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Reversal of fortune

Vermont Yankee will be a tough sell, even if Entergy can find a buyer in the aftermath of the company’s fall from grace By Roger Witherspoon Special to The Commons


ERNON—Entergy Corporation’s lowkey announcement might well have been posted on Craigslist: For Sale: Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Used,

in this country have been delayed or abandoned. The simple fact is that the economics of nuclear power today are terrible and the market for these things is just not there. Greenpeace USA “Why Entergy thinks they can Entergy Nuclear has announced its willingness to sell sell it is hard to see. Putting it up Vermont Yankee. As it stands now, the substation for sale is a sign of desperation. cannot get state authorization to operate past 2012

N E W S A N A LY S I S unpredictable radioactive leaks, occasional fires, poorly run, financially indebted, locally unpopular, politically shunned and currently not working. $180 million — or best offer. “Selling an old nuclear plant is like trying to build a new one,”

said economist Mark Cooper of the University of Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. “No one in their right mind would buy it or try to build it today,” Cooper said. “Most of the projects that have been proposed

y l k e wve

n see ENTERGY, page 2

unless the state Senate reconsiders its February vote.

FREE Your membership in Vermont Independent Media can make this the best free newspaper you’ve ever paid for. See page 5.

Brattleboro, Vermont Wednesday, December 1, 2010 • Vol. V, No. 31 • Issue #78

W ind h am C ounty ’ s A W A R D - W I N N I N G , I ndependent S ource f or N ews and V iews

‘Not all jobs are created equal’

News Vernon

Vermont Yankee gets new resident inspector page 12


Caretaking, aging, and death by a thousand cuts page 6

The Arts new VPT film

Documentary looks at history of newspapers in Vermont page 14

Life and Work gobble, gobble

Thanksgiving in Brattleboro page 9

Sports winter is here!

Ski areas get a jump on the season



Thelma O’Brien/The Commons

David LeBlanc, left, and Chris Toles, center, members of the Calvary Chapel congregation, and Pastor Ron Millette, stand near the cracked stove, installed 100 years ago in the chapel. By Thelma O’Brien The Commons

shifting the chapel’s floor joists, beams and girders and tilting the building about six inches westward, once again casting doubt on the building’s future. David LeBlanc, who serves with Millette at the church and owns a carpet cleaning business in Newfane, said the shock waves “had a cascading effect. Everything went northwest toward Jamaica.”

traveling about 45 mph when its brakes locked on Windham Hill Road, about a mile before the stretch of steep road approaching Route 30. The vehicle finally came to a stop after overturning in the chapel parking lot, closer to the post office, but only a few feet shy of the chapel. Household goods gushed out on impact, as did about 250 gallons of hazardous dieFirefighter sel from the two recently-filled averts disaster fuel tanks. The moving van, which Townshend Fire Chief Doug was carrying the belongings of Winot said he was working four families, reportedly was n see church, page 4

TOWNSHEND—You might call the Calvary Chapel in West Townshend the church too tough to die. How else would you explain why the building is still standing after a runaway moving van careened down Windham Hill Road last Monday, flew across Route 30 and slammed into the ground between the chapel and the West Townshend Community Post Office and art gallery building? Ron Millette, the nondenominational Christian church’s pastor and also a logger, called the forces that rocked the original 193-yearold structure and all its additions “shock waves.” No one was hurt in the Nov. 22 crash, but the impact of the United Van Lines trailer truck cracked a 110-year-old wood stove, in place on the main floor for about 100 years, and started a fire beneath the main floor. The fire was discovered and extinguished before it caused extensive damage. But then church members discovered that the shock waves from the crash blew in a section of the stone apron beneath the timber structure, The 1817 Calvary Chapel.

o ahead. Blame the current credit crunch for the lack of jobs paying a livable wage and businesses exiting the region. But economic crunches are nothing new to Windham County. In fact, some say that the area has been in a recession for the last 20 years. The Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategy (SeVEDS), a group consisting of community and business leaders, has the recession in its crosshairs. SeVEDS participants met Nov. 16 in Bellows Falls for its second meeting, with its members hoping to rehabilitate the region’s economy by increasing wages, population and the regional gross domestic product within five years. Wilmington hosted the inaugural meeting in early autumn, other meetings have been held, or are planned, in Dover and Brattleboro. Jeffrey Lewis, executive

director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., and Brattleboro Town Manager Barbara Sondag estimated 50 people attended the Nov. 16 meeting. Sondag said seven core committee members worked for three years before bringing the development process to a wider audience of community, industry, and economic leaders. FairPoint Communications is partially supporting the project. Lewis said the energy and tone at the Bellows Falls meeting felt lighter than at the first meeting and the participants were excited about the process. “We lit a fuse in Wilmington and the explosion happened in Bellows Falls,” said Lewis. The state laws that define regional planning commissions define the Windham Region as the 23 towns in Windham County, plus Weston, Searsburg, Readsboro, and Winhall. Lewis said that towns can no longer navigate the economic prosperity river alone. With the help of n see RAILROAD, page 3

Bringing it all home

BUHS students shift focus to local anti-hunger efforts By Allison Teague The Commons

BRATTLEBORO—Having just returned from a trip to Cuba, three Brattleboro Union High School seniors found the transition following a trip to such a different culture noteworthy. What they brought back to CLEA’s (Civil Leadership and Education in Action, formerly the Child Labor Education and Action Project) involvement with Project Feed the Thousands is an

awareness that goes beyond the scope of mere school projects. For 11 years, a steady group of 20 to 30 students involved in CLEA at the high school have learned about community issues and problems and have worked on ways to change or help those affected by these problems in their community. Kai-Ming Pu, Student Council president, Arianna Wolfe and Sam Stevens, both copresidents of CLEA, were among n see CLEA, page 12

Last train to Chester

With freight trains demanding more track resources, railroad discontinues scenic rail rides from Bellows Falls By Allison Teague The Commons

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By Olga Peters The Commons

Truck accident sparks fire at Calvary Chapel — and knocks the building off its foundation

page 11

Vermont Independent Media

Working group rethinks the region’s economy

Allison Teague/The Commons

The Green Mountain Flyer prepares to pull out of the Bellows Falls station on an excursion in August. Last week, the Green Mountain Railroad announced it would now longer run passenger trains on its Bellows Falls-Rutland line.

BELLOWS FALLS—Green Mountain Railroad will not be running its Green Mountain Flyer excursions out of Bellows Falls next year, Deborah Murphy, manager of passenger service for Vermont Rail Systems, confirmed last week — a consequence of increasing demand on the company for freight transportation. The Santa Express trains that

were run between Bellows Falls and Chester Depot last Saturday and Sunday were the last scheduled passenger runs on the line for the foreseeable future. For now, the Depot remains open for intermodal services related to Greyhound and Amtrak, according to Destination Bellows Falls (DBF) president Gary Fox. Regular hours for Greyhound ticketing, and the Greyhound embarkation and debarkation point in Bellows Falls, will continue, Fox said, and the station

will remain open for the daily northbound and southbound stops for Amtrak’s Vermonter. Whether the intermodal service center will move its operations to the Waypoint Center across the street in the spring remains to be seen, Fox said. “We are considering proposals,” Fox said. There are no plans, for now, to dismantle the historic depot, according to Murphy. “Gosh, I certainly hope not,” n see RAILROAD, page 13

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n Entergy 139 Main St. #604, P.O. Box 1212 Brattleboro, VT 05302 (802) 246-6397 fax (802) 246-1319 Office hours by appointment 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday Jeff Potter, Editor

Betsy Jaffe, Manager

• Randolph T. Holhut, News Editor Olga Peters, Staff Reporter • David Shaw, Photographer • Nancy Gauthier, Advertising Adrian Newkirk, Ad Composition • Cal Glover-Wessel, Distribution Bill Proctor, Distribution • Richard Henke, Vermont Associates Trainee

Deadline for the Dec. 8 issue Friday, Dec. 3 About The newspaper

The Commons is a nonprofit community newspaper published since 2006 by Vermont Independent Media, Inc., a nonprofit corporation under section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code. We now publish weekly. The newspaper is free, but it is supported by readers like you through tax-deductible donations, through advertising support, and through support of charitable foundations. SUBMITTING NEWS ITEMS/tips

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That’s the last thing you do before you give up and walk away.” Walking away is not an option Entergy Corp. will comment on — yet. Nor will they declare that option off the table. “For now we are just exploring the potential sale of the plant,” said Entergy spokesman Alex Schott. “It is one option that we feel is in the best interests of the shareholders and the 650 employees that work there.” The company does not have a lot to explore. The plant recently shut down while Entergy officials plugged a leak of radioactive fluid from 40-year-old pipes serving the reactor. “This latest incident at Vermont Yankee definitely hurt,” said Justin McCann, senior industry analyst in Standard & Poor’s Equity Division. “They announced they are looking to sell, and two days later this radioactive leak had to happen and force a shutdown. At the same time, they had an explosion at Indian Point. “Any company interested would have to do their own inspections, of course, to see what needs to be done to run the plant profitably. But the bargaining will now all be on one side. “Entergy doesn’t have any leverage. Vermont Yankee has become a major headache to the company, and their bargaining power will be curtailed significantly.” The collapse of Entergy’s $180 million, 2002 cash investment in the nuclear power plant providing the equivalent of 30 percent of Vermont’s electricity to New England, and its larger, mortgaged, purchase of the troubled twin reactors at Indian Point on the Hudson River in 2001, signal a remarkable reversal of fortunes for a well respected power company and the once high-flying prospects of the nation’s nuclear power. The billion dollar corporation’s rating by Moody’s Investor Service has dropped to Baa3 – just one step above what is professionally termed “speculative grade” but is generally known as “junk” status. Moody’s noted in September when it lowered the company’s rating that Entergy has borrowed $3 billion of its $3.5 billion line of bank credit for all its operations, and continuing problems at Vermont and Indian Point raised questions about the plants’ future ability to finance repairs or replace and maintain aging equipment and systems. “In addition, lower [natural gas] prices in the Northeast make it highly unlikely that the business will continue to generate as much cash flow” when current contracts expire in 2012, and


The Commons distributes 5,000 copies per issue to almost every Windham County town weekly. Get in touch if you would like us to consider adding your business.

will decline after that, Moody’s stated. Entergy, like the rest of the nuclear industry, bet its future on an exorbitant, continually rising, natural gas price that did not materialize due to the recession, energy efficiencies, and the increasing availability of huge natural gas supplies from previously locked shale sediments. Hydraulic fracturing may threaten future water supplies, but it has already begun draining the nuclear bank. Entergy’s two troubled nuclear plant sites – Vermont Yankee and Indian Point – have graphically shown the strengths and weaknesses of the nuclear industry and the extremely high hurdles involved in launching a new commercial nuclear era. On the positive side, these plants are extraordinary money makers, with Indian Point’s plants each earning upwards of $2 million daily. Nuclear plants nationally had a checkered operating past under the monopoly utilities like PSEG in New Jersey and Con Edison in New York, where Indian Point was offline two thirds of the time. But deregulation brought in professional fleet operators like Chicago-based Exelon, which partnered with PSEG in New Jersey to run Hope Creek and Salem, and Entergy, which bought Indian Point 2 and 3 and turned them into steady, baseline generators producing electricity and making money 95 percent of the time. That wasn’t easy. Entergy pumped some $500 million into Indian Point to replace decrepit, unreliable, and unsafe equipment and to retrain nearly the entire operating staff. Within two years, Entergy improved Indian Point’s standing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from that of the worst-run plant complex in the nation to one of its best. At that time, deep pockets and corporate good will meant a lot. The purchase of Indian Point 2 was held up for nine months due to legal challenges by the Westchester Citizens Awareness Network – the sister unit of CAN, Vermont Yankee’s grassroots nemesis. WestCAN contended that Entergy Nuclear Northeast (ENN), the limited liability corporation running the power plants, did not have the financial wherewithal to cover damages to the region should anything go wrong. That position was finally rejected by a NRC administrative law judge who held it was “inconceivable” that Entergy Corp. would ever walk away from liabilities incurred at Indian

Jeremy Osborn/Special to The Commons

Steam rises from Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Point even though it was legally shielded by a string of 21 LLCs under the ENN umbrella set up just for that purpose. Entergy officially took over Indian Point Sept. 10, 2001. It was a 24-hour, Pyrrhic victory. The following morning, a United Airlines 767 flew over the Indian Point plants en route to crashing into the World Trade Center 25 miles south in Manhattan. Collateral damage was the destruction of the industry’s myth that nuclear containment buildings were designed to withstand the crash of a 747. The NRC acknowledged that jumbo jets did not exist when these plants were designed in the 1950s and early 1960s, and they were, in fact, vulnerable to suicide attacks. In 2003 former Federal Emergency Management Agency Commissioner James Lee Witt was hired by New York State to examine the emergency evacuation plans for the region around Indian Point. He concluded they could not possibly work

and detailed flaws which had been systematically covered up by Entergy. That prompted the surrounding counties and the state to refuse to sign off on the plans and further tarnished the company’s image. Three of the four surrounding county legislatures and scores of municipalities and school districts within 10 miles of Indian Point went on record urging the NRC not to relicense the plants. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew away another pillar of nuclear stability. Entergy Corp declared its damaged Entergy New Orleans LLC subsidiary bankrupt, and demanded the taxpayers pay some $600 million for repairs. President George W. Bush rejected the request, saying it was obscene for the company to demand taxpayer funding while distributing dividends of more than $1 billion to its shareholders. In the end, however, the company received some $400 million in public funds toward the restoration of its damaged


