Saturday, August 25, 2012


News to Know August 25

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook
Included below please find:
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Don’t use the ‘B’ word 
   Front Porch Forum is a free online service which benefits members of a community within a given town.   A group of residents in Berlin is currently making efforts to bring Front Porch Forum to our town.  There is a one time start-up cost of $2500 to set up the forum and organize the postings.  We are hoping to raise this fee and we are requesting your help in bringing Front Porch Forum to Berlin.  The Town of Berlin has pledged $500, our volunteer committee has donated $500 and Berlin's Fresh Tracks Winery has pledged $250 toward the effort already.  So with a little help from our neighbors we can get this done.
   Front Porch Forum is a free community-building service currently in 75 Vermont towns.  Each town's online forum is open only to the people who live in that town. 
Members post just about anything neighbors discuss.  Common topics include lost pets, contractor recommendations, block parties, break-ins, helping neighbors in need, buy/sell/give away items, and much more.
   FPF is moderated by a professional to assure civility but it's really the neighbors who set the tone and keep the conversation flowing.
   Check out a sample issue at
   Ask your friends in Waterbury, Middlesex, Worcester, Barre, East Montpelier or Calais, how they like their forums.
   We need your financial support to establish Front Porch Forum in Berlin.  Your contribution in any amount will help neighbors to connect and strengthen our community.
  We appreciate your consideration of this local grassroots effort that will have a direct benefit for the members of this forum.   Checks may be made out to Front Porch Forum and mailed to: Andrea Chandler, 1350 Crosstown Road, Berlin, VT 05602.  If you include your e-mail address we will update you on our progress and let you know when FPF is up and running in Berlin.  If for any reason we are unable to raise the total fee of $2500 your check will be returned to you.  You may contact Andrea Chandler at with any questions.
BERLIN CEMETERY COMMITTEE SHORT TWO MEMBERS (making it difficult to have a quorum at a meeting)
   The Cemetery Committee is in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of the Towns 9 historical cemeteries, East Road, Black, Colby, Johnston-Sawyer, West Berlin, Colby, Cox Brook, Boles and Howard. It receives a budget each year from the town to do this and the committee needs to be judicious in its management to stay within budget but still do the things necessary to keep these cemeteries and their monuments in good shape and satisfactory to those who have ancestors there.  These cemeteries are over 200 years old in most cases.
   The committee is not very visible but has carried out its duties well in these cemeteries over the years since the Town began to really care about them in about 1985.
Current members are Randy Herring, Chair, Rebecca Knight, Secretary, Norbert Rhinerson, Treasurer
at Free National Preparedness Month Webinar Series (scheduled for 1 hour each)
   This summer millions of business across the country were forced to close their doors in the aftermath of power outages, approaching wildfires, and flooding caused by tropical storms. Business interruptions, even if it lasts just a few hours, cost business owners greatly in terms of lost productivity and profits.
   You can get help with your own business preparedness planning through a series of free webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery.   The September series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign, as part of National Preparedness Month. SBA wants to help business owners take charge of the well-being of their own companies, the safety of their employees, and the sustenance of their local economies by being prepared to rebound quickly from any kind of disaster.
   Here’s a list of the webinars, held each Wednesday in September at 2 p.m. ET:
   Sept. 5:  “10 Steps to Prepare Any Organization for Disaster” with an introduction from James Rivera, Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
   Sept. 12: “Protecting Your Organization by Preparing Your Employees”
   Sept. 19: “Utilization of Social Media During a Crisis”
   Sept. 26: “Surviving a Crisis, Large or Small: Real Life Lessons Learned” Business owners who recovered from disasters discuss their proactive emergency planning.
   A question and answer session will follow each of the presentations. Go to to register for any of the webinars.
   SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies through their “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit to access past webinars and for useful preparedness tools.
Remember, because of the continued financial support from the town on Town Meeting Day, all Berlin residents (with proof of residency) may get a "free" library card and make use of all the resources at our community library.  The Kellogg-Hubbard Library located on Main Street in Montpelier.
by Eric Blaisdell, staff writer (pub 8/1/12)
   MONTPELIER – The new director of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library wants to bring the institution into the digital age.
