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

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