To create a forum for community partic­ ipation through publication of The Commons and; to pro­mote local, independent journalism in Windham County; and to promote civic engagement by building media skills among Windham County residents through the Media Mentoring Project. BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Barbara S. Evans, Barry Aleshnick, Alan O. Dann, Dan DeWalt, Peter Seares, Bob Rottenberg, Curtiss Reed Jr. ————— Without our volunteers, this newspaper would exist only in our imaginations. Special thanks to: Editorial support: Joyce Marcel, David Shaw, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg Special projects development: Allison Teague, Olga Peters Operations support: Simi Berman, Chris Wesolowski, Diana Bingham, Jim Maxwell, Bill Pearson, Andi Waisman, Barbara Walsh, Menda Waters


Justin McCann, senior industry analyst in Standard & Poor’s Equity Division, said Vermont Yankee’s latest leak “definitely hurt” Entergy’s aspirations to sell the plant.

power plant. But that shattered the myth of corporate responsibility so carefully constructed during the Indian Point court hearings just four years earlier. It would be noted by Public Service Commissions around the nation. “Entergy came in as a trustworthy company and systematically destroyed that trust over the decade,” said WestCAN organizer Margot Schepart. “Katrina proved that there was no such thing as corporate responsibility,” Schepart said. “We were right when we had said the profits would go south to the corporate headquarters, but if there was a problem, we were on our own and no money would come this way.” But Entergy was confident. In 2006, the company filed its application with the NRC to extend Vermont Yankee’s license 20 years past its 2012 expiration date. The following year, it applied David Lochbaum testifies to the U.S. Senate. for extensions for Indian Point’s Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer, works as director reactors, which are due to expire of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of in 2013 and 2015. It was then Concerned Scientists. that the bottom began to fall out of the nuclear bubble.


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Despite our similar name, The Com­ mons is not affiliated with Ver­mont Commons, a statewide journal that is strongly linked with a movement advocating Vermont’s secession from the United States.

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

from page 1


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before the NRC could do a hardhitting investigation of Entergy’s operation of Vermont Yankee. Entergy has created a hole for itself by undermining its position in Vermont.” In February, the state Senate brought the issue to the floor, and by a margin of 26 to 4, senators voted not to approve issuing of the CPG. Entergy is waging a battle to get the new Senate to vote again in the legislative session that begins in January, but the measure would go to the state’s new governor — Peter Shumlin, the outgoing Senate president pro tem who orchestrated the vote.

Foreshadowing a sale

Mary Serreze/

A sign near the front gate welcomes visitors to Vermont Yankee. designed a half century earlier began showing signs of wear at nuclear sites around the country. Water contaminated with radioactive byproducts of reactor operations – including heavy elements like plutonium, iodine, and cesium – were leaking out of the nation’s 104 nuclear plants, including Indian Point and Vermont Yankee. The nation’s worst radioactive leaks into the local environment occurred at Exelon’s Braidwood plant, 30 miles south of Chicago. “Exelon leaked over six million gallons over two years,” said David Lochbaum, nuclear safety director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Braidwood had two leaks of about three million gallons each, and 18 smaller leaks of about 300,000 gallons. “All of those leaks came from pipe carrying radioactively contaminated water into the river. The assumption was that it would mix with the river water and by the time it got into people’s drinking water supplies it would be diluted enough that it would not be a hazard. But instead of going into the river, it leaked into the water table and got into people.” It came as a surprise to most people that nuclear power plants, touted as “clean and safe” energy, regularly dump contaminated water and steam into the ground and air by design. It was unfathomable that neither the NRC, with its highly regarded corps of on-the-scene resident inspectors, nor the operators of the highly technical plant, nor its vaunted, redundant, electronic safety systems missed six million gallons of radioactive fluid dumped by accident. Adding to the consternation of the public was the refusal of the NRC to impose financial penalties on the company for unplanned contamination, no matter how severe, even though it violated their operating license and federal regulations. The state of New Jersey, however, did order Exelon to clean up its mess when groundwater under the company’s Salem nuclear plants was discovered. But there were no financial or administrative sanctions from federal regulators. And all the nation’s 104 nuclear plants have had leaks at some point. In 2008, it was disclosed that thousands of gallons of tritium, a radioactive form of water, had been leaking out of Indian Point, forming a lake under the plant site with its contaminated tributaries meandering into the Hudson River. It was impossible for either Entergy or the NRC to state definitively how long the leaks had gone on, how much had leaked out into the river and water table, or even how many leaks there were. The NRC found indications, however, that the site had been leaking for eight years. That was a final straw for thenNew York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who set up a special task force to challenge

the relicense application for the Indian Point plants. It did not take long for Cuomo’s group to find that Entergy’s relicensing application was riddled with misstatements. A key section of the nearly 800-page document, the Severe Accident Mitigation Assessment (SAMA), purportedly showed that the only danger from a radioactive accident at the plant lay to the north, and the cost would be $403 million per square mile. But Cuomo’s analysis of the statistical data revealed Entergy had decided that since there were more days when the wind blew north than when it blew towards the south, the south did not count — as if it had been bested in a celestial tug of war. And since there were equal days when the winds blew east or west, Entergy decided they cancelled each other out, as if they never existed. That logic meant in a catastrophic accident, no radiation could go south to New York City; southwest, covering northern New Jersey down to Newark; east as far as Hartford, Conn; or west past the Delaware Water Gap into the Pennsylvania Poconos. In Entergy’s scenario, most of the 21 million residents within 50 miles of the plant had nothing to worry about. That defied logic and the experience of radioactive fallout from Chernobyl or, more recently, the ash clouds from the Icelandic volcano that spread all over Europe and forced the grounding of the continent’s air fleets. New York, with its 1,000-page challenge, became the only state to put its weight against a nuclear relicensing plan. And that raised more doubts on Wall Street about the financial viability of nuclear power.

Entergy’s difficult debt deal

Entergy hedged its bets. In August 2009, it asked the New York Public Service Commission and the Vermont Public Service Board to approve a spinoff of its six northeast nuclear plants into a separate subsidiary called Enexus — which would start life with about $3 billion in debt. “Typically,” said New York PSC spokesman James Denn, “nuclear power sells at rates less than natural gas prices, and natural gas sets the price. Nuclear power can sell under it and that’s how Entergy makes its money.” The two state agencies separately and unanimously concluded in September that the debt was too high and the competitive, wholesale energy market too low for Enexus to be a viable company. “There are a lot of questions as to where this company is going,” said Michael Haggerty, vice president of Moody’s Power and Utility Group. “Other companies have been reducing their outstanding capital liabilities, but Entergy did not. They announced over the weekend a share buyback program for $750

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million and a dividend increase and they are sending more cash to their shareholders. “But they have uncertainty now that the spinoff has been turned down. They banked everything on this spinoff taking care of a large amount of debt. So what’s their Plan B?” That question loomed large in both states. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation ordered Entergy to install new, closed cycle cooling systems at Indian Point and stop using billions of gallons of Hudson River water to cool its equipment. The retrofit could cost between $400 million and $1.5 billion, depending on the type of system used. And the plants would have no income during the two to four years of construction. It remains an open question whether Entergy, with its financial belt tightening, will have access to sufficient capital to handle the project and any unplanned events.

Vermont’s impossible leaks

Then, in November 2009, a monitoring well at Vermont Yankee picked up contaminated tritium moving through the water table. Entergy could not find the leak until February 2010. That proved embarrassing. Entergy officials had assured the Vermont legislature, under oath, that there were no underground pipes which carried radioactive liquids and, therefore, there were no aging systems which could threaten the region’s water. The declarations were false. Vermont has a unique arrangement with its sole nuclear power plant. The state requires its Public Service Board (PSB) to issue a Certificate of Public Good as a prerequisite for operating the reactor, in addition to clearance from the NRC, for both the initial operating license and any license extension. Although the federal government squarely claims safety issues as the domain of the NRC, the state PSB can evaluate other issues, like effect on the state economy and general well-being. Vermont Yankee’s CPG expires in March 2012, and as a condition of the purchase in 2002, Entergy acknowledged the state’s jurisdiction. In 2006, the state legislature passed Act 160, which required legislative approval for the PSB to issue a renewal of the certificate. “Entergy said they would have an independent investigation of their underground pipes and wiring,” said former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, now a teacher of energy policy and law at the Vermont Law School. “It turned out the study was by a D.C. law firm that was representing Entergy in the Indian Point relicensing proceeding. “They were asking Vermont lawmakers to believe that a firm that was earning millions of dollars in fees representing Entergy

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The sale offer should not have come as a total surprise. In August, ISO New England, which regulates the regional power grid, held its fourth annual futures auction. The auction, which was started in 2008 and is unique to the ISO New England, locks in power commitments — though not the price — for specified future years. “We have enough capacity in New England to meet demand and ensure our reliability standards and reserve margins through 2019,” said ISO spokeswoman Ellen Foley. But there was a surprise during the two-day August auction, intended to lock in power from June 2013 through May 2014. Entergy contacted the ISO at the end of the first day and asked to withdraw and make no future commitments. “They submitted a bid to withdraw from the capacity auction during the auction itself,” Foley said. “That triggered an analysis on the part of the ISO to determine if we could let them delist. We declined the request because of reliability concerns around the area of Vermont. “The studies showed that without Vermont Yankee, there is potential which includes thermal overloads on transmission lines and voltage instability. It could compromise equipment and cause outages.” Vermont Yankee is a regional transmission hub, with electricity from several sources passing through its high-voltage lines. Rerouting that power would be difficult in the short term. But since the ISO can’t make Entergy produce electricity if it shuts down entirely, the agency is making long-0term plans for a possible future without the nuclear plant in it. In the meantime, Entergy is left committed to maintaining a transmission network it may not use, produce power from a plant which may or may not have a license to operate, and may not be able to afford producing electricity even if it gets permission to do so. That would be an extremely expensive way to boil water. Roger Witherspoon ( has spent more than 40 years working in all forms of the media as a journalist, author, educator, and public relations specialist. Along the way, he has written extensively on state and national politics, foreign affairs, finance, defense, civil rights, constitutional law, health, the environment, and energy. This piece originally appeared on Witherspoon’s blog, “Energy Matters,” and is published here with his permission.

n Economy representatives from Vital Economy, a consulting firm focused on improving underperforming and remote economies, participants worked through an exercise called asset mapping to pinpoint the region’s unique resources that could attract businesses and people. Participants first identified Interstate 91 as an asset, but Sondag pointed out that White River Junction has Interstate 91, too. Participants identified increased passenger rail service as an asset unique to the region, but Sondag said many states are also attempting to increase rail service as well. When the group pointed out that Brattleboro has the second highest level of rail usage in the country, its members had identified a unique aspect of passenger rail in southern Vermont, said Sondag. “It challenges you to think, ‘what really are assets?’” she said.

A reality check

Doing a fiscal reality check and instilling a sense of urgency in participants is a large part of the SeVEDS process. “Our current [economic] state is a little bit scary,” said Sondag. According to Sondag and Lewis, the Windham Region is caught in a downward spiral. As businesses have left the area over the past 10 years, the workforce supporting them has also left. Eventually, real estate prices — the litmus test for a community’s economic health — have dropped. Windham County’s population has shrunk by 3.64 percent since 2000, while the rest of New England has gained in population. To thrive, communities need library trustees, volunteers for Project Feed the Thousands, Selectboard members, and other community volunteers and officials. Sondag said losing population erodes the “backbone of the community.” According to SeVEDS, the average annual Windham region wage is $36,291. This ranks $2,035 below Vermont’s average wage, $3,557 below the average for Northern New England, and $16,224 below the average for New England overall. Only Maine ranks lower in wages than the Windham region. “And Maine is in pretty rough shape,” said Lewis. Sondag said that viewing the region’s economic health in black and white sunk a hole in the pit of her stomach. Lewis describes data as providing a point of view by continuously putting “the numbers” in front of people. Another eye-opener is the unbalanced ratio of unearned income (investments, Social Security, and trust funds) to earned income (wages). Residents living on unearned income outnumber wage earners. The type on income on which residents live influences what they require from their communities, said Lewis and Sondag. Wage earners’ prosperity is tied directly to the economic health of their communities. Residents receiving funds from unearned income have their prosperity linked to sources outside their communities. Over five years, SeVEDS

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wants to stop the decline in the region’s population, match the Northern New England average wage, and increase the value of goods and services produced annually by 2 percent a year. According to representatives from Vital Economy, all three goals are connected to people and jobs. If the Windham region wants to raise the average wage, it also must increase area employment by approximately 5 percent. The increase in employment translates into creating 669 jobs paying above the desired average, 446 jobs paying at the desired average, and increasing the wages of 20 percent of jobs by $5,000. Realizing that not all jobs are created equal is a paradigm shift for this area, said Sondag.

