Tuesday, May 14, 2013


News to Know May 14th

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at: http://socialenergy.blogspot.com
If you're not already receiving this news by email, send an email to request this to corinnestridsberg@gmail.com
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-Vermont/205922199452224
Included below please find:
On the http://www.berlinvt.org website there is a wonderful photo of the new fencing up at the Berlin Veterans Memorial.  The Berlin Historical Society paid for the fencing and the road crew put it up.  It looks awesome!
Route 12 Berlin, 2 miles south of Montpelier  http://dogriverfarm.com or on facebook If one of the CSA options at Dog River Farm caught your eye as it did mine, I thought I'd mention some further details.  This option is the debit card that you can purchase for $250 but is loaded with $300 worth of credit (that's 20% more you have to spend!) and then you can pick and choose what you purchase there at the farm stand.  The card can be   reloaded in $100 increments.  They grow a full line of produce all season and the stand is open June through Thanksgiving. 
Thanks George for making it easier to support our local farmers!
Note there was a recent article about Howard Coffin's new book in the Montpelier Bridge http://www.montpelierbridge.com/2013/04/coffins-new-book-connects-civil-war-history-to-present-day-vermont/
Wednesday, May 22 at 7pm at the Congregational Church Parish Hall at 188 Scott Hill Road in Berlin Vermont author and Civil War historian Howard Coffin will speak on the Civil War and its effect on Vermonters.  Free and open to the public.  Potluck at 6pm (call Cheryl 223-5306, the Potluck Coordinator if you plan to attend the potluck). 
Information on this event and more about the Historical Society can be found at:
I missed an article in the Montpelier Bridge back in March about the Berlin Pond, you can find it on line at this link:
Also some facts about Berlin Pond -
Montpelier Bridge had a story "Wait, Wait - Don't Throw That Away! Rescuing Edible Food from the Compost Pile" in their April 18th edition.  It can be found at: http://www.montpelierbridge.com/2013/04/wait-wait-dont-throw-that-away-rescuing-edible-food-from-the-compost-pile
A Volunteer Opportunity to the the Central Vermont CERT. June 1st and 2nd - CERT Basic Course.
Location: Barre City Alumni Hall 7:30am-4pm both days
The local Citizens Corps CERT is looking for enthusiastic neighbors who are interested and willing to become a volunteer and receive training in:
Disaster Preparedness
Disaster Medical Operations
Disaster Fire Suppression
Disaster Psychology
Light Search & Rescue Operations
Traffic Control
Incident Command System
Disaster Animal Rescue
Contact: Julie Benedict Assistant CERT Leader for more information 802-431.5701or email julie.benedict@state.vt.us
Community Connections has just finalized their exciting summer camps for incoming 5th-12th graders, from kayaking and mountain biking, to art sampler and backpacking, canoeing, steeps and deeps, tennis, claymation, farm fresh camp, digital arts, storybook illustration and more! The full flyer is online at http://www.communityconnections.us/ProgramInfo/pdf/cc_teen.pdf
Also there are 8 weeks of summer camps for elementary aged children. Look for that flyer at:
Pub. 5/13/13 Times Argus by Art Edelstein
   Developers working in central Vermont say the main objectives of their work is to create jobs, bring in new business and build the local economy by showing that this region of the state can be as viable economically as Chittenden County is.
Central Vermont is in a position where we can more than compete with any other area,” says Thomas Lauzon, Barre City mayor and owner of Metro Development LLC. Barre and central Vermont
are seeing an upgrade in office and commercial space in general, but at a lower acquisition cost than elsewhere, he explained. 
   According to Lauzon, central
Vermont offers lower housing costs, less traffic and more parking, with price differentials on commercial space of up to $10 a square foot compared to Chittenden County
   Due to what he sees as “an aging population here,” and the region “exporting our talent as business continues to expand to the
Burlington area,” Jim Fecteau with Fecteau Homes in Berlin
is looking to generate new employers in this area.
   Fred Connor with Connor Brothers Construction in
sees development as a way to “redevelop properties and bring back existing properties to good use.”
   “We are going to have jobs in downtown Barre and our vision is to grow jobs,” says Mark Nicholson, who is developing the Blanchard Block in Barre with John Benoit. “We feel if we provide high end office space we will attract new companies to Barre.” 
   “The company vision is to be able to create more sustainable places for living and jobs so we can expand the economy of Montpelier and make it healthier for business and everyone who lives here,” says Jesse Jacobs with Montpelier Property Management. 
