Friday, March 30, 2012


News to Know March 30th

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg
Look back at previous posts for more information
Facebook user? Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page
Monday, April 2nd at the Berlin Selectboard meeting folks will be attending regarding the building of the new state hospital in Berlin. Evidently two applications are being submit, one for each proposed site. Selectboard meetings are called to order at 7pm. The agenda will be posted to the town website on the selectboard page.
Tuesday, April 3rd will be Ben & Jerry's FREE CONE day - YUM!
Jazz Guitar Duo Jonah Miles and Preston Murphy (of Berlin) will be at Chadwick's Steakhouse and Pub in Randolph Saturday night March 31st 9pm - midnight. Check out their music on their facebook page . Chadwick's located on Prince Street in Randolph can also be found on facebook.
April Fools Day Concert with Everybody’s Fool: Jon Gailmor, Sunday, April 1st at 2 p.m. At the Jaquith Public Library in Marshfield. For people (and fools) of all ages. Come sing-a-long with Jon! “My performances, regardless of where or for whom, are designed to fit the audience to a tee, and to leave them feeling renewed, hopeful, and emotionally charged. My originals are fraught with childish illogic, profound feelings, absurd humor and, at times, both subtle and obvious messages. Much of my subject matter involves The Family. I’ll have folks singing & clapping together, guffawing, weeping, whatever it takes for an audience to revel in its humanity.” For information call 426-3581 or e-mail
Spring Cleaning Book Sale is going on at our community library, the Kellogg-Hubbard on Main Street in Montpelier. With the continued support from the Berlin taxpayers, all Berlin residents are able to make full use of the Kellogg-Hubbard (once they get a library card by showing proof of residency). Details on programs, hours, and more can be found at:
Living with Vermont's Rivers Conference, Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 8am-4:30pm Capitol Plaza Hotel, 100 State St., Montpelier. Free and open to the public, however, pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Contact: Kim Greenwood 802-223-2328 x119 Rivers and river management - why rivers do what they do and how to minimize development and river conflicts. This is a beginner-intermediate conference on river science issues specifically designed for municipal officials, consultants, contractors, legislators, road crews, curious citizens, watershed group members and farmers. Using case studies, speakers will discuss various aspects of what makes rivers stable - or unstable - such as: gravel extraction, roads & bridges, agricultural practices, downtown development, storm water, dams and flood plains. Hear Vermont examples of what has and has not worked over time to minimize conflicts between our rivers and our development.
Berlin fire chiefs look for new revenue sources
By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: March 21, 2012
BERLIN — A new-look Select Board got a visit this week from fire department leaders, who said they are battling the political equivalent of a brush fire while exploring new ways to raise revenue in the wake of a Town Meeting Day vote that didn’t go their way.
On a night when the board elected a new chairman and welcomed two new members, Fire Chief Miles Silk Jr. and Deputy Chief Scott Bagg arrived in what they characterized as bridge-building mode.
“We wanted to get a chance to strengthen some bridges between us and our Select Board,” said Bagg, who is president of the autonomous corporation that runs the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department.
Specifically, Bagg said he and Silk were eager to address a perception held by some that “there was a little bit of a disconnect between (the) governance of our community and our fire department.”
“We never meant to have that impression, and we certainly do not want to have that type of impression in our community,” he said.
According to Bagg, firefighters may invite a member of the town board to participate in the department’s budget deliberations this year.
“We think that’s in the best interest of all involved,” he said.
That wasn’t the case last year, and board members seemed surprised earlier this year when they were presented with a pair of ballot initiatives that would have doubled the community’s contribution to the fire department.
Only one of those ballot requests was approved by voters on Town Meeting Day. The other, which firefighters said would have enabled them to “establish continuous, in-station staffing at the Four Corners Station,” was rejected 295-247.
It was a close vote, according to Bagg, who said voters’ refusal to appropriate the money the department requested to pay its members unspecified stipends to cover the station means it will still scramble to find volunteers able to respond to many calls during the regular workday.
“We still need to work on ways of making a consistent response especially on the non-urgent, non-structure fire calls,” he said.
Those calls — from car accidents to false alarms — account for a majority of the department’s work, according to Silk, who said firefighters will likely ask the town to create a mechanism for the department to generate revenue on at least some of those calls.
The idea of enacting an “alarm ordinance” is not new, and communities like Barre already have one. The idea, he said, would be to create a fee that could be assessed on property owners whose poorly maintained alarm systems chronically trigger an unnecessary emergency response.
According to Silk, it is not unusual for the department to respond to the same location several times in one month due to a faulty alarm. However, he said, absent an ordinance, the department has no recourse to charge the property owners.
Silk said the department is also interested in discussing the possibility of creating minimum standards for the construction of new commercial property in town.
Meanwhile, Bagg said the department is interested in what the board plans to do with $15,000 that it included in its operating budget to finance the town’s share of the continued study of a regional public safety authority given the failure of a nonbinding referendum that was considered by voters on the floor of their open town meeting.
Bagg, who urged voters at town meeting to defeat what amounted to a show of support for the regionalization effort, said the board could take its time considering his question.
“We don’t expect an answer tonight,” he said. “It’s something you need to discuss.”
Fewer than 100 residents participated in the split floor vote on the nonbinding question, forcing the board to confront whether to remain an active player in a process that got a vote of approval in Barre and Montpelier on Town Meeting Day and has not yet been considered by voters in Barre Town.
Bagg stressed the Berlin department isn’t necessarily opposed to regionalization as long as the price is right.
“We’re for regionalization that will cost our community the same amount of money,” he said. “We want to be a partner in that. We want to be a partner in serving our community and doing it cost-effectively.”
Board members did not discuss what to do in the wake of the Town Meeting Day vote, but Town Administrator Jeff Schulz said members would soon have to make a decision.
The board did elect Brad Towne as its new chairman and welcomed two newly elected members, Pete Kelley and Craig Frazier.
In other business Monday, the board briefly discussed one resident’s request to explore upgrading a town trail and was urged to consider developing a mid- to long-range plan for maintaining paved and gravel roads that have been identified as in need of some preventive maintenance.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Training to help in emergency



