge is a legacy project, it has been around a long time,” Carlson explained, “Our intent is to work hard to get through the process and get it under construction sooner rather than later.”
As part of the work to realign 15A and relocate Tenney Bridge the intersection of Route 15A and Route 15 will also be altered slightly. Work will be done to level off the roadways at the intersection in an attempt to improve the site distance.
“It’s going to look pretty much the same but the grade will change, and new guardrails will be installed,” Carlson added.
Route 15A is also on the docket to be resurfaced sometime in the next few years. However, according to Paving Manager Michael Fowler, the repaving of the road will likely not take place until after the completion of the bridge work.
There is one project involving the terminus of Route 15A in Morrisville Village that should be completed this year. Work should be starting later this construction season on a new Park and Ride next to the Morrisville Centennial Library. Several grants have been awarded to Morrisville for the project, and town officials are currently waiting to sign the grant agreements.
“We are just waiting on the final grant approval documents before we move forward,” Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas explained.
by Andrew Martin
Two athletes from Lamoille Union have wrapped up very successful winter seasons. Sophomore snowboarder Olivia Shively recently returned from nationals with another national championship, while senior skier Emily Boyden brought home a top 10 finish at her own national event.
Lamoille students Olivia Shively and Emily Boyden stand together outside Lamoille Union. Both individuals had very successful 2015 seasons as Shively won gold, silver, and bronze at a national snowboarding competition while Boyden placed tenth at a national skiing competition. Those finishes marked the ends of a winter season for the pair that saw both win several competitions in Vermont in their respective disciplines. - Martin photo
“We are very proud of both Emily and Olivia,” Lamoille Union Athletic Director Tim Messier stated, “They are both examples of what being a dedicated student athlete looks like.”
“To pull off what they have been able to do, being highly successful in their sport while still being successful students, is a testament to their effort and determination,” Messier added.
“That success doesn’t come without sacrifice and effort on the part of both young ladies, their families, and their community,” he stated.
Olivia Shively followed up an extremely successful freshman snowboarding season in 2014 with an equally impressive season in 2015. She won the state championship in the banked slalom event and finished second in the slopestyle event during the Vermont championships held on March 3 at Mount Snow.
She continued that success when she traveled to the United States of American Snowboard Association (USASA) National Championships at Copper Mountain in Colorado from March 28 through April 3. Olivia won the national championship in banked slalom in 2014 and in 2015 she added three more medals to her count. She again won the national championship in banked slalom while finishing second in slalom and third in boarder cross. In the giant slalom event Olivia finished fifth, making it the only event of the four she competed in where she didn’t finish on the podium.
“It felt really cool to be able to make the podium in three events and pull off the trifecta,” Shively stated, “I want to thank my coaches and the Smugglers’ Notch Ski and Snowboard Club.”
Emily Boyden, who also trains on Saturdays and Sundays with the Smugglers’ Notch Ski and Snowboard Club, competed in the Ski the East Freeride Tour this winter. She opened her season at Mad River Glen on February 21 with a first place finish. She continued that strong showing throughout the year, finishing the year in sixth place in the women’s standings.
Along with competing in the Ski the East Freeride Tour this season, Emily Boyden also traveled to Alpine Meadows ski resort in California to take part in the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association (IFSA) National Junior Championships from March 12 through March 15. She continued her strong season there, finishing in 10th place overall for the 15-18 girls’ age group.
“I want to thank my coaches, Brian Salatino and Shawn King,” Boyden stated regarding her recent success, also expressing things for the support she has received from the Lamoille Union community and the Smugglers’ Notch Ski and Snowboard Club
“Emily has a job, is a good student, participates in extracurriculars here at Lamoille, and still finds time to excel in athletics,” LU Athletic Director Tim Messier stated, “She goes above and beyond.”
Boyden plans to continue skiing in college, competing in IFSA collegiate events while attending Montana State University beginning in the fall.
by Andrew Martin
A home in Belvidere was destroyed by fire on Thursday, April 16. The house, located on Route 109 in Belvidere village, was engulfed in flames by the time fire crews from Johnson and other departments arrived on scene. The blaze was called in at roughly 11 a.m. and fire crews responded soon after, but were unable to do anything to save the building, which dated back to the mid-1800s.
The residents of the home, Conrad Slayton and Alana Manning, were able to leave safely and with the aid of neighbors attempted to fight the fire with buckets of water from the Lamoille River before firefighters arrived. Following the fire, officials believed that the blaze was accidental and likely originated as a chimney fire.
