Monday, March 03, 2014


News to Know February 27, 2014

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW February 27th, 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:

If you're running for a seat on one of the board I would be glad to include your information News to Know (I don't believe everybody running is on my email list - so if you know them... let them know!!) - so far I've published information for Carl Parton and in this edition for Chris Winters.

I noted on Applebee's facebook page that on Friday & Saturday nights they stay open until 1am


Included below please find:


Rogers Farmstead - farm fresh raw milk, milk house open 8-7 everyday. Go to the milkhouse and instructions are posted as it's self service. Join their CSA with shares available for weekly pickup. Located off Route 12 in Berlin, Vermont just 4 miles from downtown Montpelier. Location: 934 Rowell Hill Road phone 371-5098 Check out their facebook page!
You will be able to license your dog at Town Meeting Day this year.  The fee on or before April 1st for a spayed or neutered dog is $8.00; not spayed or neutered dog is $12.  The fees go up after April 1s to $10 for spayed or neutered and $16 for not spayed or neutered.  If this is a new dog that has not been licensed in Berlin before you will need to bring a current rabies certificate and if the dog is spayed or neutered you will need to bring the spaying or neutering certificate also.


My name is Chris Winters and I live in West Berlin with my wife Sarah, and our 4 children.  I am running for a position on the BES School Board as a way to be of service to our community and our children.

My background will serve me well as a school board member.  I have worked in the Secretary of State’s office for 16 years, helping to protect the public by regulating 45 professions and 55,000 licensees.  I oversee a staff of 30 and a budget of $4M.  I can lend my skills and experience to the Board to make sure that our school is progressing toward our community’s shared vision for what we want our school to be.

If elected, a big part of my job will be to listen carefully and engage as many members of the community as possible in developing that shared vision.  I believe in gathering input and going about things in an open and transparent way. 

My top priorities are:
Developing a common vision for what we want education to be in Berlin
Creating a safe, nurturing learning environment
Making sure our tax dollars are used responsibly
Ensuring administrators are accountable for carrying out our vision

As a parent, I am interested in getting more people invested in our educational goals. I’d like to utilize community gatherings, youth sports, Front Porch Forum, email, Facebook, and other creative ways to connect with parents and neighbors who want to be involved. I hope to enlist your help so we can continue to create a vibrant school community here in Berlin
I am asking for your vote on Town Meeting Day and am happy to answer any questions in the meantime.  You can reach me by email at or by phone 802-223-8101.  Thank you.
The Northeast Model Railroad Show is this Saturday at Champlain Valley Expo in Essex 10am - 4pm.  Adults $5, children 6-12 $1, under 6 free.  For those with an active military ID the family can get in for $5.  Free parking, food vendor (hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, etc.) on site.  There will be layouts, exhibits, vendors of model railroading supplies and railroad videos and books.  A railroad clown to entertain the children with face painting and balloons, along with hands-on train activities for the kids.   Details and photos at these two links:

