Friday, March 14, 2014


News to Know March 6, 2014

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW March  6, 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:
The clocks spring ahead one hour this weekend.  Looking forward to the additional daylight in the evening.
Included below please find:






U-32 was reporting Thursday evening that they had approximately 100 tickets left from their 600 allocation for the Boys Basketball Championship game on Saturday afternoon!   Stop by U-32 between 8:30-2:00pm on Friday, March 7th to get your tickets! Do not wait because they might not be available at the door!!!!

The Town of Berlin now has an active "BERLIN RESOURCE LINE"  Dial 552-8805 to hear recorded announcements which will be updated weekly. Announcements will include upcoming meetings, events, deadlines, etc. We're looking at Friday to be the day it will be updated.  Please help spread the word, especially to those who are not internet users!  This is not a line to leave messages, just to hear the recorded message.
Pub 3/6/14 Times Argus Talk of the Town
   BERLIN — The closest race in Berlin on Tuesday was decided by a single vote, but Town Clerk Rosemary Morse tells us it took a few minutes to confirm the result.
   Turns out the town’s automated vote tabulating machine had the race for a two-year school board seat dead even with Amy Tucker and George Gross each receiving 173 votes.

   “The machine had it tied,” said Morse, who said the machine didn’t count the six ballots that ultimately made the difference.
   Though three of those ballots were blank in the race between Tucker and Gross, she picked up two of the others while he got one. The final result, which may yet be recounted, had Tucker winning the race, 175-174.
   Gross has 10 days from Tuesday to request a recount and Morse said he stopped by her office on Wednesday to discuss it, but hasn’t yet made up his mind.
   “He (Gross) is thinking about it,” she said.
Note that on the town website the complete final results can be seen, below the blank and spoiled ballot numbers are not included.  Including absentee ballots, 423 registered voters exercised their right to vote.  There are about 1,800 people on the list who could vote.
Selectboard -
Jeremy Hansen 341
(write-ins - Dale Arleth, Craig Frazier, Bob Clark, Kevin Croteau, and Peter Kelley)
Peter Kelley 312
Ture Nelson 282
(write-ins - Craig Frazier, Martha Clelia, Kathy Hartshorn, Tinker Lawrence, Chip LaGue, and Marvin Malek)
Grand Juror
(write-ins - Erin Meehan, Jeremy Hansen, Josh Fitzhugh (2), Gary Shelley, Ture Nelson, Bill Clark, Susan Rich (2), Mark Montieth, William Wolfe, Rosemary Morse, Pete Kelley, Alma Rhinerson, Fred Newhall, Mike Stridsberg (2), and Tim Morse.
Town Clerk
Rosemary Morse 397
(write-in - Muriel Morse)
Article 2: Town budget of $2,525,879  299 Yes / 110 No
Article 3: Fire Dept. $236,700 296 Yes / 120 No
Article 4: Central VT Council on Aging $2,000  297 Yes / 117 No
NO Article 5: CIRCLE $975 160 Yes / 230 No
Article 6: People's Health & Wellness $500  258 Yes / 154 No
Article 7: VT Assoc. Blind & Visually Impaired $500  300 Yes / 115 No
Article 8: Washington County Youth Services Bureau $500 266 Yes / 147 No
Article 9: Central VT Community Action Council $500  234 Yes / 176 No
Article 10 Retired Senior Volunteer Program $200 278 Yes / 135 No
Article 11: Green-Up $150  309 Yes / 111 No
Article 12: VT Center for Independent Living $1,000 250 Yes / 163 No
Article 13: Green Mountain Transit Agency $10,920 216 Yes / 198 No
Article 14: Sexual Assault Crisis Team of Wash. Co. $300  273 Yes / 141 No
Article 15: Family Center of Washington County $800 232 Yes / 174 No
Article 16: Good Samaritan Haven homeless shelter $800 257 Yes / 155 No
Article 17: Montpelier Senior Activities Center $2,900 226 Yes / 182 No
Article 18: Central VT Adult Basic Education $1,200 240 Yes / 170 No
Article 19: Prevent Child Abuse VT $350 299 Yes / 114 No
Article 20: Central VT Home Health& Hospice $5,700 298 Yes / 114 No
NO Article 21: Just Basics, Inc $1,500 117 Yes / 273 No
Berlin Elementary School Director
George Gross 174 vs. Amy Tucker 175
Carl Parton 340
(write-ins - Dale Arleth, Bob Morse, and Amy Brewer)
Heather Collins 151 vs. Chris Winters 190 
(write-in - Alvah Newhall)
Craig Frazier 259 vs. Liesel Manchester 78
(write-in - Corrine Stridsburg (2), Chris Winters, Bob Morse, and Sarah Winters)
U-32 School District Director
Michael Law 358
Article 7: School Budget $3,264,970  226 Yes / 184 No