   Richard Bidnick started as the library’s director on July 16 after the previous director resigned in February. Bidnick, a Pennsylvania native, had spent the past 20 years directing libraries in New Jersey.
   He has a plan to make the library more modern with a larger digital footprint. Bidnick wants patrons of the library to be able to renew and reserve books online and he also wants to develop a cellphone app that would allow people to experience programs the library is holding without actually being at the library.
   Bidnick says there is no timetable for implementing these ideas yet. He also said he has done similar digital upgrades at other libraries he has headed and he is excited to do the same for the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Vermont.
   Vermont seemed like an intriguing place to live for Bidnick, who said he had been wanting to live here for several years.
   “I like the independent thinking of the State of Vermont,” he said. “People here have a different, relaxed view about life and about what is really important.”
   Another characteristic Bidnick has noticed since taking the job is the diversity of what people are reading, such as history, science and other educational material, an experience he did not have in New Jersey where most of the reading was for entertainment.
   "It's nice to see that it is not only the usual fiction and mystery and that type of thing (in Vermont), " he said.  "It's great to be in a location where people are thinking and interested in the world around them."
   Getting people thinking and interested is the biggest reason Bidnick became a librarian, which he called something he loves to do and does not consider work.  He credited his own youthful experiences at his local library for his passions today for music, politics, economics and travel, which has led him to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Australia and the Seychelles.
   "My whole purpose is making libraries the best they can be because I know what it did for me in my life, " he said.  "If one other person from something that I have done in the libraries I've run has had a window open for them, then my whole sense of purpose in life has been justified."
   Bidnick received a Bachelor of Arts in Egyptian art and archaeology from the American University in Cairo in 1986 and a master's in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1988.  He was also the youngest person to be appointed state librarian of Rhode Island in 1989.
   The president of the Kellogg-Hubbard board of trustees, John Page, said Bidnick was the best choice for the job and that he is pleased and hopeful about the direction wants to take the library.
   "He is an experienced professional library manager," Page said.  "he is also a very smart guy with wide-ranging interests."
   Bidnick takes over for former Executive Director Daniel Pudvah and Director Robin Sales.  The two directors left in February , with Pudvah taking a position at WDV and and Sales saying she left for personal and professional reasons.
   Sales said at the time that before she resigned, the library's board of trustees had hired a consultant to examine the leadership structure of the library.  The consultant was said to have recommended going with a single director instead of the duel director system the library started in 2005.
By David Delcore  (pub Times Argus 8/14/12
   BERLIN — If the Select Board was looking for a reason to ban parking from one end of Mirror Lake Road to the other, it didn’t find it during a Monday afternoon site visit.
   The situation looked pretty much as members indicated they thought it would — not optimal, but not horrible.
   One man was fishing, two others were just driving off after spending more than seven hours paddling around the pond, and yet another was patiently waiting for the board to show up.
   Had members arrived just a few minutes sooner they would have seen a husky-Rottweiler mix named Paisley take a quick dip in the pond’s placid waters before trotting off with her owner — a jogger who lovingly nudged the panting dog into Montpelier’s drinking water supply before continuing their run. Or they could have seen a string of ducks come in for a landing in the wetland on the opposite end of what has arguably become the most talked-about culvert in central Vermont.
   The culvert, which runs beneath the narrow gravel Mirror Lake Road on the south end of the two-mile-long pond, has become a de facto boat launch in the wake of the Vermont Supreme Court’s ruling in May that Montpelier has no authority to enforce restrictions on pond recreation that had been in place for more than a century.
   It is the place where Montpelier resident Gene McCourt has taken to shore fishing almost daily, and where folks like Middlesex resident Jim Moriarty put their canoes and kayaks into the water.
   For better or worse it has become the way into a pond that, with one other exception, is surrounded by posted land owned by Montpelier.
   The Select Board visited that exception — a sliver of property on Paine Turnpike South that Berlin bought from town resident Mildred Hayden for $90 back in 1954 — before swinging by Mirror Lake Road on Monday afternoon.
Nate Smead was waiting for them.
   Smead, whose father lives on nearby Brookfield Road, said he showed up early because he wanted to make sure those who have lobbied the board to discourage recreational use of the pond didn’t try any “funny business.”
