Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Berlin News to Know January 31st

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg corinnestridsberg@gmail.com
Look back at previous posts below for more information

Facebook user? Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Vermont/205922199452224


LOCAL BOOK - The Berlin Historical Society announces a new book "The Story of a Small Airportin Berlin, Vermont." written by Richard Turner. It is now available at Town Hall for the price of $20.


FARMERS NIGHT AT THE STATEHOUSE, Wed, Feb 1st at 7:30pm: An Evening of George Gershwin with Michael Arnowitt.In this performance lecture, pianist Michael Arnowitt explores the music and era of American composer George Gershwin and performs an American in Parisand Rhapsody in Blue, among other compositions. Complete details for Farmers Night which will continue through April 4th can be found at: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/schedule/farmersnight.cfm


25 Clever Ideas to Make Life Easier - just can't resist sending this along, I sure saw some tips I plan to use: http://angelaadkins.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/25-clever-ideas-to-make-life-easier/


VERMONTERS URGED TO CLAIM TAX CREDIT to lower taxes or receive refund

http://vtdigger.org/2012/01/27/vermonters-urged-to-claim-tax-credit-to-lower-taxes-or-receive-refundThe Earned Income Tax Credit is so-named because, to qualify, a person must work and have earned income. Vermontfamilies who earn less than $49,078 a year may qualify for this credit.


WHO WILL BE ON THE BALLOT AT TOWN MEETING?I've contacted folks who submitted petitions for selectboard and school board seats and will share the information they submit to me.Stay tuned!


BERLINSTREETLIGHTS - The Town of Berlinis conducting a streetlight inventory and would like feedback from area residents. There are 83 streetlights in Berlineach costing at least $11 per month for a total of $10,800 a year. In an effort to trim the municipal budget and conserve electrical use, approximately 11 streetlights have been recommended for removal. The goal is to have a well-lit , safe and functional night time environment without over-lighting. The remaining streetlights may be replaced with LED fixtures which last longer, use less electricity and offer good light rendition with a truer but cooler light tone. A trial outage is planned in February 2012.For more information see the town website http://www.berlinvt.org


Do you listen to the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV weekday mornings at 9am?Did you know that the programs are kept in a Podcast Archive so that you can listen at your convenience: http://blog.markjohnsonshow.net Quite a variety of topics.

WDEV AM550 and FM 96.1 can also be streamed on your computer: http://www.wdevradio.com/index-home.asp At the right of their page look for "Listen to WDEV on your computer Click here for available programs" Then on the page it brings you to the link is on the bottom at the left.


KELLOGG-HUBBARD LIBRARY E-BOOKS ANDDIGITAL DOWNLOADS will be available starting March 1st.More information regarding this can be found on their website http://www.kellogghubbard.org


Dog RiverDynamics, the presentation held down at Norwich Univ on January 26 was well attended.Andrea Chandler tells meinformation on:

Geology, morphology, fish habitat, river corridor planning were woven together so it would be hard to summarize.

Below are links to some of the different topics covered. Understanding how a river works is necessary to move forward. The more a river is armored and dredged, the faster it will run. The Dog is surrounded by steep hills which increase the runoff and flashiness. Development decreases the flood plain that has historically slowed down and absorbed flood waters. Undersized culverts can cause washouts and create barriers for a healthy fish population. Town planning will be important. There is much to be learned.


River Corridor Protection and Management fact sheet:



Landowners Assistance Guide:



Dog RiverCorridor Management Plan:



"Citizens Guide to How Streams Work"



Demonstration of the effects of floodplain gravel mining



Laura Morse provided one of the links above and Clark Amadon mentioned that it's best to make more riparian zones, get development away from rivers and build higher and longer bridges and install larger culverts.

The rivers are a topic that there will continue to be many discussions about.


CHANDLER YOUTH PRODUCTION: The folks at Chandler Music Hall are excited to announce that the summer youth musical for 2012 will be Peter Pan! if you would like information on how to register for auditions and what you need to do to prepare for those auditions please inquire right away as the forms and registration fee is due by February 29.Note that there are feeds involved.Auditions are on Sunday, March 4 and the performance is July 5th, 6th & 7th.Contact Betsy Cantlin at outreach@chandler-arts.org or 802-431-0204. Several Berlin residents have very much enjoyed being part of these annual productions.

(note - Corinne has the paperwork with details on this production if you're interested )


McDonald to vacate GOP post

Vermont Press Bureau - Published: January 21, 2012

MONTPELIER —Citing personal health problems, Pat McDonald will step down later this month as chairwoman of the Vermont Republican Party.
McDonald announced her departure in a news release Friday afternoon, saying she will remain active in GOP politics by continuing to help with communications and outreach.
“Make no mistake, the ground is fertile for big changes in Vermontin 2012,” she said a written statement. “The people of Vermonthave grown weary of politics as usual, and they have little patience left for politicians who make promises they can’t keep.”
During her year at the helm, McDonald sought to rebuild the party after its unimpressive showing in the last elections. The former representative from Berlin, who managed Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s successful 2010 campaign, kept a focus on messaging, recasting Republicans as the party of “growth, opportunity and prosperity.”
“This is a time that the Vermont Republican Party needs to expand and prepare ourselves for the elections of 2012,” she said. “It is also a time for me to dial back somewhat on my responsibilities with the party as my husband and I are dealing with some personal health concerns that will keep me out of the office more than I would like.”
According to McDonald, the Republicans’ executive committee will elect a new leader at a meeting in mid-February. Vice Chairman Paul Carrocio will serve as interim chairman.