For those of you who missed the presentation of Berlin School Celebrations during Town Meeting today please take just a few minutes to visit the school website ( and check it out.
At Town Meeting during discussion of "other" matters, Jeremy Hansen, selectboard member, presented information on the local option 1% tax with those attending.  He posts regularly in Front Porch Forum with information to the community and included the link for the slides to his presentation in his most recent post:
Note that the article says Chris Wright when it should be Chris Rice.


Pub. 3/5/14 Times Argus by David Delcore

   BERLIN — For what it’s worth, those who attended town meeting in Berlin believe their community should restore its lapsed affiliation with Montpelier’s Kellogg-Hubbard Library, reconsider its decision to drop out of a regional public safety authority, and explore the creation of a local options tax.
   However, none of those questions was on the Town Meeting Day warning in 
Berlin, where most binding decisions were made by Australian ballot and two of the few that confronted voters at Tuesday’s open town meeting were lunch-related: minestrone soup or corn chowder? Ham, egg or tuna salad?
   That doesn’t mean Town Moderator Paul Gillies didn’t earn his keep on a day when a slow trickle of the town’s 1,894 registered voters easily approved a $2.5 million municipal budget, narrowly passed the $3.26 million elementary school budget, appropriated $236,700 for the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department, and settled three races for the local elementary school board — all by Australian ballot. In fact, Gillies got a workout.
   Much of it came during an hourlong debate involving a nonbinding question that actually was on the warning. 
   A proposal to urge school officials to zealously protect student privacy by severing ties with a company that stores their records in a database in 
Minnesota provoked a dizzying flurry of amendments.
   Some passed, others failed, and most were designed to soften language included in a petition that was presented to the Select Board and placed on the ballot.
   School board members questioned whether the petition was presented to the wrong board and disagreed on the merits of the request.
   “This is unnecessary and, from a process perspective, I think is misplaced,” said member Chris Wright.
   Fellow board member Carl Parton said he believed Wright was wrong, invoking the name of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and said it wasn’t so far-fetched to believe electronic student records could be hacked.
   “It is a real issue,” Parton said. “Just because we don’t know about it and it hasn’t affected us yet doesn’t mean it won’t.”
   There was no shortage of opinions. While some wondered whether pushing for a change that would require all student records to be stored on site was actually doable and at what price, others said that from a security standpoint it was a wash, because local schools are ill-equipped to replicate the security measures of a national firm that specializes in handling sensitive records.
   After a fair amount of wordsmithing, it appeared the group was poised to ask school officials to further explore the issue and report back, when resident Josh Fitzhugh urged voters to just say no and put the matter to rest.
   That is what they did by a close voice vote that Gillies awarded to Fitzhugh’s side and then confirmed with a show of hands that proved the article was narrowly rejected, 32-30.
   While the student privacy question dominated discussion for much of the meeting, three items that came up under other business gave town officials something to think about.
   Voters on hand said they strongly supported restoring Berlin’s lapsed alliance with Montpelier’s public library and were told they would have to circulate a petition to get a funding request on the ballot next year.
   Last year 
Berlin voters easily rejected Kellogg-Hubbard’s request for $26,925, by a 286-159 vote, and no request was made this year.
   Meanwhile Rep. Patti Lewis and former state lawmaker and Select Board Chairwoman Pat McDonald suggested the current board should reconsider its decision to abandon the four-year study of a regional public safety authority.
   McDonald said the idea had merit and there was no risk to 
Berlin getting in on the ground level, participating in early discussions and then deciding if whatever the proposed authority comes up with is in its best interest. She said the board’s concerns about a charter that was the subject of separate votes in Barre and Montpelier had been addressed.
Berlin deserves to be at the table,” she said.
   Selectman Ture Nelson defended the board’s decision to drop out of the regional effort, noting there were “too many unanswered questions” for it to comfortably warn a vote on the proposed charter.
   “We’re open to re-evaluate this as things move forward, but we have to look at what’s best for 
Berlin, and we don’t see it coming out of this committee and this charter at this time,” Nelson said.
   McDonald said that decision should be left to local voters, and a majority of those in attendance agreed.
   Perhaps the softest show of support came in response to the 1 percent local option tax floated by the board as a way to generate an estimated $380,000 in new revenue.
   There were technically more yes votes than no votes, but those who didn’t raise their hands at all might have outnumbered both after a brief presentation by Selectman Jeremy Hansen.
   Most of the weighty decisions were made during daylong voting, though fewer than 450 ballots were cast between 
10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
   Voters approved the municipal budget, 299-110, and funding for the fire department, 296-120. The vote on the $3.26 million elementary school budget was much closer, 226-184.
   Only two spending requests were defeated. Voters rejected $975 requested by CIRCLE (formerly Battered Women’s Services of Central Vermont), 230-160, and defeated Just Basics Inc.’s (formerly Meals on Wheels) $1,500 request, 273-117.
   One of the three school board races was decided by a single vote with Amy Tucker edging George Gross, 175-174, for a two-year seat. Chris Winters beat Heather Collins, 190-151, for a three-year seat, and in the runaway of the day Craig Frazier defeated Liesel Manchester, 259-78.