Lessons learned

Lewis points to Malone, N.Y., as an example of economic development derailed. After many of its longtime industries failed, Malone reinvented itself economically as the “prison capital of New York.” Lewis said the plan worked great for a time. Prisons brought good-paying, steady work — until the prison population dropped. Malone had built its economy on a single industry dependent on state taxes and subject to public policy. Many of its prisons closed, and the town ended in the same economic place it started. The SeVEDS group plans to encourage a diverse economy founded on multiple types and sizes of businesses. It also looks to develop businesses independent of uncontrollable factors, such as Vermont’s haphazard weather. It’s easy to look at the numbers and say, “what we need is…” and start tossing around suggestions, said Lewis, but he says the area needs to match assets with businesses. Creating jobs without having the skilled employees to fill them — or the population in general — thwarts economic sustainability. Sondag said the question to ask is, “What can we do now to leverage and create linkages between assets?” “We don’t want a report collecting dust,” Lewis said. “We want action.” Lewis said he hopes the participants have identified a collection of assets, strengths, and priorities. But, he warns, not every asset will equal an investment and survive the final cut. “The strategy has to be thoughtful,” he said.

Actions not words

Lewis and Sondag said the SeVEDS group wasn’t designed as a traditional public process. The committee wants to attract members who are excited, committed, and in a position to create change through actions like hiring more employees or expanding their businesses. Sondag said the region needs to shift its thinking and take control of its economic destiny instead of waiting for Montpelier or that one big employer to bail us out. SeVEDS is a multi-year project, warned Lewis and Sondag, who both pointed out that it took the region 50 years to reach this economic cliff — and that it will take more than a year to navigate safely away.

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T h e C ommons

West Townshend community center seeks nonprofit status By Thelma O’Brien The Commons

Thelma O’Brien/The Commons

Clare Adams stands on the balcony of the West Townshend Post Office building, which avoided damage from a Nov. 22 truck accident. A damaged tree and the perilous junction of Route 30 and Windham Hill Road across from the building, can be seen behind her.

n Church at the accident site from about noon on last Monday, monitoring the cleanup of the fuel. Winot had responded to the original call reporting the accident with two Townshend volunteer firefighters, Michele Brooks and Adam Bozetarnik. Jamaica had also responded. Winot was standing in front of the post office when he was notified by a state trooper that something was burning in the church. When the cleanup was well on its way, Winot said he sent firefighters home. He’d also dispatched his volunteers to get some lunch, and Brooks and Bozetarnik drove over to Harmonyville to get sandwiches. So, at that point the only firefighter on the scene, Winot ran

from page 1

to his truck and drove it next to the church. “I went around to the back and went in the basement crawl space,” Winot reported, “and I could see sparks and flames.” He said he went right back up and sounded the first of two more alarms, bringing engines and ladders from about nine local departments, including his two volunteers on their lunch quest. In the meantime, he said the two state troopers began pulling hoses off his truck. “We brought them to the back of the building and went back into the crawl space to knock down the fire from there,” he explained. He then came out and brought

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in another hose through the front of the church and knocked a hole in the floor to get at the flames from there. It took only about 20 minutes to get the fire under control once everyone had responded, Winot said. Firefighters cut holes in the floor with chainsaws, moved the iron stove about a foot or so and got water to the hot spots from several places, “It hadn’t spread very far and we caught it in time,” Winot said. “It could have been a disaster one way or the other.” Agreeing was Kelly Millette, who runs the West Townshend Post Office and is Pastor Millette’s wife. She said how surprised everyone was that the post office building, which had suffered serious fire damage in the past, went unscathed. Even the large blown-glass pieces on exhibit in the building were untouched by the crash. The two United Van Lines employees reportedly suffered only minor injuries. Townshend volunteer firefighter Michele Brooks remembers getting to the scene and thinking, “What a mess. It looked like a tornado hit. Four people’s personal belongings — Christmas decorations, bedding, tools everywhere. The two drivers were all shook up.” She reported that former pastor David Onyon and family, as well as other members of the congregation, brought food and drink to the firefighters. “I’d seen my brother loading wood in the furnace just a few hours earlier,” said Millette,

TOWNSHEND—They don’t have a name for their organization yet, but the people involved with the West Townshend Country Store and Community Post Office — an actual U.S. Post Office with designated “community” status — finally have the beginnings of a board of directors. Clare Adams of West Townshend — an artist, teacher, farmer and driving force behind this multi-purpose and good-humored center for art, music, food, education and social networking — was unanimously elected president of the board of the nonprofit hopeful. According to the rules of the game for nonprofits as set out by the Preservation Trust of Vermont, a state organization devoted to preserving historic places and buildings for the past 30 years), the center must have a board with at least two official board members, the president and the treasurer. “I think we’ve found a treasurer,” Adams reported. “I’ll let you know.” Serving as general trustees are Robert Du Grenier, the CEO of Du Grenier Associates, an amalgam of several commercial enterprises, most famously his blown glass, of Windham and Leigh Merinoff, of AgroLiving, a sustainable farm network, who lives in Vermont and New Jersey. Du Grenier was unanimously elected vice-president of the board, and Merinoff was named secretary. Three general trustees were named: Michael Donahue, a musician and retired

speaking of his brother, Pete Millette, the assistant pastor. He also noted how strange the floor looked when first came on the scene. “It was all ruffled,” he said, adding “and part of a front pew just sort of exploded.” But it looks like the chapel might be saved after all. Structural engineers are expected on the scene this week, and representatives from the church’s insurers have done inspections, Millette said. Carl Walters, vice-president of marketing and communication at United Van Lines home office in St. Louis, said on the telephone he had heard some reports of the accident and fire but would not be prepared to comment until he was in his office and could look at all the documents.

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According to the church’s website,, as a result of the accident, church programs will not take place in the damaged sanctuary “for the foreseeable future.” The Tuesday mid-day women’s Bible study will meet at the post office next door, the same location as the Wednesday evening service. The men’s Bible study on Tuesday evening will meet at Dave LeBlanc’s home. According to the website, the church “will be utilizing the Seventh Day Adventist church facility a little further west on Route 30 in West Townshend.” For more information, contact Millette at 802-874-7015.

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lawyer from West Townshend; Michael Longo, a tree specialist and community activist from West Townshend; and Alicia Moyer, a musician and social worker from West Townshend. The goals of the board are ambitious, and could well start with a contest to name the place. Its members hope for a name that includes everything and excludes nothing, but connotes a West River space devoted to community enterprises, especially music, art, food and children. Several Thursday night concerts have been scheduled for the gallery space in the center. Perhaps the major barrier the group faces is joining with the 160-year-old, twostory building’s owner. Zach Caldwell, an Olympic-grade ski grinder and sports business person, now lives in Boulder, Colo. There’s been no conflict among members and Caldwell but, says Adams, “he’s hard to pin down.” They also have to deal with the legal red tape that comes with acquiring nonprofit status. They hope to find a lawyer who will help, said Adams. “We’re just beginning,” Du Grenier added. His explorations into just getting a building appraisal and assessment found it would cost up to $3,000. “One person mentioned $1,300 for an appraisal,” he said. “This is very preliminary.” Insurance and other liability issues concern the board, not just for the building but, for example, for artists whose work is on exhibit. Du Grenier said artists must carry their own insurance. Also on the board’s wish list: more general trustees, more

volunteers for their twiceweekly thrift shop (plus more shelves and racks), more craftspeople, a café/bake shop, a book and film club, an open studio time, a railing for the stairs to the second floor, an outdoor, wood-fired bread and pizza oven, and more classes for children. There has been plenty of activity at the center over the past few months, including the thrift shop and the Thursday concerts, which have earned the enterprise more than $500 in donations, Adams said. Art and puppet-making classes for children are held now Mondays after school, taught by Adams in her own studio in the back of the building. They cost $10 per class. Sally Newton is planning a children’s concert for January, and Adams said she hoped a puppet show could be included. Someone has offered the group a wood stove, which they agreed to accept and to store in the basement until safety issues are resolved. Apart from the Preservation Trust, Adams and Du Grenier have also met or talked with such independent but state-supported agencies as the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and other organizations that assist Vermont-based community efforts with loan interest loans for housing and sustainable food projects. The building itself had a close call on Nov. 22 when a runaway truck speeding down Windham Hill Road narrowly missed hitting the structure. No injuries resulted from the accident.

BELLOWS FALLS Library gets grant for ‘Teen Techie Tuesdays’ BELLOWS FALLS—The Rockingham Free Public Library (RFPL) will soon present “Teen Techie Tuesdays,” a series of programs designed to emphasize technological skill development and information literacy through gaming. This project is made possible through the “Make a Change Closer to Home” initiative, sponsored by Pepsi and Price Chopper. The companies are donating a total of $30,000 to be awarded to local organizations who want to make a difference in their communities. One of 15 grants in this category, Youth Librarian Samantha Maskell submitted her winning idea and was awarded a $2,000 grant to help fund the “Teen Techie Tuesdays” project. “We are thrilled to be a recipient of this grant, said Maskell. “It will really jump-start this project.” Funds from the grant will be used to purchase the necessary equipment for the series, but more funding would allow more teens to participate. Maskell said the library is looking toward the community for further support and invite local businesses, organizations and residents to make donations to this program. The “Teen Techie Tuesdays” series will feature three, six-week workshops, and also large-scale gaming events. Between each of the workshops, panels and discussions will be presented for all ages, featuring local experts and business leaders on related subjects: “How to Get a HighTech Education;” “Emerging Career Fields” and “Working in Technology.” “Be a Video Game

Programmer” will kick-off the “Teen Techie Tuesdays” series in January. Learn how to create your own video game based on your favorite book, using online tools like “Scratch” from MIT, and “Game Maker.” They will spend time learning how to program in Python, an open source dynamic programming language. “Booktrailers: Coming to a Library Near You” will begin in March. Create your own media by making a book trailer for your favorite book. Book trailers are short films that describe and promote books similar to movie trailers. Also to come is “Hi-Tech Hide and Seek.” Using GPS technology and working with local government and historical resources, create a treasure hunting game. It will require reading, research, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. Teens will get to know their community and develop an understanding of civic responsibilities. Once the game is created, it will be available at RFPL for the whole community to play. “The skills considered part of 21st Century literacy now include information, media, and technological literacy, in addition to all the traditional skills,” Maskell said. “The public library is a primary youth access point for technology in the community, and we see ’Teen Techie Tuesdays” as providing a huge step toward providing these skills in ways that will really engage and inspire teens.” Sign-ups for the workshops begin thismonth. Space is limited, so stop by the library or call 802-463-4270 for more information.

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T h e C ommons


• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DEA agent to lead forum on prescription drug abuse in BF BELLOWS FALLS — The Greater Falls Prevention Coalition invites the public to a free dinner and community forum on Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 6-8 p.m., to discuss prescription drug abuse in the community and what can be done to prevent such abuse. The event will be held at the Moose Family Lodge, 61 Westminster St. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Lisa Remick will be the guest speaker. Through the DEA Demand Reduction Program, Remick has aided substance abuse prevention programs across New England by developing strategic alliances with state and local government, drug prevention organizations, treatment experts, community coalitions and the public. After a presentation by Remick, a community discussion will be followed by dinner provided by the GFPC. For more information, contact Chad Simmons at 802-463-9927, ext. 210.

Solid Waste Committee seeks public participation BRATTLEBORO — Got good ideas about recycling? About reducing trash? Want to join an ongoing group working on these issues? Just want to learn more about what’s going on and help out? The town of Brattleboro Solid Waste Committee will hold its first evening meeting on Monday, Dec. 6, in the Selectboard Meeting Room, at 6 p.m. During that time, the new town recycling co-coordinators will discuss their work plan and obtain public input, and the committee will discuss its projects, seek comments and help from the public. In addition, the development of a Solid Waste Plan for the town’s future will be discussed. All are welcome, no experience required, just ideas and a willingness to share them. Contact co-chairs Nancy Barber (802-246-0851) or Peter Cooper (802-257-0639) or board clerk Jane Southworth (802-2548698) for more information.