"As we get into the end of the heating season where we have warm days and colder nights, they tend to use fire in short bursts, short amounts of time – that's really a difficult time of year for wood burning," Johnson Fire Chief Arjay West said in an interview with WCAX.
The Red Cross is assisting the family at this time. There is also a donation box at Tallman’s Grocery Store and according to Myrna Tallman people have been donating both money and items to the couple.
“They lost everything,” Tallman stated.
A benefit dance and dinner will be held for Kyle Jones to aid him in his fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The event will take place on Friday, April 24 from 5 p.m. until midnight at the Hyde Park VFW on Route 15.
The benefit will kick off with a Happy Hour beginning at 5 p.m. Dinner will consist of the Jones’ Family Famous Pig Roast and will be served at 6 p.m. Music and entertainment will be provided by the band Fossil Fuel, which plays new and older rock music. The dance will begin at 8 p.m.
Other features at the benefit will include a silent auction as well as a 50/50 raffle. No admission fee will be charged, although donations at the door would be greatly appreciated. Individuals under 21 will now be allowed to stay after 9 p.m. but will wear wristbands.
“Kyle is doing well and is in good spirits considering everything that he has had to deal with,” Krista Jones stated when asked how Kyle is doing with his treatments.
by Andrew Martin
Several paving and construction projects scheduled for 2014 for various roads in Wolcott are now moving forward while town officials are already making plans for further paving projects. Work to re-deck the bridge over the Lamoille River on the Elmore Pond Road began on Wednesday, April 15. The paving of a portion of East Hill Road will also be taking place this spring while town officials apply for paving grants for portions of three other roads; the North Wolcott Road, School Street, the Elmore Pond Road.
Work to repair and re-deck the bridge over the Lamoille River on the Elmore Pond Road in Wolcott began on Wednesday, April 15. Workers can be seen above as they use jackhammers to break up the old deck on the bridge. A new deck will be installed and the approaches to the bridge will be repaved as part of the project, which should be done by late May. Traffic has been reduced to one lane across the bridge using a traffic light while work is ongoing. - Martin photo
Work to the bridge on the Elmore Pond Road began when construction workers installed traffic lights and other equipment on the bridge on Wednesday, April 15. Work to remove the old deck of the bridge actually began the next day. Once the old deck has been removed workers will be installing new rebar and concrete decking on the bridge while also resurfacing the approaches to the structure. The bridge project had been scheduled for last fall but the contractor was unable to begin work at that time.
According to Selectboard Chair Belinda Clegg the project is anticipated to cost roughly $52,414. The town has received a grant that covers $47,200 of that total, meaning that Wolcott will only have to provide roughly $5,200. That figure will be covered by the $10,000 that Wolcott budgets each year for bridge maintenance. The project is scheduled to take roughly one month, although according to Clegg the project may run until the end of May now since a bit more work may need to be done to the bridge now.
Like the bridge project, the paving of a portion of East Hill had originally been scheduled to be completed last fall. However Gray’s Paving was unable to fit the project into their fall schedule, pushing the work back into this year. In total roughly .3 miles of East Hill Road will be resurfaced. Along with that paving of East Hill Road, which is estimated to cost roughly $30,000, the parking lot at the Wolcott Town Offices will also be paved as part of the project. That project will likely cost approximately $9,200, bringing the total cost of the spring paving to just under $40,000. The town had budgeted approximately that much money for the paving projects last year.
Clegg was unsure when, exactly, Gray’s Paving would begin the repaving work, but town officials are hoping that the work is done by the end of June, keeping it a part of the current budget.
While the East Hill paving project will be taking place this spring, Wolcott officials have applied for several more Class 2 paving grants through the Vermont Agency of Transportation. One grant would fund the paving of roughly one mile of the North Wolcott Road, a project estimated to cost roughly $112,585. A second application seeks funding to aid in the repaving of School Street from the beginning of the road to the town garage, which is estimated to cost roughly $39,088. The final grant application submitted by Wolcott officials calls for the repaving of the portion of the Elmore Pond Road beyond the bridge on the Elmore side of the river. That project is estimated to cost roughly $60,994.
Wolcott officials will hear back about the three grant proposals later this year, and if the applications are approved all three projects have an estimated completion date of mid-October of 2015.
by Andrew Martin
Butternut Mountain Farm’s Emma Marvin has been reappointed to the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC). Marvin, who lives in Hyde Park, was reappointed to the board by Governor Peter Shumlin to serve a four-year term ending in 2019. Governor Shumlin made the appointments of Marvin and several other individuals to the council on April 13.