From the weekly ReSource Newsletter(http://www.resourcevt.org)

Crossing State Lines to Help Flood Victims

ReSOURCE and Rebuild Waterbury are thinking outside the box…and outside State lines to solicit and collect donated furniture for Tropical Storm Irene victims across Vermont. For the last several months, the two nonprofits have been working together to help Vermonters recover from the August flooding that left many without essential household items, including furniture.
In September 2011, volunteer Mary Miller from Waterburycontacted the Clarion Inn on Martha’s Vineyard in response to an email from their owners offering aid to Vermonters. The Innwas about to undergo a renovation, updating all of the furniture in the 34 room facility. The Clarion Inn wanted to donate their used furniture to Vermontflood victims, but needed to find a way to get the furniture off the island.
By a stroke of fate, the Clarion’s new furniture was delivered by Cape Cod Express, whose owners have family in Vermontand who also wanted to help. They offered to donate their services and equipment to move the furniture off Martha’s Vineyard and from there ReSOURCE contacted Kyle Bellavance of Bellavance Trucking in Barre who agreed to (at cost) pick up and transport the semi (truck) load of furniture store the donations in one of their storage trailers free of charge, until it can all be distributed to families in need.
Once the furniture arrives in Barre, items will be given to families who have already expressed their need to Rebuild Waterbury. The remaining inventory will be sold and/or donated through ReSTORE Barre; a program of ReSOURCE. Residents who suffered a loss of essential household items to their primary residence from Tropical Storm Irene, can apply for a voucher for ReSTORE Barre (or ReSTORE Burlington) to be used to help purchase basic household items, including furniture.
The transport is scheduled for the week of February 6, and although it is not yet confirmed what the entire inventory will include, the donation is expected to contain hard wood furniture, bed frames, dressers, tables, chairs, night stands, and lamps.

For more information about the donation, please contact Milia Bell, ReSOURCE Marketing Manager at 802-658-4143 x25 or mbell@resourcevt.org


Funds requested for volunteer fire department

By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: January 26, 2012

BERLIN — A pair of requests that would more than double the community’s contribution to the operation of its volunteer fire department will be on the Town Meeting Day ballot in March.
On a night when the Select Board approved a $2.4 million municipal budget proposal that reflects a 1.4 percent increase in spending, members chose not to force firefighters to circulate a petition. That document would ask voters for a hefty increase, which preliminary estimates indicate will add at least 5 cents to the town’s tax rate.
Firefighters are asking for a total of just over $365,000 this year — up from the roughly $155,000 approved by voters a year ago.
Roughly half of this year’s request — $180,000 — would be used to establish continuous, in-station staffing at the Four Corners fire station. The money would essentially be used by the autonomous fire department to pay its members stipends to cover the station.
The other half — just over $185,000 — would cover the volunteer department’s operating expenses. That figure reflects a 32 percent increase, largely attributable to a $31,000 payment on a new truck.
Board members flirted with forcing the fire department to circulate a petition due to the sheer size of the increase and the effect its approval would have on the town’s tax rate.
The board has historically required outside organizations requesting an increase in their annual voter-approved appropriations to collect signatures from 5 percent of the town’s registered voters to gain access to the ballot. That practice has never been used with regard to the volunteer fire department, though given the size of this year’s twin requests Town Administrator Jeff Schulz said it was worth considering.
“It’s kind of awkward,” Schulz admitted.
Town Treasurer Patty Lewis said the town’s attorney had been consulted and the board was within its rights to require a petition for one or both of the articles requested by firefighters.
“You do have discretion,” Lewis said.
However, board members opted to err on the side of precedent, suggesting the department’s requests were best left between its members and town voters.
“My feeling is if the fire department can make the case that they need a significant increase, I don’t see that we should stand in the way of their being able to make that case to the voters,” Selectman Jonathan Goddard said.
Board member Roberta Haskin worried that absent a thorough explanation of how the money would be spent and what approval of the request would actually mean to the average taxpayer, the town budget could mistakenly be blamed for the rate hike associated with the department’s request.
“I don’t want people all upset because they think it’s the budget,” she said.
Board Chairwoman Sue Gretkowski agreed that firefighters should be invited to more fully explain their proposal in the run-up to town meeting. But, with Thursday’s deadline for filing petitions for special articles looming, she said she couldn’t support denying the department access to the March ballot.
“If we’ve never done this in the past it’s kind of hard to say at this late date we’re not going to put it on the ballot,” she said.
The fire department’s request to pay volunteers to cover the station could be viewed as a step down the path to creating a professional, full-time fire and ambulance service — an idea the department’s members have said they support. Ironically, it comes at a time when the voters will be asked to endorse the continued study of a regional public safety authority that could conceivably merge all emergency services in Barre, Montpelier, Berlin and BarreTown. The nonbinding referendum will appear on the Berlin ballot and the board has included $15,000 in its budget to help advance that project.
The $15,000 line item accounts for nearly half of this year’s total budget increase, which is just over $33,000.
Schulz said savings associated with a shift to a high-deductible health insurance plan and a modest reduction in the capital budget enabled the board to adopt a budget that, based on the current Grand List, would shave roughly 1 cent from the municipal portion of the town’s tax rate.