YMCA to offer snow day program BRATTLEBORO—Meeting Waters YMCA is, for the 10th consecutive year, offering its popular Snow Day Program in Brattleboro. The Snow Day Program combines with the Meeting Waters YMCA’s ASPIRE and Lewis Day Camp to provide year-round “out-of-school” care for schoolage children from the Brattleboro area and their working parents. The Snow Day Program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days when schools are closed due to inclement weather. The program, which takes place at Oak Grove School, offers recreation, art, and enrichment activities for children from kindergarten through age 12. The cost is $25 per day, which includes two nutritious snacks and all program supplies. Child Care Subsidy is accepted and the Meeting Waters YMCA offers financial assistance from its Reach Out to Youth fund. The Snow Day Program will be led by two of the Y’s veteran ASPIRE staff members — Lynn Cameron and Alberta Seale. This innovative program was developed by the Meeting Waters YMCA in 2001 after the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce and Windham Child Care Association gathered business leaders, youth program providers, and educators to discuss the challenges faced by area businesses and their employees on days when schools have an unanticipated closing for snow or other reasons. The Snow Day Program functions in much the same way that ASPIRE does on school vacations, teacher conference days, and holidays. Also the same, according to Program Director Sue Fortier, is the reliability, quality and focus on enrichment. “Just like ASPIRE, the Snow Day Program will involve children in a variety of activities that are fun, educational, and engaging.” Enrollment in the program is limited to 20 children. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. More information and a registration form are available at the Meeting Waters YMCA’s website at, by contacting their Brattleboro office (802-2461036), or by emailing info@





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T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

OPINION • COMMENTARY • LETTERS Join the discussion:

A thousand cuts


A 93-year-old mother bravely goes from doctor to doctor, procedure to procedure



ingchi, also known

as “the death of a thousand cuts,” was a method of public execution in China that involved cutting off pieces of a person’s body until he or she died. Banned in 1905, this drastic punishment first became a metaphor and then came to rest in the English language as a cliché. Which is why it jumped into my mind on the day my 93-year-old mother, a former dancer who lives alone in a tiny independent living complex apartment in Florida, had three skin cancers removed from her face. In the next few weeks, she will also have two cataract surgeries. And then there’s a recurring urinary tract infection and chronic kidney disease. All alone, my mother goes from doctor to doctor and procedure to procedure. I’m her caretaker, her only living child, and I live 1,500 miles away. I talk to her every day, handle her business affairs, speak to her doctors on the phone, and tie myself into knots of worry and pain. My mother’s mind is clear, and her heart, lungs, and hemoglobin count are excellent. I think she’s incredibly brave to be handling all this by herself, but I fear for her well-being every day.

J OYC E MARCEL well-protected — protected, at least, from everything except her own body. Sometimes, it appears that a thousand cuts isn’t the half of it. Call it “lingchi light.”

Caretaking may be another form of lingchi. It might not cut away pieces of your body, but it certainly cuts away pieces of your heart. My ability to take care of my mother is complicated by distance. But geography is never the only problem. As people live longer and longer, I don’t know if there are any really good choices. My friend Bunny, for example, decided that her elderly mother could no longer live alone and moved her into the home she shares with her longterm boyfriend. They were happy to do it, but they didn’t expect what happened next. “I still don’t think I could park her in some hellhole of an institution,” Bunny e-mailed me. “But she’s pushing me. She’s pushing me. I seem to be in a constant state of near-rage, snapping at everything. How did we get into this sit“Here I am, insisting she uation? First of all, Mom retake her meds and breaking fused to move up north. The my butt trying to blast her out reasons she gave were the cold, of her chair. I’m such an idthe lack of a Jewish indepeniot. I should let her do her own dent living facility, and the thing, and let the chips fall friends she has in Florida. where they may. In September, after a lot of “It might hasten the inevidiscussion, fact-finding, coltable, but she seems to prefer umns of numbers, worry, that option anyway. I’m not sweat, blood, and tears, I sure I’m doing her any favors helped Mom move from her by keeping her alive. Isn’t that large house to the indepensad?” dent living facility. By luck, in Another friend of mine, a totally dreadful real estate Lee, built an apartment onto market, we managed to sell her spacious house and moved the house for enough money her mother in, only to see her to keep her going for the next quickly drop into dementia. three or four years. It’s so bad now that Lee had The move alleviates her big- to install a pulley system just to gest problems: aide roulette, change her mother’s diapers. loneliness, isolation, an inabil- She spends half her time findity to cook anymore, and the ing and training aides, and the burden of maintaining a large other half taking care of her house that was aging just as fast mother when the aides quit. as she was. Her mother’s physical health In the two months she’s is excellent. Lee is wound as been in her new home, she’s tight as a drum. unpacked, decorated, bought Bunny and Lee acted on furniture, made friends, and their natural instincts to projoined a play-reading group. tect and nurture their mothers. She’s gone on outings to the Then, there’s me — same intheater. She goes to dance stincts, but not being near, agoclasses. She has a physical nizing over everything that can therapist who comes to her possibly go wrong, and feeling apartment three times a week helpless. to help her with cramps and balance. Back in my grandmother’s She’s secure and day, families were large and

relatives lived close to one another. Someone, usually an unmarried daughter, took on the role of primary caregiver. In my grandmother’s family, it was her Aunt Leah, who lost a leg to a dreadful disease when she was young. It was assumed that no man would have her, so she obediently lived at home all of her life and took care of my great-grandfather. Women’s lives were disposable then. They aren’t now. When my grandmother started aging, she was a widow, and living happily in New York City. My mother virtually forced her to leave her friends and move to Florida so she could take care of her. Grandma bought a small condo apartment near my parents and hated it. Since I was unmarried at the time, she was furious that I didn’t move in and take care of her. In her mind, I was the next generation of Aunt Leah. She even tried to bribe me with a car. Luckily, my father stepped in and said no. So Grandma put herself into virtual solitary confinement, speaking to no one but her family for the next 18 years. She tormented my mother with guilt until she died in a nursing home at 94. My mother may think that she’s protecting me from the same fate she suffered at the hands of her mother. I don’t know. But I do know that I’m no Aunt Leah. I’m not a selfless person. I’ve chosen to live my life in Vermont, emotionally supported by my husband, my work, and my community. I consciously decided not to sacrifice my life, live in Florida, and devote myself to my mother’s care. So there is Mom, far away, proudly independent, yet depending on the kindness of strangers — and so far they have been extremely kind. Her thousand cuts are of a physical nature. She bravely faces down each one, saying, “We will get through this, Joyce." I’m only a plane ride away, so my thousand cuts are mental: guilt, aching fear, and helplessness. We both know a time is coming when she will go so far away that no plane on Southwest’s schedule will be able to take me there. Lingchi may be long and lingering, but we all know how it ends.  n We welcome Joyce Marcel, a journalist and columnist, to the Voices section of The Commons; her column will run monthly. You can reach her at


Welcome home


he Green Mountain Boys are marching home again. Members of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat team will be returning from Afghanistan over the next few weeks. The 3,400 soldiers in the brigade — including nearly 1,400 Vermont Army National Guard members — have been lauded by civilian and military leaders alike as the best-trained, hardest who wereworking unit in Afghanistan. This praise is not surprising. In every conflict in our nation’s history — from the capture of Fort Ticonderoga to combat in the “Sunni Triangle” in Iraq — Vermonters have shown their skill and their valor when called to fight, and the 86th has upheld that tradition in Afghanistan. Whether it was training Afghan security forces, protecting the Bagram Air Base, or engaging in combat against insurgents, the Vermont guardsmen lived up to the words of

Gen. John Sedgwick at the battle of Gettysburg that the 86th adopted as the unit motto: “Put the Vermonters ahead.” Three of the 86th’s soldiers — Specialist Ryan Grady, 25, of West Burke; Sgt. Tristan Southworth, 21, of Walden; and Sgt. Steven J. Deluzio, 25, of South Glastonbury, Conn. — were killed in action. Others have been wounded, some horrifically. The exact number has not been revealed by Guard officials, but it reportedly could be as high as 125. But after the homecoming celebrations are over and the yellow ribbons are taken down, the difficult task of readjusting to civilian life will begin for the returning Guard members. The personnel coming back from Afghanistan are benefiting from the lessons learned after the Vermont Guard’s last big deployment to Iraq in 2005-06. It’s understood that being in a combat zone is stressful, but

coming home and not having a job is stressful too. By federal law, Guardsmen and reservists are guaranteed that they’ll keep the jobs they left behind when they are called to active duty, However, it’s estimated that, on average, 1 in 3 members of Guard combat brigades will be unemployed when they return from their deployments. The Vermont Guard has scheduled job fairs for the coming months and has developed a standardized application for all the state’s colleges and universities for those who want to continue their education. State agencies have been contacted to make sure every returning solider has access to help for those who need it. Financial advisers, mental health counselors, job placement workers, and benefits experts are being made available for soldiers and their families. Providing this intensive level of service is important. Unlike full-time soldiers,

Will we avoid Easter Island’s fate? Isn’t there a lesson here that we get honest with ourselves about what we’re doing to our planet? Brattleboro BILL PEARSON, M. Div., a Peace Corps vetheard of Easter eran, serves on the Windham Island, that reEnvironmental Coalition mote place in Steering Committee, on the the South Pacific where giboard of the New England ant-headed stone statues stare Coalition, and as past chair forlornly out to sea. In its of the Landmark College story, there may be a message Environmental Stewardship for us today. Coalition. Archeologists and paleontologists, using carbon dating and pollen analysis, deterchemicals currently in use are mined that the island was mostly untested on the most first settled about 400 A.D. vulnerable among us. Babies Settlers arrived in a subtropi- are born with dozens of incal paradise with abundant dustrial chemicals already inresources. corporated into their bodies. By about 1400, the island Polar bears test positive for was deforested. With defores- flame retardants. Industrial tation went the wood needed agriculture exposes millions for cookfires, shelter, seafarof acres to wind so that toping canoes, and the transport soil blows away, which then of those statues. Without ca- requires using even more petnoes, fishing ended. Without rochemical fertilizers. forests, game birds and The 400 nuclear reactors animals became extinct. in the world are aging and are Eventually, civil warfare and susceptible to accident and cannibalism devastated the sabotage. Another Chernobyl population. or Three Mile Island disasBy the time Jacob ter is probably just a matter Roggeveen, a Dutch exof time. War zones from the plorer, “discovered” the isBalkans to Afghanistan are land on Easter Day, 1722, he contaminated with DU (“dereported that its wasted appleted” uranium) from the pearance could give no other firing of munitions. DU has a impression than of a “singular radioactive half-life of 4.5 bilpoverty and bareness.” lion years. Carbon dioxide and other A similar fate is not imman-made greenhouse gases possible for all of us on Earth are accumulating in the atmoIsland. We too are depleting sphere. Oceans are acidifying, resources and compromising and coral reefs (incubators of nature’s life-support systems. sea life) are dying as a result About half the world’s of global warming. Weather tropical forests (the lungs of is becoming more erratic. our ecosystems) are already Storms are more severe. gone. By 2030, perhaps only Twenty million people 10 percent will still be stand- in Pakistan were recently ing. Half the world’s wetlands displaced by flooding. (In (the kidneys of our ecosysVermont, it’s not unheard of tems) were destroyed in the to see three or four thunder20th century. storms in one day, or a peWe are polluting our lakes, riod of drought punctuated rivers, and oceans. Dead by 8 inches of rain.) Plant and zones are appearing in oceans animal species are going exat river deltas. Patches of tinct worldwide at a rate not plastic garbage exist in both equaled in 65 million years. the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Three million tons of Who can deny that huplastic containing Bisphenol mans are waging war against A, an endocrine disrupter, are the Earth? This war is largely produced each year. An aver- as a result of the fantasy of age square mile of ocean con- unending economic growth tains 46,000 pieces of plastic (on a planet of limited retrash. sources) and the pursuit of Every day, 2 million tons of short-term profit. It’s also a sewerage and industrial and function of the gospel of conagricultural waste are dissumerism, where Americans, charged into the planet’s wa- at 5 percent of the world’s ter supplies. As a result, 80 population, consume roughly percent of the world’s rivers 25 percent of the Earth’s reare now in decline, potentially sources and produce 25 peraffecting some 5 billion peocent of the waste. Meanwhile, ple. By 2030, global demand the country that came out on for safe, clean water will extop in a recent study of “hapceed supply by 40 percent. piness” was Costa Rica. The Petroleum, natural gas, U.S. was ranked at No. 114. and uranium reserves around Coincidentally, human the world will one day be ex- population is largely out of hausted (or the materials too control. We are outdistancexpensive to extract). Many ing the earth’s carrying capacocean fisheries are collapsing ity, sentencing billions of our from overfishing. Reservoirs fellows to lives of desperaand aquifers are shrinking. tion. Given the depletion of The 80,000 industrial resources, especially water,


ost of us have

Guard members and reservists leave their families and civilian jobs behind for overseas deployments, and then go home to resume their lives without the support systems that activeduty soldiers have. Working in the returning Guardmen’s favor is the fact that veterans are treated with more societal respect today

than, say, soldiers returning home during the Vietnam era. No matter how you feel about the war in Afghanistan, we all owe our returning soldiers compassion and understanding. So, if you know of any Vermonters returning from Afghanistan, give them a hearty welcome home and thank them for their service.

conflict is on the rise. Civil war, ethnic cleansing and violence against immigrants, gays, the homeless, and persons of differing religions are rampant. The penchant of some advanced countries to lord it over weaker ones has resulted in the United States and Russia each having 2,000 to 2,500 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. Flocks of birds mistaken by radar to be hostile attacks have come close to triggering nuclear missile exchanges and “nuclear winter.” Even a Pentagon think tank has called climate change a “dangerous threat multiplier” that could lead to resource wars. Again, who can deny that we are waging war on ourselves? When similar calamities befell the Easter Islanders, there was nowhere to escape. Isn’t there a lesson here that we get honest with ourselves about what we’re doing to Spaceship Earth and to each other, and that there are things we must do before we ourselves have nowhere to go? • Maybe by respecting Mother Earth and humbly accepting our place in the web of life, knowing that what we do to that web, we do to ourselves? • Maybe by directing our society away from arrogance, greed, and warfare toward compassion, equality, and peace? • Maybe by substituting the Gross Domestic Product with a “National Happiness Index?” • Maybe by seriously funding safe, clean, renewable energy; and energy-efficient homes, businesses, and transportation? • Maybe by wholeheartedly supporting the international assistance programs of the United Nations (helping earthquake, tsunami, and flood victims), the Kyoto Protocol, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Earth Charter, and the Peoples Agreement from the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth? Sadly, humans are capable of self destruction. It happened on Easter Island. Isn’t there now sufficient proof that we’re heading in the same direction? Isn’t it time to take this threat seriously? Or will space travelers one day “discover” this blue planet in the Milky Way Galaxy, and find a barren and polluted wasteland devoid of life except for a primordial soup of bacteria and microbes?  n

But perhaps the best way to honor their service is to simply be aware that they have just gone through an unimaginably intense experience that few of us will ever know. Offer a hand if they need it, but give them space if they ask for it. It’s the least we can do.