Emma Marvin was first appointed to the VEPC during the spring of 2014 to fill a seat on the council that had been vacated. She was reappointed to the council by Governor Shumlin last week along with Stephan Morse of Newfane and John Davis of Williston while newcomer Shawn Straffin of West Burke was appointed to the council for the first time.
The VEPC is an 11-member board that authorizes job creation incentives around Vermont while also overseeing the Tax Increment Financing District Program and the Windham County Economic Development Program. The board is independent and appointed by the governor and general assembly. One of its major tasks is to consider applications to the incentive programs it oversees.
While no major applications from Lamoille County have come before the council during Marvin’s time on it, she is looking forward to being able to continue helping Vermonters through the work done by the board.
“I’m pleased to be able to continue to serve the Vermont community in this way,” Marvin commented in an interview.
by Andrew Martin
The decision to amend the Morristown Town Plan, thereby allowing for the rezoning of the parcel where the Green Mountain Arena (GMA) is located from Rural/Residential to Commercial, is now the Morristown Selectboard and Morrisville Village Board of Trustees’ decision to make. The process of amending the Town Plan was begun when a petition to do so was submitted by the Thomas Hirchak Company, which owns the GMA lot and is hoping to move its business there. Morristown Planning Director Todd Thomas submitted the proposed alterations to the two legislative bodies last week.
According to Thomas, the proposed changes to the Town Plan he has submitted to the selectboard and trustees are rather simple. The first, which is the change requested by the petition, requests that a sentence be added to the Land Use Chapter of the plan directing a zoning change for the GMA parcel from Rural/Residential to Commercial. The second alteration is the addition of a Flood Resiliency Chapter to the plan. Thomas explained that state statute now requires that if a town makes any alterations to its town plan such a chapter be added. When Morrisville officials last updated the town plan this requirement was not in place.
Thomas submitted the two proposed alterations to the town plan following a meeting of the Morristown Planning Commission on Tuesday, April 7. The planning commission serves as an advisory board to the selectboard and trustees during this amendment process, and during their meeting on April 7 chair Paul Griswold polled the other six members of the commission seeking their input on the proposed changes. Griswold then broke a three to three tie by voting against the proposed changes himself. However, the four to three majority against recommending the changes does not mean that the selectboard and board of trustees will not now vote on the changes.
“The planning commission is simply an advisory board in this process,” Thomas explained, “The final decision to approve or deny the proposed changes lies with the selectboard and trustees, who will now consider them.”
“The selectboard and trustees are the ones that will officially vote on the changes,” he added, “The rubber meets the road this May, June, and July.”
“We are disappointed that the majority of the commission didn’t support our proposal,” stated Attorney John Hollar, who serves as legal council for the Thomas Hirchak Company recently.
“Frankly I’m not sure why there isn’t more support,” he added, “It has been made clear that the building is not going to revert back to a skating arena… this is the most logical use and is an economic opportunity for the community.”
Both boards must separately approve the changes due to the fact that the town plan affects both the village and town.
Now that the proposed changes to the town plan have been presented to both legislative boards a total of three joint public hearings considering the changes will be held before a final vote of each board occurs. According to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley, the dates that the hearings are scheduled for are May 18, June 8, and June 22.
“Three hearings for such changes are required by state statute based on the size of Morrisville’s population,” Planning Director Thomas explained.
While the three public hearings for the amendments will be held jointly between the two boards the final vote on the amendments will occur separately at each boards’ next regularly scheduled meeting. The Morristown Selectboard’s next meeting after the June 22 date is scheduled for July 6. The next scheduled meeting for the Village of Morrisville Board of Trustees after the June 22 hearing would also be July 6.
“We will participate in the hearings that the scheduled moving forward and continue to follow through with the process,” Attorney Hollar stated regarding how his clients plan going forward.
The Morristown Planning Commission meeting, held on April 7, saw a number of individuals turn out in support of keeping the GMA parcel zoned Rural/Residential, thereby leaving open the possibility of continued recreational use for the land. A small number present were more in favor of allowing the Hirchaks to operate their business on the site.
One concern raised by those present was the fact that if the parcel is rezoned Commercial what could happen to the lot in the future if the Hirchaks decide to sell? A portion of the lot is conserved as part of a conservation easement, but the remaining 14-15 acres would be open to further development in that case.
by Mickey Smith
The Lamoille County Court House will be using the former Plaza Hotel at the location at Northgate Plaza in Morristown as a temporary home, as renovations are made to the Hyde Park facility.