   But the short section of Mirror Lake Road looked the same at 5 p.m. as it had at 10 a.m. when Moriarty and his visiting nephew, Tim, launched their canoe after picking up a couple of stray cigarette butts they noticed on the roadway. And, with the exception of McCourt constantly crossing the road to try his luck on both ends of the culvert and Moriarty and his nephew pulling their canoe out of the water, nothing changed before the board’s arrival at about 5:30 p.m.
   The grassless, scuffed shore on one side of the culvert was showing signs of wear, and a clump of what Smead identified as milfoil was sitting in a few inches of water just an arm’s length away.
   However, Chairman Brad Towne, who scooped up the milfoil, seemed more concerned about the nearby dry hydrant that allows firetrucks to pull water from the pond during the winter. Ensuring safe access to the hydrant is a key concern of the boards, and members tentatively agreed last week that could be accomplished by restricting parking on the north side of the road within 200 yards of the hydrant. That decision was contingent on Monday’s site visit, but nothing the board saw prompted members to second-guess what some view as a stopgap solution.
(pub Times Argus 8/25/12)
   BERLIN — Sandy Gaffney lost the first home she ever owned and most of her belongings when Tropical Storm Irene ripped through her mobile home park last August. She still gets teary-eyed talking about it as the storm’s anniversary approaches.
   Like many other mobile home owners, Gaffney couldn’t afford to buy another trailer. But after months of struggle, she has moved back to Weston’s Mobile Home Park, into a renovated trailer, and become an activist, crusading for relief for others displaced by the storm.
   “I have a different life now,” said the 64-year-old, sitting in her mobile home, across from a row of mostly empty lots, where trailers were removed. “It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.”
   Floodwaters from the Aug. 28 storm damaged or destroyed 560 mobile homes in Vermont.
   At first, 150 mobile home owners received payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency of $30,200 each, the maximum amount. But many others were on their own because their trailers weren’t considered total losses even though they later had mold damage or weren’t worth fixing.
   That’s when the Vermont Workers’ Center, a group that pushes for workers’ rights and living wages, organized the Vermont Mobile Home Park Residents for Equality and Fairness. Gaffney became an early member.
   The retired paraeducator — a teacher’s aide in special education — had been so proud to buy a home of her own, moving in just 11 months before the storm hit. But after Irene, all her insurance money went to pay the remaining $24,000 mortgage. Her trailer was destroyed. She gave up her job providing care at home to a disabled adult so she could focus on recovering from the storm. She continued to work part-time at a nursing home.
   Like others, she faced having to come up with thousands of dollars to pay for her flooded trailer to be removed from the park.
   The offices of the secretary of the Agency of Commerce and the lieutenant governor, the Vermont Community Foundation and others reached out to private donors and eventually raised enough money to move the remaining trailers at no cost to the homeowners.
   Gov. Peter Shumlin invoked his emergency powers to condemn destroyed mobile homes so their owners would be eligible for the maximum FEMA reimbursement. A total of 131 condemnation letters went out and just over $1 million in additional FEMA funds were provided to mobile home owners, said Deputy Housing Commissioner Jennifer Hollar.
   Gaffney expected to stay in the two-room efficiency apartment she had rented in Montpelier or maybe get a place with her son and his family, who were moving back from Michigan. She didn’t want to go back to Weston’s after the flood and certainly never thought she could buy a home again.
   That was until she saw the renovated trailer on a raised lot. She planned to use her FEMA money and talked to a community action agency that told her about a fund set up by Burlington developer and philanthropist Tony Pomerleau for flooded mobile home owners.
   “This time I needed all the help in the world,” she said.
   Gaffney moved in in June. She gushes about how nice her new mobile home is, with its added insulation, deck, sheet rock on the walls, hardwood floors and wooden beams on the ceiling. A group of college students dropped off potted plants of flowers to Weston residents this spring.
   Gaffney helped set up a fund for trailer residents who were victims of Irene and of flooding last May. The fund was started with a gift of $50,000 from a Middlebury couple, David and Eleanor Ignat. The hardest part, Gaffney said, was reading applications detailing hardships people had faced since the storm. Some lost spouses; others had trouble finding affordable housing and incurred large debts buying homes or bought homes that turned out to have problems, like one young family that bought a used trailer and discovered later that it was full of mold.