“DISASTER SERVICES: AN OVERVIEW” is a wonderful way for someone to take that first step toward helping area communities prevent, prepare for and respond to disaster. We are very pleased to be offering “Disaster Services: An Overview” in Berlin this month. March 21, 6pm - 9:30pm at Berlin Elementary School.
The devastation of Tropical Storm Irene, record spring flooding and a busy winter fire season have all been vivid reminders that disaster can strike close to home. If you are part of the American Red Cross, you are part of a team that brings help and hope to our neighbors when they are devastated by disaster.
American Red Cross disaster responses are carried out on a local level by volunteer Disaster Action Teams. These teams assist those affected by disasters such as fire, flood, winter storms, as well as other natural and man-made disasters. “Disaster Services: An Overview” is an instructor-led, basic level course and serves as an introduction to Red Cross disaster services.
While the presentation serves as an introduction to becoming a Red Cross volunteer, and serves as a prerequisite for other Red Cross disaster training, anyone in the community who is interested in hearing the materials presented in this class is welcome.
To register, contact Natalie Barrett of the Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley American Red Cross. She can be reached at or by calling her at 802-660-9130, ext. 106.


COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT) #5 Basic Training Course March 24 & 25 8am - 4pm (registration opens 7:30am). The training is designed to cover disaster preparedness, fire safety, directing traffic, disaster medical operations, triage and treating life threatening injuries. Lunch will be provided. Contact Julie Benedict at or 802-431-5701 to register or for more information.


Berlin Flood Relief

The Berlin Flood Disaster Recovery Committee, The ReStore and the CV Long-Term Disaster Relief Committee
If you were impacted by the 2011 May flood or Tropical Storm Irene,

In Need?
• Contact the CV Long-Term Recovery Committee office at (802)505-9292 to be connected to a case worker
• Receive a free voucher(s) from your case worker for use the ReStore facilities in Barre at 28 Granite St. - open Monday –Saturday 8:30 to 5:30 PM or the Burlington ReStore located at 266 Pine St. –Monday – Saturday 9:30 to 6:00 p.m.
• Each voucher is generally valued up to $150 for household goods and furniture and $250 for appliances with determinations made on a case by case basis
• Arrangements can be made for local free deliveries from ReStore or through vouchers for deliveries beyond ReStore’s immediate area
Able to Donate Goods?
• Local pick-up of goods is free - call Barre ReStore at 477-7800 or Burlington 658-4143
• Drop-off goods at the ReStore, 28 Granite St. Barre, Vermont Tuesday – Saturday 8:30 - 5:30 PM.
• See below for list of goods accepted by ReStore
• Note: Goods that are dropped off will not be held for any particular town but are appreciated by all who are in need. Call 477-7800 if you have questions about whether an item will be accepted
Also the Berlin Flood Disaster Recovery Committee would like to know:
Are you able to make a donation to help your neighbors recover from the May 2011 or Irene Flooding? If so, please make checks out to: Berlin Flood Disaster Recovery and mail to: Berlin Town Offices, 108 Shed Road, Berlin, VT 05602
Are you able to assist with clean-up efforts along Rte 12 and other locations in Berlin this spring? There is still considerable debris left from the floods which need to be removed …. We Need Your Help! Please contact Jeff Schulz, Town Administrator at jschulz@berlinvt.orgor (802) 223-4405 and provide him with your name, contact information and any equipment you may have (chainsaws, backhoe, tractor, one ton dump truck, etc.). The Committee will contact you with more details – date, time, and place.
Many, many thanks!
---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