New Vt State Hospital site under review

By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: January 25, 2012

BERLIN — A streamlined version of the Vermont StateHospital could be built on the edge of the Central VermontMedical Centercampus or on an open field a few hundred feet from BerlinElementary School.
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding told members of the Berlin Select Board that both sites are being considered. The new building would be a downsized replacement for the 54-bed Vermont StateHospital, which was evacuated as Tropical Storm Irene’s floodwaters invaded the state office complex in Waterbury.
Spaulding, joined at Monday’s meeting by state Buildings and General Services Commissioner Michael Obuchowski and Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood, told board members that no decisions had been made. But he said appraisal work and title searches were being done for both locations.
“The process is still fluid,” Spaulding said, suggesting Monday’s meeting was something of a courtesy call for town officials. They were alerted nearly a year ago that Berlin was a favored location for what officials said at the time would be a smaller version of the state hospital in Waterbury.
That much hasn’t changed, according to Spaulding, who said flood damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene has created added incentive to construct a new facility.
“Our hope is to develop a small, state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital …very close to a full-service hospital,” he said.
Just how close remains an open question, according to Spaulding, who said the state is interested in land owned by Henry LaGue that is adjacent to the hospital complex on Fisher Road. It is also evaluating the potential of acquiring land next to the former Mid-State Regional Library on nearby Paine Turnpike from Vermont Mutual. The Vermont Mutual property, coupled with the six acres the state owns behind the regional library, could accommodate plans for a 16- to 25-bed facility for Vermonters most in need of round-the-clock psychiatric care.
According to Spaulding, the state is evaluating both sites in the event one or the other doesn’t work out.
“We want to keep our options open,” he said.
Spaulding acknowledged the Central VermontMedical Centerboard might have plans of its own for the LaGue property, and members of the hospital’s board were scheduled to be briefed on the state’s potential interest in the property when they meet today. CVMC officials have promised to make a decision by Feb. 29.
Spaulding said the proposal, which is a key part of a broader mental health plan proposed by Gov. Peter Shumlin, is on a legislative fast track and a determination would likely be made in the next 30 days.
Among the issues that remain unresolved is the size of the proposed facility. Shumlin has proposed a $16 million, 16-bed facility that has the ability to expand, while others have suggested a larger facility is needed to fill the void created when the state hospital in Waterburywas abandoned.
Spaulding acknowledged that building size — like location — is an open question.
“We can’t say for sure,” he said. “It might be 25 (beds) to start with.”
Asked for their opinions, board members generally said the LaGue property next to the CVMC campus seemed more suitable.
Chairwoman Sue Gretkowski said the Paine Turnpike location is more residential in nature and has been eyed as a potential town center, and that its proximity to the school could be cause for concern.
According to Gretkowski, some have quietly expressed those concerns but most town residents aren’t aware the property is even being considered.
“I don’t have a real good sense of what people in town are thinking about this,” she said, noting that it would be helpful to provide an opportunity for residents to weigh in.
Flood said there will be an opportunity to do that as part of the certificate of need process, but he volunteered to meet with residents to explain the state’s plan for what he described as a “model hospital.” Responding to questions from the board, Flood said the facility would be highly secure and heavily staffed. He estimated the proposed hospital would employ as many as 80 people.
“It may appear to be overstaffed to some people,” Flood said.
Even if all goes well, Flood said, it will likely be at least two years before the proposed facility is up and running as part of a plan that involves creating beds at the Brattleboro Retreat and six beds at the RutlandRegional MedicalCenter. Those beds, like the ones proposed in Berlin, would be for the state’s most acute patients. Those with less acute mental health needs, who were formerly served at the state hospital, would be accommodated at residential treatment facilities, like Second Spring in Williamstown, under Shumlin’s plan.
Spaulding said the state will let town officials know as soon as a site is chosen.
“We want to be open and transparent,” he said.


Monday, January 23, 2012


News to Know January 23

Posted by Corinne Stridsberg. Please contact her to be added to the email send list. Be sure to take another look at previous postings (below) for upcoming events. Also check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Vermont/205922199452224
Has anybody, especially on Route 12, seen huge increases in their electric bills since Irene? I don't mean the typical winter rates increase. If you have, whether or not anybody has figured out why,could you let me know.
With petition deadlines looming and Town Meeting around the corner, these links could be of interest:

Vermont Elections

"It's YOUR Turn, A Call to Public Office"