T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010




Newspaper provides snapshot of life in 1832 Messenger shows society’s attitudes toward Native Americans



efore the Brattleboro Reformer, there was The Phoenix,

and before that, the local newspaper was called the Brattleboro’ Messenger. Bridie Carmichael of Dummerston recently shared the Saturday, Jan. 7, 1832 issue of this newspaper with me. It was found in her father’s home in Saxtons River and is remarkably well preserved and supple, aside from the a few places where the mice used it for bedding. Published by George W. Nichols, the paper was delivered by carriers at $2 per year, or mailed for $1.50 per year. Using the consumer price index, an 1832 dollar would now be worth $28.50, so the cost to have the newspaper delivered would cost the equivalent of $57 today. The paper is four pages, folded. On the first page is a story, “Extracts from Mr. Read’s Journal, A Storm at Sea.” The second story is called “The Last Journey,” a tale from the Bible. Another piece in the newspaper is an address, “Of the National Republican Convention to the People of the United States, from President, James Barbour suggesting that Henry Clay should be a candidate for President.” One typical announcement: “Windham C. Singing Society will hold its next meeting at the Hall of Asa Knight, Esq. In Dummerston on Monday, the 23rd, at 1:00 P.M. A punctual attendance of members is requested, per order of the committee. Signed Isaac Knapp, Secretary.” That election would take place in November of that year, and Andrew Jackson would easily win the contest and remain president. To get a feeling for the times, in 1832, the Civil War was still 29 years away. There were 22 states reaching as far west as Missouri and Louisiana, but white people had been exploring for years. Lewis and Clark returned from their expedition in 1805. They had been gone so long, President Thomas Jefferson assumed they would not be returning. Still, the West was still unexplored. John Fremont wouldn’t be exploring the Oregon Trail for another 10 years. There were no towns, no railroads, and no roads for wagons. It could only be reached by foot, or by horseback. People in the East had heard or read stories about the vast lands to the west, mostly from the folks that were called “Mountain Men,” who were solitary fur trappers.

Fran Lynggaard Hansen reports regularly for

The Commons and contributes occasionally to these pages. She is the author of Brattleboro – Historically Speaking (History Press, 2009).

the result of all experience. If they remove, they may be comfortably established, their moral and physical condition meliorated. It is certainly better for them to meet the difficulties of removal, with the probability of an adequate and final reward, than yielding to their constitutional apathy, to sit still and perish. The great moral debt we owe to this unhappy race is universally felt and acknowledged. Diversities of opinion exist respecting the proper mode of discharging this obligation, but its validity is not denied. And there certainly are difficulties which may well call for discussion and consideration. For more than two centuries we have been place in contact with the Indians. And if this long period has been fruitless in useful results, it has not been so in experiments, having in view their improvement. Able men have been investigating their condition, and good men attempting to improve it. But all these labors have been unsuccessful in the issue, as many of them were laborious and expensive in their progress. The work has been aided by Governments and communities, by public opinion, by the obligations of the law and by the sanction of religion. But is history furnishes abundant evidence of entire failure and everything around us upon the frontiers confirms its truth. The Indians have either receded as our settlements advanced, and united their fragments with some kindred tribe, or they have attempted to establish themselves upon reservations, in the vain hope of resisting the pressure upon them and of persevering their peculiar institutions. Those who are nearest to us have generally suffered most severely by the debasing effects of ardent spirits and by the loss of their own principles of restraint, few as these are; without the acquisition of ours; and almost all of them have disappeared, crushed by the onward course of events, or driven before them. Not one instance can be produced in the whole history of the intercourse between the Indians and the white men, where the former have been able, in districts surrounded by the latter, to withstand successfully the progress of those causes, which have elevated one of these races and depressed the other. Such a monument of former successful execution does not exist. Without entering into a question which opens a wide field for enIt is through these lenses that the editorial in this edition of quiry, it is sufficient to observe that our primitive people are well within the Messenger, called “Indian Character,” must be read. Toward their habits and opinions as in their customs and pursuits. the end of the article, the unknown writer speaks of his own expeOther obstacles most insurmountable to any considerable or immedirience with Native Americans, and one can only assume that he ate change of character. The Indian is unwilling to labor, improvident is referring to those people living in and around the Brattleboro in his model; he has little foresight in providing or care in preserving. area. Taught from infancy to reverence his own traditions and institutions, The subjoined paragraphs we find in [Michigan territory Governor he is satisfied of their value and dreads the anger of the Great Spirit, if Lewis] Cass’s War Report; sentiments in relation to the removal of the he should depart from the customs of his fathers. Devoted to the use of Indians are in conformity with those of President Jackson, but of their ardent spirits, he abandons himself to its indulgence without restraint. moral condition and their capacity to become renovated and taught the War and hunting are his only occupations. He can endure, without arts and principles of civilized life — no man has had better opportuni- complaining, the extremity of human suffering; and if he cannot overties for forming correct estimates than Governor Cass. come the evils of his situation, he submits to them without repining. He A change of residence, from their present positions to the regions west attributes all the misfortunes of his race to the white man, and looks of the Mississippi, presents the only hope of permanently establish[ing] with suspicion upon the offers of assistance that are made to him. improvement. That wit will be attended with inconvenience and sacriThese traits of character, though not universal are yet general; and fices, no one can doubt. the practical difficulty they present, in changing the condition of such The associations, which bind the Indians to the land of their forea people, is to satisfy them of our sincerity and the value of the aid fathers, are strong and enduring; and these must be broken by their we offer; to hold out to them motive for exertion; to call into action migration. some powerful feeling, which shall counteract the tendency of previous But they are also broken by our citizens, who every day encounimpressions. ter all difficulties of similar changes in pursuit of the means of support. It is under such circumstances and with these difficulties in view, And the experiments which have been made satisfactorily show, that, that the Government has been called upon to determine what arrangeby proper precautions, and liberal appropriations, the removal and es- ments shall be made for the permanent establishment of the Indians. tablishment of the Indian can be effected with little comparative trouble Shall they be advised to remain or remove? If the former, their fate to them or us. Why, then, should the policy of this measure be disputed, is written in the annals of their race; if the latter, we may yet hope to or its adoption opposed? see them renovated in character and condition by our example and inThe whole subject has materially changed, even within a few struction, and by their exertions. year[s]; and the imposing considerations it now presents, and which But, to accomplish this, they must be first placed beyond the reach of are every day gaining a new force, call upon the Government and the our settlements and with such checks upon their disposition to hostilities country to determine what is required on our part, and what course as may be found necessary, and with such aid, moral intellectual, and shall be recommended to the Indians. pecuniary, as may teach them the value of our improvements, and the If they remain they must decline, and eventually disappear. Such is reality of our friendship. LETTERS

Construction breaks body, spirit


oday is another day I was woken up by not one construction project but two using jackhammers and this horrible, awful machine that’s injecting cement into the foundation of our building. I woke up with chest pains and I could not breathe. I had a dream that I had a violent accident and my thumb was being sliced off. I had what anyone could call a breakdown on Friday. I have had the worst Thanksgiving of my entire life due to the malfeasance in not properly letting me know what was about to rain down on me. What am I breathing? I will find out. I have recorded the machine on video making all of the fumes (three separate places are spewing filth) and the output this cement machine is making. I can taste it, for God’s sake. I am losing my hearing from this, and I’m being damaged — not just as a musician, but as a human. I have a hearing loss and a constant, constant hiss in my ears. I’m seeing my physician and will get an assessment of the damage this has caused. This is by any standards egregious for putting any human through this — let alone a woman who is 62 years old and a recent breast cancer survivor. What is wrong with you? Barbara Holliday Brattleboro

Additional letters appear on page 8.

With these salutary precautions, much should then be left to themselves, to follow such occupations in the forest or field as they may choose, without too much interference. Nor have we any reason to do but that such a condition would be attended with its full share of happiness; nor that their exertions would be stimulated by the security of their position and by the new prospects before them. By encouraging the severalty of soil, sufficient tracts might be assigned to all disposed to cultivate them; and, by timely assistance, the younger class might be brought to seek in their farms a less precarious subsistence than is furnished by the chance. Their physical comforts being increased, and the desire of acquisition brought into action, a moral stimulus would be felt by the youthful portion of the community. New wants would appear, and new means of gratifying them and the great work of improvement would thus commence, and commencing, would go on. To its aid, the truths of religion, together with knowledge of the simple mechanic arts and the rudiments of science, should then be brought; but if our dependence be first placed upon these, we must fail, as all others have failed who have gone before us in this field of labor. And we have already fallen into this error of adapting our efforts to a state of society, which is probably yet remote among the Indians, in withdrawing so many of the young men from their friend, and educating them at our schools. They are there taught various branches of learning, and at some of these institutions, a partial knowledge of the mechanic arts and of the principles of agriculture. But after this course of instruction is completed, what are these young men to do? If they remain among the whites, they find themselves the members of a peculiar state, and look round them in vain for employment and encouragement; if they return to their countrymen, their acquirements are useless, these are neither understood nor valued; and with the exception of a few articles or iron, which they procure from the traders, the common work of our mechanics are useless to them. I repeat, what has a young man, who has thus been educated, to do? He has no means of support, no instruments of agriculture, no domestic animals, and no improved farm. Taken in early life from his own people, he is no hunter, he cannot find in the chase the means of support or exchange; and that, under such circumstances, he should abandon himself to a life of intemperance, can scarcely excite our surprise, however it must our regret be. I have been earnestly asked by these young men, how were they to live; and I have felt that a satisfactory answer was beyond my reach. To the Government only can they look for relief, and if this should be furnished, tho’ in a moderate degree, they might still become useful and respectable; their example would be encouraging to others, and they would form the best instructors for their brethren. My grandmother, Jenny Brown Russell, was born in Bethel, Vt., in 1905. She used to tell me stories of her encounters as a child with an elderly Native American man who lived in a teepee just outside of town. He was considered peculiar and was sometimes teased by the local children. He occasionally walked into town, perhaps to purchase some supplies, but he preferred to live alone in the woods. I can only imagine this man, likely the last person in his family or tribe, alone in his traditional home. It’s possible that he had been born around the time this newspaper was printed. When I read the anonymous piece in the Brattleboro’ Messenger “Indian Character,” it easily becomes clear to me why a Native American of that era would have preferred the sanctuary of the woods over the townspeople of Bethel.  n



The process is inherently political uy Page [“VY: More critical than ever,” Voices, Nov. 24] calls the decision to close Yankee “political” like that was a bad thing. Politics is how a democracy makes decisions. No patriotic American can really be against it. And Yankee was brought into being by a decision that was both political and emotional. George Aiken thought

his state should have a nuke, too. Vernon had an emotional attraction to the tax benefits. The state voted. Now we’ve voted again. We get to do that, and we get to base our decisions on both reason and emotion, ’cause this is a democracy and we are the people in charge. If you don’t like the results — and I often don’t — then

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Electrical repairs: exquisite performance art



T h e C ommons


t once ephemeral and durable. Exquisite perforyou have to work to change mance art. them. But don’t attack the only For the second year, legal process you have to do November has been witness that. to power line contract crews As Lyndon Baines Johnson working on the upgrade of used to say in his polished, elhigh-voltage transmission lines egant way, “Don’t spit in the on Fall Mountain in Walpole, soup. We all have to drink it.” N.H. Jessie Haas This is a small part of ongoWestminster ing line upgrade work occurring throughout the region. Most notably, there have been many hours of small

turbine-powered helicopters unflinchingly hovering and deftly maneuvering in turbulent air with external loads, sometimes with external crews. These captivating performances won’t be pre-empted by a prime-time battle for the racetrack, the gridiron, the bully pulpit, the Statehouse, or by the revealing costume of someone’s dancing partner. Most never look up and have missed the show altogether. Exactly when: Tough to

say, but it’s been most days when it’s half-decent weather. Where: Tough to say, but near the Rockingham Library looking southeast has been a good vantage point. Dress: Casual and warm. Bring: Binoculars and hot coffee. Etiquette: Applaud loudly. Andrew Smith Bellows Falls

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010 • Page 9


Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Volunteers dish up turkey and all the fixings at the annual Brattleboro Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the River Garden.