A program of ReSOURCE
Barre Acceptance Guidelines

WE ACCEPT: Most Small and Large appliances judged to be repairable or reusable
We Cannot Accept: Late-modelVacuums Requiring Bags, Floor scrubbers. Humidifiers / air purifiers
ReSOURCE is now a registered Vermont E-Cycle Collection Site!
WE ACCEPT: All Computers, Monitors, Printers, Computer Peripherals, and TV’s. All other home electronics
WE ACCEPT: Most Furniture in good, reusable condition, and New Mattresses
We Cannot Accept: Any furniture with stains, tears or odors, Waterbeds or waterbed accessories, Large metal desks Baby cribs with drop-down sides
WE ACCEPT clean, industrial & commercial surplus, storage containers & bins, baby food & mason jars, glass jars & containers (call first about food containers), bulk paper & office supplies, yarn, ribbon, string & wire, shells & natural objects, fabric & patterns, scrap mat board, costume jewelry, jewelry, beads, neckties, picture frames, art prints & maps, silk flowers, game & toy parts, packing peanuts & bubble wrap.
Building Materials
WE ACCEPT: Most materials in good, reusable condition
We Cannot Accept: Used Insulation Boards under 4 feet
We Cannot Accept:
Life saving devices such as bike and sport helmets, life preservers or car seats
Biological contacts such as potty seats, diaper pails, baby baths or medical supplies. Car parts. Clothes or shoes Blankets or bed linens, Curtains
Wall to wall carpeting or carpeting remnants, bath mats or area rugs.
Hazardous, toxic or combustible materials such as gasoline, kerosene, paint or thinners.

When donating boxes of items, please put them in a box that you would like to give us. Thank you.

Monday, March 12, 2012


News to Know March 12

Look back at previous posts for more information
Facebook user? Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page
Many thanks to all the folks who made it possible for us to go in and cast our votes on Town Meeting Day! Here are the results:
Berlin Town Meeting Articles:
Berlin Town & School Elections:
CENTRAL VERMONT LITTLE LEAGUE SIGN-UPS Wed., March 14th 6:30pm to 7:30pm at Berlin Elementary School. This is for all levels T-Ball, Farm League, Softball, Minors, and Majors. Looking for players and volunteers. Contact Deb Smoller with questions at
2012 VERMONT STATE SCHOLASTIC CHESS CHAMPIONSHIPS, Saturday, Apriil 14th at Berlin Elementary School. Registration 8:30am - 9:30am, first games 10am. All Vermont students Kindergarten through Grade 12 are eligible to participate. State champions for each grade K through 6, plus Middle School and High School champions will be determined. USCF rated. Swiss pairing will be used, all players play each round (no eliminations). Full details and registration information at: or contact Mike Stridsberg, 802-223-1948
SPRING CLEANING BOOK SALE at our community library, the Kellogg-Hubbard on Main Street in Montpelier. With the continued support from the Berlin taxpayers, all Berlin residents are able to make full use of the Kellogg-Hubbard (once they get a library card by showing proof of residency). Details on programs, hours, and more can be found at:
“DISASTER SERVICES: AN OVERVIEW” is a wonderful way for someone to take that first step toward helping area communities prevent, prepare for and respond to disaster. We are very pleased to be offering “Disaster Services: An Overview” in Berlin this month. March 21, 6pm - 9:30pm at Berlin Elementary School.
The devastation of Tropical Storm Irene, record spring flooding and a busy winter fire season have all been vivid reminders that disaster can strike close to home. If you are part of the American Red Cross, you are part of a team that brings help and hope to our neighbors when they are devastated by disaster.
American Red Cross disaster responses are carried out on a local level by volunteer Disaster Action Teams. These teams assist those affected by disasters such as fire, flood, winter storms, as well as other natural and man-made disasters. “Disaster Services: An Overview” is an instructor-led, basic level course and serves as an introduction to Red Cross disaster services.
While the presentation serves as an introduction to becoming a Red Cross volunteer, and serves as a prerequisite for other Red Cross disaster training, anyone in the community who is interested in hearing the materials presented in this class is welcome.
To register, contact Natalie Barrett of the Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley American Red Cross. She can be reached at or by calling her at 802-660-9130, ext. 106.

Facebook user? Look for the "Vermont & New Hampshire Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross" page

American Red Cross Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley Winter 2012 Newsletter can be found at:
By Art Edelstein
Arts Correspondent - Published: March 8, 2012
Tropical Storm Irene, which ravaged the state at the end of last August, may seem like a long gone bad dream to many, but for a good number of local people it remains a nightmare. There’s still a lot of rebuilding to do and many central Vermont families suffered deep financial losses and ruined homes as a result of the storm.
With the devastation still on the minds of many, U-32 High School in East Montpelier is hosting a benefit concert, Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. (doors and dessert at 6:30), in hopes of raising funds to help those harmed by the storm.
“We are all employees of U-32 in varying capacities,” said Kenneth Saxe who works at the school, “with the common goal of wanting to do something for our immediate communities of Berlin, East Montpelier, Worcester, Calais and Middlesex that were so devastated by last year’s flooding.”
“We have teamed up with Central Vermont Community Action (Hal Cohen), as they already have a fund established for exactly that purpose,” Saxe said.
The concert, “Let’s Not Forget Irene,” features Paul Asbell, Dave Keller, and Sara Grace in acoustic sets.
Each is a formidable Vermont performer. Keller, from Montpelier, was recently featured in The Times Argus for having won an award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis for best self-produced CD. He collaborated with The Revelations for his album, “Where I’m Coming From.” He’s an authentic blues singer and guitarist.
You may know Grace as a member of Sara Grace and the Suits. She will solo for this concert but her “soul folk” sound and percussive guitar style along with her funky arrangements give Grace a signature sound.
Asbell, from Burlington, is as good a guitarist as you’ll find anywhere on acoustic and electric guitar. The price of the ticket for this show would be worth it to hear him alone. Asbell currently plays with the band Kilimanjaro. He was a member of the Big Joe Burrell Unknown Blues Band, and was also guitar mentor to Trey Anastasio of Phish. He has two highly acclaimed acoustic guitar albums, and has been featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He is also a highly sought after teacher. His music covers a wide spectrum from the blues, to jazz and Americana.
Concert organizers hope to raise $10,000 for families in the U-32 district who are still struggling to recover from the storm. Each ticket holder will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win several prizes, including a weekend stay at the Pitcher Inn in Warren, an overnight stay and two lift tickets at the Stowe Mountain Resort, two lift tickets to Jay Peak, four lift tickets to Bolton Valley and other prizes.

