Monday, November 19, 2012


News to Know November 19, 2012


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Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook
While you're baking for Thanksgiving, please consider making something extra to support the Ladies Auxiliary of the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department - see details below.
SEVENTY people have died on Vermont roads this year, of those FORTY were not buckled. Police say the biggest excuse they hear is that the seat belt is uncomfortable.  Please buckle up.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~Leo Buscaglia
Included below please find:


The Berlin Volunteer Fire Dept's Ladies Auxiliary is doing a food booth at the Greater Barre Craft Show on November 24th and 25th at the Barre Auditorium. We are looking for baked goods to sell. Please contact either Carole Lacasse at 229-9504 or Jennie Thompson at 522-1036, to let them know if you are willing to bake something. Your help is appreciated.

The Greater Barre Craft Guild presents this 32nd annual event of over 120 crafters and specialty foods on Saturday November 24th 9am - 5pm and Sunday, November 25th 10am - 4pm at the Barre Auditorium.  Free parking, free admission, handicap accessible.   Door prizes.  Photos with Santa on Sunday.  Live remotes with Frogrry 100.9 and Frank 107.1

Pub 11/17/12  Times Argus By David Delcore
   BERLIN — Plans to create a single, self-governing public safety authority that would provide a full range of emergency services to four core central Vermont communities could be on the ballot in Barre, Barre Town, Montpelier and Berlin as early as next October.
   It is an aggressive timeline, but one that members of an intermunicipal citizens’ committee told officials from all four communities this week is achievable given recent progress on a project that they’ve been working on for the past three years.
   Though many questions have yet to be answered, committee members have settled on a basic framework for running and funding the independent authority that they believe can provide participating communities with “an affordable, integrated, efficient system of public safety services that protects the public welfare and provides rapid responses with highly qualified personnel when emergency situations arise.”
   At least that’s the committee’s vision for the authority that, in its most robust form, would be responsible for providing round-the-clock police, fire, ambulance, and emergency dispatch services to all four communities at once.
   The theory is that by joining forces on the public safety front the four communities will be able to pool their collective resources, eliminate some redundancies, and curb operational expenses, while delivering a superior service. It might not cost a whole lot less to operate at the outset than the combined cost running the fragmented patchwork of stand-alone departments that exist in each community, but the committee believes it would feature a measure of operational flexibility that doesn’t currently exist and an economy of scale that none of the towns currently enjoy.
   It sounds good, it works elsewhere and it may well work in central
Vermont if the committee and, by extension, the city councils and select boards that created it can navigate the political mine field that often accompanies surrendering some level of local control.
   That is what would have to happen for the committee’s vision to be realized and while some of the more sensitive subjects, like how to handle existing labor contracts and how to deal with capital assets, are being treated as down-the-road decisions, the committee has settled on a governance structure and identified a path to creating what members believe is a workable cost-sharing formula.
   During an overview that lasted less than 20 minutes committee members recapped three years worth of work on a project that received public votes of support earlier this year.
   Local officials, from Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon and Montpelier Mayor John Hollar to Jeff Blow, chairman of the Barre Town Select Board, and Brad Towne, Blow’s counterpart in Berlin, were on hand for a presentation that was followed by a brief back-and-forth but surprisingly little feedback.
   Local officials were told that the independent authority would be governed by a seven-member board that would be composed of one member appointed by each of the four communities and three others who would be elected “at-large” in something akin to mini county-wide elections.
   They were also told not to expect a detectable reduction in current staffing levels, though the authority would enhance the fire service in
Barre Town and the fire and ambulance services in Berlin.
Barre Town has a volunteer fire department, as does Berlin, which currently contracts with Barre Town Emergency Medical Services for its ambulance service.
   The estimated cost of the combined operation would be in excess of $13 million, according to the committee’s estimates. That figure would be partially offset by more than $4 million in revenue — primarily generated by ambulance services in Barre,
Barre Town and Montpelier, leaving a net cost of about $8.7 million.
   The committee has struggled mightily with how to equitably share the cost — evaluating alternatives based on everything from population and Grand List to call volumes — before tentatively settling on a two-pronged formula. That formula involves a per capita “readiness” fee that would be assessed each participating community and a “service fee” based on police and fire call volumes.
   Though there is still work to do, the committee believes that formula, which would be gradually phased in after the third year of operations, is workable.
   According to the committee’s work the division of costs would be fixed for the first three years. Barre would be billed for 36.2 percent of the operation, followed by
Montpelier at 34.4 percent, Barre Town at 20 percent and Berlin at 9.4 percent. Those percentages are based on a three-year average of each community’s share of the combined costs of emergency services.
   The premise is that Berlin’s and, to a lesser extent, Barre Town’s, costs would begin to climb starting in the fourth year of operation in order to reflect enhanced service, while Barre’s and Montpelier’s costs would drop slightly.
   Though Hollar said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the committee’s progress, Blow said nothing, Towne didn’t say much more and Lauzon questioned the wisdom of an “all-in” approach and the commitment of all four towns.
   “My biggest concern is going forward are we going to make a commitment to this thing?” Lauzon said, posing a question that was never answered.
   According to Lauzon, it should be and sooner rather than later. He said all four legislative bodies should carefully review the committee’s latest report and send a clear signal about where they stand on the issue in the next two weeks.
   Committee member Tom Golonka, who serves on the Montpelier City Council, said that would be appreciated.
   “If you don’t want to go forward tell us,” Golonka said. “We’ll understand … If the boards currently feel this isn’t in the realm of possibility then don’t waste our time.”
   No one went that far Thursday night, though Lauzon downplayed the significance of a Town Meeting Day vote that saw Barre voters express support — both financially and conceptually — for the committee’s work.
   Lauzon also wondered aloud whether a “phased approach” to consolidating emergency services might make more sense. He said creating a single emergency dispatch service could be a likely first step for the proposed public safety authority, if only because every community uses that service in the same way and consolidating dispatch centers in Barre and
Montpelier would be reasonably easy to achieve.
   However, George Malek, executive vice president of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce, said the disadvantage of the approach suggested by Lauzon was that it could conceivably reduce the pressure for some communities to participate in a more comprehensive service by resolving the problem that brought them to the table in the first place.
   “When all of the pieces are on the table together everybody’s got an interest,” he said, crediting Lauzon for first suggesting the idea of consolidating the full range of emergency services in all four communities.
   Committee members agreed feedback from the boards would be appreciated and full participation from all four communities — Barre and
Berlin are currently underrepresented — is crucial.
   Committee member Alan Weiss, who, like Golonka, serves on the Montpelier City Council, said it would be a huge help if each of the four boards included regular updates from their respective representatives on their meeting agendas.
   “We need the intercommunication,” he said.
   Meanwhile, Malek urged the boards to resist the temptation to “kick the committee to the curb” and take over a process that he believes has produced a workable solution to an issue that has been discussed for decades.
   “We’re two-thirds down the road, I think they (committee members) can get the rest of the way down the road,” he said.

