Thursday, February 27, 2014


News to Know February 25, 2014

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW February 25th, 2014

This  communication is put together and distributed on a volunteer basis by resident Corinne Stridsberg simply in an effort to share information and build community, it is not from the town of Berlin.
Please share this with your Berlin friends and neighbors.  If you're not already receiving this news directly by email, send an email to request this to
Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook to find bits of current news, some not included here:


Of note:
Below you will see a few stories from a bit further away... RUHS architect students are getting out into community to work on a project made me think about how more students, not just those who go over to the Barre Tech program could use some hands on experience.  Also at RUHS it caught my attention that a large donation to use as a scholarship has been made.  This will likely help kids get to college that might not otherwise or and also help so that students will not has as much debt when they get through - which is a difficult if not overwhelming burden to start out any career with.  There are two stories regarding school lunches, which makes one ask how should lunch programs be run and locally, do all students have access to a school lunch? 


Included below please find:



It was just a matter of time before WCAX Super Seniors would be interviewing Ray Burke here in Berlin, please take the time to go to the link to watch:
In addition to picking up a copy of the town report up at the town office, you can find the reports online:
Town & School Annual Reports

Auditor report which was not included in Town Report this year
Berlin Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary will be offering lunch again at Town Meeting this year. $5 for soup & sandwich (always a choice of each) along with a beverage. Seems like there is usually pudding also. Food is always good and it's a great opportunity to support the Ladies Auxiliary who help out when the fire department is out on a fire scene. The part I enjoy is the chance to visit with friends, neighbors, and even meet some new folks. Come down to Town Meeting and linger awhile if you can!
If you don't think you'll be able to make it to Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 4th (meeting at 10am, polls open 10am - 7pm) be sure to request an absentee ballot. Easy to do, either give a call to the Town Clerk's office (229-9298), drop a note (108 Shed Road, Berlin, VT 05602), or stop by. If you're requesting for a spouse or other relative you can't actually pick it up, it will need to be mailed to that person. Absentee Ballots must be received back before by March 4th at close of polls at 7pm to be counted.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

   Last Thursday evening, February 19th at a Legislative event, I announced my run for #VT Senate in Washington County for 2014. If you would like to read my announcement, the Press Release I sent out to the media, or follow my campaign, check out my website at Sign up to receive emails from me - I would love to stay in touch and hear your issues and concerns. Throughout my campaign I will emphasize the importance of opportunity and affordability because like most Vermonters, Bruce and I have watched our property taxes go up steadily, every year, and we struggle with living on fixed incomes - so much so that we have both had to take part-time work to supplement our retirement income. However, hearing about job losses, increased poverty levels, an exploding drug epidemic, the dismal state of our mental health care system, the cost of health care, and -- more recently -- concerns about safety in our own communities, we realize that our own affordability struggle, while frustrating and real. actually pales in comparison to what many of our neighbors are going through. So as much as I had planned on retirement, I decided it was a critical time for me to step back in. In addition to my website, you can reach me at or (802)371-7080

Thank you.
Pat McDonald
Berlin School Board vice chair Chris Rice has narrated a powerpoint presentation about the Berlin Elementary School Budget which you can find at this link: At the Pre Town Meeting on Monday, March 3rd at 6 pm the School Board of Directors will be available to discuss this presentation at an informational meeting to be held at the school. 