Let’s Not Forget Irene

U-32 High School is hosting a benefit concert, “Let’s Not Forget Irene,” on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. (doors and dessert at 6:30), at the school’s auditorium on Gallison Hill in East Montpelier. Tickets are $30, $20 for students, and are available in the U-32 office or by calling Paul Dayton at (802) 229-0321, ext. 2242, or by email at
Come Share Your Story, Listen to Others, Learn Coping Skills, Build Community, Support Your Neighbors. Location: Berlin Elementary School, Date: Thursday March 15, 2012 (ongoing April 12, May 10, June 10), Time: 6:00 pm, Refreshments Provided. Led by: Christina Ducharme and Ellia Cohen of Starting Over Strong VT for more information call Christina at 802-279-4670. Starting Over Strong: Providing Free Short-Term Relief For Those Impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. For More Information please visit:, and Facebook, or call our tollfree number at 855-SOS-VT00 (855-767-8800)
Do you work with people who were affected by Irene? Come Share Your Experiences, Learn Coping Skills Learn from Each Other, Support Each Other, De-Stress. Location: Unitarian Church, 130 Main, St Montpelier. Date: Monday March 5, 2012 (ongoing every 2 weeks 3/19, 4/2, 4/16, 4/30) Time: 3:30 pm. Refreshments Provided Led by: Christina Ducharme and Ellia Cohen of Starting Over Strong VT. Starting Over Strong: Providing Free Short-Term Relief For Those Impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. For More Information please visit:, and Facebook, or call our tollfree number at 855-SOS-VT00 (855-767-8800)
By Thatcher Moats
VERMONT PRESS BUREAU - Published: March 10, 2012
MONTPELIER — Vermont officials were in a state of “sticker shock” Friday after being presented with plans for replacing the state office complex in Waterbury that ranged from $108 million to $143 million.
During a meeting in Montpelier attended by lawmakers, Waterbury officials and members of the Shumlin administration, the architecture firm Freeman French Freeman laid out four options for replacing the office space in Waterbury that flooded during Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28.
Jeb Spaulding, the secretary of administration for Gov. Peter Shumlin, said the proposals — which range from a new building on a new site to rehabbing the offices in Waterbury — “are great and could be exciting.”
“But I have to admit there’s a certain element of sticker shock when you look at the total project costs,” Spaulding said.
Many Waterbury residents, business owners and officials want the state employees displaced from Waterbury to return, because they bring an economic vitality to the central Vermont village. About 1,500 workers were based at the complex; 1,200 worked there regularly.
Advocates for Waterbury have pleaded with Shumlin since Irene to bring the workers back, but he has been unwilling to make a commitment until he understands how much rehabilitating the complex would cost taxpayers.
The report Friday brings some clarity to those costs but not enough for the administration to take a stance on whether to rebuild in Waterbury.
“I think we should all realize this is not the end of the road,” Spaulding said. “I’m not sure if it’s the end of the beginning or another important milestone, but we obviously have a long way to go.”
As of Friday, the governor’s first choice remains placing more than 1,000 employees in Waterbury, said Spaulding. But the administration has always worried Waterbury might be too expensive, saying when it comes to the decision to go back to Waterbury “the numbers matter.”
“And those numbers were higher than we expected,” said Spaulding.
Freeman French Freeman, with help from the firm Goody Clancy, spent the last eight weeks compiling the presentation unveiled Friday. The architects’ goal was to deliver the facts and not advocate for one option or another.
The four proposals outlined in the Freeman French Freeman report are:
Option A: This would be a full reuse of the Waterbury complex and would entail rehabilitating and flood-proofing many of the 48 buildings in the complex and demolishing several of them that are closest to the Winooski River. This would leave the complex closer to its current state than any of the other options. It would cost an estimated $143 million.
Option B: This envisions a partial reuse and new construction at the Waterbury complex. It includes demolishing many of the buildings, flood-proofing the remaining structures, and building a large state-of-the-art building that would make up most of the new complex. The estimated cost is $134 million.
Option C: This would entail not returning to Waterbury and instead building in Montpelier. The state would demolish the Department of Labor building off Memorial Drive and put up a five-story building and parking garage there. The estimated cost is $119 million.
Option D: This would entail building a structure on a yet-to-be-determined site in central Vermont. The estimated total project cost is $108 million, including buying land. Spaulding said there are potential sites in Berlin.
Spaulding wasn’t willing to rule out Option A but said he was struggling to find an upside to it because it’s the most expensive, it maintains a poor layout of office space and includes a lower level of flood protection for some buildings.
“Quite frankly, I’m trying to figure out why anyone would want to do (Option) A,” said Spaulding.
Rep. Tom Stevens, who represents Waterbury, wasn’t discouraged by the higher projected costs of rebuilding in Waterbury and still views it as the best option.
A major unknown is how much money the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give the state for the flood damage in Waterbury, something the administration and lawmakers hope to determine as soon as possible. Stevens pointed out that the level of reimbursement from FEMA is one important factor not evident in the cost estimates for the four options.
“Just because the last option seemed to be the least expensive option, it doesn’t include FEMA participation if we build elsewhere,” said Stevens. “The wild card there is: What’s the FEMA participation going to be?”
When it comes to FEMA reimbursement, the state is “probably going to leave some money on the table” if it decides to rebuild outside Waterbury, Spaulding acknowledged.
But he pointed out the costs of building in Montpelier or at a new site are less, and he is skeptical the FEMA money will drastically reduce the cost of going back to Waterbury under Option B.
“I don’t know whether the amount of assistance we’re going to get from insurance or FEMA will lower the current Option B, the partial reuse, to a level that’s affordable,” said Spaulding.
The administration expects to get $13 million to $25 million from flood insurance.
Stevens and other lawmakers argue that factors other than cost also need to be considered when deciding where to rebuild.
Sen. Bob Hartwell, who is chairman of the Senate Institutions Committee, said it is state policy to try to keep Vermont’s downtowns vibrant. He pointed out that the Waterbury complex is in a downtown and the proposed Montpelier site is not.
“Waterbury has some attributes that are really important in terms of location and its historic value,” said Hartwell, a Bennington County Democrat.
Exit 8 on Interstate 89 near the proposed Montpelier site would see significantly more traffic if the state chose to construct an office building off Memorial Drive, said Hartwell, another problem with that location.
“That’s not a great interchange to begin with, and it would be made worse unless we could mitigate it in some way,” he said.
The Legislature needs to make a decision about the future of the office complex this legislative session, Hartwell said.
“There’s going to be a lot of work done on this over the next six weeks, a lot of work to get a road map laid as to what the Legislature thinks is the right thing to do,” Hartwell said.
Under all four options, the project would not be finished until 2015.

