Thursday, January 10, 2013


News to Know January 10, 2013

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW JANUARY 10, 2013 - water vote dates corrected on 1/11/13
Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at
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The Town of Berlin's ice skating rink is adjacent to the Berlin Town Office at 8 Shed Road. There is a warm-up hut, port-o-let and lights for night skating. The switch to turn the lights on is located on the light pole located at the "elbow" of the "L" shaped rink. Part of the rink is utilized for hockey and part is reserved for recreational skating. ***

There is a Special Town Meeting on February 13th for a bond vote on a new public water system in town. The polls will be open from 10am to 7pm at the Berlin Town Office. Registered voters can also vote by absentee ballot by contacting the town clerk. Absentee ballots must be obtained by 5pm on Tuesday, Feb 12th and be received back by the close of the polls close at 7pm on Feb 13th. If you're not yet registered to vote, you have until 5pm Thursday, Feb. 7th to register to be eligible to vote the following week.
There are two informational meetings coming up to explain about the proposed municipal drinking water system improvements and Article 1 which will be voted on. These will be held on Wednesday, January 16th and Wednesday, February 6 with both meetings starting at 6:30pm and being held at Berlin Elementary School.
Information regarding this can also be found at:

The January meeting of the Berlin Historical Society will be held at the Berlin Town Office on Wednesday, January 16, 2013at 7:00 PM.  This is our annual meeting at which we will elect officers for the year. Our present slate has been serving our society for many years. It’s time for new blood. Please plan to attend and volunteer to run for one of our offices. I can assure you that you will find it interesting and rewarding.

Also on the agenda for this meeting:

- Our May potluck dinner meeting is fast approaching. We welcome ideas for a guest speaker.

- I recently purchased two more George Bosworth postcards on ebay.  One of these is a view of the back of Tom Willard’s buildings taken from across the water from the south. We have quite an extensive collection of these now and as I plan to attend this meeting I will show some of these and explain George’s postcard business of 100 years ago.

- Manny Garcia, as you know, has been researching the historical businesses and buildings along the Winooski River in the area of Montpelier that was annexed by Montpelier in 1899. Manny will bring us up to date on his latest findings on those related to gas and electricity.

~Richard Turner, Secretary


Petitions can be picked up at the Town Clerks office if you're interested in getting your name on the ballot for one of the open positions.  You'll need at least 25 valid signatures (registered voters of Berlin who have not signed another petition for a different person running for the same position).  Petitions must be turned in no later than 5pm on Monday, January 28th.

The select board seats that are up for election are as follows:  The three year position currently held by Brad Towne; the one year position currently held by Ture Nelson and the one year position currently held by Craig Frazier .  Note there are petitions to collect signatures for Brad and Ture to go onto the ballot at the Town Office.

For the school board the seats that are up for election are: the three year position currently held by Mike A. Stridsberg and the two year seat currently held by Chris Rice.

The U-32 school board seat is also on the ballot this year since Mike Law was appointed to the position and now it's time to fill the position by election.


If your name will be on the ballot and you'd like to share some information about yourself to the folks receiving News to Know, please send it along.


On line donations using PayPal can be made by going to:


To protect your computer files, documents, digital photos, music, etc. consider backing them up to "the cloud".  One company that offers this service is "Carbonite" (  For $59 per year you can get their basic service for one computer which after an initial back-up, continues to back-up your system on a daily basis.  Note that for a business it costs at least $229 but does include unlimited computers.  I'm told that "Mozy" is a popular company that offers this same service and there are other good ones such as "SOS Online" and I-Drive".  I believe they all cost about the same amount.

We've been using this service through "Carbonite" for the last few years and feel a bit better that if anything happened to the computer (whether stolen,  damaged/destroyed by flood, fire, leaking pipes or whatever the case may be), we will be able to regain access to what we had stored on the computer.  Now we need to spend more time scanning the photos that aren't digital and other documents to have them on "the cloud" also.  We all know how important insurance is and I consider this insurance for some of those non-replaceable items.


