Friday, June 05, 2015


News To Know May 6, 2015

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
For current news look for "BerlinVermont" on facebook for a constant flow of information.  You don't need to be a facebook user to access it, but if you do use facebook, be sure to "Like" it:

For historical news look for "Berlin, Vermont Memories" on facebook.
Below you will find:

Fred Stone will be featured on WCAX TV - Long-time teacher and current volunteer, Fred Stone, will be this week's "Super Senior." Please join us in celebrating Fred and his Berlin Elem history. The session will be aired this Thursday, May 7th at 6:40 pm and again on Friday, May 8th at 6:25 am.
*THURSDAY, MAY 7th Berlin Elementary School Spring Concert/Art Show....Grades 3 through 6 performing groups only.  Concert Dress Rehearsal will take place at 2:30 pm in the Gym and the evening performance will be at 6:30 pm.  The student K-6 Spring Art Show will take place in the Learning Center for viewing before and after the concert.  
*MONDAY, MAY 11th from 1:45-2:30, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Harp Duo will present a program for  the whole school in the Berlin Elementary School Learning Center. 
*THURSDAY, MAY 28th is the 5/6 Play "The Incredible Westward Movement"  Dress Rehearsal will take place at 1:30  pm on Thursday May 28th, evening performance will be at 7pm in the Gym.
*THURSDAY, JUNE 4th Band students from all the schools in our district, as well as Montpelier and Orchard Valley School will perform with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra at Montpelier High School at 6:30 pm.   This performance will also include student singers in grades 4-6 for two of the pieces.
The next installment of Taxes are due on Friday, May 15th. The Treasurer’s hours are Monday through Thursday 8am – 4:30pm and on Fridays 8am – 4pm. Payments can also be left in the deposit box outside the front door. If mailing your payment, payments postmarked by Friday, May 15th will be considered on time (not an office meter but postmarked by the post office). Payments not made by the 15th will incur a late fee of 8% penalty and 1% interest.
Ellie's Farm Market has opened for the season!!

Wednesday, May 20th Berlin, Vermont - please come join the Berlin Historical Society as they present "Berlin Pictures of the Past", a presentation of photographs from years gone by at 7pm, this follows the annual potluck dinner meeting at 6pm at the Congregational Church, 1808 Scott Hill Road.  Call Cheryl Poor, Potluck Coordinator 223-5306.  No reservation required to attend the 7pm program.  Hope you'll take the time to join this interesting look at Berlin.
Got Teens Looking For Summer Employment? Need to hire somebody? I heard about this website a while back. There are jobs posted that are for companies that are located throughout Vermont but there aren't currently postings for jobs specific to Central Vermont. Maybe we could get more people sharing this and posting opportunities!! The site also includes some tips for teens.
MONTPELIER - May 5, 2015 - After a warm, dry weekend and a Red Flag warning yesterday that ended with more than 25 new reports of wild fires, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) has issued an order for all of the state's forest fire wardens to cease issuing burning permits as of 3:00 P.M. on May 5th through May 19th. A Red Flag Warning means there are critical fire weather conditions including low relative humidity, high winds with little to no precipitation had fallen in the past few days. Fires that ignite during these conditions spread rapidly and with high intensity. The ban may be revoked or extended based upon weather conditions.
"We have received notification from many Forest Fire Wardens that they have stopped issuing permits in their towns," said Lars Lund, Vermont
Forest Fire Supervisor, “This non-burn order supports their efforts.” This ban is a cooperative effort between FPR and the Green Mountain National Forest.
"We are seeing fast moving fires burning intensely in difficult terrain and with damage to structures or with structures threatened,” said
Lund. “Downed power lines caused the largest fire yesterday in Brattleboro due to high winds. While this type of fire can’t be avoided, human caused fires can be prevented. Because of the warm weather, we know there are a lot of people in the woods. Today's order will help us and help the state's fire wardens reduce the sources of fires."