"Waterbury Office Complex Feasibility Study issued March 9, 2012" bottom of page at following webpage:
By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: March 6, 2012
BERLIN — Patti Lewis isn’t running scared today, because Berlin’s veteran town treasurer isn’t running at all.
Although Berlin voters have traditionally elected their town treasurer, that changed today when Lewis’ latest three-year term expired and a two-year-old charter change finally kicked in.
That change involves how the position that Lewis has held for eight straight years is filled. Given the mounting complexity of tracking the expenses and revenues of a multimillion-dollar town operation, as well as controversies that have arisen in other Vermont communities, Berlin voters agreed to relinquish their role in choosing a treasurer.
The theory behind the charter change was that not everyone who might run to be treasurer is qualified and three years is a long time for voters to wait before having the opportunity to select a new chief financial officer for their town.
The charter change wasn’t aimed at Lewis, who is widely viewed as both competent and qualified.
After a search that attracted eight applicants from Berlin and beyond, Lewis said, a hiring committee composed of three Select Board members and four town residents chose three finalists and interviewed two of them last month.
Lewis said she was one of them and emerged as the committee’s choice to be appointed to an office that she was elected to four times —twice to one-year terms and, most recently, to a pair of three-year terms.
Lewis, who also serves as Berlin’s elected state representative, isn’t complaining about not having to campaign to keep her day job in the run-up to Town Meeting Day.
“It’s kind of nice not to have to run — at least not for this (treasurer’s) race,” she said.
The Select Board was scheduled to discuss making a choice at its meeting Monday night.
The treasurer’s duties won’t change. The official will simply become answerable to the Select Board instead of directly to voters.