   “We look at development as it pertains to the community. We are responsive to community needs, and our focus is in Barre,” says Eileen Peltier with the Central Vermont Community Land Trust, which builds or rehabilitates housing for affordable rentals and is a nonprofit organization.
   Since 2011 Lauzon’s company has developed the Aldrich Block and
47-59 N. Main Street
in Barre and purchased and expanded the former Capitol City Press building.
   Recently at the company-owned
21 Metro Way, the former Rouleau granite plant, Accuworx of Toronto, an environmental mediation company, took space. “Everything we have bought in central Vermont
we have bought bone empty,” says Lauzon. “It’s a mixed use commercial property that has been tremendous for us.”
   Considered a leader in local development, Lauzon says his vision for Barre is “to improve our grand list. Over the past 25 years we have lagged behind
Montpelier and we are woefully behind the statewide average.” Previously, “We did not encourage investment in Barre. We are absolutely doing that now. We have more construction in Barre on a per capita basis than any municipality in Vermont including Burlington.” Currently projects in the queue amount to $28.5 million in real estate development in Barre City
, he acknowledged.
   Jacobs says his company rarely builds but is not averse to that strategy. “We mostly take historic properties and reappropriate or rehab the spaces so they fit with contemporary uses.” 
   Currently MPM owns 20 properties, mostly in
, all for rental and lease. “We are looking to expand our portfolio of historic properties, or build, but there is nothing in the works right now.”
   The company works to maintain and update buildings and “to bring good strong businesses and employers into the area as a key to its strategy. 
   Fecteau Homes builds condominiums and commercial buildings. It is in the permitting process for a 54-unit multi-family development in
Overlook Drive in Berlin. 

   It has a 20-unit condo development, The Hideaway, in
Berlin on Partridge Road and recently completed the fourth with one more planned. Also, one additional building for its Country Way Development on Fecteau Circle is being added. When completed it will have 36 units.
   Also pending is an age 55 and over apartment complex on
Overlook Drive. The company anticipates breaking ground this fall for the $7 million project. Phase one is 27 units, in a mixture of one- and two-bedroom units on three floors. “We don’t have this type of housing in central Vermont — there is a shortage of it,” says Fecteau.
He sees his development work creating construction jobs for the short term, and also supporting commercial businesses on the Barre-Montpelier Road.
   For Connor Brothers, “Location, vehicle and pedestrian availability, public transportation availability, and for some high traffic count” are essentials to development. For others, offered Fred Connor, “A downtown location is critical.” Connor cited two examples in
Montpelier: the former Masonic Center that his company renovated for lease to the Central Vermont Medical Center as the new Montpelier Health Center, and the 575 Stonecutters Way complex.
   “It is getting harder to find good location sites,” he added.
   “Our building is attractive,” says Nicholson, who is new to development. “If you envision starting your company in a new place, with a park nearby and parking, then we envision there will be no finer place to move your company.”
   The exterior of the Blanchard Block will retain the historic look of 1904 but inside “the guts are going to be fully modernized.”
   For the future, he projects, “As opportunities arise we are looking at other renovations with a similar concept to the
Blanchard Building
   CVCLT has Ladd Hall in
with 27 units of rental apartment housing in its pipeline at a total development cost of $6 million. It breaks ground in the fall to be completed in a year.
   Soon to be completed in south Barre is a 20-bed facility for individuals coming out of corrections with substance abuse issues. The rehabilitation cost is $1 million. In pre-development in
Barre City
are three buildings on Summer Street, for 16 units of housing. 
   Peltier sees the next five years with “significant development in Barre and also in
with a 46-unit assisted living facility.”
   Financing for these projects, she explained, is through “multiple layers of federal and state and private funding. CVCLT uses the low-income housing tax credit, or LIHTC, as the primary source of its capital. This financial device gives tax credits to individuals who provide capital for low income housing.”
Pub 5/10/13 Times Argus by Gayle Hanson
   MONTPELIER — The good news is the quality of Montpelier’s water supply is excellent. That’s according to the latest water quality report from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. There’s just one snag.
   Because of a plan put in place more than a decade ago, several
Berlin customers on the Montpelier
system, including the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department, still receive untreated water. And that, says the state, is a no-no and could be costly.
   “The brief history in a nutshell is that the city’s water comes from Berlin Pond and the transmission goes down the hill into
Montpelier. We have a couple of users in Berlin
who, through a longstanding arrangement, have been receiving raw water all along, but it’s a situation that needs to be addressed,” said Tim Raymond, operations section manager for the state drinking water and groundwater protection division.