Pub 3/6/14 Times Argus
   EAST MONTPELIER — The U-32 budget passed by just 47 votes, with 918 in favor of the school district spending plan for the coming year and 871 against, said Superintendent Bill Kimball.
   “It’s closer than normal,” Kimball said Wednesday, the day after the five member towns’ annual vote. He was happy to be on the positive side in what has been a tough year for 
Vermont school budgets.
   Last year, the U-32 budget passed by a more than 3-1 margin, said Kimball; the previous year it comfortably gained approval as well.

   The budget that voters narrowly OK’d this year calls for a 3.23 percent spending increase. It had included a net increase of 5.19 percent, but that was brought down using $200,000 from the fund balance.
   The total budget figure is $14,833,463. The U-32 budget is voted on by Australian ballot in the towns that send their seventh- through 12th-graders there: 
Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester.

   U-32 board Vice Chairman Conrad W. Smith said of the close vote, “The board is just extremely appreciative of the confidence that the voters of our five towns have in U-32 and both the work of the school and the school board.” 

   Smith pointed to a factor that many are blaming for the defeat or near-defeat of many school budgets statewide this year: the statewide property tax increase on top of local budget increases, leading to unpalatable tax increases for many property owners.
   “The board worked extremely hard and in the face of the state adding 7 cents on the state property tax for education ... that made it extremely hard for several of the towns,” he said.
   The board went back and forth with the budget, said Kimball, reducing the first draft from a 10 percent increase to less than 2 percent, with cuts that the board determined went too far.
   A 1.15 percent reduction in staffing was part of the budget process, and several courses were cut, along with three middle school teaching jobs — down from the initial and highly controversial proposal to cut five teachers.
   Kimball said the tax increases accompanying school budgets are huge because of the spike in the statewide rate added onto what’s required for modest increases in local budgets. 
   The close U-32 vote was “more a local issue,” he said, adding that the controversy over the cuts made during the budget process was difficult and saw many people speak out against the board’s final budget that went to voters.
   One piece that was out of the board’s hands was a big special education increase, added Kimball. “It’s not to blame. It’s just some of the facts,” he said, of what drove increases. 
   Declining enrollment
   Kimball said U-32 is seeing smaller incoming classes with a marked drop in pupils starting this year and expected to continue, based on the enrollment now in the elementary schools. Painful decisions surround that reality, he said.
   Drops of 20 to 25 students coming into this year’s and next year’s seventh grade will require adjustments in budgets and staffing levels, said Kimball. 
   That means U-32 will go from incoming classes of 125 to 130 per grade to an adjusted picture of 100 to 110 this year and next, followed by a leveling off the next six years at those lower numbers, he said. Some future incoming classes even look likely to dip below 100 for the combined enrollment from the elementary schools that will feed into U-32 for seventh grade. 
   Some additional kids are picked up as tuition students, he said, which helps financially, but that mainly occurs at ninth grade, he said. 
   Part of the debate
   At the annual school meeting Tuesday in 
East Montpelier, where more than 200 people considered a proposal to vote their local elementary school budget by Australian ballot as well, the U-32 budget came up again and again. 