Posted on March 6, 2012
By PETER HIRSCHFELD | Vermont Press Bureau
BERLIN — A plan to consolidate emergency services in four central Vermont municipalities went on life support Tuesday after residents in Berlin said they’re ready to scrap the idea. In a voice vote from the floor, approximately 70 residents on hand for town meeting shot down a nonbinding resolution to study further the “regionalization” plan proposed for Berlin, Barre, Barre Town and Montpelier.
“I don’t know if this means it’s dead,” Berlin Selectman Brad Towne said of the long-running effort to consolidate police, fire and ambulance services in the area. “But it’s definitely hurting.”
The Select Board must now reconcile the will of the voters with the contents of its budget. The spending plan for next year — voted on by Australian ballot Tuesday — includes $15,000 for Berlin’s share of a study to analyze the merits of the regionalization proposal. Voters in Montpelier and Barre each approved $15,000 appropriations for the study Tuesday, and Barre Town will decide how to proceed in May.
But Berlin’s vote could scuttle the plan.
Towne said given the vote Tuesday, “I don’t see any reason to go forward and spend the money.”
“My feeling is we’ll just leave the money in the budget, and at the end of the tax year we’ll just carry it forward as a surplus for next year,” he said. Patti Lewis, one of two Berlin residents on an eight-member regionalization committee, said she’ll urge the Select Board to proceed with the funding, Tuesday’s vote notwithstanding.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed in the result today, but there are a lot of people who support this concept who aren’t physically here at this meeting today,” said Lewis, who also represents Berlin in the Vermont House. Consolidating dispatch services alone, Lewis said, could yield savings for local taxpayers.
“Even if it’s just dispatch, it makes sense to do the study,” she said.
Lewis said initial projections suggest that a full-on consolidation might result in modest cost increases for Berlin, in large part because the town has an all-volunteer fire department. But she said those same estimates indicate that residents would enjoy more expansive emergency services, including 24-hour police coverage, something the town lacks right now.
“We’re at a point where we need an expert study to determine whether this makes sense,” she said. “Consolidation is happening all over the country, and we’re selling ourselves short if we don’t do this due diligence to see if it makes sense for us, too.”
In a speech before the vote, Deputy Fire Chief Scott Bagg urged voters to squelch the study and save their money.
“We’ve had three studies on regionalization in the past two decades — three of them. And in all three of them it was determined that the town of Berlin would be paying significantly more than it is now,” Bagg said. “The reality is we have volunteers providing this (fire) coverage pretty effectively, and the elimination of that is probably not the best thing for this community.”
Staff Report - Published: March 6, 2012
BERLIN — The Berlin Volunteer Fire Department’s bid to step up its service to the community was dealt a serious setback Tuesday when voters rejected a request for the money that would have paid for it.
Voters also ousted an incumbent selectman and easily approved municipal and school budgets.
But they narrowly rejected a $180,000 request that would have financed the Fire Department’s plan to provide “continuous, in-station staffing at the Four Corners station.” The article was rejected 293-244, though voters approved a companion request for $180,000 that will fund the annual operation of the volunteer department.
The results of the Australian ballot vote came hours after 70-some voters rejected a nonbinding referendum renewing the town’s support for a regional public safety study on the floor of Berlin’s open town meeting.
Those were the only items that went down to defeat. Voters approved the $2.4 million municipal budget, 415-124, and the $3 million budget for Berlin Elementary School, 311-213.
There were a few close calls. The Central Vermont Community Action Council’s $500 funding request passed by just 20 votes, 276-256, and the $12,557 appropriation for Kellogg-Hubbard Library narrowly passed, 275-260.
Pete Kelley was the runaway winner of the only contested race in Berlin this year. Kelley received 280 votes, pacing the field in a three-way race for the two years remaining on a three-year term on the Select Board. Former longtime Lister Mike Domingue finished a distant second with 137 votes, and Selectman Jonathan Goddard finished last with 96 votes.
Goddard was elected as one of Berlin’s representatives to the U-32 High School board in an uncontested race.

Friday, March 02, 2012


News to Know March 2

Posted by Corinne Stridsberg
Check the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook


BERLIN TOWN REPORTS - Town Reports are in and went home with the elementary students just before vacation.If you're looking for one before Town Meeting next Tuesday, they're available at the Town Clerk's office, the Berlin Elementary School, Chamber of Commerce on Stewart Road and at the Knapp Airport (main terminal where Sambel's was).


MONDAY EVENING, MARCH 5TH - Pretown Meeting at Berlin Elementary School 6pm - always very informative, please attend.

TUESDAY, MARCH 6TH AT 10AM - BERLIN TOWNMEETING at Berlin Elementary School. Even with so many items on Australian ballot, please attend. Polls open 10am - 7pm for voting.


SOUP - Minestrone or Corn Chowder

SANDWICHES - Egg Salad, Tuna Salad or Ham Salad

DESSERT - Tapioca or Chocolate Pudding

BEVERAGE - Coffee – Decaf. or Reg., Tea, Hot Chocolate or Punch

ONLY $5.00Join us for lunch - your support is appreciated :)


Berlin Dogs need to be registered, currently the cost is $8 if spayed or neutered and $12 if not; on April 1st the cost goes up to $10 for spayed/neutered and $16 if not. Bring proof of rabies vaccination and of spay/neuter with you when you head to the Town Clerk's office.


BERLIN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BUDGET - In addition to the budget presentation and slides, the school budget and change summary is now posted at the bottom of the main school website page .The presentation was recorded by Berlin resident, Carl Parton and is also posted at

*** is indeed the "Local Sports Video Leader".I love the variety of sports highlights that can be found and you can buy a full length DVD of the games they've recorded.


BERLIN FLOOD RELIEF - The local committee which came together as the result of the flooding in 2011 is still active and there continues to be folks in need of assistance.If you're able to help, whether by giving your time (joining the committee or helping with a specific activity) or by making a donation, there will be more information at Town Meeting and that I will pass details along in an upcoming email.


KINDERGARTEN - Berlin families with children who are eligible to enroll in kindergarten in the fall (and aren't already attending preschool there) are asked to contact the school at 223-2796 for a packet of information.


CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) - buy local, sesaonal food directly from a farmer.More details can be found here: of CSA's

CENTRAL VERMONT FOOD HUB CSA combination of Dog River Farm (George Gross and Screamin' Ridge Farm (Joe Buley)



Are you already using or another gas price comparision website?Pick Vermont and then put in your zipcode (also great to check out where you'll be traveling) to find the lowest prices in the area.There is also a GasBuddy App for phones.