   She is “hyper aware” now when it rains hard, always looking out the windows to see what the water is doing, how long it takes to soak in and if it’s pooling in the low spots deliberately carved out of the ground.
   She salvaged a wooden bookshelf with a faint water mark from her old home, showing how high the water rose during the flood, so she won’t forget.
   Many people are no longer involved in the mobile home group nearly a year after Irene, Gaffney says, but the group has reached out to other parks around the state and other members are coming on board.
   Gaffney recently was offered a stipend from the Vermont Workers’ Center to work with the mobile home parks across the state to organize people to push for social and economic justice and universal health care for all.
   “It’s just been amazing to see her transform from someone who was struggling as a survivor from Irene into a real leader,” said James Haslam, executive director of the Workers’ Center.
   She’s spoken in front of hundreds of people and inspired others to get involved on issues related to health care, housing and workers’ rights, Haslam said.
   “It made me into activist,” Gaffney said of Irene. “You know what, I always wanted to be an activist, always, and never knew how to go about doing that.”
Don’t use the ‘B’ word  (pub 8/10/12)
   Just the other day I mentioned to my wife I’m “credit unioning” that my check will arrive today, and my wife agreed. She said, “You can credit union on it.”
   I was watching a cloud credit union move in over Barre, wondering if it would rain a few days ago.
   It has been a year now, more or less, and the credit unions along the rivers still seem to have a lot of refuse from Tropical Storm Irene’s passing.
   Passed some time at the bowling alley’s pool table a few days ago and watched intently as a guy made a three-rail credit union shot on the eight ball.
   Spent some time on the Internet checking to see what effect the weather has had on fishing in and around the Newfoundland Credit Unions.
   The new jets for the Guard will have quite a time making quiet credit union turns when landing, as I understand it.
   With the change of seasons I’ll be looking into credit unioning my home against the cold again this year.
   I probably will credit union the fire in the stove overnight to help with keeping it warm this winter too.
   The four credit union turns at Thunder Road really provide for a good time on Thursdays.
   I have been wondering how the Red Cross was doing with its latest blood credit union drive.
   Then, of course, we have the bank, an institution for lending, borrowing, exchanging, issuing or safeguarding money. That couldn’t possibly be a credit union also. Could it?
   Then of course, there are the funds of a gambling house held by the dealer, that only the dealer controls. And you can bank on that.
    Alfred Blakey, Barre

Friday, August 03, 2012


News to Know August 3

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook
Included below please find:
FRONT PORCH FORUM - interested??
CAPITAL CITY BAND Wednesday evenings
FRONT PORCH FORUM submitted by: Sara Alberghini Winters
Help Bring Front Porch Forum to Berlin!  Join us for an initial meeting for people interested in Bringing Front Porch Forum to Berlin on Sunday August 12th at the Berlin town offices at 3:30 PM. If you can't make it but still want to participate please contact Martha Clelia at  Hope to see you there!
MUSIC MAKERS (pub 7/25/12 Times Argus)
By Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
The Capital City Band has been entertaining summer audiences in Montpelier for more than a century now. The community band plays 10 free concerts throughout the summer on the lawn of the Supreme Court building on Wednesday nights. In case of rain, the band moves to the porch of the Pavillion building. There are no auditions, and the band is open to musicians of any age and any skill. There are three preseason rehearsals where band members work on new material, but no rehearsals are scheduled during the season. 
Photos with this story showed: Doug Little, of Berlin, the band’s co-director along with Arthur Zorn, urges the players to a dramatic conclusion during a performance this week. Retired biology teacher Carolyn Silsby has been blowing her baritone horn with the band for 40 years and is the band’s manager. The audience, including a large group from Heaton Woods, enjoys a selection from the band.
  By David Delcore
   BERLIN — A chain restaurant that serves soup in sourdough bread bowls and sandwiches on freshly baked bread could be coming soon to the Barre-Montpelier Road.