Here is a link to a WCAX Made in Vermont story that was done last March on the No Strings Marionettes.  They put on fabulous puppet shows.  If you haven't seen one of their shows yet, or even if you have, you'll want to keep an eye out for an upcoming performance.  Made in VT news story:  / No Strings website
Pub 2/26/14 Times Argus
   BARRE — Residents in several area towns who are concerned about the security and privacy of students’ personal information have managed to place an article on their Town Meeting Day agendas addressing the issue.
   In the U-32 school district, voters will be asked to consider where information that schools gather about students goes, and who can see it. The nonbinding resolution will come up in four of the five U-32 district towns — Calais, Berlin, Middlesex and Worcester. In East Montpelier, the petition drive did not gather enough signatures.
   The resolution seeks tighter control over the personal information of students. It comes on the heels of high-profile security breaches at Target and the leaks about National Security Agency spying on U.S. citizens. If approved, it would serve only as a recommendation from the voters to school boards to look into tighter regulation of student information at U-32 Middle and High School, Berlin Elementary, Calais Elementary, Rumney Memorial in Middlesex and Doty Elementary in Worcester.
   The campaign arose in response to the purchase of software from the information management company Infinite Campus by the Washington Central Supervisory Union. Infinite Campus stores its data in Minnesota.
   Whoever is behind the campaign lays out the issue on a website,, but appears not to have publicly identified themselves.
   The website calls for the following policy:
   “All information about individual students shall be stored only on local school or district premises and shall not be shared outside school or district staff except by specific vote of the local board for each release, or to the least degree strictly necessary to comply with law, or with the prior written consent of the student/parent/guardian.”
   The website also says the supervisory union executive committee didn’t sufficiently warn voters when it decided to allow student records to be stored in Minnesota.
   According to the website, the information being sent to Minnesota is not anonymous and contains students’ names, mailing addresses, date of birth, gender, parents’ names, their marital status, photographs and class schedule. It calls this a blatant violation of students’ privacy rights.
   District Superintendent Bill Kimball said the issue around student information privacy arose about 18 months ago when a Calais man named Charles Davin started attending board meetings. Kimball said Davin was very concerned by the decision to use Infinite Campus as a student information system and that Davin felt the board was not informed enough when it decided to go with Infinite Campus, a claim Kimball denies.
   “We are taking privacy seriously,” Kimball said. “We did an internal risk assessment when we decided to go with Infinite Campus, over two years ago. Information managing is Infinite Campus’ specialty. It’s what they do.”
   Several attempts to obtain contact information for Davin were unsuccessful Tuesday. Kimball also said Davin had declined to give his phone number.
   Kimball said the concerns expressed are essentially baseless.
   “We feel very confident in our practices,” he said. “Student privacy is something we take very seriously, and we’ve been doing that for a very long time. We feel that things are secure.”
   Kimball said the supervisory union has security measures in place, though he did not go into specifics.
   “The position of the administration is that we won’t talk about security in a public venue. We’re not going to release that information out to the public. It would put more people more at risk.”
   Peter Drescher, the education technology coordinator at the Vermont Agency of Education, said the issue of student privacy seems to be coming up with more frequency. Drescher said that as long as schools are careful which companies they use to manage their student data, the security of that information should remain fine.
   “I understand the concern,” Drescher said. “But we’re also in a world where this is how it works now. It’s up to local school districts to understand who they are working with. But many times these companies have solid track records and there is no reason they shouldn’t be used.”