Lund stressed that the order is for two weeks, and if significant rain falls anywhere in the state, the order can be revoked by county.
New this year, open four Sundays - May 10, 17, 24 & 31 2015  Check out all their latest news at:
Pub. 4/19/2015  Times Argus
   BERLIN — Children who aspire to be the next Bobby Fischer — or who enjoy the intellectual stimulation they can’t find in a video game — demonstrated their skills Saturday during the 28th annual Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championships.
   Nearly 150 children from all grade levels gathered at
Berlin Elementary School to put their skills to the test, with some of them fighting for a shot to play on a national stage.
   For the past six or seven years,
Berlin residents Michael and Corinne Stridsberg have organized the annual event. For them, it has been a family affair.
   “When my kids were younger, they were really into chess and competed in tournaments,” Mike Stridsberg said of his children, who are now in college.
   “Now, they help us organize the tournament,” Corinne Stridsberg said.
   The Swiss pairing-style tournament — every competitor plays in every round — attracts both seasoned players who are coming from chess tournaments at their schools, and first-time competitors, who make up approximately one-third of the field.
   Players in grades K-6 are grouped by grade level, with separate divisions for middle school and high school players. The winners from the middle and high school divisions have a shot to compete in the National Scholastic Chess Tournament.
   It was the third state championship for Elrik Jay, a 9-year-old third-grader from Monkton. The tournament kicked off at
10 a.m., and by noon, Jay had won two of his three matches.
   “Sometimes, I can still beat him once in a while,” said his father, Kalvin Jay.
   Asked what he gets out of chess that he doesn’t get from playing video games, Elrik Jay said, “You don’t rot your brain out sitting in front of a computer.”
   In between matches, competitors and their parents passed the time playing a host of other table-top games, from Risk to Battleship and Connect Four.
   Dylan Morse, 12, a sixth-grader from Hartland, has been competing in the tournament since he was in kindergarten.
   “You’re definitely more social when you play chess,” Morse said, comparing chess to video games, “and you get to exercise your brain.”
   Nayeli Lopez, 10, a fourth-grader from
Hyde Park, had played in small tournaments at her school before coming to the state championship.
   “It’s fun because it’s competitive,” she said, adding, “There’s strategy, and you don’t get that with video games,” Lopez said.
   Tournament results and photos are available online at
Pub 5/6/15 Times Argus by David Delcore
  BERLIN — With work on a new municipal water system underway, the Select Board is considering expanding the scope of the $5.5 million project at an estimated cost of $250,000.
  On a night when board members also took another stab at filling two vacant jobs, they received a series of updates Monday evening on the water project that could get a bit bigger and more expensive.
  Preliminary plans call for restoring a leg of transmission line that was initially proposed to run along
Comstock Road from Granger Road to Paine Turnpike. The board had dropped that leg of the system because of too few potential users along that section of town road, coupled with the high cost of constructing a transmission line to serve them. Instead, the board had opted to extend the system out Paine Turnpike North where there were more potential customers.
  That decision was made long before the design of the system was finalized, construction bids were in hand, and a suitable number of users had committed to buying water from the town. At the time, the cost-conscious board was told swapping
Comstock Road for Paine Turnpike North should allow the town to honor its promise to keep annual water costs for customers at or below $600 per “equivalent residential unit.”
  This week, Town Administrator Dana Hadley said preliminary estimates suggest the projected annual cost of water — $476 — is comfortably below the $600-a-year target. Given that, he said the board might want to revisit the
Comstock Road decision and restore a section of transmission line that would create a loop that could be easily isolated in the event of a water main break.
  According to Hadley, estimates suggest the additional work would cost roughly $250,000. He said it is possible a contingency would cover the new expense and likely the town could increase the loan it obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program if need be.
  The projected increase in construction costs would add about $40 per equivalent residential unit to annual water bills. However, based on current estimates, he said the total cost of water would be roughly $516 per ERU a year.