Behind the scenes on

a Thanksgiving tour around Brattleboro By Randolph T. Holhut The Commons


RATTLEBORO— It’s approaching noon in downtown Brattleboro on Thanksgiving Day, and all is quiet. Main Street is empty and the stores are closed as the town collectively catches its breath before the holiday season cranks up. The River Garden, however, is the exception to the calm. There is plenty of activity, as volunteers carry in tables and trays of food for the 37th annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. More than 600 meals will be served today, and there is more than enough food to go around. “We’ve got enough volunteers and we’ve got enough food,” said Ray Branagan, who has spent more than 30 Thanksgivings helping to coordinate what he calls the “organized chaos” of making dinner for 600 people. Over at the St. Michael’s School kitchen, volunteers prepare food, which is then shuttled to the River Garden. There, little signs tell diners going through the line exactly what’s in the entree about to be served from the line of steam tables. Every possible dietary contingency is covered. Volunteers old and new scurry about. Most have a common reason for being there — a desire to be with others on this day. “I’m new to town, and I wanted to do this last year, but didn’t know how to volunteer,” said Cheryl Miller, who is originally from Maryland. “My family is all over, and it’s hard for us to get together.” Jane McCauley agrees. She is also a first-time volunteer with family scattered all over the country. “This is a community affair I wanted to participate in,” she said. Amy Cooper said she has been helping “on and off for about 20 years.” She and her father, Peter Cooper, have volunteered since the days when the dinner was

served at the Common Ground. A little after noon, the buffet line is ready, and the first diners have their plates loaded up with turkey and all the trimmings. The line is not long, and people flow steadily throughout the afternoon. Older residents and shutins who can’t make it to the River Garden are not forgotten. Branagan said more than 100 meals are being delivered this day. While the meal is free to all, a donation jar sits at the edge of the buffet line for those who wish to give. Near the front door, boxes of bread and other food sit for those who need another meal beyond this one.

At the fire station on Elliot Street, the Third Platoon has been assigned Thanksgiving duty. Holiday shifts are planned a year in advance, based on the one-day-on, two-days-off schedule that each of the three fire platoons work. The firefighters in the Third, who have already worked on the Fourth of July and are also penciled in for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, started their Thanksgiving day at 8 a.m., and will finish their shift the following morning at 8. Capt. Bill Johnson, the duty officer, said the only call of the Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons day so far was to St. Michael’s Brattleboro Fire Department Capt. Bill Johnson lowers a Thanksgiving turkey School, where some burned food into a pot of boiling vegetable oil as firefighter Kurt Schmidt looks on at the n see THANKSGIVING, page 10

Elliot Street station.

Fried turkey and football

Thanksgiving is a holiday for most people, but for police, firefighters and EMTs, it’s just another shift to be covered. Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Blissfully unaware that one of their cousins is frying away in the kettle, a group of pigeons attack the remains of a blooming onion behind the Elliot Street fire station.

Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

James and Mark White eat with their mom, Rescue Inc. EMTs Keith Hermiz, left, and Joe Domenick couldn’t put much of Susan Campbell, at the Brattleboro Community a dent into the Thanksgiving feast that was brought to the Canal Street station. Thanksgiving Dinner at the River Garden. Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons



T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Births, deaths, and news of people from Windham County Obituaries

Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Peggy Spencer serenades diners at the Brattleboro Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

n Thanksgiving

from page 9

for the Community Dinner set off an alarm. It’s become a tradition at the Brattleboro firehouse to deep fry a turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner. But the kitchen at the firehouse is always busy. “The guys take turns cooking breakfast every morning, and we always cook a big supper so the next shift can have the leftovers,” said Johnson. Behind the station, they’ve already deep-fried a “blooming onion” ahead of the turkey, and some of the burned batter and onion bits are in a neat pile by the propane tank that fuels the burner where the kettle full of vegetable oil is bubbling. The neighborhood pigeons, sensing a meal, start moving in. First a couple of brave ones, then a few more, then a few more, and before long 50 or so pigeons pick away at the onion debris — so many that when they are spooked and fly off, the wind gust generated by their wings blows out the gas burner. Upstairs, the TV is tuned to the Thanksgiving game between the Lions and Patriots, and the firefighters hope that it will be a quiet afternoon so they can enjoy the two staples of this day — football and turkey.

Editor’s note: The Commons will publish brief biographical information for citizens of Windham County and others, on request, as community news, free of charge. • Philip L. Jillson, 65, of Readsboro. Died Nov. 21 at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. Husband of Martha (Morse) Jillson for 44 years. Father of Stephanie Taylor and husband Trent of Brandon; and Layle Luke and husband Chris of Murfreesboro, Tenn. Brother of Harold Sprague of Whitingham; Roger Sprague of Gettysburg, Pa.; Richard King of Newfane and Sandra King of Holliston, Mass. Predeceased by a son, Philip L. Jillson II; a daughter, Lisa Jillson; and brothers George and Timothy Jillson. Graduate of Whitingham High Schol, Class of 1963. Worked as a linotype operator throughout his life for many printing companies — including Capital City Press and Leahy Press in Montpelier, Elm Tree Press in Woodstock, Yankee Typesetters in Maine, TJ Press in Duxbury, Page Setters and Stratford Publishing in Brattleboro and H.A. Manning in Bellows Falls — before he retired in 2002. Was a member of the Readsboro Lions Club

and a long-time member of the Readsboro School Board. Memorial inform ation : A memorial service was held Nov. 27 at the Readsboro Community Club, with burial in the North Hill Cemetery. Donations to the Readsboro Lions Club, Whitingham Ambulance Service or Guy Hawkins Cancer Fund, in care of the Covey & Allen Funeral Home, P.O. Box 215, Wilmington, VT 05363.

was assistant chief from 1981-85. Volunteered many hours in helping build the new fire station in 1975-76. Held various positions for the town of Halifax including assistant forest fire warden, selectman, Civil Defense coordinator and cemetery commissioner. Memorial inform ation : A graveside service was held Nov. 28 at the West Halifax cemetery. Donations to the “Kick Butt Angels,” the Rafus family’s • Thomas Delber t Rafus, American Cancer Society Relay 72, of West Halifax. Died at For Life Team, at P.O. Box 82, his home. Husband of Betty West Halifax, VT 05358. (LaRock) Rafus for 50 years. • Travis Ezra Richmond, 23, Father of Jackie and her husband of Vernon. Died Nov. 21 from Steve Hill, Jr. of West Halifax; injuries susTim and his wife Rhonda Rafus tained in a sinof Whitingham; Brad Rafus and gle car accident Peggy Webber of West Halifax; on Route 142. Jenn and her husband Kevin Son of Mary Birch of Whitingham; and Steph Ellen McDurfee and her husband Dennis Pike of and Douglas Whitingham. Brother of George Richmond. Minckler of Greenfield, Mass.; Graduate of Brattleboro Union David Smith of Putney; and High School, Class of 2005. Hazel Robinson, of Harrington, While in high school, he started Del. Predecased by brothers Ray working at Vernon Green and Edwin Rafus. Served in the Nursing Home and later atArmy and the Army National tended Porter & Chester Auto G u a r d f r o m 1 9 5 6 - 1 9 6 2 . Tech in Holyoke, Mass. He Worked for New England Box worked as an auto mechanic for Co., Deerfield Valley Supply, the family business, Richmond Greene’s Service and Kendall Auto in Guilford. Enjoyed music Mills for 34 years until retire- and was an accomplished drumment in 1997. Was a 40 year mer. He loved his cars, chermember of the West Halifax ished his family and friends, and Volunteer Fire Department and was happiest hanging out with a

Sharra Bingham, wife of Rescue Inc. EMT Scott Bingham, decided if her husband wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving dinner, she would bring Thanksgiving dinner to him and his co-workers. “I would have been home alone anyway, so I brought it in,” she said. “It’s good to bring food around on a day like this.” It’s an impressive spread — turkey with crab meat stuffing, plenty of mashed potatoes and gravy, and veggies, with three pies for dessert. “The seven of us tried to put a hurt on it, but we couldn’t do it,” said Drew Hazelton, the captain of the shift. Latin America community dinner, “At least it’s been quiet, so we can eat without having to go out dance planned at Compass School on a call,” Hazelton said. “We’ve WESTMINSTER — On to live alongside Dominicans in had Thanksgivings where we’ve Sunday, Dec. 5, Compass School various locations including worknever had time to sit down for will host Fiesta Dominicana — a ing on a small organic farm and dinner.” celebration of the food and music joining with village schoolchilof Latin America, featuring the dren on service learning projects. Day is done band Clave Mundial. This event If you cannot attend the event, Back at the River Garden, it’s is the primary fundraiser for the but would like to make the doabout 4:30 in the afternoon and Junior Class Global Connections nation, visit www.compassdarkness is coming fast. But the trip to the Dominican Republic and click on the lights burn brightly inside, late- in February. “donate” link. If you would like comers are still dining at the long The music and dancing begins to arrange for a student presentables, and another Thanksgiving at 7 p.m. and will be preceded tation at your organization in is winding down. by a silent auction and delicious the spring of 2011 email rick@ This day, more than any Latin America dinner beginning For more other day, is a holiday for com- at 5 p.m. Donations for the auc- information call 802-463-2525 ing together around food and tion are welcome. Admission is or visit www.compass-school. A moveable feast friendship. $15 for adults, $10 for children org/globalconnections. The Thanksgiving Day shift And whether it is with friends, and students, and $45 for famiat Rescue Inc. on Canal Street co-workers or family, the act of lies. Tickets can be purchased in Continuing the didn’t have to fight off pigeons coming together is ultimately advance by contacting the school for their holiday feast — it was what gives Thanksgiving Day at 802-463-2525 or at the door. conversation brought to their door. its meaning. An array of silent auction items will be available including gift BRATTLEBORO — Post Oil certificates to area restaurants, Solutions will host its monthly stores and services, classes, art Community Conversation on work and crafts, vacation get- Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m., at aways and more. the Elliot Street Cafe, corner The Global Connections of Elliot and Elm streets on the Home Audio/Flat Screen TV’s Program focuses on social topic “Where do we go from Car Audio/Remote Car Starters change and cultural immer- here?” sion. It is an integral part of the Over the past two months, Bluetooth Phone/Hands Free Car Kits curriculum for every Compass the group has discussed creat11th-grader, inspiring students ing the web of a healthy, sustainSales and/or Installation to broaden their horizons, bond able community for all citizens as a group, and work for social of greater Brattleboro, while “I’ll come to you!’’ justice. This year, students will maintaining a strong relationtravel to the Dominican Republic ship between relevant activism 802-257-5419

Matt Skove/Audio Design

few good buddies. Memorial inform ation : Funeral services were held Nov. 27 at the Guilford Community Church in Algiers. Donations to Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302 or to a charity of one’s choice. Condolences may be sent to Atamaniuk Funeral Home at

Births In Brattleboro (Memorial Hospital), Nov. 2, 2010, a son, Mason John (Boulrice) Grindlay, to Mindy Boulrice and Jeff Grindlay Jr. of Brookline; grandson to Rene and Paula Boulrice Jr. of Reading, Michelle and Dave Stanch of Chichester, N.H., and Jeff Grindlay Sr. of Brandon; great-grandson to William and Sally Smith of Reading, Rene and Estelle Boulrice Sr. of Palm Coast, Fla., Joan Boulrice of Westfield, Mass., Genevieve Grindlay of Brandon, and Mary Nesci of Chichester. In Lebanon, N.H., (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center), Sept. 9, 2010, a son, D o m i n i c M eye r M c K ay , to Christine D. Meyer and Tyler McKay; grandson to Bernadette and Jeffrey Meyer, and Kim and Ron McKay, all of Brattleboro.

Spirituality workshop planned in Guilford GUILFORD — Nationally recognized spiritual teacher, counselor, and speaker Ellen Tadd will present two events at the Guilford Community Church. On Friday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., she will give a general talk on spirituality. On Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., she will offer her “Wisdom of the Chakras” workshop, based on her new book of the same title. The book and her workshop are the result of years of and people’s need for meaningful connection with each other have led participants to increasingly see themselves as a community. Last month’s visioning exercise centered around what kind of Brattleboro would we like to see 10 or15 years from now. Light refreshments will be available, and participants are welcome to contribute.

Waste-to-Energy Project discussion

spiritual exploration and counseling. Tadd shows how the chakra system functions in everyday life, how our thoughts, words, and actions affect this system, and how the chakras (our seven energy centers) shape us. Admission to Friday’s talk is $10. Saturday’s workshop fee is $100, and includes a simple lunch. For more information and to register, contact Connie Green at 802-2549652 or Carbon Harvest Energy president Don McCormick as part of its MBA in Managing for Sustainability Featured Speaker series on Friday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. The talk, entitled, “Building Deeply Sustainable Food and Energy Systems through Integration” will examine the Carbon Harvest Energy landfill gas-to-energy project in Brattleboro as a practical model of sustainable and responsible resource use.