Drescher said a number of schools in Vermont use the Infinite Campus program to store data, and so far he has not heard any complaints about the way it has managed student information.
   A full version of the proposed student privacy article can be found on the town warnings of CalaisBerlin, Middlesex and Worcester.
Pub 2/26/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — Verizon Wireless was encouraged this week to pick another plan by residents who object to the company’s pending request to erect a 114-foot-tall monopole tower on the hillside that overlooks their housing development.
   The company’s request is in limbo.
   The town has officially intervened, the Public Service Department has asked for an independent aesthetic analysis, and the Public Service Board has yet to rule on the application that has rankled some residents of the Partridge Farms development, including a member of the Select Board.
   Selectman Ture Nelson acknowledged the potential conflict of interest and, for the second time this month, voluntarily joined his neighbors in the audience during a Monday afternoon meeting that was scheduled at the request of Brian Sullivan, a lawyer for Verizon Wireless.
   Sullivan said he reached out to the town’s attorney, Rob Halpert, after Halpert filed a motion to intervene with the Public Service Board at the direction of the Select Board.
   Sullivan, who was joined by Andrew Davis, a site acquisition consultant for Verizon Wireless, and Louis Hodgetts of DuBois & King Inc., said he viewed the meeting as an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or misconceptions about the proposal.
   What followed was a nearly hourlong, occasionally testy back-and-forth that got off to a very shaky start when Plateau Drive resident Robert Lehmert all but accused Verizon Wireless of intentionally submitting an application that glossed over the existence of his nearby neighborhood.
   “I understand what a material misrepresentation is, but I’d like to know how someone could attest to something so sloppy that they ignored our neighborhood completely,” Lehmert said, noting that at least one photograph that was referenced in the application was not part of the formal submittal.
   “Is this a matter of you didn’t do a good job doing it, or you don’t want to show what it’s going to look like?” he asked.
   Lehmert’s observations almost ended the meeting.
   Sullivan said he, Davis and Hodgetts were happy to field questions about the project but weren’t going to tolerate a barrage of “statements with question marks at the end.”
   “If you want to talk about the project, (the) specifics of the project, impacts on particular locations from the project, service that the project will provide, we’re happy to do that,” Sullivan said. “If we’re talking about people’s competence, ‘misrepresentation,’ name-calling (and) mudslinging, we’re not here for that, and frankly if you keep it up we’ll just leave.”
   Lehmert briefly did, offering to discuss the shortcomings of the Verizon Wireless application in private.
   “There’s more fluff and nonsense in this (application) than you can shake a stick at,” he said.
   Chairman Brad Towne sought to get what he described as an informational meeting back on track, posing the question that has perplexed those who live in the Partridge Farms development.
   “Does it really need to be that close to houses?” he asked. The tower has been proposed for a wooded ridge less than 150 feet from the edge of Partridge Farms’ property line.
   According to Davis, it would have been far easier to propose a 140-foot tower at a different location, but the site selected — the fringe of a 70-acre parcel off Marvin Road — was chosen because it allowed for a minimum tower height needed to provide maximum coverage along the Route 2 and 302 corridors. The existence of a deer wintering yard on the property was also a limiting factor, he said.
   Hodgetts agreed, telling neighbors at least two other locations on the parcel were considered but would have required a taller tower to meet Verizon Wireless’ coverage objectives.
   “We tried to balance the height (of the tower) from all viewpoints as best we could,” he said.
   However, Partridge Farms residents said their view should have received greater weight given the development’s proximity to the proposed tower.
   “Your ‘coverage objectives’ results in us having a truly unsightly, potentially dangerous and, obviously to the neighborhood, unacceptable tower sitting in our backyard,” one woman said.
   “It just seems to be: ‘We get the best signal here and you guys have to live with it,’” she added.
   Hodgetts sought to allay those concerns, noting that while the tower would protrude an estimated 40 feet above the average tree line, a large swath of evergreens stands between the selected site and the housing development. The tower, he said, would be painted brown to blend in with trees on the hillside, and it would not, as some residents feared, have a light on top.
   “I’m not going to say you’re not going to see it at all, but it should be fairly minimal,” Hodgetts said.
   Sullivan said the tower wasn’t just being proposed to address “dead areas” where Verizon customers can’t get cell service, but was an acknowledgment that, based on actual data usage trends, an existing cell tower on Granger Road in Berlin is nearing capacity.
   Some residents wondered whether the company would consider an alternative.
   “Is there a compatible ‘Plan B’ that we can put together that doesn’t overly burden Verizon and that works for our neighborhood?” one man asked.
   One possibility, the man said, would be to expand the Granger Road site to meet coverage objectives along the Barre-Montpelier Road and relocate the proposed tower to address problems along the Route 2 corridor.
   That said, he acknowledged it is unlikely the Public Service Board will deny Verizon Wireless’ request based on the objections of some neighbors.
   “At the end of the day, everybody wants cell service, so this is what we’re dealing with,” he said.
   Sullivan said he would consult the radio frequency engineer for Verizon Wireless to see if there was a workable alternative and forward the results of that conversation to Halpert.
   Though Verizon Wireless did float a balloon to simulate the height of the tower earlier in the process, the neighbors weren’t aware that was happening and didn’t notice the balloon.
   One resident said that was unfortunate.
   “It sure would be nice to see where it is and what it’s going to look like,” he said, prompting Towne to ask whether Verizon Wireless would repeat the experiment.
   “I think it’s highly unlikely at this stage of the proceedings,” Sullivan replied.
   Nelson, who let his neighbors do the talking, said complying with Towne’s request could quiet many of them.
   “If the site is as amenable as you make it out to be, another balloon test might make this go away very quickly,” he said.


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