   According to a newly filed permit application, Panera Bread is the mystery restaurant being courted by owners of the Central Vermont Shopping Center. The application, which arrived at the town offices Friday, will be considered by the Development Review Board when it meets Aug. 21.
   The plan is to build a freestanding 3,800-square-foot restaurant in the L-shaped plaza that is anchored by Big Lots. Panera Bread would be the newest addition to the 108,000-square-foot plaza that already includes one freestanding restaurant — Pizza Hut.
   Panera Bread’s 108-seat “bakery-café” would include a drive-through and be next to Pizza Hut on the partly developed “out-lot” between that restaurant and Big Lots.
   A permit was previously granted for a bank in the out-lot, but it was never built. The shopping complex is owned by Pomerleau Real Estate.
   According to the application, 36 of the shopping center’s 453 parking spaces would be eliminated to accommodate the new restaurant. That is two more spaces than would have been needed to make room for the bank, which received a permit in 1999.
   Town Administrator Jeff Schulz, who doubles as the town’s zoning administrator, ruled last month that the bank permit was still valid and Pomerleau was within its rights to pursue a revised version of the project, which wouldn’t be allowed under the town’s current flood regulations.
   At the time that threshold question was being addressed, both Schulz and representatives for Pomerleau declined to name the prospective tenant.
   The new application — a public document — answered that question.
   Panera Bread, founded in 1981 and based in St. Louis, is a publicly traded company that has nearly 1,600 franchise bakery-cafes in 40 states and Ontario. It has two locations in Vermont — one on Church Street in Burlington and the other on South Main Street in Rutland.
   The application to build a Panera Bread on the Barre-Montpelier Road in Berlin arrived too late to be considered by the local review board at its meeting last week. The board, which won’t meet again until Aug. 21, has been busy lately.
   Last week it opened but did not conclude its review of the proposed redevelopment of another Barre-Montpelier Road property. Plans to construct a CVS Pharmacy would require the demolition of the vacant restaurant that last housed Friendly’s, as well as the neighboring Vermonter Motel.
   Earlier this month the board put the finishing touches on the permit for Wal-Mart’s proposed expansion at the Berlin Mall. Among other things, the permit requires the installation of a sidewalk from the mall’s parking lot to Fisher Road, as well as a crosswalk at the traffic light on Fisher Road that the mall shares with Central Vermont Medical Center.
   With the local approval in hand, representatives for the mall are waiting for a decision from the District 5 Environmental Commission. The commission has been asked to amend the mall’s state land-use permit to allow Wal-Mart to expand its store from roughly 67,000 square feet to more than 93,500 square feet.
(pub 7/25/12 WCAX News)
   MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont officials say they should know next month how much FEMA will pay to fix the washed out state office complex in Waterbury.
   The state is holding off demolishing some buildings until it gets an OK from the feds. FEMA pulled its liaison out of Vermont last week, and then said it was not going to stand by funding recommendations made by that staffer. The state had been counting on FEMA reimbursements up to 90 percent to cover the clean up and rebuilding at the complex. But plans to build a new state mental hospital in Berlin are still moving forward.
   "We have not slowed down the process on the hospital and over the course of the next month we do not expect to slow it down. If we do get bad news from FEMA, we would have to review it at that time," Vt. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.
   The state hopes to get a clear picture about FEMA funding in mid August-- just a couple of weeks before the anniversary of Irene
CLEARING THE WATERS (pub Times Argus 7/26/12)
   I would like to address a misconception in the July 24 letter to the editor written by Evan Hughes regarding Berlin Pond. Mr. Hughes states: “In this case the adjoining landowners would have access to be able to readily fish, canoe or kayak on the Berlin pond. But not the other residents of Berlin or the rest of the public.” The fact is there are no adjoining landowners other than the city of Montpelier and the town of Berlin. In this case, access for the neighborhood is tied to access for the general public. One could consider the neighbors who oppose increased access unselfish as their access is the same as the general public and their proximity might cause many of them to support opening the pond for their personal use. Berlin Pond elicits many strong emotional responses and it is not limited to the neighbors around the pond.
   I am a Berlin resident who does not live on the pond. There are many others who do not live on the pond who have also spoken against increasing access. A number of people feel that the water quality, wildlife, and relative undisturbed nature of Berlin Pond should be preserved. Managers of these public lands and waters must consider all the competing interests including natural resources and try to balance these important values.