  Board members said they’d like to hear more about the proposal, and Hadley said he would invite Mark Youngstrom, of Otter Creek Engineering, in to explain.
  In other water system news, Hadley told the board that, while the easements have yet to be executed, the path is now clear to connecting a privately owned water system the town plans to buy. Also, the town is beginning to get requests for larger service lines than anticipated. By way of example, Hadley said the town has received one request to upgrade the ¾-inch water line that would have served a property with four mobile homes to a 4-inch service line with significantly more capacity.
  In other business, board members who have struggled to fill a vacancy on the road crew and hire an additional police officer gave both another try this week.
  With the deadline looming for enrolling in the next 16-week session of the
Vermont Police Academy, board members agreed to offer the job to former part-time police officer Joseph Carriveau. The offer is contingent on his being accepted into the next session of the police academy. Carriveau will be paid during the time he spends at the academy, but his continued employment is contingent on his completing the training to be a full-time law enforcement officer in Vermont.
  Board members also agreed to hire Ed Lapan for a $19-an-hour position on the road crew. Lapan works in the Public Works Department in neighboring
Barre Town and previously worked for Carroll Concrete. His hiring is contingent on his passing a routine drug test.
  The board wasn’t as eager to act on accepting a grant of up to $30,000 to design and construct a community garden on
Muzzy Road. The garden itself, proposed on a flood-prone parcel the town acquired with a federal hazard mitigation grant last year, wasn’t the issue. Neither was the required 10 percent match that Hadley said could be covered through in-kind work. The holdup involved the board’s desire for a more complete explanation of its future maintenance obligations. 
  If there is little interest in the garden concept, board members said, they would be reluctant to invest in maintaining the parklike property.
  Hadley offered to investigate the matter further and report back.
Pub. 4/29/15 Times Argus by David Delcore
  BERLIN — Construction of a municipal water system that will serve a key corner of Berlin started last week and continued Monday even as a collection of local, state and federal officials gathered in the fire station to celebrate what one described as a very big deal and another suggested had been a long time coming.
  Indeed, this one didn’t happen overnight, and by all accounts it is difficult to understate the thirst-quenching potential of the multimillion-dollar infrastructure investment in an area that is saddled with contaminated groundwater but otherwise primed for development.
  Those sentiments were shared by everyone from Select Board Chairman Ture Nelson all the way up to Gov. Peter Shumlin during a 30-minute ceremony that featured more than a little back-patting and self-congratulation.
  As far as Shumlin was concerned everyone could take a bow, because the project was a success story on many levels.
  “Good things take time, but it takes a community coming together to make a project like this work,” he said.
  Shumlin described the water project as a strategic solution to multiple problems in an area where most well water is undrinkable due to dangerously high levels of sodium, fire protection is a growing concern, and both issues have held back development near Interstate 89.
  “That’s what this is about,” he said. “It’s about ensuring residents get clean (drinking) water. It’s about ensuring (the Fire Department) has the water available to keep people safe. And it’s about the town’s future.”
  Shumlin said the recent addition of the psychiatric facility in a service area that is already home to Central Vermont Medical Center, the Berlin Mall, E.F. Knapp State Airport, the local elementary school, the volunteer fire station and the town’s municipal offices underscored the strategic value of the location.
  “This area has huge potential for growth, for jobs (and) economic development,” he said, suggesting a reliable, high-quality water system was the missing piece.
  Shumlin got no argument from others who spoke, including Ted Brady, state director of USDA Rural Development for
Vermont and New Hampshire.
  Brady offered the most spirited assessment of the project that officials expect will be producing water before the snow flies.
  “This is a big deal,” Brady said. “This is a $5.8 million ‘big deal.’”
  According to Brady, Rural Development supplied the town with a $1.8 million grant and a $4 million loan. The project will include the construction of a 400,000-gallon water storage tank, 32,000 linear feet of water transmission line, a pump station and 40 fire hydrants.
