Thursday, April 26, 2012

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW April 26th, 2012 Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at Look back at previous posts for more information Facebook user? Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page

**** There are some folks who I believe are no longer Berlin residents on my email list - you're welcome to stay on but let me know if you'd like to be taken off.

Included please find:


RIVER CONFERENCE May 16th - at the Capital Plaza in Montpelier 8:15am - 4:30pm. Pre Registration Required, Free, details can be found at: (when I last looked, there was still space to be able to sign up)


BERLIN SELECT BOARD meets the first and third Monday of the month. Next meeting is May 7th. The April 16th Select Board Meeting video available on line: *** BERLIN ROAD SUPERINTENDENT position vacancy:

*** GREEN UP SATURDAY, MAY 5TH Get out and Green Up - Come to Berlin Elementary School to pick up your bags for this years Green Up Day. Refreshments will be available and you can enter a drawing to win a rain barrel. Stop by Saturday morning, May 5th from 7:30am to noon. Leave the bags on the side of the road or bring them to the dumpsters at the Town office / garage. For more information call Rob at 223-7278 Wear sturdy shoes or boots and gloves - in addition to the usual liter to pick up, there is also lots to still clean up from Tropical Storm Irene.

By Daniel Staples Staff Writer - Published: April 13, 2012
BERLIN — In one harrowing night, Tropical Storm Irene washed away M’s RV on Route 12. Since that fateful August day, the owners of the business along the Dog River have been putting the pieces back together. On April 20, they plan to reopen. Marcel Ducas and his wife, Joanne, and son, Chad, have had their business for nearly two decades. On the day Irene hit, as the family was trying frantically to save as much of their inventory as they could by moving it to higher ground, they were separated by rising waters. “We’d never seen anything like it,” said Marcel Ducas. He said he was evacuating his uncle from a unit in the yard with a backhoe when waters surged and left Joanne Ducas stranded in the business’s main building. While Marcel Ducas watched from the road, flooding swept up RVs and drove them into the building. “She was surrounded,” said Marcel Ducas. “We didn’t know what to do, and there was nothing we could do.” From 6 p.m. on the Sunday when Irene hit until 4 a.m. the next day, Marcel and Joanne Ducas communicated only by walkie-talkie. While she was busy snapping photos as the floodwaters pushed RVs onto the neighbor’s property, he kept a watchful eye on the rising waters and eventually instructed Joanne to begin moving things away from the corner of a building when another RV became pinned against the building in the rushing waters. “It snapped two posts for the porch, and I thought it might take out the whole corner,” said Marcel. At one point during the night, a neighbor tried to ford the river to rescue Joanne Ducas, but the tractor was overturned by the current and she remained trapped. In the early hours Monday, Marcel Ducas saw the water had receded enough to try again. He attempted to cross what had once been their driveway only to end up in a 10-foot crater where the raging river had gouged the ground beneath where the neighbor’s tractor had been abandoned. “If you would have told me the gravel was gone, I would have said you were crazy,” said Marcel Ducas. Joanne’s rescue turned into his rescue. Joanne Ducas was able to get a hose down to her husband and pull him out, and the couple retreated to even higher ground when the National Guard arrived. “You didn’t have time to get scared. You had too much to think about,” said Marcel Ducas of his rescue efforts. As the sun came up that morning, the Ducases were able to assess the damage. It was widespread. “Everything in the building and the whole inventory was a total loss,” said Joanne Ducas. Most of the land, including the driveway and the lots where the RVs had been parked, was washed away. In some areas craters were more than 20 feet deep. “When we were assessing the damage, we were told it would be a million dollars in gravel to fix the drive,” said Marcel Ducas. They never hesitated on whether to rebuild. They began cleaning up and rebuilding their business the very next day after Irene. “We had to do the whole inside of the store,” said Joanne Ducas. “The shop had 5 feet of water in it. We had to get all new shelving, merchandise and all new flooring.” The gravel to fix the property began rolling in from many sources. As crews were removing gravel from some sites near the Ducases’ business, they began trucking it to M’s RV. “We had to bring in gravel for three weeks straight,” said Marcel Ducas. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. trucks from local contractors and the Agency of Transportation began dumping loads of fill into what had been their driveway. “That’s a lot of dirt,” said Marcel Ducas. He said he was able to do a lot of the work with his own heavy equipment, which was spared from the flood. “Since the flood, we have not stopped working on cleanup,” said Joanne Ducas. “We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the fast sellers, what shelving to use,” said Joanne Ducas. “We were just making sure how we started back up was more advantageous for the business.” “We’re trying to get back into business as well as we can,” she added. “We just want to let people know ‘Yes, we’re still here’ and ‘Yes, we have stuff for sale.’” The Ducases said that if it were not for the help of friends, family and neighbors, getting M’s RV back into business after Irene would have been insurmountable. “With all the help and everyone chipping in, it feels like everything just fell back together,” said Joanne Ducas, who is looking forward to putting the flood behind her and getting back to business as usual.

