Thursday, July 03, 2014


News to Know July 3, 2014

BERLIN NEWS TO KNOW  July 3 , 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:

Happy Fourth of July! If you're looking for some fun festivities: (there are additional activities listed in the comments on that page)
Tune into WDEV to see if the anticipated weather today changes any of the plans for Montpelier's 3rd of July celebration or the races & fireworks at ThunderRoad.
Take a minute to refresh what you know about lightning safety (see below) and be sure to share the information with your kids!
Barre-Montpelier Road changes - Article below about the possibility of new buildings where Hooker's Furniture and Rubber Bubbles are which will house unknown tenants.   Also according to this article, in addition to the Dollar General opening in the building near the bottom of Hospital Hill, Fastenal currently on Gallison Hill will relocate there and Ormsby's Computer store will move from Barre to this location.

Below you will find:

Lightning: What You Need To Know
NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths/showers and faucets.
Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:
Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
Never lie flat on the ground
Never shelter under an isolated tree
Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
Family with two teenagers looking for a 3 (or more) bedroom house to rent in the U-32 school district with a 10-12 month lease. Country setting preferred and the closer to I89 the better — Berlin would be ideal. We have two well-behaved pets - a 33-pound dog and a 7-pound indoor-outdoor cat.  All leads welcome, email
   Jeff Danziger, a longtime political cartoonist, will speak at Kellogg-Hubbard Library on July 9 at 6:30 p.m. about his latest book, “The Conscience of a Cartoonist,” an account of America in the aftermath of 9/11.
   “Danziger documents, via cartoons and extensive educational commentary, the tragedy of that day and the politically disorganized response that followed,” according to a news release for the event.
   The coffee table book is “also his elucidation on the art of editorial cartooning.” 
   Bear Pond Books will be selling copies of his book at the event, which Danziger will sign.
   Danziger is a political cartoonist syndicated by The New York Times worldwide. He was a finalist for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, won the 2006 Herblock Prize and the 2008 Thomas Nast Prize, and is a decorated
Vietnam veteran. He has produced 10 books of cartoons and a children’s book, as well as a book about the Vietnam War. His 40-year cartooning career spans the New York Daily News, The Times Argus, the Rutland Herald and the Christian Science Monitor. He also was a teacher at U-32.
   Danziger was included in the recent French documentary “Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy.” It was shown at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, which he attended.
   His cartoons will be on exhibit at the library during July and August.
"Tentatively we are starting the closure on July 8th now. We are also going to work 24 hours a day to get the repair completed in 15 days, to lessen the impact on the public."   "Hospital Hill" in Berlin will be closed to traffic going DOWN to the Barre-Montpelier Road, you'll still be able to go up.  The detour will take you down the beltline into Barre.   For questions  (for a map see the Berlin, Vermont facebook page)
The Town Offices will be closed on Friday, July 4th
The next Selectboard meeting is Monday, July 7th at 7pm at the town office.
As a reminder,  potential water system users who return their signed commitment form prior to the project going out to bid will have the connection fee waived.  This is potentially a $1,000-$1,500 savings.  The Selectboard anticipates placing the water supply project out to bid at their July 7th meeting, so send in your completed form as soon as possible if you want to take advantage of this savings.  Of course you can submit your commitment form after the project has been put out to bid,  however, your connection fee will not be waived.
The Economic Development Committee will meet on Wednesday, July 9th at 5:30pm at the town office.
The Planning Commission meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month with their next meetings being on July 9th and 23rd at 7pm at the town office.  They’re currently discussing subdivision regulations.
The Town Clerk’s office will be closed Thursday, July 10th and the Treasurer’s office will be closed Friday, July 11th
The Development Review Board will next meet on Tuesday,  July 15th at 7pm at the town office.  Agendas are published in the Times Argus, are posted on the board at the town office, and can be found on the town website
The Select Board is doing what’s best for Berlin
   Pat McDonald, a former two-term state lawmaker, and candidate for the Vermont Senate, leaves no doubt as to where and with whom her allegiance lies when she says, “The administration as well as the legislature wants to see the authority succeed and hopefully be repeated throughout the State. I want to get our town on board up front” (Times Argus 3/28/14).
   One can only come away from that quote realizing it is not what’s best for Berlin that is driving McDonald to circulate a petition overruling the Select Board and requesting residents to blindly vote about regional public safety to meet her goal of getting  “our town on board up front.”
   In the few years I've been on the select board I have seen firsthand how a few phone calls, e-mails, name recognition, and a little leg work can influence a situation like this because so few people in Berlin participate in local government.  Only 4 percent of voters showed up at town meeting and only 12 percent voted on the 5.5 million dollar water bond.