BRATTLEBORO — Marlboro College Graduate School, 28 Vernon St., will host a free, public presentation by

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Brattleboro Senior Meals

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Centre Congregational — Loaves and Fishes, Brattleboro


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T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010


SPORTS & RECREATION Mount Snow, Stratton get early start to season


ount Snow in West Dover and Okemo in Ludlow got an early start on the skiing and snowboarding season last week. Mount Snow opened on Thanksgiving day with four lifts serving about 10 percent of the mountain, including the Carinthia terrain park for the boarders. Okemo couldn’t wait for the holiday and started its season on Nov. 23 with two lifts and four trails on the upper part of their mountain. Stowe and Killington were the only other Vermont ski areas to open before Thanksgiving — Stowe on Nov. 24 and Killington on Nov. 1. Stratton Mountain Resort chose to wait out Friday’s rain and sleet, and opened Saturday for the season with about a dozen trails available. Both Mount Snow and Stratton took advantage of the return of cold weather early last week to make snow, but it will be some time before conditions will be good enough to take off the “rock skis” and take to the slopes with the front line gear. Trails are icy, and the snow bases are generally in the 10-to24-inch range. As for other southern Vermont resorts, Bromley in Peru is shooting for Dec. 3 as its opening day. Magic Mountain in Londonderry has Saturday, Dec. 18, as its anticipated first day. However, they say if a big snowstorm or sustained snowmaking conditions intervene, they might open earlier. Ascutney Mountain in Brownsville will not be open for skiing this season. The mountain was foreclosed on this summer, and according to news reports, the chances do not look that the historic resort will ever reopen.

RANDOLPH T. HOLHUT Sports Roundup training session on how to use the laser guns for the race. Racing will commence at 1:30 p.m. with waves of 10 competitors going every two minutes. The race is free of charge. For more information, visit

Lyman, Conarroe win Turkey Trot

The Red Clover Rovers’ annual 3-mile Turkey Trot road race may be a Brattleboro tradition, but out-of-towners won this year’s edition. Ned Lyman of Belchertown, Mass., won the men’s race in 16 minutes, one second, while Heather Conarroe of Greenwich, Conn., was the top women’s finisher in 18:09, which was the 13th fastest time overall. Landen Elliott-Knaggs of Brattleboro was the top local men’s finisher, coming in just behind Lyman in 16:18 for second. Tammy Richards of Williamsville was the top area One of Mount Snow’s 251 fan guns pumps out snow last week in preparation for the West Dover resort’s opening day on Thanksgiving. female runner, she was 18th overall in 18:58. There were 226 runners who participated Changes to Windsor and BF have been put together a DVD box set one-hour boat rental. divisions could in the race. on each others’ football sched- of the Bellows Falls Terriers’ The Weekend Getaway disrupt football Ethan Milsark, 12, of ule for years, and the thought march to the Division III state package, at $79, includes two Northampton, Mass., won the rivalries of ending the annual Dale football title. nights of tent, RV or lean-to 1-mile race in 6:49. There were The Vermont Perkins Trophy game doesn’t FACT stepped up their pro- camping, two travel mugs, and 49 runners in this race. Interscholastic Football League make either school happy. But duction of BF’s games with a bundle of firewood for your has proposed some divisional under the new rules, playing a two-camera set up and incampout. realignments for the 2011 and Windsor would hurt BF’s instant replay. For $40, you’ll get If you know someone who Winter season about to begin 2012 seasons that could mean dex rating because Windsor is a all the home games at Hadley really loves getting outdoors, some significant changes for lower division school. Field, plus the state champion- you can give them the Full The Vermont high school high school football. The VIFL is also considership game against Windsor at Season of Family Fun Gift winter sports season begins The VIFL’s proposal, ing a proposal that would exCastleton State college. Visit Package for $149. It includes a next Saturday. which the Vermont Principals’ tend the extend the preseason for more infor- Vehicle Season Pass that proThe Brattleboro Union Association still has to sign off practice time for high school mation, or call 802-463-1613. vides unlimited day entry into High School nordic skiing on, would incorporate out-offootball teams to three weeks, any state park, all season long and hockey teams will be first which is the schedule that New A gift of the for up to 8 people per visit, into the fray. The nordic team division and out-of-state conoutdoors tests into its Quality Point Hampshire uses. plus two VT water bottles, two opens at Grafton Ponds on Rating index system. This The VPA requires two weeks Here’s a holiday gift where Vermont State Parks ball caps Dec. 11 with a Marble Valley would likely affect some of of practice time before any you don’t have to worry about and two gift cards for one-hour League race. The girls hockey the traditional rivalries in the player is eligible to play a varsizes, or whether it comes boat rentals. Biathlon comes team will be first on the ice to Grafton Ponds Connecticut Valley. sity sport, which is a reasonable with batteries — passes to The packages come with atwith a 1:30 p.m. home game Under the divisional reamount of preparation for most Vermont’s state parks. tractively packaged gift boxes. As one of the few nordic ski against Northfield at the newlysports. But given the physically For $39, you can get the Shipping is free and you can resorts in New England that refurbished Nelson Withington alignment, Champlain Valley, Mount Mansfield, Colchester demanding nature of football, Day Tripper package, which order them anytime at www. make snow, Grafton Ponds Rink. The boys will also open and Middlebury would move and the element of risk that is a punch card good for 10, or by callOutdoor Center in Grafton at home at 4:45 p.m. against up from Division II to join a comes with playing it, another state park day visits, plus a wa- ing 888-409-7579, Monday hopes to open for the season on Rutland. new, 14-team Division I. Also, week of preparation would in- ter bottle and a gift card for a through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. The BUHS varsity basketDivision I would have a quarcrease the margin of safety for For opening day, the reball teams will start play on terfinal round added to its play- players. sort will host a biathlon event, Tuesday, Dec. 14. The girls offs, which would be played which will be free of charge to will travel to St. Johnsbury, during Week 9 of the season. Terriers’ all participants. while the boys open at home Non-playoff teams would play championship Biathlon is a race in which against Hoosac Valley. season available a Week 9 game as usual. contestants ski around a Bellows Falls begins its INNER PATH HEALING on DVD Bellows Falls, the recently course, and the total distance is varsity basketball season on Imagine Freedom, Awaken Wonder, Live Your Dream If you didn’t get to the broken up by either two or four Friday, Dec. 17, when the boys crowned Division III champs, and Springfield would move games, or if you are looking for shooting rounds, half in prone host Black River at Holland Jungian, mindfulness, shamanic healing up to Division II as the VIFL a souvenir of a championship position, the other half standGymnasium. The girls open for season, Falls Area Community ing. For each shooting round, their season on Monday, Dec. creates two, 10-team divisions. That might mean that Television in Bellows Falls has the biathlete must hit five tar20, at Springfield. releasing the past, restoring balance, dreaming the possible Windsor and Woodstock — gets. Depending on the shootTwin Valley gets its varFlynn Johnson, MA, LCMHC two longtime rivals of BF and ing performance, extra distance sity basketball season going Vermont Springfield — might not meet or time is added to a conteson Monday, Dec. 13, as the founder of The School of Natural Wonder up as often, because the new tant’s total distance/time for girls host Leland & Gray in rules only allow no more than each missed target. As in most Wilmington, while the boys 802 896-6271 one out-of-division or out-ofraces, the contestant with the go on the road to face Otter free initial session state game. shortest total time wins. Valley. At 1 p.m., Grafton Ponds The Leland & Gray boys director Bill Salmon and forbasketball team opens at December mer U.S. Olympic Biathlete Arlington on Wednesday, Dec. Sunbathing in Siberia, For the Holidays, Consider a 4th & 5th Michael Collins will host a 15. The War of the Wild Quality Inn, 1380 Putney Rd. of Brattleboro, VT 05301 Goose, & other songs Saturday 9am to 5pm of pe ac e , l ove , and


Gift Box

Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health to hold annual meeting Dec. 7 BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m., in the new Brew Barry Conference at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Belmont Ave. There will be a presentation on the topic of “Achieving Affordable Universal Health Care in Vermont: Progress and Ways Forward,” by two of the members of the team assembled by Dr. William Hsiao of Harvard. Dr. Hsiao is one of the world’s foremost health policy experts and has designed the single payer system now in place in Taiwan as well as health care systems for many other countries. He has been hired by the Vermont legislature to design three possible health care systems for the state of Vermont. His report will come out at the beginning of January. Two members of his team will discuss how Vermont can become a model for the rest of the country for health care reform. Ashley Fox, PhD, is a Post Doctoral Fellow in Health Policy and Administration at Yale University. Nathan Blanchet,

is a PhD candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Richard Davis at 802251-0915 or

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T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

BR AT TLEBORO n CLEA those involved in the student-organized Cuba Project, a trip they happened to travel on together unrelated to CLEA. Both Stevens and Wolfe have grounded and mature airs about them. Pu, the student liaison to CLEA, is open, engaging, and willing to share what he has learned. While in Cuba, Pu said, they met with high school students. “We told them about students organizing a food drive for the hungry in our community,” he said. “They were amazed. They don’t have any hungry people in Cuba. The government feeds them. They had a hard time understanding hunger here.” Wolfe, a petite young woman with a strong sense of community, speaks with authority and passion of her involvement with CLEA. Her “pet project” is child trafficking. “I was shocked to learn how prevalent it is, and not just elsewhere in the world,” she said. “It’s going on right here in this country.” In CLEA, “we are mainly concerned with three things: human trafficking, child soldiers, and world hunger,” Wolfe said. CLEA leaders do a lot of research. They also show films or give presentations at their weekly meetings. “We try to set up a solid foundation so we know what we are talking about [when we go to schools to teach],” said

from page 1

Momaney. “We try to focus on hunger in the community because it is …tangible and we can do something about it. We can really make a difference, as we’ve shown every year we’ve done [food drives].” “We try to connect the community with international issues,” Wolfe said, including long term projects that take years and many successive CLEA members to achieve. The group’s biggest success came in 2008, when after years of education and lobbying by CLEA members, the Vermont Legislature passed a bill requiring the state to only buy clothing and uniforms that are sweatshopfree, fair trade products. “We did it,” Wolfe said proudly.

Hunger there and here

In a state with a seemingly low unemployment rate — last reported at 5.7 percent for October, according to the Vermont Department of Labor — people accessing food services has increased. The Vermont Foodbank has seen a 60-percent increase in usage, and soup kitchens all over Windham County are having a difficult time keeping up with demand for food. Pu said he had helped at several kitchens recently. “I saw a diversity of people. It wasn’t all homeless people. There were families, working families who

just couldn’t afford food.” Wolfe said CLEA is about looking at global issues and how they play out in their own community, thus explaining their partnership with Project Feed the Thousands, a community anti-hunger effort co-founded by Larry Smith and George Haynes 17 years ago. CLEA members also partner with SIT/World Learning students in coordinating and carAllison Teague/The Commons rying out CLEA’s stated goals. Brattleboro Union High School students Arianna

Wolfe, Sam Stevens and Kai-Ming Pu discuss hunger and their work with Civil Leadership and Education Stevens noted that in the first in Action (CLEA).

‘A good start’

week of launching Project Feed the Thousands through CLEA, the students collected 75 to 100 pounds of food, or about 400 food items and $100 in cash. The goal is 2,010 items, “it being 2010 and all,” Pu explained. “I think we’ve got a good start. We go all the way through Dec. 25,” Stevens said. “I’m confidant we’ll reach our goal.” Pu noted boxes and a shopping cart with posters of Project Feed the Thousands are in the high school lobby, where students are reminded every day about the need to give. He said a volunteer goes through the lunch room with a can so students can donate pocket change. “It all counts and it adds up,” he said. CLEA students are doing what they can to help through their participation in Project Feed the Thousands, but remain aware that hard times affect even

that project as family incomes are stretched to the max. “It’s always hard,” said Pu. “With the recession, many students and parents don’t have the extra 25 or 50 cents. There’s been a definite drop off this year [in donations]. It’s hard to expect them to give [in these circumstances]. It’s always tough to get food items [from the students] because it’s not the first thing on their minds.” One student in the lobby confirmed that he had not donated anything but he planned to “give 50 cents.” “There is no socioeconomic divide anymore,” Pu said, in people needing food.