By David Delcore Staff Writer - Published: April 17, 2012
BERLIN — The redevelopment of a Barre-Montpelier Road strip mall is coming into sharper focus as two chain stores have sought regulatory approval to open in the complex that is anchored by Price Chopper supermarket. One — Petco — would be new to Berlin and central Vermont, while the other — Staples — is planning to move from Paine Turnpike to the Barre-Montpelier Road. Petco has long been rumored as a potential tenant for some of the remaining space in a shopping center that added TJ Maxx nearly two years ago as part of a redevelopment that involved a major expansion of Price Chopper and the relocation and modest expansion of The Dollar Tree. The Development Review Board recently approved an illuminated sign for Petco, and while company officials said no date has been set for a grand opening, it appears clear one is in the offing. The Berlin store would be Petco’s third in Vermont. The others are on Williston Road in South Burlington and on Route 7 in Rutland. According to documents filed with the town, the store will occupy 13,750 square feet of currently vacant retail space next to TJ Maxx. A privately held company, Petco was founded in 1965 and has more than 1,150 stores nationwide. Meanwhile, the shopping center’s Ohio-based owner has proposed leasing the last of its vacant space — 18,718 square feet — to Staples. Officials for JKL Barre LLC declined to comment when asked about a newly filed application that would presumably facilitate Staples moving from its location next to Shaw’s supermarket on Paine Turnpike to the Barre-Montpelier Road. Officials at Staples’ Massachusetts headquarters were unable to quickly confirm the apparent move Monday. In addition to Berlin, Staples has stores in South Burlington, Williston, Rutland Town, St. Albans, Brattleboro and Bennington. With the exception of the proposed construction of a 223-square-foot loading dock and some façade work, the two businesses would be housed in vacant space in the 127,674-square-foot strip mall. The stores would both be smaller than the 24,000-square-foot TJ Maxx and larger than the 12,000-square-foot The Dollar Tree. The two new businesses would be in the far end of the plaza in space that has been empty since the Ames Department Store chain went bankrupt in 2002. @Tagline:david.delcore


By David Delcore Staff Writer - Published: April 17, 2012
BERLIN — Tentative plans to hold hearings tonight on competing proposals to construct a scaled-down version of the Vermont State Hospital were scratched after both applications were ruled incomplete. Town Administrator Jeff Schulz recently told state officials that he’ll need more information about both proposals before scheduling hearings on either of them. Specifically, Schulz, who doubles as the town’s zoning administrator, has indicated the recently filed applications to build essentially the same 30,000-square-foot, 25-bed facility for Vermonters with acute mental illness lacked sufficient detail with regard to everything from parking and lighting to water, sewer and fencing. In two separate but nearly identical letters to Dave Burley, a regional director with the state Department of Buildings and General Services, Schulz raised questions about two separate but nearly identical applications. The only material difference between the two applications involves the location. One calls for the state hospital to be built on 20 acres of privately owned land that abuts the Central Vermont Medical Center campus on Fisher Road. The other contemplates acquiring roughly 20 acres off Paine Turnpike from Vermont Mutual Insurance Co. and building the hospital partly on that property and partly on an eight-acre parcel the state owns and which houses the Mid-State Regional Library. State officials plan to pursue only one of the two locations and have filed two applications in an effort to keep their options open as they negotiate with affected property owners. Schulz has asked the state to provide more detailed information about the parking and lighting plans at each location, as well as the proposed curb cuts, the water and sewer lines, and fencing that will keep the hospital’s patients from leaving the property. However, the most significant threshold determination from the state’s perspective is Schulz’s conclusion that the project will require a conditional use permit at either location. Although a hospital would be a permitted use on both the Fisher Road and Paine Turnpike properties, Schulz has concluded that the hospital in question is also a state facility and will require conditional use approval. That determination will give the town’s Development Review Board a little more latitude when considering both applications. The ruling could be important because some town and school officials, as well as some residents, have expressed reservations about constructing a hospital for people with acute mental illnesses on the Paine Turnpike property, which is just an open field and a few hundred feet from Berlin Elementary School. Allowing for a more substantive review at the local level is important given a recent jurisdictional opinion that suggests the project will not require an Act 250 land-use permit. Schulz said Monday that he has not yet received any supplemental information from the state but will schedule Development Review Board hearings on both applications as soon as he does. Meanwhile, Schulz said local officials plan to accept the state’s offer to host a community informational meeting about the project in an effort to allay fears some might have about the proposal. That meeting has not been scheduled, but state officials have said they are eager to explain the $20 million project that will bring some 70 jobs to Berlin. The layout of the hospital, which will include two eight-bed wings, a five-bed wing and a four-bed wing, as well as a secure fenced yard, would be the same at both locations. david.delcore