Take a moment to look at the incredible art created by carving books one page at a time:

Interview with Brian Dettmer and more of his creations: and the artist's website


ONION RIVER EXCHANGE - The Onion River Exchange helps Central Vermonters to exchange goods and services without using money. Instead, members buy and sell services for Community Credits, a time-based currency. Services can vary from mechanical work to home cooked meals to yoga lessons, and each service is worth the time you spend providing it. As a member, you could earn an hour of credit for giving someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment, and use that credit to have someone make you dinner.In ORE, the currency is time, and everyone’s time is equal.Since their launch in April 2008, OREhas grown to over 450 members in more than 28 towns.The members have exchanged over six thousand service hours in seventy-five categories, and have helped our community partners with festivals, mailings, and other services.We suggest that our members make a yearly donation to ORE to help us keep up with operating costs. Suggested rates are $25 for an individual membership or $40 for a household membership.


Community Emergency Response Team #5

Basic Training Course March 24th and 25th, 2012

7:30am-Registration Opens, 8:00am Class Begins

Barre Auditorium Classrooms - Classrooms just to the right of the auditorium-there will be signs! This should run all day both days until 4:00pm.

R.S.V.P. to Julie Benedict at or phone me 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.

Lunch will be provided. Come get involved in learning how to help your community during times of emergency!


from the Times Argus


By David DelcoreStaff Writer - Published: February 14, 2012

BERLIN— After more than seven months of working without a contract, union members of Berlin’s police department have reached an agreement with the Select Board.
The five-year deal, which was finalized last week, includes pay raises of roughly 3 percent in each year. In exchange, said Town Administrator Jeff Schulz, the department’s full-time officers will be required to pick up a steadily increasing share of their health insurance deductibles.
According to Schulz, health insurance was a major bone of contention during negotiations that dragged on for several months and featured at least one aborted ratification attempt.
Schulz described the agreement as a“fair compromise.”
Although pay raises will vary depending on how long an officer has been with the department, Schulz said the contract contemplates annual “step” increases as well as cost-of-living adjustments that amount to roughly 3 percent a year. The raises would be slightly higher for newer officers, he said.
Officers are also getting one more personal day a year and more employee-friendly vacation language. However, Schulz said union members will begin paying a portion of their health insurance deductibles.
He said the town has historically paid 100 percent of the police officers’ deductibles under the high-deductible health savings accounts that the town shifted to in hopes of saving money. He said the new contract envisions those costs will eventually be split 50-50 between the town and police union members.
Under the terms of the contract, officers are responsible for paying 20 percent of their deductibles — which are currently $2,000 for a single plan and $4,000 for a family plan — this calendar year. That will increase to 30 percent on Jan. 1, 2013, and 40 percent on Jan. 1, 2014, before capping at 50 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. The contract will expireJune 30, 2016.
This year an officer enrolled in a family plan will be required to pay $800 of the $4,000 deductible. Assuming the deductibles don’t change, that same officer will be required to pay $2,000 of the deductible starting Jan. 1, 2015, and the town will be required to pay the other $2,000. Although the deductibles could change, Schulz said the percentages spelled out in the contract will not.
According to Schulz, the contract requires the town to continue carrying a comprehensive health insurance plan that — from a benefits perspective — is comparable to one members of the department were afforded under the earlier agreement.
The contract allows officers to carry up to 120 hours of vacation time over from one fiscal year to the next.
Schulz also said hourly pay for providing service to Central VermontMedical Centerunder a separately negotiated agreement will increase to $30, from $26.

from the Times Argus


By David Delcore
Staff Writer - Published: February 29, 2012

BERLIN— If there are opponents to Wal-Mart’s plans to expand its store at the Berlin Mall, they missed an opportunity to be heard Monday night when the District 5 Environmental Commission opened its review of the project.
More than two dozen people attended, but many were affiliated with the proposal, and most of the rest — including town officials and at least one neighboring property owner — were generally supportive of a plan that would enlarge the store by roughly 26,000 square feet.