  The grant alone, Brady said, shaved roughly $200 a year off the water bill for users of the system. That keeps rates in the range local officials projected when they pitched the project, which voters narrowly approved during a special election in 2013.
  “It directly goes to the pocketbooks and wallets of people in
Berlin,” he said of the projected savings.
  Like Shumlin, Brady said the water project would create jobs — from the Munson Earth Moving workers of Williston who will build the water system to the future jobs tied to potential development.
  “It means economic opportunities around Berlin Corners,” he said.
  Brady said the planned addition of 40 fire hydrants in an increasingly commercial corner of
Berlin was an important feature of the project.
  “That’s a big deal for a rural community,” he said.
  Though none of
Vermont’s three members of Congress was able to attend, all sent delegates who praised a project they said was the product of government working at every level. That, they said, included the persistence of local officials over a span of two decades, a state government that floated $400,000 in low-interest loans during the exploratory phase and USDA Rural Development, which committed $5.8 million in financing needed to make the project happen.
  Chris Saunders, who stood in for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said his boss was proud to have advocated for the project.
  “This is really government at its best,” Saunders said. “The federal government working with the state government working with a local community that has stepped up, identified a need, and said: ‘We’re going to invest in our community.’”
  None of those pieces quickly kicked into place, according to resident Tom Willard, who served as chairman of the town’s water committee and was introduced by Nelson as “Mr. Water.”
  “It’s been a long time coming,” said Willard, who is among the residents whose wells produce water than isn’t suitable to drink and is looking forward to tapping onto the town-run system.
  That system, Willard said, is a credit to local officials who dusted off old studies, rekindled the conversation about a municipal water system, hired an engineer, and risked investing borrowed money in drilling wells that might not have been adequate.
  In retrospect, locating suitable wells was one of the easier parts of the project, which also required negotiating easements, persuading customers to commit to the system, and securing long-term financing needed to keep rates affordable.
  It took seven years, but all of those hurdles were eventually cleared, paving the way for Monday’s ceremonial groundbreaking. Even as Shumlin, Brady, Willard and Ashley Lucht, of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, joined Nelson and other members of the Select Board in plunging shovels into a small patch of grass outside the fire station, excavators from Munson Earth Moving were busy digging along a stretch of
Airport Road near Industrial Lane.
Pub. 4/17/15 Times Argus by David Delcore
  BERLIN — The silver shovels, or something akin to them, will be in the hands of local officials soon, but the real work on Berlin’s $5.5 million municipal water system won’t wait for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
  A crew from Munson Earth Moving plans to start work as early as Monday, kicking off a project that had been casually discussed for decades and is the product of planning that started in 2007.
  Eight years, one successful bond vote and more than a little arm-twisting later, the area known locally as Berlin Corners is now just two seasons away from being able to tap into a town-owned water system.
  James Farnsworth, project manager for Munson Earth Moving, said work will start next week and is expected to continue deep into the fall.
  “Once snow flies we need to be done,” said Farnsworth.
  According to Farnsworth, work will start on the
Airport Road leg of a water transmission line that will eventually extend across Route 62 to Fisher Road, along Paine Turnpike North and onto Crosstown Road. There will be a spur off Paine Turnpike onto Richardson Road. Plans call for the system to eventually become the water source for customers on the Barre-Montpelier Road now served by the privately owned Berlin Water Co.
  In all, the project will require the installation of roughly 6 miles — 31,500 linear feet — of line to distribute water from three town-owned wells on
Scott Hill Road.
  Late last year, Farnsworth said, Munson Earth Moving did some clearing in the vicinity of the wells to make room for a 400,000-gallon water storage tank that will be constructed as part of the project, as well as a pumping station that will be installed there. He said construction of the tank and the pumping station will occur later in the project and the initial focus will be installing the distribution system.
  According to Farnsworth, that work will focus on
Airport Road initially, but additional crews likely will be added as work progresses to allow for construction in multiple locations.