   BERLIN — In addition to their neighbors, a tight-knit equestrian community in Central Vermont and horse lovers from across the country have rallied around the Towne family of Berlin in their greatest hour of need.
   The support has been pouring in following the massive fire last week that destroyed the
Berlin horse farm’s 4½-story haybarn and the family’s historic 20-room farmhouse.
   A local 4-H club that Rita Towne leads organized a donation drive; the secretary of the Vermont Horse Shows Association created an online account for direct cash contributions; and the next door neighbors have stepped up, too. One couple provided a camper that the family has been staying in following the big blaze that began last Wednesday evening and burned well into the early morning hours Thursday.
   As of early Sunday, the online account had $945 in donations.
   “People all over have been coming in with food and bags of clothes and seeing what we need, and neighbors have invited us to their houses to shower. It’s been like Grand Central (here),” Towne said.
   The cause of last week’s fire is not suspicious, according to investigators. It appears to have been accidently related to a piece of farm equipment.
   This actually wasn’t the first fire ever on the property. The original farmhouse was destroyed in another blaze in the 1880s, and then rebuilt, according to Brad Towne, who is a third generation member of the Towne clan to call the farmstead home. According to Brad Towne, the big barn pre-dated the reconstruction of the farmhouse.
   The Towne farm trains Morgan horses, and Brad Towne’s mother bred Morgans too.
   On the night of the fire last week, dozens of volunteers helped guide 12 horses and a pony from the stable and arena to an outdoor ring to get farther away from the flames. The horse barn was unaffected by the blaze, but one of the horses whose stall was near the adjacent haybarn has still been hesitant to return to its stall, Rita Towne said.
   “The day after the fire, they (the horses) didn’t say a word. They were in some sort of a shocked state. And some of them are still a little jumpy. And I am too!” Rita Towne said.
   After the fire, two horses appeared to have colic, which can be fatal for them, according to Towne. It was presumably caused by stress, and a veterinarian assisted with medicine, she said.
   But now, Towne said, the horses will whinny right back to her.
   “They’re drinking and eating the way they should,” Rita Towne said. “They’re getting their personalities back.”
   The property is still without running water and electricity, but Green Mountain Power plans to install a pole soon to get power to the horsebarn. The couple has been using a generator in the interim.
   And aside from a few bales, the fire also consumed the couple’s hay supply. But the community has already given two weeks’ worth to the Townes, and a Vermont Horse Show Association contact has indicated others have enough extra to give to tide the family over for another couple months.
   Rita Towne is on the association’s board, and her daughter, Bethany, is the organization’s vice president. Bethany Towne is also active in equestrain competition circles, competing in events from
New England to Oklahoma.
   It looks like the cats around the Towne farm are going to be OK too.
   The fire burned off the tips of the family housecat’s ears. “Jack” also suffered burns to his four paws, which are still bandaged. He’ll remain at the vet’s for a few weeks more, but likely looks forward to returning to the family. When Towne’s daughter visited Jack, he fell asleep in her arms within five minutes, Towne said.
   Even one of the barn cats has returned — a sure sign that the recovery is underway for the Towne family.
   The online address for donations to support the Towne family is