   “We’ve kind of gone back and forth with the state around this,” said Todd Law, chief of the city’s Public Works Department, who said the initial recipients of the untreated water were using it for agricultural purposes. “But we’re hoping that we’re going to have a solution soon.”
   Law said those users don’t have any complaints for the time being.
   The best solution, according to Law, and the one most easily accomplished, is to move the three remaining raw water users to the
water supply when it comes into being.
   According to Law, the city has worked with the residents receiving the untreated water and has gone so far as to start drawing up plans to create an expensive mini treatment plant that would serve the remaining customers. Law said the fire department uses the water only to fill its tankers and another customer has already dug a well.
   “Right now, the users have their own filters and ultraviolet lights to treat the water, and everything has been satisfactory,” he added. That said, Law was dismayed when it looked as though it might cost up to $100,000 to create a system that would serve less than a handful of customers.
   The state has given the city until August 2014 to set things right with its remaining raw water customers.
   According to the compliance schedule,
must “either provide for filtration and disinfection to those service connections currently being served untreated water ... or physically disconnect those service connections from the raw water transmission lines.”
has very high-quality water,” Raymond said. “So it’s just a little bit of a black eye.”
   In the meantime, Law said he’ll move forward to have a plan in place to address the problem.
   “We’ve been in the process of getting something ready,” he said. “We’d be happy to turn these customers over to
   gayle.hanson @timesargus.com
Pub. 5/10/13 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — Fingers crossed but eyes wide open, the Select Board agreed this week to invest $202,000 in the final design of a municipal water system that members hope will one day serve the Berlin Four Corners area and a portion of the Barre-Montpelier Road.
   There is no guarantee that the $5.5 million system will ever be built, but after pouring $175,000 into the project — not counting $106,000 spent acquiring the land where three wells have since been drilled — board members unanimously agreed to take the next step.
   Spurred by fear that favorable financing needed to make the water system affordable to a yet-to-be-identified list of users could dry up, the board approved a contract with Otter Creek Engineering to complete the design. The Middlebury firm has been working on the project since 2007.
   The board’s only alternative would have been to drop a project that is perhaps a summer’s worth of work away from being put out to bid, according to Mark Youngstrom, of Otter Creek Engineering.
   It has taken time, money and more than a little luck, but Youngstrom told the board that if all goes well the water system could be under construction by this time next year.
   “The next step in my opinion is to go after the funding full speed,” he said.
   According to Youngstrom, that will require completing the final design while actively recruiting residential and commercial customers who own property in the targeted service area.
   “There are going to be three things happening at once over the next three months,” he said, suggesting the town will have to make some threshold policy decisions that could create an incentive for people to commit to hooking on.
   With three fully permitted bedrock wells, and more than enough land to accommodate the proposed construction of a 400,000 water storage tank and a pump station off Scott Hill Road, the board narrowly secured voter approval in February of a bond issue that could finance construction of the water system. Last month board members learned the project meets income eligibility guidelines for favorable federal financing despite underwhelming response to a survey required by the Rural Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
   That ruling kept the project alive and prompted Tom Willard, longtime chairman of the town’s water supply committee, to urge the board to press ahead with the project while federal money is available.
   “It’s important to get going and get some of the funding tied up,” he said.
   Still, there are questions, not the least of which is how much water will cost. Willard’s committee has consistently said it is critical to limit the annual cost of water to $500 to $600 per equalized residential user. However, Selectman Pete Kelley lamented that, despite the favorable bond vote and the nod from the USDA, the town was no closer to being able to definitively pitch the system to customers.
   “Are we at the chicken-and-egg stage again, where we don’t really know what to tell our users?” he asked.
   Not quite, according to Youngstrom.
   “We’re at the stage where we need to start educating the (potential) users,” the engineer said, kicking off a brief back-and-forth with Kelley.
   “With an uncertain number, though, at this point?” Kelley asked.
   “With an estimate,” Youngstrom replied. “We’re very up front with that.”
   According to Youngstrom, the design work that the board approved will allow him to come up with a better estimate on construction costs while working on the precise terms of the financing arrangement. The reality, he said, is if the system can’t be constructed and deliver water in the price range the committee is looking for: “It’s not going to happen.”
   Youngstrom outlined a multistep process for recruiting users that would involve face-to-face meetings with high-volume customers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and direct mailings to residential users. That communication, he said, would be ongoing as estimates are refined and cost projections come into sharper focus.