Municipal Law Basics

Town of Berlin , Select Board Special Meeting, Monday, January 23, 2012 , 6:30 PM
Selectboard Members: Susan Gretkowski, Chair; Roberta Haskin, Vice Chair; Jonathan Goddard, Secretary; Brad Towne, and Ture Nelson. Times are advisory only. Agenda items may be discussed earlier or later than indicated times. Minutes from this meeting will be available on our website.
6:30 Call to Order
6:31 Public Comment
6:35 FY 12/13 Budget
7:00 Vermont State Hospital – Jeb Spaulding, Secretary of Administration; Patrick Flood, Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health; Mike Obuchowski, Commissioner of Buildings and General Services.
7:20 Executive Session - Personnel
KELLOGG-HUBBARD LIBRARY will indeed be on the ballot Town Meeting Day, however, they decided NOT to increase the amount they are requesting since last year so the petitions are not needed. Thanks to all of you who went out of your way to sign one for our community library! http://www.kellogghubbard.org
- - More from the Kellogg-Hubbard Annual Report: "Library programs continue to be a highlight. For children we offer Story times on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:30, ”Treasure Tales”, a twice monthly story time for older children, and weekly After-School Activities on Tuesday and Friday. The activities change every few
weeks, to encourage a wider range of learning and discovery! On Thursdays we have reading to Coco (a special dog who loves to be read to) We offer 1-2 Young Adult nights each month, for ages 13 through high school. Special events are also scheduled throughout the year, and we look forward to the 2012 summer reading program, Dream Big for children and Own the Night for young adults. One of our most popular events is the stuffed animal sleep over in August, which is a literacy
promotion and drew 77 animals and lots of community participation. Adult programs planned for 2012 include First Wednesdays, the monthly Transition Town programs, Poem City in April and International Film Series."
The MONTPELIER SENIOR ACTIVITY CENTER, which welcomes folks from central Vermont is looking for registered voter signatures on their petition in support of the request they wish to have on the ballot this year asking Berlin for $700. A petition can be found at the Montpelier Senior Acivity Center on Barre Street in Montpelier and
they are also at the Berlin Town Office and at the Berlin Elementary School (bulletin board in lobby). Are you familiar with the center? They have an exciting variety of low cost activities and even scholarships available so that financial hardship isn't a barrier. Anyone aged 50 and above can join as a member. Those in living in Berlin pay $25 for the year plus activity fees. If it's your first
time, you'll recieve $5 toward a class, activity or trip. Current membership year runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Most classes will cost just $17 for a three month semester, this is a discounted rate for towns that support the Montpelier Senior Activity Center. There are also events that are free and open to the public regardless of age or membership. More information can be found on their website http://www.montpelier-vt.org/msac
Berlin Artist Christine Hartman is participating in "The Chair" exhibit at the Chandler Gallery in Randolph, opening January 21st through March 6th. More info at http://www.chandler-arts.org
YOUTH CHESS CLUB - Longstanding volunteer Robert "Bob" Nichols teaches strategy & leads chess games every Wednesday at 5:30 pm at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library on Main Street, Montpelier. Bob also helps us with the chess tournaments we put on at
Berlin Elementary School.
Check out Orca Media for Video on Demand where they are posting various meetings in central Vermont http://www.orcamedia.net/video-demand
2012 FARMERS’ NIGHT CONCERT SERIES, next performance is January 25th at 7:30pm at the Vermont State House – Vermont Symphony Orchestra. All performances take place in the House Chamber. For a complete schedule visit: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/schedule/farmersnight.cfm
DOG RIVER DYNAMICS (UPDATE) Berlin, VT – On January 26th, The Conservation Commissions of Northfield and Berlin along with Norwich University, the Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District and the Friends of the Winooski River are sponsoring a program to discuss the impact of Tropical Storm Irene and other flood events in the context of how we have traditionally managed streams and what other
options we should consider based on river science to improve flood resiliency. The program will be held on Thursday January 26th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Room 85 on the ground floor, of the Cabot Science building on the Norwich University campus
The program will start with an overview of the geology of the Dog River watershed and lead into a presentation on river dynamics and management. This program will look at the interaction and conflicts between the river and our development and how traditional management practices of gravel extraction, straightening and armoring of banks impacts rivers and downstream communities and infrastructure. There will be discussion on how Tropical Storm Irene impacted the Dog River watershed and its communities and how we can change our management practices to improve flood resiliency of river communities. The program will also include a discussion on Irene’s impacts on the fish population.
Speakers will include a river scientist and watershed planner from the Department of Environmental Conservation, a Norwich geology professor, a Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist and town staff.
"Members of Colchester Technical Rescue stayed busy saving lives during Irene" recent article in the Burlington Free Press.
"The Tweed after Irene: How to repair a ruined river" recent article in the Burlington Free Press
BROOKFIELD ICE HARVEST, January 28th 10am (last Saturday of Jan.) at Sunset Lake in Brookfield by the Floating Bridge. The whole family can see how ice was harvest on Sunset Lake at the turn-of-the-century. Demonstration of ice cutting and the ice boom used to move blocks of ice to wagons. Food, fun and an ice hauling contest. There is no admission fee. For info call 276-3959 Check out the 2011 event at:
LATIN DINNER DANCE ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 28TH AT U-32 - have you made plans to attend yet? If you're looking to purchase tickets ask a student in music at U-32. If you don't know such a student, there is one in our house so you can contact us! Hope to see you there! It's always a fun evening out and a great cause!
ICE ON FIRE / CENTRAL VERMONT WINTER FESTIVAL Sunday, January 29th 2pm – 5pm North Branch Nature Ctr, Elm St, Montpelier. Bundle up & head out for this snow celebration of community. Children’s activities, winter games, theater, song & storytelling. Opening parade at 2pm, closing bonfire at 5pm. Food, hot cider, hot chocolate. Snowshoes provided, bring x-country skis & sleds. Suggested donation $1-$5 or bring baked goods in lieu of cash donation. Find on facebook or call
223-0577 for info or to volunteer.
VERMONT HISTORY EXPO 2012 - Save the date
Tunbridge, VT - The Vermont Historical Society returns to the Tunbridge World's Fairgrounds with the Vermont History Expo on June 16 and 17, 2012. A unique country history fair, the Vermont History Expo features workshops, crafters, musicians, authors, local Vermont historical societies and museums, reenactors, and many more
opportunities to step back in time. Now an every-other-year event, and this year's theme is Vermont in the Civil War.
Tess Taylor, Director of Education and Public Programming, says, "6,000 past participants can't be wrong! The History Expo is down-home fun whether you are 8 or 88." The Expo is a popular two-day event that showcases stories and exhibits from our local Vermont historical societies and museums. Added to that are offerings from cultural heritage organizations, genealogy and research organizations, experts
on Vermont history topics, heritage animals, fabulous food, 19th-century children's games, music, reenactments, a live country auction, presentations and authors make this country fair dedicated to our state's heritage.
Half-price admission is offered for those in period dress as well as special pricing for families. Advance discounted tickets are available for Vermont Historical Society members. Please contact Tess Taylor at (802) 479-8505 for more information or look online at www.vermonthistory.org/expo.
The Vermont Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, the Leahy Library in Barre, and programming throughout the state. Established in 1838, its purpose is to reach a broad audience through outstanding collections and statewide outreach. The Vermont Historical Society
believes that an understanding of the past changes lives and builds better communities. Visit the Society's website at www.vermonthistory.org

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


News to Know 1/10/12

Be sure to check out previous posts below.