   It’s a lot easier to influence a small number of voters then it is to change the minds of a dedicated select board. Public safety is not a one time cost to be paid for by user fees like the water bond.  It’s a forever expense that quite likely could be dictated by Barre and Montpelier if Berlin joined the authority.
   I have read the public safety charter four times complete with highlighter and pen in hand, and for the life of me cannot figure out why anyone would suggest that Berlin agree to get tangled up with that.
   I don’t need to sit down at the table and have further discussions to know we should stop right here. There are simply too many differences between “us” and “them” for Berlin to commit to such a significant and complex agreement as regional public safety with Montpelier and Barre City.
   If McDonald was interested in doing what’s best for her own hometown instead of advancing her political aspirations and the agenda of the administration and legislature, I’m confident we wouldn't even be talking about this. On November 6, 2013, at a publicly warned meeting, the Berlin Select Board withdrew from the authority and didn’t hear anything about it again until McDonald announced her candidacy for the senate in 2014.
   I hope the residents of Berlin will remain confident in their Select Board and themselves to move forward with Berlin’s best interest in mind, and not be misled by pressures suggesting the Berlin Select Board is depriving you of your right to vote.
Peter Kelley
Pub. 7/2/14 Times Argus by David Delcore
   BERLIN — With one of his Barre-Montpelier Road redevelopment projects coming together nicely, Patrick Malone is turning his attention to the one just down the road that has been on the back burner since he acquired the Hooker Plaza a little more than a year ago.
   On Tuesday night Malone was scheduled to appear before Berlin’s Development Review Board to pitch his plan to clear the lot that is home to three buildings — one that houses Newhouse Furniture and Barre Electric Supply, and two side-by-side shedlike structures occupied by Rubber Bubbles party store and a shop that specializes in countertops. A small storage structure would also be razed as part of the $2.2 million redevelopment project that Malone has proposed for the 2.9-acre parcel, which sits between the
Barre-Montpelier Road and the shopping center anchored by Price Chopper supermarket.
   Malone wasn’t expecting to get an answer Tuesday night, and the review board is scheduled to continue the hearing July 15.
   However, after months of speculation about what Malone had in mind for the property that he acquired from the Newhouse family for $1.6 million, at least one question has been answered. His preference isn’t to rehab any of the existing buildings, but to start from scratch.
   Plans submitted on Malone’s behalf call for the construction of three buildings on the site. Those would be configured differently from the ones they would replace, allowing for a vastly expanded parking area.
   Assuming he is able to obtain permits for the project, Malone said the future tenant mix is a huge question mark — a fact that is underscored in his application.
   “Specific uses for each building are unknown at this time,” the application states, holding open the door for a broad range of commercial uses, from office and retail to a restaurant.
   Since Malone acquired the property, rumors about potential tenants have ranged from a Goodwill thrift store to an Olive Garden restaurant, though none has been substantiated.
   According to the plans, the new main building — at 15,600 square feet — would be noticeably smaller and set significantly farther back from the road than the 24,100-square-foot building currently occupied by Newhouse Furniture and Barre Electric. Pushing the main building closer to the rear lot line shared with the Price Chopper plaza would create space for four full rows of parking in front, according to the plans, which indicate that center lot would include just over 100 of the 139 parking spaces in the project.
   According to plans prepared by DeWolfe Engineering Associates Inc., the balance of the spaces would be dedicated to two separate structures that would bookend the main building. One of the two smaller buildings would be parallel to the entrance to the Price Chopper plaza and perpendicular to the
Barre-Montpelier Road and would include 6,600 square feet of commercial space. 
   The other building would be roughly 6,900 square feet and would be constructed along with 20 parking spaces on the portion of the property where Rubber Bubbles and the countertop shop are currently located and near where the entrance to the entire complex is planned.
   The consolidation of the entrance and exit would eliminate two of the three grandfathered curb cuts that span the majority of the property and would create separation from the entrance to the Price Chopper plaza.
   Although the entire parcel is in the federally mapped flood hazard area, none of it is in the more restrictive floodway. Plans call for “significant filling” of the site so the proposed buildings can be constructed with first floors that are 1 foot above the base flood elevation. Malone would need to truck in enough fill to raise the grade of the site nearly 7 feet to allow the new buildings to be constructed above the base flood elevation.
   The plans call for a net reduction in combined square footage on the site. The existing buildings collectively cover 33,727 square feet, not counting the storage building, while the proposed structures would cover a combined 29,100 square feet, according to the application.