People who are on the ballot running for a seat on this board on encouraged to be at the Pre Town Meeting to introduce themselves to the public. Meanwhile, if you would like to send out some information on yourself and why you're running for school board I would be happy to share it in the News to Know.
Pub 2/21/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   MONTPELIER — A local architect pitched his plan to build a public “parklet” for downtown Montpelier to a cautiously receptive City Council this week.
   Ward Joyce, who lives in Montpelier and teaches architecture at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center, told councilors that his students are working on four designs for “parklets” — portable landscaped decks placed adjacent to sidewalks in urban settings. He said he is prepared to have one built, at no cost to the city, and placed on a prominent State Street bridge.
   “The Rialto Bridge is probably the most social spot in town,” Joyce said. “It’s where the sun shines in a fabulous way” in the afternoons.
   It is also, Joyce said, the spot where those employed in both city and state government converge in the capital.
   “I think it’s a perfect place to have a public amenity developed on a trial two-year basis,” he said.
   Joyce said he’s already raised two-thirds of the money needed for construction, persuaded his employer to cover the cost of insuring it, and is working on a plan to have downtown merchants take turns maintaining it.
   “It’s not for a business,” Joyce stressed. “It’s purely a public space.”
   Or it will be, if and when Joyce obtains approval from Montpelier Alive for a seasonal structure that would fill two parking spaces but won’t need a thumbs-up from the city’s Development Review Board. Montpelier Alive is spearheading a process to establish parklets downtown.
   Due largely to parklets’ temporary nature, city officials have concluded they won’t require zoning permits and aren’t subject to the city’s design review standards. 
   They will require a $50 application fee and be subject to an annual “parking replacement” charge of $810 per parking space.
   Given the public nature of his proposal, Joyce asked councilors to waive those fees in exchange for what he described as a gift to the city.
   Councilors did as they were asked, though they warned there is no guarantee Joyce’s proposal will be awarded any of the six parking spaces the council has provisionally agreed could be occupied by parklets during the summer months during a two-year trial period. That decision, they said, would be made as part of a competitive process that is in limbo pending voter approval of a package of charter changes on Town Meeting Day.
   One of those changes would give the city the authority to do what it was advised it couldn’t last year: allow private businesses to set up shop in parklets in the public right of way.
   However, City Manager William Fraser said it is unclear whether that change is needed to go ahead with the parklet Joyce proposed.
   “This would be a public use of a public space,” Fraser said, suggesting it was different from three private proposals that stalled despite the city’s endorsement last year.
   Councilors asked Fraser to seek a clarification from the state on that point. But they indicated their desire for Joyce’s proposal to be considered as part of a process that will be spearheaded by Montpelier Alive if the charter changes are approved.
   Councilor Alan Weiss warned that even if the voters support the proposed changes to the city charter, there is no guarantee they will be approved by the Legislature this session.
“If it’s not (approved by the Legislature), I’m not convinced the city could go ahead with this plan,” Weiss said.
   Weiss, who expressed lingering concern that parklets — public or private — run afoul of the conditions for issuing permits for “outside seating in the public right of way,” noted the site Joyce selected was already a popular gathering spot for local youth.
   “Understand, we’re not building these for the general public, we’re not building these for our visitors, we’re building these for the teenagers who enjoy sitting in that warm sunshine,” Weiss said.
   There’s nothing wrong with that, according to Councilor Thierry Guerlain.
   “I know there’s going to be days when it’s too noisy and it’s too rowdy, but these are our kids,” he said, noting local youth have never taken to the plaza in front of City Hall and have been discouraged from congregating in front of City Center.
   “I like the idea we’re going to have a place where kids can hang out,” he said. 
  However, Guerlain did worry that parklets — particularly public ones — could become attractive nuisances.
   “I like the idea, but I’m wondering how we monitor what’s going on in the parklet,” he said, suggesting he wouldn’t want people sleeping in them.
   Guerlain predicted the two-year trial period the council proposed would give city officials and residents an opportunity to decide whether parklets add something worth keeping to downtown Montpelier, or are simply a seasonal waste of parking spaces.
   Councilor Anne Watson said she was pulling for the former.
   “I hope that they’re safe and they’re beautiful and they enrich the town,” she said, suggesting it was important for the council to establish criteria for evaluating the experiment in advance.
   Mayor John Hollar agreed.
   “Not everybody is going to love these,” he predicted. “There’s been some push back already.” 
   That said, Hollar noted the parklet concept enjoys the near-unanimous support of the council — at least to give it a try.
   “If it doesn’t work we’ll reconsider it,” he said.