Check the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Vermont/205922199452224

2012 FARMERS’ NIGHT CONCERT SERIES, first performance is January 11th at 7:30pm at the Vermont State House – the 40th Army Band. All performances take place in the House Chamber. For a complete schedule visit: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/schedule/farmersnight.cfm
TWO FREE SHOWS AT THE SAVOY in Montpelier http://www.savoytheater.com/special_events.html
Monday, January 16th 6pm FREE at the Savoy “A Class Divided” (not rated, 46 minutes) On the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in April 1968, Jane Elliott’s third graders from the small, all-white town of Riceville, Iowa, came to class confused and upset. They recently had made King their “Hero of the Month,” and they couldn’t understand why someone would kill him. So Elliott decided to teach her class a daring lesson in the meaning of discrimination. (see further details at the Savoy website)
Just discovered this can even be seen on line for free: http://motionempire.com/Watch_A_Class_Divided_Documentary_Online_for_Free_7622.html
Tuesday, January 17th 6:30pm FREE at the Savoy “Miss Representation” (not rated, 90 minutes). This documentary premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network in October. If you’re interested in the way women are portrayed by the media, you’ll want to attend. More information and a trailer are at:
FREE CALENDAR - Visit the Vermont Emergency Management website at http://vem.vermont.gov to request your free 2012 calendar filled with emergency preparedness tips. Also on their website are helpful booklets, of information to become better prepared (http://vem.vermont.gov/preparedness) The Family Emergency Preparedness Workbook can also be sent to you at no charge.

BERLIN PARENT TEACHER NEIGHBOR ASSOCIATION (PTNA) will meeting on January 19th at 6:30pm in the Berlin Elementary School Learning Center. All are welcome.
January 19th 7:30pm – 9:30pm DADS’ EXERCISE NIGHT at the Berlin Elementary School gym.
January 28 – Annual LATIN DINNER DANCE at U-32 6:30pm - 9:30pm hosted by the U-32 High School Music Dept.The evening starts with a gourmet Mexican meal including meat and vegetarian options along with a stellar salsa bar. The U-32 musicians will provide live Latin music throughout the evening during which you might make your way over the virgin margarita bar! Following dinner you will be invited to participate in a brief lesson in latin dance styles such as merengue, salsa and cha-cha. No experience necessary, just wear some styling threads and shoes you can move in. We promise to make you look good! The night will continue with open dancing to latin grooves, and we can't forget the pinata! Tom Cate, Director of Bands and Jazz Bands (and Mexican cook extraordinaire!) says, "The Latin Dinner Dance is a popular event that typically sells out so get your tickets early!" It is an evening of fun music, great food and a great way to show support for all of us that share a common love and purpose in music at U-32. On top of that, the fresh guacamole is FANTASTIC!" Guests are encouraged to reserve their tickets early by calling or emailing the U-32 box office: 223.0321 X5179 or swolf@u32.org . You may also purchase tickets directly from a U-32 High School Music Student. Tickets will be for sale in the atrium during most of the school day in the 2 weeks leading up to the event. Adults $15, Family $35, Student $7.
Saturday, February 4th “HEARTS FOR THE VALLEY”, a dinner and dance to benefit those affected by “Irene” at the Fireside Inn, West Lebanon, NH. Three choices: DINNER BUFFET ONLY $18/person 5:30pm – 8pm featured entrées – Sirloin Tips, Mediterranean Chicken & Salmon Wellington at the Garden Court Restaurant with entertainment by members of the North Country Chordsmen Barbershop Chorus Quartet: “The Clef Hangers of Hanover” ; DANCE ONLY $30/person 8pm – 11pm “The Moonlighters” 15-piece big band playing classic big band and swing dance music; DINNER AND DANCE $45/person. Each ticket includes: Fireside Dessert Garden Buffet during the dance, one raffle ticket to try for great prizes, displays, dance demonstrations by professions, photos and information regarding the flood. Advance tickets & info Lebanonchamber@lebanonchamber.com or (603) 448-1203. Donations go to Upper Valley Strong – the Long Term Recovery Committee http://www.uvstrong.org/ . Spend the night at the Fireside Inn at a special rate: Call Fireside Inn (603) 298-5900 and ask for “Hearts for the Valley Block”.
COMMUNITY PRESENTATION OF BERLIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BUDGET Monday, February 6, 2012, 6:30pm, School Learning Center The Berlin Elementary School Board of School Directors will meet to present the proposed FY 2013 school budget. The Board will review the budget and answer questions. Questions about the meeting may be directed to: Chris Dodge, Principal, at 223-2796.
BERLIN MALL AIMS TO ‘SUPER-SIZE’ WAL-MART http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120110/NEWS02/701109922 By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: January 10, 2012BERLIN — Owners of the Berlin Mall are hoping to super-size the largest store in that central Vermont shopping complex.
The plan to expand the local Wal-Mart — one of four in Vermont — is the subject of a newly filed permit application. It involves the construction of a sizable addition to the right rear side of the store, as well as some restructuring within the mall.
The application was filed with the District 5 Environmental Commission late last month on behalf of the limited liability corporation created when Developers Diversity Realty Corp. sold the mall to its current owners in 2010.
The net effect of the changes would increase the footprint of the local Wal-Mart by roughly 26,000 square feet, according to Berlin Mall LLC's application. It would amend the state land-use permit issued for the mall more than 25 years ago. The size of the store would increase from just over 67,000 square feet to more than 93,500 square feet, according to the application.
The proposal also seeks permission to create 50 parking spaces by adjusting the landscaping along the perimeter of the mall's existing lot.
The expansion plan itself essentially involves an 18,700-square-foot addition to the Wal-Mart store that would be built immediately behind — and connected to — at least three neighboring stores that collectively occupy nearly 7,500 square feet of existing retail space. Two of those stores — F.Y.E. and Payless Shoes — are currently occupied; the third is vacant.
All three would be absorbed by Wal-Mart as part of the expansion.
Both F.Y.E. and Payless Shoes could easily be relocated within the mall.
In a move that could expedite the district commission's review of the project, Charles Storrow, the Montpelier lawyer representing the mall's out-of-state owners, has asked the panel to exercise its discretion to treat his client's request as a “minor application.” That would negate the need for the commission to hold a public hearing on the proposal unless one is requested.
According to Storrow, that is appropriate given the “modest” nature of the proposal and the limited effect he says it would have on any of the criteria that are routinely considered as part of the state's land-use review process, commonly referred to as Act 250.
“The new development will result in only nominal changes to the mall as its overall size (roughly 175,000 square feet) would increase by only approximately 10 percent, the parking areas will not be physically expanded, and the increase in traffic associated with the expanded mall will be minimal,” Storrow wrote.
According to Storrow, his client has completed and submitted a traffic impact study along with a detailed analysis of how the project could affect some of the criteria Act 250 is designed to review. However, Storrow indicated he is confident that the expansion of an existing, approved retail structure would not have a “significant adverse impact” under any of those criteria.
As a result, he argued, there is no need for the commission to do a more thorough, and potentially more time-consuming, review of the proposed expansion.
Susan Baird, the acting coordinator for the commission, said the three-member panel had not yet seen Storrow's request but would be receiving copies this week. Baird said the commission would consider the request and make a decision after a planned deliberative session next week.
The permit for the mall itself was the product of an exhaustive and contentious process. And subsequent amendment applications — including one for what would have been the state's largest grocery store — were highly scrutinized by both the district commission and the state Environmental Board.
All of those environmental reviews occurred long before Wal-Mart arrived at the scene in 1999. Wal-Mart filled the vacancy that was created when the mall's original anchor — Rich's Department Store — closed in 1997.
Wal-Mart has expressed interest in expanding over the years and at one point was rumored to be considering abandoning the mall. The latest iteration of that rumor died down when the mall was sold to its current owners 18 months ago. One of Berlin Mall LLC's first orders of business upon acquiring the complex was to sign a lease extension with Wal-Mart, which also operates stores in Bennington, Rutland and Williston.
Although the Berlin Mall proposal would increase the size of the local Wal-Mart, the store would still be considerably smaller than the average discount department store operated by the nation's largest retailer. The average size of those stores is 108,000 square feet, according to the company's website.
Wal-Mart “super-centers,” which include fully stocked grocery departments, typically run 185,000 square feet. That's roughly twice the size of the expanded store being proposed in Berlin.