   The Berlin Conservation Commission has been studying and helping to manage the watershed of Berlin Pond for decades and has provided access for ATVs, mountain bikes, hiking and hunting. The commission has written an evaluation of the unique qualities of the pond from a conservation perspective as the town considers increasing access across town-owned land. The evaluation may be found on the town website by clicking on the conservation commission link. Berlin Pond is the drinking water reservoir for our communities and there are reasons to take a prudent, conservative approach to protecting one of our town’s most valuable resources. The Berlin Conservation Commission recommends not increasing access through town-owned land for the reasons stated in the evaluation. Please take a moment to read it.
   Andrea Chandler, Berlin
BELONGS TO ALL OF US (pub Times Argus 7/27/12)
   In her letter of July 26 advocating restricting access to Berlin Pond, Andrea Chandler makes two critical errors in her argument.
   In the first she has very carefully parsed the definition of “adjoining landowners” to suit her needs. To be clear, the majority of property owned by Montpelier and Berlin is an exceptionally thin ribbon of property with a span measured in feet, surrounding Berlin Pond with the intent of denying access to this public resource.
   Her second, and more important, error was her description of Berlin Pond as “one of our town’s most valuable resources.” Berlin Pond is held in trust for all Vermonters, it is not owned by any individual or municipality merely by virtue of their having the financial ability to purchase the property surrounding it.
   Berlin Pond belongs to us all, both to enjoy its beauty and also as a place for us to respectfully exercise our constitutional right to fish on all boatable waters under proper regulations made and provided by the General Assembly.
   If the landowners who currently surround the pond are unwilling to make reasonable accommodation for Vermonters to exercise their rights, it is time for the state to become involved and force an accommodation.
   Patrick Cashman, Shelburne

OUTDOORS: A CLASS STRUGGLE AT BERLIN POND (pub 8/1/12 Burlington Free Press)
   Nate Smead is passionate about the outdoors and he’s passionate about the environment that sustains his favorite activities. But lately the 36-year-old Berlin man has been especially passionate about Berlin Pond.
   It’s not just because the nearly 300-acre pond is a scenic, close-to-home resource where he can enjoy a relaxing paddle and some fine bass fishing after work, although it is every bit of that. It’s because ever since the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in May that Berlin Pond is a public water that all Vermonters have a right to fish and boat, he’s watched the debate over public access to the pond devolve into what he feels has become a class struggle between self-proclaimed preservationists on one side and what they clearly feel are low-life anglers on the other.
   At public meetings, in letters to the editor, and in online posts, public access opponents — most of whom either live around Berlin Pond or recreate on the roads that frame its undeveloped shore — have essentially portrayed anglers as hardly any better than the trash they of course would leave behind.
   “That’s what has me so fired up,” Smead said Wednesday while we enjoyed a beautiful evening on Berlin Pond. “They’ve turned it into a fight between the bird watchers and walkers and joggers, and people like me who like to kayak and fish. They find me offensive, and they don’t even know me.
   “There’s a lot of assumptions being made. Like we’re all trash and we don’t care about wildlife or the environment. But I care just as much about this place as they do.”
   At a July 16 joint meeting of the Berlin Selectboard and the Montpelier City Council — which controls more than 99 percent of the pond’s shoreline, all of which is posted — stereotypes and misinformation were on full display. One access opponent unabashedly said that if he was a fisherman from, say, Barre, why naturally he’d leave his six beer cans behind. Actual trash aside, another opponent suggested that even the mere sight of anglers diminished her enjoyment of the pond.
   Concerns were also raised about spilled gasoline from outboard motors and the introduction of milfoil. Never mind that the state water resources panel prohibited the use of internal combustion motors on the pond years ago and it’s had milfoil for decades.
   Smead is not the only advocate of public access on Berlin Pond, but he’s probably the most active. He has videotaped public meetings and posted videos on YouTube. He helps administer a Facebook page called “Berlin Pond — A Recreational Resource for All” (, and he speaks up at meetings and online. He’s never thought of himself as an activist, but he’s become one.