The proposal also involves adding 136 parking spaces along the perimeter of the mall’s existing lot and replacing the sign to the shopping complex at its Route 62 entrance.
The plan, which was briefly outlined for the commission by Montpelier attorney Charles Storrow, involves constructing an 18,700-square-foot addition to the Wal-Mart. Storrow, who represents the mall’s owners and sat next to one of them — Ken Simon, of Lerner-Heidenberg Associates — during the hearing, said the addition would be built behind and connected to three existing storefronts that collectively occupy roughly 7,600 square feet.
One of those storefronts is vacant; the other two house F.Y.E. and Payless Shoes — stores that would presumably be relocated within the mall to make room for one of Wal-Mart’s “discount superstores.” Among other things, commissioners were told the expanded store, which would grow from roughly 67,000 to 93,500 square feet, would feature a much larger grocery department — complete with its own bakery and delicatessen.
Assuming the commission approves the requested amendment to the mall’s Act 250 land-use permit, Storrow said construction could start this year. However, he acknowledged the proposed development will require several other state and local permits before that can happen.
“(Work will start) as soon as all the pieces fall into place,” Storrow said. “Hopefully this construction season.”
According to testimony, Wal-Mart expects to hire 50 additional employees when and if the store is expanded.
As expected, the effect of increased traffic on the surrounding road network, which the mall shares with CentralVermont Medical Centerand others, dominated discussion during the two-hour hearing.
The commission heard only one request for party status. That came from an insurance company eager to shed the financial liability associated with a nebulous traffic-related condition in its own land-use permit.
David Grayck, the Montpelierlawyer representing Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Vermont, told the three-member commission that his client isn’t opposed to the expansion of Wal-Mart. But he said traffic-related testimony at the hearing could justify lifting what has become a standard condition in permits for projects near the much-studied and occasionally tinkered-with intersection of Route 62 and Fisher and Airport roads.
That condition essentially puts permit holders, like the mall and Blue Cross, on the hook for their “fair share” of an intersection upgrade that hasn’t yet been defined using a cost-sharing formula that hasn’t yet been developed.
However, based on the testimony of the mall’s traffic expert, as well as from Vermont Agency of Transportation officials, Grayck wondered whether federally funded improvements the state plans to make on Fisher Roadnext year would bring the problem intersection into regulatory compliance.
Currently that intersection operates at a level of service of “F” — a failing grade that Bruce Nyquist, one of the Transportation Agency personnel who attended the hearing, said is exclusively attributed to traffic during the afternoon rush hour.
“The rest of the time this intersection works just fine,” he said.
According to Nyquist, the installation of radar detection units at the intersection has all but eliminated vehicles on Route 62 running red lights and significantly reduced the number of accidents at the intersection.
Shawn Kelly, the traffic expert retained by the mall’s owner, said that change, coupled with the planned addition of an exclusive left turn lane on Airport Road and other modifications, should improve the intersection’s level of service to a “D” even with the marginally increased traffic that would be generated by an expanded Wal-Mart.
If that analysis is accurate, Grayck said, Blue Cross would likely want to revisit its permit.
“If the ‘adverse condition’ no longer exists then the legal justification for the (permit) condition no longer exists,” he said, noting that the potential cost of some future fix is being carried on the books by Blue Cross and passed on to its ratepayers.
Commission member Chuck Haynes predicted there were other companies with similar permit conditions that probably would like to rid themselves of “an undefined liability that they have to carry on their financial statements.”
“(The liability) runs with the permit and it runs with the property,” Haynes noted, wondering whether it was time to consider extinguishing the permit conditions.
However, Rajnish Gupta, traffic research manager for the Agency of Transportation, said he believed that would be premature, given the interim nature of the improvements the agency has proposed.
“Our preference would be to retain the permit conditions,” he said, explaining it could be several years before the state works out the “fair share” process and proposes a longer-term solution.
While the commission spent plenty of time on traffic issues — a discussion that touched briefly on the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks on the town road that runs between the mall and the hospital — it breezed through most of the other review criteria, many of which are addressed in the underlying permit for the mall.
The commission has taken the Blue Cross request for party status under advisement and will await additional submittals and issue a memorandum outlining how it plans to proceed. A second hearing has not been scheduled.



Please note that the following grant offers counseling services to find more resources available to storm survivors.Those interested in taking part are asked to call 2-1-1

Vermont’s $2.4 million disaster grant approved by FEMA

Money will help disaster survivors with housing, other unmet needs

MONTPELIER– Gov. Peter Shumlin announced today that Vermontwill receive a $2.4 million grant from FEMA for recovery services for survivors of Tropical Storm Irene. The funds will assist with unmet needs, including housing, social services and more.

The grant will be managed by the Vermont Agency of Human Services, which will contract with three Community Action agencies to hire 11 case managers through August of 2013. Those case managers will work with the same clients from start to finish, identifying the assistance already received, prioritize what disaster related needs remain, and locating the resources available. Case managers will follow up with individuals to ensure all needs are met.

The case managers will be working in partnership with 11 Long Term Recovery Committees around Vermont. Those who are still in need of case management services should call 2-1-1 to be referred to the appropriate Long Term Recovery Committee.

The funding request was prepared and submitted by the Vermont Agency of Human Services and strongly supported by Vermont’s Congressional delegation.

“I am grateful that FEMA is recognizing Vermonter's efforts to respond to Tropical Storm Irene. Through the creation of partnerships at the state and municipal level and the creation of long-term recovery centers Vermonters worked together to recover from Irene's devastation,” said Gov. Shumlin. “This grant will help fill the gap for individuals who need the most long-term help to rebuild their lives.”

Senator Patrick Leahy added, "This grant makes clear that federal agencies will 'stay in the game' with Vermonters coping with Irene's aftermath, supporting state and local recovery needs well into 2013. We know that the damage done by a disaster of this magnitude lasts long after the headlines have ebbed and the State of Vermontshowed great foresight and planning by pursuing this grant."

Senator Bernie Sanders said, “It is impressive the degree to which Vermonters have rebounded from the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Irene. However, there are many Vermonters who have had trouble navigating the array of federal, state, private and non-profit assistance, and there are others who have regrettably fallen through the cracks. This grant will provide much-needed resources so the state and community action agencies can work with these individuals and families to make sure they are getting all of the assistance they are eligible for.”

Congressman Peter Welch said, "In characteristic fashion, Vermonters are getting back on their feet with neighbors helping neighbors and communities rallying around those hit hardest by Irene's wrath. But the storm caused immense damage in many parts of Vermont, from which it will take years to recover. These funds will assist organizations doing great work and helping in that long-term recovery effort."

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