Public Safety Authority Committee Reports can be found on-line:
Committee Report #1 presented March 18, 2010 at
Committee Report #2 presented November 3, 2011
Committee Report #3 presented November 15, 2012


Pub 11/18/12 FOX44 ABC22 By David Hodges
(sign with article shows handicap symbol "Handicapped Access - Press Button, we bring a portable ramp)

   BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Church Street Marketplace is one of the premiere attractions of Burlington but many of the old buildings weren't friendly to physically handicapped people when they were built.
   The buildings on Church Street, like Ken's Pizza and Pub, were built before the American Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 meaning that many weren't in compliance with rules designed to give access to people with a handicap.
   "An architect came in and analyzed the building and came up with suggestions to make it handicap accessible," Ken's co-owner Debra Miller said
   In coordination with US Attorney's office the restaurant has made adjustments to make their establishment more handicap friendly. By renovating to the restroom buying a portable ramp and new chairs and tables to make the restaurant easier to navigate, Ken's has nearly met all the requirements to comply with the ADA.
   "We kind of met in the middle as best we could realizing how old the building is," Miller said.
   But it's not just Ken's that is working to comply. Restaurants up and down Church Street are trying to meet ADA guidelines.
   "They came in 2010 with tape measurers and said this door isn't wide enough. This door needs to open automatically," Leunig's Bistro owner Bob Conlon said.
   But Conlon was quick to point out the renovations were pretty costly.
   "You know it cost us about $13,000 to do the renovations but we are now in compliance," Conlon said.
   Conlon and Miller hoped the government would help to pay for the changes. Miller says it's possible they will receive tax credits for the work which took close to two years for both restaurants.
   "It did cost us a lot of money we did feel like it was something we really wanted to have the accessibility also," Miller said.
   Church Street Tavern Three Tomatoes Tratorria and Scuffer Ale and Steak House have also taken measures to comply with the American Disabilities Act.

   The American Red Cross is collecting cards to send to service men and women.  The cards they've had available for people to use when they've been set up at malls were blank on the back and had a simple message on the cover, “Warm Wishes” for one and “Happy Holidays” for the other. People were encouraged to use the cards to tell a joke, write a poem or offer a simple thanks. Some people also drew a picture.  American Red Cross is encouraging people to write "Vermont" on the card, saying that it would have special meeting if it made its way to a soldier overseas who happened to come from Vermont.  The cards are expected to go to Washington, D.C., and then some will be returned to Vermont to be distributed.  Volunteers with the Red Cross will deliver them to places like the National Guard armories, the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington and the White River Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Lee said.
   The Red Cross is still accepting cards. Only signed cards, not letters, will be accepted, and inserts, like photographs, will not be accepted. Cards should not be addressed to a specific person and should not have glitter, which can come loose and aggravate the health issues of some soldiers and veterans.  If you would like to contribute cards, they must be received by Dec. 7, and should be sent to “Holiday Mail for Heroes” at
PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.
   Information about the Holiday Mail for Heroes program is available on the Internet at

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