  Town officials have spent years planning for the project, then locking up federal financing and finally persuading property owners to become customers.
  That was more challenging than initially anticipated in a service area where the absence of potable groundwater has been a long-running inconvenience for many, as well as an impediment to future development. However, officials were able to secure commitments from enough current and future users to say that water rates will be in the range they projected.
  Based on the customers committed to the project — 383 out of a maximum of 432 equivalent residential units, or ERUs — the annual average cost per ERU is expected to be roughly $600.
  In a service area that includes
Berlin Elementary School, the Berlin Mall, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the Shaw’s supermarket and the Comfort Inn, many of the customers are high-volume users that will require multiple ERUs.
  Officials are tentatively projecting a $207,000 annual budget for the water system, with $167,000 earmarked to cover the cost of a loan obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the balance for operation and maintenance. Those figures don’t yet reflect the need for the district to repay the town nearly $177,000 in taxpayer money that was used to advance the project.
  The town has spent roughly $1.2 million on the project and been reimbursed just over $1.03 million to date. The balance — $176,661 — will be rolled into the new rate structure, though the Select Board hasn’t settled on a repayment schedule.
  Over the next few months the board will have to select on operator for the water system, finalize the acquisition of the Berlin Water Co., and establish rates for users.
Pub. 5/1/15 Times Argus by David Delcore
  BERLIN — An annual mud bog masquerading as a birthday party this year is confounding local officials, whose ability to regulate the three-day event is limited to a 33-year-old ordinance written for carnivals, circuses and the like.
  The “amusement ordinance,” which was adopted in 1982 and never amended, doesn’t talk about mud bogs, much less parties, and its plain language and uneven application have fueled frustration and contention.
  Some would like it to do more, though they concede crafting the right language is tricky business. No one is rushing to do a rewrite.
  Others claim the problem isn’t the ordinance but the town’s attempt to selectively stretch its stated intent to rope in activities that weren’t contemplated by the Select Board that adopted it.
  There is merit to both arguments, which explains why the current board hasn’t been more heavy-handed when it comes to the mud bogs held for more than a decade on the Herring Family Farm.
  Although they’ve consulted the town’s attorney and discussed the matter behind closed doors in response to complaints that date back more than a year, members of the Berlin Select Board haven’t used the amusement ordinance to shut down the event or even dictate conditions under which it operates.
  Part of the reason can be traced to ordinance language that is arguably muddier than the three soon-to-be-flooded trenches in the middle of the hay field across Route 12 from Fresh Tracks Farm.
  Here’s what it says: “Any person or entity seeking to conduct or operate a carnival within the town of Berlin … wherein mechanical rides or other carnival-type equipment is used, or any person or entity seeking to conduct a traveling enterprise offering amusements and meaning to include a circus, mid-way enterprise or other like activity shall first obtain written authorization from the Berlin Board of Selectmen.”
  There is an application for an amusement permit and an opportunity for the board to include conditions it sees fit. Until last week, however, the only requests the board has received in recent years have come from a group that holds a series of summer footraces in
Berlin, and a local insurance company that holds a once-a-year walk at lunch.
  Other events — some fairly sizable — haven’t generated complaints and have remained under the town’s radar. The mud bog is an exception. When town officials learned this year’s event starts tonight and runs through Sunday, they contacted Michael Herring and instructed him to fill out an application.
  Herring, who doesn’t believe he needs the town’s permission, filed the application late last week.
  At the time, Herring says, he was told the board would take the matter up at a special meeting Tuesday, but when he swung by the town offices to ask about the time he was told it had already happened. However, Herring’s application wasn’t considered at a hastily warned special meeting called because town officials were all present for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the municipal water system. Though the application was in hand when notice of the meeting went out Monday, its approval wasn’t included as an agenda item, and no permit was issued, according to Town Administrator Dana Hadley.