   If all goes well, Youngstrom said, the town will have commitments from prospective users and the financing agency in time to put the project out to bid this fall. He said that time frame would enable the selected contractor to stockpile materials over the winter and be ready to start construction next spring.
   “That’s what we’ll shoot for,” Youngstrom said, conceding there are no guarantees and the town’s investment in the final design represented the latest “leap of faith” when it comes to the project.
   “It’s either going to happen now or never going to happen,” he said.
   According to Willard, one lingering loose end that could derail the project involves the town’s need to acquire the privately owned Berlin Water System. He said the committee is anxious for the town to execute an option agreement for the water system, which is owned by Dean Hedges and serves an area along the
Barre-Montpelier Road
   “I think we need to move on that,” Willard said, noting there have been no discussions about the price.
   Youngstrom suggested negotiating an option that would give the town clear title to the existing water system while preserving the right to back out if, for some reason, the proposed municipal system doesn’t get built.
   Board members briefly discussed the risk to the town, noting they had previously borrowed $175,000 for preliminary engineering, as well as drilling and testing the wells. If the system isn’t built, that no-interest loan would have to start being repaid in 2015. If it is, it would be rolled into the bond cost.
   Youngstrom said the same rules would apply to the $202,000 for the final design. The work, he said, would be initially paid for through a no-interest five-year loan from the state that wouldn’t come due for five years.
   “There’s no out-of-pocket cost right now,” he said, explaining that, like the earlier loan, it would become part of the project cost if the system is built.
   Given the amount of money that has already been invested in the project, board members agreed that was an acceptable risk. They cited the potential upside of creating a reliable and affordable source of drinking water in an area that is ripe for development but saddled with contaminated groundwater.
   david.delcore @timesargus.com
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Fundraiser by Berlin College Student for Good Cause
Angela ShambaughChase Rd
Our daughter, Phoebe, is heading off to Isreal this summer to work with a non-profit there. As part of the position, she is raising money for the organization. If you might consider contributing, please read on.
Angela and Nat Shambaugh
I'm graduating University of Chicago this June, where I spent much of my four years in the library reading history books and studying Arabic, or outside playing frisbee. Right after graduation, before going off into the real world, I will be heading to Israel to do some on the ground work which combines ultimate frisbee and my interests in history and current events in the Middle East.
The organization I'm working with, Ultimate Peace, is a non-profit that works with kids and teens in Israel and Palestine to bring communities together through ultimate frisbee and spirit of the game. They sponsor programs in both Arab and Israeli communities throughout the year, then bring all the kids to camp for a week or two (depending on age) in the summer.
Ultimate is a team sport which is ideally structured to facilitate the relationships and communal understanding which are so important in conflict regions. The games are self-regulated and governed by the "Spirit of the Game," which emphasizes discussion, mediation, and consensus to solve problems and relieve tensions both on and off the field.
The organization strives to:
* Create opportunities for youth from disparate backgrounds to play and learn Ultimate together
* Organize teams of expert players and coaches to teach and serve as role models for youth
* Focus on skill-building, relationship building, team building, and community building
* Engage parents, coaches, teachers, and the business community in all we do
* Develop capacity in local communities to ensure sustainability.
* check out the website:
I was drawn to Ultimate Peace as a combination of a sincere academic and personal interest in the region, its history, and its people, and a passion for ultimate. My academic background is in history and Middle Eastern studies, and the Ultimate Peace approach of humanizing and integrating opposing factions of the fractured society is an interesting and seemingly effective project. I think ultimate, with its focus on teamwork and personal skills, and particularly fair play, self-regulation, and spirit of the game, is an ideal medium for this delicate situation, and the youth and community level focus seems to help foster the cross-boundary relationships that the region will desperately need in the years to come.
In order to participate in the project, I need to raise at least $1500 (which does not include the price of my airfare). I hope to cover a significant portion of this amount by selling frisbees as a fundraiser.  I'm selling these for $10. If you're interested in a disc, please email me at phoebe.shambaugh@gmail.com  there is a waiting period on orders, so I expect the discs to arrive around the beginning of June.
I have also set up an online donation page, https://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/phoebe-to-israel-for-ultimate-peace/55890, for those people who wouldn't use a frisbee. Any amount you'd like to give would be fantastic.
Thanks for your help!
The frisbees themselves are an official Ultimate version, so the appropriate weight and size for game use.   The design for the Frisbee can be seen on the Berlin, Vermont facebook page.

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