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.

Looks fantastic! My bf grew up right near there so I’ll have to check it out next time we visit.
Please visit

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