   Resident Ed Deegan said that for the first time, and with regret, he was voting against a school budget this year: the U-32 budget.

   Deegan said a 10.4 percent increase for U-32 in two years “is not sustainable,” telling fellow voters, “If you do the trend lines on that, we have a bad trend line. U-32 is heading in the wrong direction.” 
   Ginny Burley, formerly a U-32 board member for many years, told voters in 
East Montpelier not to be afraid of taking their local school budget to Australian ballot, saying that the U-32 budget has seen higher voter participation and not a single rejection since going to that form of voting. 

   Andy Christiansen argued for keeping the vote at the school district meeting. 

   He pointed to the low turnout at the informational meeting put on by the U-32 board the night before the annual vote on its budget and argued that Australian balloting does not lead to a more informed citizenry.
   “At the U-32 informational meeting, about 16 people were in a small little classroom representing 9,700 people in the five towns,” argued Christiansen. 
   Ultimately, his town opted to have a committee study the issue rather than make the switch.
Pub 3/4/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — The chances of having a fully functioning municipal water system serving the Berlin Four Corners area by this fall appear to be fading, although obtaining meaningful answers from the town about the status of the multimillion-dollar project has been a challenge.
   That much was evident last week when 
Crosstown Road resident Glen French, concerned by rumblings that the town might shrink the service area of the proposed water system — depriving him of a promised alternative to his sodium chloride-contaminated well — wasn’t quite told he had nothing to worry about.
   In fact, Town Administrator Jeff Schulz told French and the Select Board that the consultant designing the system had floated the idea of abandoning plans to extend a distribution line out
Crosstown Road beyond Shed Road. The board seemed unaware that was a possibility.
   Costs associated with a significant amount of ledge in the vicinity of the Interstate 89 overpass prompted the thought, according to Schulz, who stressed the preliminary nature of the proposal.