U-32 BUDGET IS UP 3.6 PERCENT http://www.timesargus.com/article/20120106/NEWS02/701069985
By Daniel Staples, Staff Writer - Published: January 6, 2012
EAST MONTPELIER — The U-32 school board approved a $13.6 million budget that will go before voters on Town Meeting Day, representing a 3.59 percent increase over last year, but with negligible effects to the local education tax rate.
While the calculations of the tax rate cannot be finalized until local elementary school budgets are set, towns are likely to see essentially no change in the rate.
In a final amendment to the budget presented by the finance committee, the seven-member board decided to use $50,000 in federal stimulus money to help bolster the AP, or advanced placement, offerings at the school. The board also used $45,000 of the federal money to add a seventh-grade math instructor. The school had $188,267 in stimulus money available and currently has about half of that money it can use for next year’s budget.
Allen Gilbert, a finance committee member, explained to the board that the increases in the budget were paid for from revenue surpluses not tied to property taxes.
The budget represents a 2.37 percent increase in per-pupil spending. The new budgeted rate was set at $14,199, which is a $328 increase over last year’s $13,871, said Lori Bibeau, Washington Central Supervisory Union business administrator.
Some cuts were made to the budget, including a 0.8 full-time equivalent living arts instructor, a 1.0 FTE para-educator, a 0.4 FTE business educator, a 0.5 FTE math instructor and a 0.5 FTE science instructor, both at the high school level. The cuts represent more than $180,000 in savings over last year.
Principal Keith Garrett said the cuts were made because of declining enrollment — a challenge the board has wrestled with for five years as the number of students at U-32 has dropped by more than 10 percent, down nearly 100 students from the recent high of 907 in 2007.
This year’s budget discussion brought on heated debate about the addition of AP courses and teachers, with parents and students rallying to make the courses available. AP courses use College Board-approved curricula and standardized tests allowing students to use the courses to gain college credits.
The school board’s move to increase funding for the programs trumped for now Garrett’s proposal of adding AP chemistry and biology for the 2014-15 school year. Already, U.S. history, physics and computer science will go from being AP equivalents to AP courses for next year.
Before making a final decision on the budget, the board heard the concerns of taxpayers, students and teachers on the proposed budget.
Tony Klein, of East Montpelier, who served for many years on the school board and is a state representative, encouraged the board to maintain the living arts program and to think about making cuts to staff that don’t affect students.
“Be bold, be creative, don’t cut programs, don’t cut things that make this place attractive for tuition students,” said Klein.
“I don’t see any administrative reduction in the budget,” said Klein. “And that is staff that doesn’t affect students.”
According to the budget, salaries in the office of the principal increased a total of $33,494 over last year, with $812,646 budgeted for 2013. The principal’s office represents about 6 percent of the entire budget.
Ed Deacon, of East Montpelier, agreed with Klein’s sentiments.
“Before we cut programs, we need to cut administration,” said Deacon. “We have three principals. Do we need three principals?”
Cindy Bruzzese, of Middlesex, who served on Rumney Memorial School boards for nine years and has two of her children attending U-32, also questioned the cost increases in the principal’s office.
“We could take slight reduction in administrative cost to maintain the status quo in programs,” said Bruzzese.
Brian Slopey, head of the science department, encouraged the board to maintain the math and science department.
John Pandolfo, math department chairman and curriculum leader, also voiced concerns about the cuts to the math department. He said a 0.5 FTE cut to his department would bring the staff from 5.6 full-time equivalent instructors to 5.1.
Several speakers voiced concerns for the cut in the living arts program, but Garrett said the enrollment in living arts has dwindled over the last couple of years, and currently only 65 students are in the program.
When the final decision came, the board rejected an amendment proposal of keeping all the positions that are to be cut in place and added the $50,000 for the expedited AP course additions.
The board approved the money for the additional AP courses but did not direct Garrett on exactly how and where those additions were to be made.
The U-32 board is made up of representatives from East Montpelier, Berlin, Worcester, Middlesex and Calais.