   One thing Smead is not, though, is selfish. Currently the only way to legally get on the pond is at its inlet culvert on Mirror Lake Road in Berlin, which is within the town road’s public right-of-way. However, its steep bank makes it a far from ideal place to launch a canoe or kayak.
   “If I wanted to keep this place all to myself, I wouldn’t be doing anything, because I can already access it,” he said. “But it’s not a good place for older people or disabled people, and people don’t want to park there because they worry they might be ticketed or towed” by Montpelier police.
   The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has offered to create, at no cost to the city, a car-top access area that would alleviate parking concerns and provide both a toilet facility and a kiosk to educate pond users. But so far Montpelier has flatly rejected that idea. Instead, straight-faced city councilors suggested at the July 16 meeting that Berlin should erect a barrier at the culvert, perhaps even a covered bridge, to, you know, keep the riff-raff out.
   “That’s not what Vermont stands for,” Smead said. “It sounds more like something we fought the British (during the Revolutionary War) to get away from. That’s why I want people who would never drive an hour to fish here to know what’s going on, because it could affect all our rights” to use public resources.
   Montpelier bases its stand on the concern that somehow paddlers and anglers would contaminate the pond’s water, which flows into the city’s reservoir before passing through a multi-million dollar filtration plant. Smead doesn’t buy it.
   “They keep mentioning all these vague ‘risks’ and they talk like the water goes straight from the pond to their faucet,” he said. “But I don’t see how people in kayaks are contaminating anything.” If that were the case, he added, he — who ultimately drinks the water both at home and at work — would be far more concerned about the pond’s many beavers, geese and other known producers of bacteria-laced waste.
   “I’m out here a lot and I talk to as many other boaters as I can,” Smead said. “They all seem like good people who appreciate the pond and are happy to be able to use it. They’re not dumping toxins in the water. I’m not worried.”
   Wednesday that included a man and three boys in a canoe. The only thing they left behind were shrieks of joy when a fish was caught. But even that is too much for some public access opponents. One on-line poster noted that the prospect of having to hear to the “sounds and conversations of boaters” carrying across the water “makes me nauseous.”
   The roar of traffic on nearby Interstate 89, however, presumably has no such effect.
   “They say we’re bad for wanting to fish here,” Smead said after an evening spent catching bass and watching ducks, geese, loons, beavers and one otter, none of which appeared unduly disturbed by our presence. “Are we? Really? I don’t think so. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”
(The "decon" unit mentioned in the story below includes folks from the Berlin Vol. Fire Dept)
by Anson Tebbetts (pub 8/3/12 WCAX)
   BARRE, Vt. - A chemical spill forced first responders to clear out Spaulding High School Friday. Five people were taken to the hospital for treatment as a precaution.
   School was out for the summer, so just a handful of people were at Spaulding High School at the time of the incident. Fire and rescue officials quickly responded. The area was secured and no one was allowed into the building. A building across from the school was evacuated.
   There was some sort of chemical reaction coming from an area near the chemistry lab.
   "Initial responders met with staff who had discovered a haze in the chem lab area, one of the storage rooms. At this time, it appears accidental in nature. The room was secured," Barre Fire Chief Tim Bombardier said.
    Treatment began on six people; one treated in Barre City, five others taken to taken to the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin. Decontamination units were set up outside the Emergency Room.
    "We are standing at ready for any patients coming our way. We have been in constant contact with SMS from the Barre location. We have tested five," said Cheyenne Holland of CVMC.
    Back at the scene, hazardous material specialists went to work. So far, no clear cut indication what the chemical was or what caused the incident, but the chief stressed it was an accident and nothing criminal.
    Not a sleepy summer day for first responders who were working under steamy conditions.
    Officials say it was lucky students were not at the school at the time. If school was in session more people could have been impacted by the chemical. Responders could be at the scene until 8 p.m.
VERMONT EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT has a wealth of information on their website including their Family Emergency Preparedness Workbook which you can also call and ask that a hard copy be mailed to you at no charge.  They offer a monthly newsletter - this issue has information about September being national preparedness month, information about their conference next month and a message from the new Regional Outreach Specialist who is working with Vermont Community Emergency Response Teams also known as CERT.

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