Pub 12/31/12 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BARRE — With a new digital flood insurance rate map for Washington County finally scheduled to go into effect in March, folks with flood insurance questions will have several opportunities to get them answered starting next month.
   A series of public meetings will be held throughout the county starting Jan. 8 in
Waterbury and wrapping up in Montpelier on Feb. 5. There will be five meetings in all, and each will focus on the newly revised flood hazard maps and the insurance options available for structures that may be affected by the updated designations.
   Countywide, roughly 200 structures have been identified for the first time as being at a high risk of damage by flooding, and their owners may benefit by getting flood insurance before the new map goes into effect March 19.
   Residential property owners who buy flood insurance before the map change can benefit from a more gradual increase in their insurance costs. They are eligible for low-cost “preferred-risk policies” that can be renewed twice before insurance increases to the full cost.
   An average flood insurance policy for property in a high-risk area currently costs around $1,400 a year for $170,000 in coverage.
   In many cases obtaining insurance for properties in those areas isn’t optional. Federal law requires lenders to be sure that mortgages on structures in the flood hazard area are insured for their known flood risk.
   While the flood hazard area is expanding in some areas, it is contracting in others. Countywide, roughly 500 properties are expected to drop out of the high-risk area, though that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to drop flood insurance. Owners of property outside the flood hazard area will benefit from lower available flood insurance premiums.
   The upcoming public information meetings are open to all and will be held on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
   The first meeting will be at
7 p.m. at Thatcher Brook Primary School in Waterbury on Jan. 8.
   The venue will shift to Barre’s Alumni Hall on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., Brown Public Library in Northfield on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., the Old Schoolhouse Common in Marshfield on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., and Memorial Room at City Hall in Montpelier on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.
   The new maps for Washington County have been in final form for some time, but their implementation was delayed while officials in Barre exhausted their ability to appeal the flood hazard boundaries in their community.
   Barre officials were concerned with a significant — and unwarranted, they believed — expansion of the flood hazard area on and around a 1,900-foot section of
North Main Street. Dozens of properties will be affected by the new designation, which creates insurance obligations and imposes rigid restrictions on any development.



(This story you just need to see the video of so you can actually see the lights!)



Posted: Jan 02, 2013 by Alexei Rubenstein


   Whether it's a skier contemplating the serenity of the winter woods or an amateur photographer taking snapshots, Vermont is a state crammed with wildlife lovers.

   A new project by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in Norwich hopes to capitalize on that enthusiasm. It's called the Atlas of Vermont Life.

   "It's like the Facebook of organisms. You can put something on there you don't know what it is and you'll get into a mini-conversation with a naturalist, maybe two towns over that has seen that and knows what it is," explained Kent McFarland, a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.

   McFarland says recent efforts to document birds, bees and butterflies online led to this latest effort.

   "It didn't take much of a leap to go from a few species, a few organisms, to saying hey, we should be looking at everything," he said.

   The idea is to collect sightings from citizen naturalists to professional biologists. Anything goes-- from a picture of a Red Fox at Chimney Point to snow geese at Dead Creek or even black bear scat in Pittsford.

   "You hear about them running off to the tropics and discovering amazing new species, but really right here in our own woods of the Green Mountain State, we don't know how many species there are. We've got guesses of something like 24,000, 25,000, but we don't know exactly how many there are," McFarland said.

   On a walk in the woods, McFarland grabs his iPhone and puts the Atlas app to work.

   While there will inevitably be duplication and what may seem to be run-of-the mill species, McFarland says that ultimately the Atlas will generate research-grade data.

   "Sometimes we don't know what's going to be common in the future. So, what might be really of dirt common like a chickadee now, I mean there could be a disease 15 years from now that hits chickadees and we're going to be kicking ourselves we didn't know more about what chickadees liked. So, we say bring it on. Bring us all the data you can," McFarland said.

   The Atlas also allows experts to corroborate or correct sightings.

   "What that allows us to do is use crowdsourcing to actually help identify the species. And the more people that agree with you on it, the more reliable the sighting is and it jumps up a level. This sighting now is called research grade data quality," McFarland explained.

   And like life itself, the Atlas has no end point.

   "It'll go on and on and on cause we'll never, ever know where everything is in Vermont, but what's here and where it is. We're striving for that. We're striving to understand what's here and where it is," McFarland said.

   A hands-on effort to catalog the biodiversity in our own backyard.

   The Atlas of Vermont Life officially went online this week and already has over 3,000 observations and 1,000 species listed.  "Atlas of Vermont Life"

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