Friday, January 06, 2012


News to Know January 6

Check the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Vermont/205922199452224

TOWN SKATING RINK IS NOW OPEN! The rink is located at the Berlin Town Office on Shed Road . There are lights for night skating and the switch is located on the light post at the inside right angle of the "L" shaped rink. There is a port-o-let and a heated hut but no public phone.
TOWN BUDGET DISCUSSIONS: Next Select Board meetings is January 9th at 6pm at the town office.
BERLIN SELECT BOARD SEATS: There will be FOUR seats on the ballot come March. Two 1 yr term seats currently filled by Roberta Haskins and Jonathan Goddard; one 3 year term (Nancy Driscoll resigned and currently Ture Nelson is in that seat) and Susan Gretkowski just announced that she will be resigning from her 3 year term of which two years is left. Now is the time to get a petition from the town office to have your name on the ballot for any of these positions. The petition will need to be signed by 20+ registered voters and submitted to the town by 5pm on January 30th. http://www.berlinvt.org/selectboard.htm

TOWN REPORT – January 13th deadline to submit items to be included for the report to Jeff Schulz (from those on town committees and part of organizations). Look for town reports to be back from the printers the third week of February. The reports are sent home with the oldest student of each family at Berlin Elementary School and can also be found at the town office.
Forum on “DOG RIVER DYNAMICS” – Thurs, January 26th (save the date - time to be announced). I’m sure many of you along Route 12 will be interesting in this meeting sponsored by Northfield and Berlin Conservation Commissions and Friends of the Winooski will be held at Norwich University. Gretchen Alexander is a river scientist with the state and will explain river dynamics. The draft agenda is as follows:
Welcome – Justin (5 min)
River Dynamics – Gretchen (20-30 min)
Geology – Rick Dunn (15 min)
Impacts of Irene in the Dog River (20 min)
Human – Steve Fitzhugh or Michele Braun
Environmental – Ann Smith
Biological – Rich Kirn
Moving Forward – Karen Bates (10 min)
Open Discussion – Justin (20 min)
BROOKFIELD ICE HARVEST, January 28th 10am (last Saturday of Jan.) at Sunset Lake in Brookfield by the Floating Bridge. The whole family can see how ice was harvest on Sunset Lake at the turn-of-the-century. Demonstration of ice cutting and the ice boom used to move blocks of ice to wagons. Food, fun and an ice hauling contest. There is no admission fee. For info call 276-3959 Check out the 2011 event at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNgGoBqfCW4
ICE ON FIRE / CENTRAL VERMONT WINTER FESTIVAL Sunday, January 29th 2pm – 5pm North Branch Nature Center, Elm Street, Montpelier. Bundle up and head out for this snow celebration of community. Children’s activities, winter games, theater, song and storytelling. Opening parade at 2pm, closing bonfire at 5pm. Food, hot cider, hot chocolate. Snowshoes provided, bring x-country skis and sleds. Suggested donation $1 - $5 or bring baked goods in lieu of cash donation. Find on facebook or call 223-0577 for info or to volunteer
U-32 SCHOOL BOARD BERLIN POSITION OPENING - Mark Berry asked me to share that he is ending his time as a member of U-32 Board of Directors. If you're interested in serving, now is the time to get a petition from the town office for this 3 year term, which will need to be signed by 20+ registered voters and submitted to the town by 5pm on January 30th. The second Berlin seat will also be on the ballot as Jonathan Goddard was appointed to the position and now it will be up for election.
BERLIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BOARD has two seats that will be on the ballot - a 3 year term (currently Amy Brewer) and a 2 year term (currently Jonathan Boyd). Registered voters interested in running for board positions should see our town clerk, Rosemary Morse, for a petition.
BERLIN CHECKLIST TO VOTE: To be added to the Berlin Checklist to be able to vote on Tuesday, March 6th, you must go into the town office by Wednesday, February 29th and fill out a form. Call Rosemary at 229-9298 with questions.
TOWN MEETING DAY - if you would be willing to help out at Town Meeting over at the elementary school for part or all of the day (10am - 7pm) please contact our town clerk, Rosemary Morse 229-9298.
CENTRAL VERMONT SPORTS http://www.cvtsport.net – Local sports - check out the highlights on line or order a DVD of an entire game.
LIBRARY - Our community library is the Kellogg-Hubbard Library at 135 Main Street in Montpelier. Yearly the library asks for financial support from our town on the ballot at Town Meeting. If the voters continue to support this request, all Berlin residents are entitled to a library card and to make use of all their services. Visit the library website at: www.kellogghubbard.org, check out their blog, http://www.kellogghubbard.blogspot.com or their facebook page or call them at 223-3338.
-- This year the library is requesting $12,808 from Berlin, a 2% increase from the $12,557 approved last year. To have this item on the town ballot, first their petition needs signatures of registered Berlin voters – please stop in at the library, our town office, the elementary school bulletin board in lobby, or see me (Corinne) to add your signature of support.