Posted 1/30/14 on
As many as 40 children at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City had their lunches seized and thrown away on Tuesday because their parents had fallen behind on payments.
“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erika Lukes, the mother of an 11-year-old whose lunch was taken away. Lukes told the Salt Lake City Tribune that as far as she knew, she was up-to-date with her payments. “I think it’s despicable. These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”
The large number of students with zero or negative balances at Uintah Elementary prompted the Salt Lake City school district to send a child nutrition manager to the school on Monday to resolve the issue.  According to a statement on the district's website, school officials spent Monday calling parents to let them know that their children owed money for lunches. On Tuesday, although calls to parents continued, the district nutrition manager decided to withhold lunches from students who didn’t have enough money in their accounts. “Unfortunately, children are served lunch before they get to the computer for payment” and students with a negative balance were forced to hand over their trays and watch as they were thrown away (district policy dictates that once food is served to one student, it cannot be served to another). Instead of Tuesday’s meal of pizza and salad, the students whose accounts were in debt were given milk and a piece of fruit.
Fifth-grader Sophia Isom told KSL TV that the nutrition manager was checking each student’s account as they went through the lunch line. “She took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk,’ ” Sophia said. “I came back and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ Then she handed me an orange. She said, ‘You don’t have any money in your account so you can’t get lunch.’” According to the Salt Lake City school district website, elementary school lunches cost $2.00 per meal and parents are able to make payments towards their children’s accounts online.
Salt Lake City’s school district apologized to parents and students on Wednesday. “We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.” Since so many parents were surprised to learn they owed money to the school, the district says they plan to re-evaluate the way parents and students are informed about their account balances as the current practice of notes sent home seems not to be working.
by Jonathan Wolfe 2/7/14
   Houston resident Kenny Thompson just made a lot of children very happy.
   After hearing of the Utah school officials who threw away the lunches of children with unpaid balances, he decided to see if children in his area were having problems paying for lunch as well.
   "I'm like, 'Wow. I know that's probably a situation at my school, and the school my son goes to, and the other schools I mentor at.' So I came in and inquired about it," Thompson said.
   Sure enough, children at the school had the same problem.
   Thompson discovered that many of the children were forced to eat cold cheese sandwiches while their peers had full trays of hot food.
   “It was horrifying, it broke my heart,” Thompson said. “These are elementary kids. They’re not bankers, and not responsible for the financial issues in the household.”
Thompson, a child mentor of ten years, was so bothered by the situation that he decided to do something incredible.
   He went to Valley Oaks Elementary School and paid off every negative lunch account balance at the school. The good deed cost him $465. If you ask Thompson, he’ll tell you it's the best way he could have spent the money.
   "When I left the building knowing that they were getting fed, they didn't have that stress," said Thompson. "The best money I ever spent."
   Thompson’s kindness looks to be contagious. He told Houston station KPRC that he heard reports of a woman going into another school and offering to pay off delinquent lunch accounts just like “the man on TV.”
   “They say everything is bigger in Texas,” Thompson said. “That means our hearts too.”
Pub. 2/20/14 Herald of Randolph
   Joslyn House in Randolph received an unusual visit last week Tuesday: a visit that might have long-term consequences. Both the visitors and the Joslyn House residents enjoyed it.
   The visitors were 13 students in grades 9-12, a new elective at Randolph Union High School who are taking “Residential Architecture Design” course.
   The focus of this project, explained the instructor, Ken Cadow, is to look at some of the unrented rooms at the Joslyn House and envision how they can be made more inviting to prospective residents.
   “This is a very real problem,” Cadow said. “The kids understand that a viable operation like the Joslyn House needs to rent as many rooms as possible in order to remain healthy. Empty rooms cost money.”
   To that end, Cadow invited Norwich designer Ann Shriver Sargent to meet the students at Joslyn House so that they could witness, firsthand, how a designer looks at a space.
She explained to the students that their first impressions of a space are likely to be the same as those of a prospective tenant. She brought attention to aspects of the rooms that designers take into account—how the natural light falls into a room, how the doors affect the use of the room’s floor space, and the positioning of furniture.
   Her visit, Cadow said, ”brings to the students both the practicalities of honing an eye for design, and also how intention in design can lead to a better quality of life.”
   The instructor noted he was greatly impressed by the visiting that happened between the students and the residents.
“The seniors opened the doors to their rooms that were their beautiful homes, filled with a life’s worth of memories. They discussed changes they’d made to suit their tastes and shared the stories. The kids were respectful; they were highly attentive.”
   Meanwhile, in the empty rooms, the students were measuring walls, distances between outlets, the swing of doors, and the height of windows.
The next step, Cadow said, will be for students to put their measurements and findings onto paper.
   Bill Bonsignore of RACDC (which owns Joslyn House) is providing old blueprints of the house. That will help students get a sense of how the other systems--electric, plumbing, etc.--run through the walls and might affect design decisions.
   The students will even be asked to price out different approaches to making the empty rooms more inviting, and will submit those proposals to RACDC.
   “My hope is that there will be momentum there to carry the plans out in some form,” the instructor said.
   When the students left, each was served a cupcake.
   “It reminded me of visiting my grandmother’s house!” Cadow commented.
They hope the community will add to fund
   Graduates of the class of 2014 at Randolph Union High School will be the first recipients of new scholarship funding, RUHS announced this week.
   Two retired educators from Middlebury, who recently relocated to Brookfield to be near family, have donated $100,000 to start the Randolph Community Scholarship Fund.
   That amount will be distributed to this year’s graduates, and the donors plan to give the same amount annually for the next few years to the scholarship fund.
   The donors hope to spur more Randolph area individuals and organizations to contribute to the Community Scholarship Fund and help it grow, said director of student services, Carolynn Parker.
   The donor couple would rather not have their names identified, she said.
   While they are initiating the fund as well as developing the selection criteria and selection process, they hope that eventually the scholarship can continue without their involvement.
   “I am blown away by the generosity of this gift, and I hope our students fully appreciate how fortunate they are to live in a community where two people would make this possible,” Parker said.
   “Our benefactors understand how college costs have skyrocketed, leaving many college graduates with extraordinary debt. They do not want any student to not attend college because they feel they can’t afford it. This is an incredible gift.”
   To qualify, students must demonstrate financial need and plan to attend a Vermont State college—or justify their out-of-state college choice, perhaps because their major is not offered in-state.
   The range of awards is broad, and can go upwards of $10,000 a year. Students may re-apply for up to three additional years of continued funding.
Students will be expected to repay a small portion of their award after they have completed college, Parker said. This money will go back into the fund to help support future graduates.
   The Community Fund involvement will not end with the passing of a check. The process requires the student to interview with a committee and also to meet again midway through their first year of college.
   “Being former educators, our benefactors are aware that students can gain acceptance to college fairly easily, but following through and doing the hard work to stay in school can sometimes be the most difficult part,” Parker explained. “They want to provide encouragement as well as financial support to the students chosen for this scholarship.”
   Distribution of this scholarship fund will begin with the class of 2014, and applications will be available in early April, she said.
   Any community individual or organization interested in donating to the Community Scholarship Fund may contact Parker at 728- 3397.
   “The founders’ real hope is that people and organizations from the area will contribute to make this a sustaining fund,” Parker stressed.

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