By David Delcore Staff Writer - Published: April 21, 2012
BERLIN — Barre police have them, Montpelier police have long wanted them, Barre Town police should soon be getting them, and police in Berlin are now asking for Tasers. Though it might come as something of a shock to residents who read the agenda for Monday night’s meeting, the Berlin Select Board was scheduled to hear a presentation on Chief Bill Wolfe’s request that it green-light the purchase of an unspecified number of unbudgeted stun guns for the town’s seven-member police department. The item was warned as the “presentation and discussion of electronic control devices” and apparently fooled at least one member of the town’s fire department. Town Administrator Jeff Schulz said he got a call from a firefighter who wondered whether the board was planning to take up his department’s recent request that the town explore installing remote-controlled, camera-like devices that enable operators of emergency vehicles to change traffic signals from red to green on a moment’s notice. It wasn’t, according to Schulz, who said the board was scheduled to hear from Lt. Todd Faulkner, a Hinsdale, N.H., police officer who sidelines as a certified Taser instructor. However, Faulkner canceled at the last minute, according to Schulz, who said the board agreed to table the Taser discussion until next month. Although the board didn’t include any money in its recently approved budget to buy stun guns, which cost roughly $1,200 apiece, Schulz said Wolfe would like to purchase at least two or three of the weapons that are widely viewed as useful less-lethal tools among those in the law enforcement community. The stun guns are designed to deliver an incapacitating 50,000-volt jolt of electricity that lasts approximately five seconds. Acquisition of the potentially deadly weapons by some central Vermont police departments has been controversial. After a protracted debate that focused mostly on the perceived need for the new weapon and concern that police might be too quick to use it, city councilors in Barre agreed to arm their officers with Tasers in 2009. After an even more protracted and often emotional debate that played out over several months in Montpelier last year, city councilors were spared having to make a decision when Police Chief Tony Facos withdrew his request to purchase 14 stun guns. In Barre Town, where Wolfe is a member of the Select Board, the decision to include funding for Tasers in the budget voters will be asked to approve May 8 was little more than a formality. The town’s budget committee, on which Wolfe and other Barre Town Select Board members serve, voted to include Police Chief Mike Stevens’ request to purchase Tasers for his officers. Assuming the budget is approved next month, the stun guns will be purchased. It remains to be seen how Wolfe’s pending request will be greeted in Berlin, but he does have an ally in the president of Central Vermont Medical Center. Citing an escalating pattern of violent episodes at the Berlin hospital’s emergency room in recent years, CVMC President Judy Tartaglia recently wrote a letter encouraging the Berlin board to approve Wolfe’s request. “I am in support of the Berlin police carrying Tasers,” Tartaglia wrote in an April 4 letter that was addressed to Wolfe and distributed to the Select Board. According to Tartaglia, several CVMC staff have been injured due to an increase in violent incidents that she said could be attributed to “a rise in the number of patients … who are seeking prescription drugs, and the high number of individuals in our community with substance abuse concerns.” She indicated the closing of the Vermont State Hospital probably hasn’t helped. “I have been alarmed at the upsurge in the violent incidents occurring at CVMC,” Tartaglia wrote. “I worry every day about the safety of our patients and employees.” Although the hospital pays a private company to provide round-the-clock security, Tartaglia noted Berlin police have been instrumental in dealing with violent episodes, which, she indicated, can be tricky to handle in an emergency room setting where concerns about “cross-contamination” and injuries to patients mean officers cannot use pepper spray to subdue an unruly person. “You are … restricted to hands or hard impact weapons when dealing with combative, out of control people,” Tartaglia wrote. “Using Tasers in appropriate situations would allow your police officers to subdue violent individuals without injuring them or staff.” According to Schulz, the Select Board has tentatively agreed to revisit the issue at its May 7 meeting. david.delcore

Published: April 24, 2012
BERLIN — A fire that spread from a truck to a car next to it stunned people at a Vermont shopping center, but no one was injured. Firefighters told WCAX-TVin Burlington that a truck caught fire in the Price Chopper parking lot in Berlin spread to a Volkswagen parked next to it late Saturday afternoon. Both vehicles were destroyed. A third vehicle sustained minor heat damage as well. Officials said the original fire in the truck is not considered suspicious. Firefighters said the owner of the truck smelled smoke shortly before the fire ignited. A witness told WCAX that it took firefighters from Berlin more than 20 minutes to pit out the fires. *** NEW HOUSING FOR VT IRENE VICTIMS - WCAX video re Weston Mobile Home Park folks in temporary refurbished Barre apartment building

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