   A change to the proposed service area would require the blessing of the Select Board and both the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency, which is financing the bulk of the $5.5 million project.
   “No decisions have been made on that,” he said.
   With final design of the water system said to be 75 percent complete, board members wondered when they would be receiving an update from Mark Youngstrom of Otter Creek Engineering, and Selectman Pete Kelley came as close as anyone to telling French not to worry.
   “It’s the board’s intention to bring water to as many people as we can,” Kelley said.
   French said he hopes that includes him, as promised, because he’s had about enough of faucets that spew water he can’t drink and that stains his clothing.
   “My water sucks bad,” he said. 
   French wanted to know why he hadn’t been asked to sign an agreement to hook onto the proposed water system. He worried the reason might have something to do with “awful bad rumors” he heard that the system might not extend to his house.
   Schulz said that wasn’t the reason. No one, he said, has been asked to make a formal commitment yet and the town is still recruiting interested water users.
   As of last week, Schulz said, the town had informal agreements with a mix of commercial and residential property owners representing the equivalent of 306 single-family homes.
   The town started recruiting potential customers in October and is now within the equivalent of 50 single-family homes from what board members have been told is the target to put the project out to bid. However, that target — 348 “equivalent residential users” — is significantly lower than the 400 to 450 ERUs that prospective customers were told would be needed to set promised water rates based on favorable federal financing.
   “Based on the obtained Rural Development financing the town needs a commitment of 400-450 ERUs to set this initial water rate,” the board wrote in a letter that was mailed to those who own property in the proposed service area.
   Asked to explain why the number cited in the letter was at odds with the target now being discussed, Schulz said he would have to consult Youngstrom, who is scheduled to meet with the board March 17 to discuss how to proceed.
   Board members had questions of their own, including when final design is expected to be completed, whether a change in the service area is seriously being proposed, and whether they will be asked to solicit bids before potential users actually sign contracts to hook onto the system.
   They didn’t get many answers, though Schulz said he has told Youngstrom to hold off on completing the design work until more progress is made signing up users.
   By all accounts the project is running somewhat behind the time frame the board laid out in the mailing in October.
   “It is the town’s goal to have sufficient commitments in place, final design complete, and all permits (and) approvals in place to place the project out to bid in late February or early March 2014,” the board wrote, noting that would allow for construction to be completed later this year.
   Though that remains a possibility, the window is closing.
   A delay wouldn’t derail the project, but it could push construction into next year.
   The Select Board remains firmly behind a water system that would address widespread contamination that has plagued private wells, like the one at the town offices and the one French owns, while creating a reliable source of water in an area that is otherwise ripe for development.
   Plans call for a 400,000-gallon water storage tank and a pumping station near three town-owned wells on Scott Hill Road; the installation of roughly 5 miles of water line; and the acquisition of the system currently operated by the Berlin Water Co.
   The distribution system would include all or parts of Scott Hill, Airport, Fisher, Granger and Crosstown roads, as well as Industrial Lane and Paine Turnpike.
   Town officials have already drilled, tested and obtained permits for three bedrock wells with a combined average daily capacity of 108,000 gallons. Those wells were later acquired for $106,000.
   Meanwhile, the town has received two substantial state planning loans totaling more than $408,000 to finance preliminary and final design of the system. The plan is to roll those loans into the total cost of the project before the first payments are due next year.
If you have an interest in the fish hatchery you'll want to be sure to check out the article in The Northfield News at this link:
At Morse Farm it's time for Sugar on Snow! In March they will be serving Sugar on Snow Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from noon to 4 pm.
The annual Family Fun Day hosted by the Family Center of Washington County is on Saturday, March 15th from 10am to 1pm at the Union Elementary School in Montpelier.  Christopher R. and His Flying Purple Guitar will perform kids songs that rap, rock and roll and the audience can grab a shaker and get into the act.  The variety of fun activities during Family Fun Day includes arts & crafts, face painting, and storytime. At 11:30am on the stage is Troy Wunderle's One Man Circus.  Get seated early as the stage event fills right up.  This show will feature juggling routines, intricate diablo manipulation, fast paced rhythmic ball bouncing, unicycle skits, plate spinning, clown antics, and more.  Wunderle will present two circus workshops in the large gym at 10:15 and 12:30.  While the activities and performance are free there will be a nominal fee for the pizza, subs, baked goods, and beverages down in the cafeteria.   
Below are several recent postings... there have been many more about a variety of topics, looking for services, garage sales, meeting announcement, events, etc.
Membership is free - to join go to visit


The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Pruning

Saturday, March 22, 10-12:30 
Kellogg Hubbard Library, 
135 Main Street, Montpelier
State Lands Forester David Wilcox will present a workshop on tree pruning, demonstrating pruning tools and techniques for health, strength, beauty and - in the case of fruit trees - production. The first part of the workshop will be in the East Montpelier Room on the basement level of the library. The second part will take place outside tackling typical pruning issues that homeowners face.
This program is sponsored by the Central Vermont Extension Master Gardeners and the Montpelier Tree Board. It is free and open to the public and eligible for EMG education hours.


New Development Review Board Members Needed

Attending our Town Meeting on Tuesday always makes me appreciate the value of being able to participate in local government decisions and those who volunteer their service to the Town of Berlin. To that end, the Development Review Board currently has two openings. Anyone interested in becoming more involved in our community feel free to contact me at 485-8793.

Spaghetti Dinner Mar. 14

Miles Silk Jr • Fire Chief, Berlin
The Berlin Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, March 14th from 5pm to7pm at the Four Corners Station (next to the school). Come support your Fire Dept and have some good food and a good time. Get know the members and what we do, then take a station tour.
Ages 6 and older will be $6, under 5 are free.   $20.00 for a family of 4.   Any questions contact Brady at(802)-498-5845

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