Over the weekend of May 2 and 3, the items needed to operate the court, including: files, desks, security equipment etc. will be moved over to the Plaza Hotel.
County Clerk Anne Conway said the County office will be open on Monday, May 4. Court Operations Manager Linda LaClair said the court system would be open to the public beginning Wednesday, May 6. She said they will need the extra two days to get things unpacked and set up, but plan to be open in time for arraignments on Wednesday.
LaClair said once they get up and running, they will stick to the same schedule as they have been using in recent years. She said phone numbers and addresses will remain the same so they can minimize any disruptions to service. The conference room in the center of the hotel has been divided into two courtrooms. The various departments and offices will be in the hotel rooms surrounding the conference room.
People needing to use the Court House will enter through the front entrance to the Plaza Hotel. She said they will have signage in place directing people where to go. Court security and the metal detector will be in the downstairs hall just before people enter the stairs or elevator.
In Hyde Park, a new building will be added to the rear of the Court House and there will be modifications made to the rest of the building. The changes will improve security, alleviate over crowding in the building and help create a separated area for the jurors.
by Andrew Martin
More work will soon be taking place to local portions of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). The majority of the work to the section of the trail running from Cambridge Junction to Tenney Bridge in Morrisville was completed last year but small sections, mainly bridges, still require attention. The exact start date for the work to resume has not officially been decided.
“The official date has not yet been set as we are waiting for the trail to dry out before we start,” explained VAST Trails Manager Shane Prisby, who is now serving as the LVRT Project Manager. Prisby added that he expects work to likely pick back up sometime in late April or early May.
Much of the remaining work required in Lamoille County to complete the trails will be bridge work.
“The majority of the bridge work to be done this season is re-decking and putting up new railings,” Prisby explained, adding that the bridges scheduled to receive that treatment this construction season are the old railroad bridge in downtown Morrisville, the Needles Eye Road bridge in Morrisville, the bridge over Waterman’s Brook in Johnson, and the bridge over Smith Brook in Johnson.
One bridge that is not scheduled to be worked on is the large bridge in Cambridge Junction. According to Prisby no work will be done to that bridge this season. However, the trail will be opened there when other construction and work in the area is complete. A former bridge along the rail trail that will be replaced is the snowmobile bridge located near Willow Crossing in Johnson. According to Prisby that structure will be completely rebuilt as a culvert with new concrete abutments, stringers, decking, and rails.
The section of trail between Cambridge Junction and Tenney Bridge in Morrisville that is nearly complete is part of Phase I of the construction plan for the LVRT. Phase I has been broken down into three parts: I-A is the section from Danville to St. Johnsbury, I-B is the section from Cambridge Junction to Tenney Bridge, and I-C is the section from Highgate/Swanton to Sheldon Junction. The work to the bridge in Cambridge will likely take place next year, when work to Phase I-C is also underway.
The rest of the trail that lies in Lamoille County is part of Phase II of the LVRT project and includes work to sections from Sheldon Junction to Cambridge Junction and Tenney Bridge to Greensboro Bend. No dates have currently been set by VAST as to when work on Phase II or Phase III, which is the final leg of the trail from Greensboro Bend to Danville, will be done.
Along with the scheduled bridge work there are still a few sections of trail in Lamoille County that need to be surfaced and a few culverts to replace.
Once all of this work has been completed the Phase I-B section of the LVRT will be open to the public. Prisby explained that once all other aspects of trail work (excluding the one bridge not scheduled for work this year) are completed then the trail will be open to the public. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held when the trail officially opens. VAST is anticipating that the trail will be open by late this summer or early fall.
One of the main reasons why construction of Phase II and III of the LVRT have not been officially scheduled is the fact that VAST is nearing the end of the federal funding earmarked for the LVRT project.
“We anticipate that we will be able to complete all of Phase I with this money and generous contributions from supporters of the trail,” Prisby explained, “We are in the midst of beginning a capital campaign to help raise the remainder of the funds necessary to complete Phases II and III.”
Prisby concluded his remarks by emphasizing that until construction work is complete on Phase I-B that section of the LVRT is not officially open to pedestrians.
“We want to let everyone know that the trail will be closed for mud season and summer construction. Please stay off the trail until we announce it opening later in the year,” he stated. He also added that there are currently openings on the LVRT Committee and that VAST is looking for individuals who are interested in the trail to fill those positions. The committee normally meets on the third Wednesday of every month. While the meetings are normally held in the Tegu Building in Morrisville the April meeting will be held at the Northeastern Medical Center in St. Johnsbury.
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