   Malone said his plans for the property will almost certainly require at least the temporary relocation of all of the current tenants and that he has tried to be as accommodating as possible given the uncertainty of the permit process.
   “I’m trying to give all of the tenants as much notice and as many options as I can,” he said.
   At least one of his current tenants, Rubber Bubbles owner Debbie Hemmings, said she has had preliminary conversations with Malone about an alternate location, though the one he suggested was out of her price range. Hemmings said Malone hasn’t indicated when he hopes to start work — in part because he hasn’t yet obtained the permits he’ll need — but she is bracing to move the business she opened in 1990.
   “I know it’s inevitable,” she said.
   Malone said he has reached out to all of the current tenants, offering them alternative space, while stressing he is at the front end of what could be a very time-consuming process given the need to obtain various state and local permits.
   “This process could take a couple of years,” he said. “I hope not, but it could.”
   Malone is shifting his focus to the
Hooker Plaza even as a new Dollar General just opened in a portion of a 20,000-square-foot building he’s renovating.
   According to Malone, all but 2,500 square feet of that building has been spoken for. Next month, he said, Fastenal will move its store from another building he owns at the base of Gallison Hill into the Dollar General building, and Ormsby’s Computer Store will relocate from downtown Barre to the
Barre-Montpelier Road building later this year.
Pub 7/2/14 Times Argus by Neal Goswami
   BERLIN — Gov. Peter Shumlin joined lawmakers and state officials Tuesday to open a psychiatric hospital that will serve as the centerpiece of Vermont’s decentralized system of care.
   The site of the new, 25-bed
Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital was selected after Tropical Storm Irene damaged the antiquated state hospital in Waterbury. The state had been seeking a new psychiatric hospital since 2005, but that effort was fast-tracked after flooding forced the Waterbury facility to close.
   “This is the shining example of how to turn tragedy into opportunity,” Shumlin, a second-term Democrat, said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning.
   The hospital sits on more than 5 acres adjacent to
Central Vermont Medical Center. It features outdoor treatment spaces as well as a library, a greenhouse and exercise space.
   Officials said the
Berlin facility is the capstone of a 45-bed inpatient system also spread across two other facilities — Rutland Regional Medical Center and the Brattleboro Retreat. There are six beds in Rutland and 14 in Brattleboro. Eight temporary beds in Morrisville created after the closure in Waterbury will now be discontinued.
   Another temporary facility in Middlesex hasn’t yet been slated to close.
   “This is a big day for
Vermont. It’s a big day for our health care system,” Shumlin said. “This is a big day for the patients that we love, care about and have wanted to treat in a state-of-the-art facility for over 30 years. This is our moment for Vermont.”
   The inpatient beds will serve Vermonters with acute mental health treatment needs, with other outpatient services available in communities across the state. The Shumlin administration and lawmakers opted for the distributed system of care that allows mental health patients to receive treatment closer to their home communities.
   “Today marks over two years of the creation and the expansion of our mental health system,” said Mental Health Commissioner Paul Dupre. “A lot of hard work has gone in. This building is just one piece of a large system of care throughout our community. All the hospitals in the state of
Vermont have stepped forward, and now we have a new look at how we provide the care and treatment for people with mental illness.”
   The governor said he opted against rebuilding the site in
Waterbury because it was not meeting the needs of Vermonters, choosing instead to embrace the distributed care model.
   “As long as I’ve been in politics in
Vermont, that facility has not dignified the quality of care that we should be giving to our most vulnerable patients,” Shumlin said. “We have been operating from crisis to crisis with our most vulnerable mental health patients without adequate health facilities to put them.”
   He thanked the health care personnel and law enforcement officers across the state who “have all risen to the challenge and delivered the best care they could under extraordinarily difficult circumstances” after the closing of the state hospital.
   Human Services Commissioner Doug Racine noted the effort state employees have made to continue caring for their patients, even as they were displaced and moved to different locations.
   “Throughout this whole crisis, and it’s been an ongoing crisis as the governor said, they and so many people have stepped up,”
Racine said. “We have got a much stronger system.”
   The hospital cost $28.5 million to construct. The Federal Emergency Management Agency covered $12.5 million, while insurance paid $3.5 million. The state contributed $12.4 million to the effort.
   Shumlin said the state’s newest facility and its system of care will improve the lives of Vermonters struggling with mental illness.
   “We have learned from the mistakes of the past. We know that mental health patients, historically, have been discriminated against when compared to other diseases.
Vermont has been on a long crusade over the last several decades to try and fix that,” he said. “I think today, this opening, is more than a symbolic indication that we finally want to put our money where our mouths have been and deliver the best mental health facility and the best mental health care system in America.”


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