  Hadley said board members are aware of the application and have expressed their concerns electronically, but they won’t meet again until Monday.
  Copies of the emails were among the documents on the subject that The Times Argus requested Thursday, but they were not immediately available.
  Herring said he has repeatedly had difficulty obtaining information about the specific nature of the complaints, but made no apologies for what he said amounts to the latest in a long line of family parties on his property.
  According to Herring, the first mud bog was part of a celebration for his late mother, Muriel, back in 2004. He said this weekend’s event is a birthday party for his daughter, Sarah, who will turn 24 over the weekend.
  Though Herring filed the application that hasn’t yet been considered, and provided the town with proof of insurance, he maintains that was more of a courtesy than a necessity.
  “I don’t need a permit,” he said. “That’s the whole big deal. I do not need a permit to have my party. It’s that simple.”
  Herring said that would be his position even if he hadn’t canceled plans for a zip line as part of the donation-only mud bogging event, which will feature food, face painting, a bonfire and live entertainment. Although most of the activity is concentrated on Saturday, he said some family and friends will camp out tonight and leave Sunday.
  “We’re just having a party like we usually do,” he said, suggesting he has “10 acres of parking” and the absolute right to turn away anyone he wishes.
  “What people do on their own property is their own business,” he said, echoing an opinion he expressed in the letter that accompanied his application.
  In the letter, Herring noted he asked the town awhile back whether an amusement permit was required to host a birthday party or a wedding reception, because he was planning to host the latter on his farm. He maintains he didn’t get an answer from the town before the wedding and the reception occurred as planned in September.
  As far as Herring is concerned the question of whether the town believes it can use the amusement ordinance to regulate birthday parties, wedding receptions or even lawn sales has yet to be answered.
  Herring did say he got a call from the secretary of state’s office Thursday afternoon advising him to contact the state Racing Commission. He said he did as instructed and once he explained what he had planned, he was told it wouldn’t be a problem with the commission.
  It isn’t clear where Herring stands with the town, however. Among the shortcomings of the amusement ordinance is the fact that it doesn’t include a penalty provision.
Pub. 5/6/15 Times Argus by David Delcore
  BERLIN — You wouldn’t have known it by reading the posted agenda, but the town’s Development Review Board was scheduled to consider the planned relocation of a local drug addiction treatment clinic when it met Tuesday night.
  Proposed on
Industrial Lane property owned by board member Henry LaGue, the project would facilitate moving the clinic from nearby Granger Road to a new, larger 5,288-square-foot facility on Industrial Lane.
  The posted notice for the meeting and the material that was provided to abutting property owners outlined plans to construct a 50-by-100-foot “commercial building” on
Industrial Lane without identifying the proposed use.
  Select Board members learned of the planned relocation of the clinic at their meeting Monday night and were told the review was scheduled to take place Tuesday night.
  LaGue owns both locations and considered expanding the current building to meet the needs of BAART Behavioral Health Services, before plans for a new building were floated.
  The 2-acre lot targeted for development is on
Industrial Lane between Comcast and a series of storage units.
  The proposed single-story building would be slightly larger than the 5,000 square feet described in the notice and would be accompanied by parking lots in the front and rear.
  According to the application, there would be 50 parking spaces in all. That would be more than enough to satisfy the town’s requirements and enough to handle traffic generated by the clinic, which is expected to treat 250 clients a day who are battling drug addiction.
  According to the application, there would be 14 full-time employees at the clinic’s new site, which would be open from
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  The application doesn’t indicate whether the number of patients expected to be treated on a daily basis or the number of employees represents an increase from the current clinic, which is in a converted truck stop on Granger Road.
  Based on his involvement with the project, LaGue wasn’t expected to participate in the review of his permit request during Tuesday night’s hearing. 
Berlin clinic is one of three BAART operates in Vermont. The other two are in St. Johnsbury and Newbury. All offer suboxone treatment and counseling for those struggling to overcome various drug addictions.


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