-- In part from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library End of Year Report - “Come enjoy the collection of books, movies, CDs, audio books, magazines & newspapers, use the new and improved public internet stations, attend a great program, use databases and audio-downloads from the web site, or borrow one of the library passes and discover great Vermont museums, parks, and historical sites. (These include the ECHO Aquarium ($2 admission), Shelburne Farms, Vermont History Museum, Vermont State Parks, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, Billings Farm Museum and Vermont Historic Sites.)” (more details from this report in the next email I send out!)
FLOOD RECOVERY – Local recovery from the flooding of 2011 continues. Those with losses are still in need of assistance. Many folks who lost so much are still in need of financial assistance and replacing household goods, some have major home repairs and others are still in temporary housing. In the spring, we’re hoping an additional effort can be made to continue the clean-up of debris the flooding caused with a larger Green Up Day effort in early May.
C.E.R.T - Learn how to help your community during times of emergency! C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team) #5 Basic Training Course in Barre on Saturday, 1/21/12; Registration opens 7:30am; Class 8am – 4pm. Location: Barre Auditorium Classrooms - just to the right of the auditorium-there will be signs!
Please R.S.V.P. to Julie Benedict at Julie.benedict@state.vt.us or at 802-431-5701.
This training is designed to cover disaster preparedness, fire safety, directing traffic, disaster medical operations, triage and treating life threatening injuries. Pizza Lunch will be provided (let Julie know of any special dietary needs)

MENTORING: The Berlin School is establishing a mentoring program and is seeking adult mentors. Training is included and the commitment is roughly one hour per week during school hours. Community members should not underestimate the potential difference they can make in the life of a BES student. Background check required. Any adults interested in being a mentor may contact Jessica Heinz, School Counselor, at 223-2796 x118.
SKI EQUIPMENT: The Berlin School is working to establish a collection of skis, boots, poles and associated equipment for use by students and staff. If anyone has gently used ski equipment that they would like to donate to the school, they may contact Jessica Heinz, School Counselor, at 22302796 x118.
BUDGET UPDATE: The School Board reviewed draft five if the proposed FY2013 budget on January 5th. The good news is, under all scenarios, taxes are slated to DECREASE! The Board is expected to approve a final budget at their meeting on January 9th, at 6:15 p.m., at the school. As always, community participation is encouraged. Anyone wanting to learn more about the budget process or current draft may contact Chris Dodge, Principal, at 223-2796 x120.
SCHOOL NEWSLETTER: As always, the school newsletter is available on the school website (www.berlinschool.org) each week. This is a great way for families with and without students to keep up to date on school events.
VOLUNTEERS: The Berlin School offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Come share your talents with our community's children. Contact Chris Dodge, Principal, at 223-2796 x120.
VEHICLES: The Government recently released a new calculator that allows user to compare emissions and lifetime operating cost on vehicles.
GOVERNOR’S CAREER READY CERTIFICATE through CCV http://www.ccv.edu/careerreadyvt

-- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
-- Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
-- Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
-- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
-- When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
-- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
-- Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
-- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
-- Dispose of wood ashes in a metal container that can be tightly closed, douse with water, place the closed container outside your home away from combustible materials and leave in the container for several days before disposing of them.
-- Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
-- Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
-- If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help.
SNOWSHOE TRAIL AT U-32 - Community Connections Community Prevention Update from Bill Merrylees. As part of our work to create an environment with healthy physical activity options, the VT Youth Conservation corps class at the high school used the concept of a permanent snowshoe trail on the U-32 campus. The instructors built a curricular unit around it, and the students built a trail! These are the kind of winning scenarios we always strive for, where students make change happen a drive projects that are aligned with our community-wide goals. See link: http://school.vycc.org/2011/12/seeing-it-through-from-start-to-end-u-32-snowshoe-trail/ Come enjoy the trail in february - there's GOT to be snow by then...

Saturday, February 11 - Cross Vermont Trail Association Snowshoe Rally at U32, 11:00 am - 2:00pm. Free event for all abilities includes snowshoe lessons, fun snowshoe relays, exploring the U-32 woods on a self-guided trail, plus guided naturalist outings. Warming space, snacks & warm beverages will be served. Free snowshoe use provided. Sponsored by the Cross Vermont Trail Association, Community Connections and U-32 athletics. For more information, call Community Connections at 223-3456.

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