Community service

CLEA was the brainchild of BUHS Social Studies teacher Timothy Kipp and Colin

‘A world-class downtown’ BaBB’s zip code collection shows Brattleboro’s popularity, and how it could be better By Olga Peters

Livermore said “it was a shot in the arm” to hear Muldrow refer to Brattleboro as a “worldBRATTLEBORO—For eight class downtown.” days in October, downtown mer“Now, you have to start acting chants collected patrons’ zip like it,” he told Livermore. codes to assist Building a Better Brattleboro and consulting firm Markets, Arnett Muldrow & Associates opportunities develop a long-term economic and leaks development strategy. Muldrow told BaBB memData culled from the zip code bers at a Nov. 16 meeting that collection helped snap a vir- the zip codes broke shoppers into tual group photo of downtown primary, secondary and unique Brattleboro shoppers as they an- markets. swered questions like what types Brattleboro and Marlboro resof goods and services they spend idents comprised Brattleboro’s money on, questions designed primary-market customers, to find out what types of retail shopping almost exclusively in items “leak” money away from town. downtown. The secondary market The survey was a preliminary — customers who frequent step. Arnett Muldrow will file a d o w n t o w n , b u t w h o a l s o full report and recommendations shop elsewhere — included with BaBB in January. those from Jamaica, Newfane, More than 1,900 zip codes Putney, Townshend, Vernon, were collected by 23 merchants Wilmington, and Chesterfield from Oct. 13 to 22. They re- and West Chesterfield, N.H. vealed that 70 percent of the zip Greenfield, Mass., and codes were local, or from the Hinsdale, N.H., held the nearby tri-state region. “unique” market, showing up Of the local zips, 42 percent in downtown the least. belonged to 05301, one encomMuldrow calculated a potenpassing Brattleboro, Guilford tial $375 million in spending for and portions of Marlboro and downtown if, and only if, cusDummerston. tomers don’t “leak” their money Andrea Livermore, BaBB ex- to outside areas, instead buying ecutive director, said people have all their items or services from expressed concern that 42 per- Brattleboro merchants. cent seems low for zip covering He said only $234 million of such a large geographical area. that potential is flowing through Visitors also came from downtown. 41 states and the District of But, said Muldrow, if Columbia, four provinces, seven Brattleboro could prevent the countries and two unidentified dollars leaking away it could exmilitary locations. pand its cash flow by $100 mil“There’s no way we can dis- lion. Persuading downtown’s count the importance of visitor secondary market alone to stop traffic,” said Tripp Muldrow, a shopping elsewhere could harplanner with Arnett Muldrow. ness a potential $78 million. Muldrow said that among The firm found would-be local the towns he has evaluated, customers tend to buy furniture, Brattleboro ranks in the top five clothing, shoes and jewelry from for visitor traffic. out of town. The Commons

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Muldrow suggested building businesses through a twopronged approach to stopping the leaks. The first entailed a process of growing from within, by expanding existing businesses and helping them thrive. The next step would involve attracting new businesses. Working with existing businesses will be important because downtown is almost at 100 percent occupancy, said Livermore and Muldrow. Grocery stores pull in sales from residents of towns other than Brattleboro. Restaurants also pull in outside traffic and contribute the strength of downtown. Muldrow said quick-serve family restaurants — but not fastfood franchises — would help that market grow. Muldrow told BaBB members the town does well with sporting goods and could “grow” its book sales. He suggested adding a general electronics store to the downtown mix. Muldrow posited that Walmart, which absorbs about $22 million in sales, could lurk behind the lack of general merchandise in town.

The big take-aways

Muldrow said none of the merchants he interviewed told him they were in “dire straits.” According to Muldrow, merchants spoke with “guarded optimism,” while acknowledging how special Brattleboro is. Other communities currently working with Muldrow are mired in a sense of desperation that is absent in Brattleboro. “I don’t want to sound too Pollyanna-ish,” said Muldrow. “But it leaves you feeling really good.” Muldrow said the economic shakeup of the Walmart in Hinsdale, built in 1992, has “played itself out.” Any stores that were going to close due to losing sales to Walmart have already done so, he said, describing Walmart and the state liquor store in Hinsdale as “a two-trick pony” — two types of retail that Brattleboro has moved beyond. When the existing Walmart

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moves up Route 119 and reopens as a Super Walmart that sells groceries, it might cut into Brattleboro’s grocery trade, but Muldrow doesn’t anticipate any of the town’s grocery stores closing as a result. Rarely does Muldrow see a faraway zip code — a sign of a singular customer, one whose movements can be tracked with obvious precision — hop from shop to shop as it did downtown. Alaska and Hawaii appeared in the survey — a good sign, he said, that tells him visitors coming downtown tend to browse, whereas locals tend to “target shop.” “Downtown Brattleboro is a specialty district friendly to visitors, yet still relevant to locals,” Muldrow said. Muldrow views this as a strength. He hopes people in town will take a long look at how best to maintain a balance between services for locals and services for visitors. He used the Latchis as a symbol of this balance. The Latchis Hotel caters to visitors, yet the theater and Flat Street Brew Pub and Tap Room Restaurant welcome both. “And that’s a wonderful mix,” he said. Muldrow hopes residents realize they have a “high-performing” downtown that still has staple retail stores like the Brattleboro Food Co-op and Brown & Roberts Hardware. He hopes residents will think about how their downtown grows and continue to acknowledge the engine it is for the economic health of Brattleboro, “because it could be taken for granted,” he said. Downtown will face a few challenges, such as the New England-wide challenge of flat population growth. But, Muldrow feels there is one “fun” strategy challenge ahead for Brattleboro, a town high on quality. “How can Brattleboro continue to play in the big league? Because it is big league,” Muldrow said. Livermore said she looks forward to reading Arnett Muldrow’s full report in January and will use the data to apply for grants toward long-term economic development strategies.

Robinson, a founding student member. But Kipp refuses credit for the program. “It’s all the kids,” he said. “They get all the credit.”

Stevens and Pu share leadership of CLEA with BUHS junior and co-president Nicole Momaney. “We didn’t want to have anyone above anyone else. We wanted everyone to have an equal say,” explained Stevens. CLEA members get community service credit for being involved in these projects, but that seems secondary to their goals, in this case, of helping with Project Feed the Thousands. All the students interviewed had served in food kitchens; all had been involved in community food projects since elementary school. All showed an understanding of effects of the current economic recession. Wolfe, Pu and Stevens all showed the somber knowledge that in places like Cuba, the government feeds the people and no one goes hungry. In Cuba, Pu said, “they don’t have homeless people. They don’t have people who are hungry. [The Cuban] students found it reassuring that people here are willing to help the hungry.”

Hunger by the numbers BRATTLEBORO— According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2009 Food Security in the United States report, 57 percent of those reporting food insecurity — the lack of access to food — had participated in federal food and nutrition assistance programs. Food secure households spent 33 percent more on food than the food insecure households. A little less than a half million families with children experienced “very low food security” — defined by the government as disrupted meals and reduced food intake — in 2009. While 85.3 percent of families were food secure, the remaining 14.7 “had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources,” according to the report. In Vermont’s population of about 620,000 people, 13.6 percent report food insecurity, and 6.2 report very low food security, as compared with current rate of 5.7 percent unemployment in the state. The main government program dealing with hunger is the Vermont Department of Children and Families’ 3SquaresVT, formerly known as food stamps. The program provides food assistance for families and children. The federal poverty level is currently set at $22,050 for a family of four. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), in 2009, 10 percent of Vermont children live in homes where earnings are at or below this level. The NCCP estimates that in 2009, 27 percent of children living in poor families in Vermont do not have an employed parent, and 60 percent of those families are living with a single parent. Education is a factor, according to their

findings, as 45 percent of those poor parents living on or below the poverty level did not complete high school. Currently, about 1 in 8 Vermonters rely upon 3SquaresVT each month. That number sounds high, but it could be higher: state officials say about 25 percent of people who are eligible for the program haven’t signed up for it. One of the nonprofit agencies working on the problem of persistent hunger is the Vermont Foodbank, which helps supply food for 280 food shelves, meals sites, senior centers, shelters and after-school programs around the state. Among these programs are several geared toward feeding kids, such as the Kids Café through the Boys and Girls Clubs in Brattleboro and other chapters across the state, and teen centers. The backpack program provides nutritious food in brown bags that are put in children’s backpacks while they are not present to avoid stigma. The summer food service program provides breakfast and lunch as well as recreational activities to families in need through the Vermont Foodbank. Hunger 101 provides education and teaching tools about how to talk about hunger, and increasing awareness of hunger issues for elementary, middle and high school students. The Vermont Foodbank has numerous other programs, such as the community kitchen. In its agricultural programs, excess food grown is gleaned, farm collectives sell produce to the food bank, and participating “U-pick” orchards that encourage Vermonters to “pick for your neighbor.” For more information, visit

NRC assigns new resident inspector to VY By Olga Peters The Commons

VERNON—The regulatory wheels of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continue to turn as the clock ticks down toward the expiration of Vermont Yankee’s federal operating license in 2012. The NRC has appointed Sarah Rich as the new resident inspector at Entergy’s VY plant. She joins NRC Senior Resident Inspector Dave Spindler. “Sarah’s Rich’s education, training and commitment to safety will help the NRC in its mission of protecting people and the environment by helping ensure that Vermont Yankee meets the high standards set by the agency,” said NRC Region I Administrator Bill Dean. Previous to her October assignment to VY, Rich had been based at the NRC Region I office in King of Prussia, Pa., where she conducted a “variety of inspections.” According to an NRC press release, Rich joined the commission in August 2008 after earning a bachelor’s degree in nuclear science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rich graduated from the agency’s Nuclear Safety Professional Development Program, a twoyear program that provides specialized training in nuclear safety and a broad perspective of NRC regulatory activities. She has also completed the NRC’s inspector qualification program. Nuclear science combines Rich’s interest in physics and

Sarah Rich

Courtesy photo

engineering, she said. The Massachusetts native said she decided on the field after a high school field trip to a local research reactor. The NRC assigns at least two resident inspectors to each U.S. commercial nuclear plant. They act as the commission’s “eyes and ears” conducting inspections, monitor work projects, and interact with plant workers and the public. Resident inspectors, according to NRC regulations, rotate from one plant to another with a maximum of seven years spent in each location. Rich will assume the post held by Junior Resident Inspector Heather Jones. Though the federal licensing process proceeds, the plant will still need legislative approval for the state Public Service Board to issue a Certificate of Public Good, required for VY to operate beyond 2012. The state Senate voted not to issue that approval in February [The Commons, March].

T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010





In transition Role in Shumlin’s administration is a bookend for Liz Bankowski By Anne Galloway Special to The Commons

MONTPELIER—The last time Elizabeth Bankowski served as a member of a gubernatorial transition team was in 1984 — the year Madeleine Kunin became governor. Bankowski was Kunin’s campaign manager and became her chief of staff. Back then her liaison to Gov. Richard Snelling’s office was Tim Hayward. As she works to help Gov.elect Peter Shumlin establish his footing for his ascent to the Fifth Floor of the Pavilion Office Building on Jan. 6, Bankowski is working with Hayward again. This time, he is Gov. Jim Douglas’ chief of staff, while Bankowski is representing Shumlin’s transition team. “It’s quite a bookend, and it’s very poignant for me,” Bankowski said in an interview. The seasoned political operative who worked for the Clinton administration in the early 1990s said she identifies with Alex MacLean, Shumlin’s campaign manager, and now his director of civil and military affairs. “I was older than Alex when I did this, but I was still someone of that generation.” Twenty-six years ago, Bankowski said Kunin’s election was also “determined the next day with 50.2 percent of the vote.” “I have just felt a real sisterhood with Alex and what she was doing,” Bankowski said. “And to stand there with her and the governor-elect, I thought, where did those years go? When I did become the older wise one. When did that happen? I have to remind them not to worry about what they didn’t know, because I didn’t know those things either when I started.” Shumlin named Bankowski and former Gov. Howard Dean as the co-chairs of his transition team on Nov. 4. Bankowski has taken the lead on the transition duties, managing the “launch,” as she calls it, from the second floor of the Dewey building at 128 State St. in Montpelier. The transition has three main objectives, she said: Hiring members of the cabinet, planning the inaugural and reaching out to Vermonters who didn’t support Shumlin’s candidacy. At the moment, the most immediate exigency is combing through resumes. From her vantage point in the recently renovated Queen Annestyle Victorian home (which features shiny copper roof flashing) — on loan to Shumlin and the transition staff of a half-dozen paid and volunteer staffers — Bankowski tries to stay ahead of the resume curve. So far, the team has received “hundreds” of inquiries from job seekers. She starts her day at 6 a.m. (waiting outside the Capitol Grounds coffee shop until it opens) with a large coffee and a small. “I come here and I put the lights on and I say good morning house,” Bankowski said. “I try to list the five things I’m going to get done before everything else that takes me away from those things. And then I try to work through those things during the day, and the day flies.” The next thing she knows, it is 8 p.m., and Bankowski, who lives in Brattleboro, retires to her daughter’s house in Montpelier. Bankowski is not only helping Shumlin find a transition team, she’s also been instrumental in helping the governor-elect himself transition from his “transactional” role as the president pro tem of the Senate to his strategic role of chief executive. Her biggest task in that department? Trying to get Shumlin to stop using his cell phone. Bankowski jokes that she’s introduced the governor-elect to a 12-step program to address his separation-anxiety issues. The first step? Awareness. Success, so far has been elusive. Shumlin is in constant communication via cell. “Everyone in Vermont has the number,” Bankowski said. “The issue with that phone — I’m just being Zen about it — who doesn’t have his phone number? It’s never far from his body.” Bankowski said Shumlin and his team are carefully selecting candidates for the 50 or so key positions in state government because they know they will have an impact on policy for years to come.

“What change are we really trying to bring about, and how do we affect that now?” Bankowski asks rhetorically. “It’s not just what’s happening under the dome this week, it’s got broader implications. He’s well aware of that. Both he and Alex, they’re both aware of that; they’re beginning to understand that the dimensions of this are very different (from the campaign).” Bankowski said at first she was determined to use Shumlin’s title, but she soon relented. “These are offices that deserve respect, and my intent was to address him as the governorelect … but I just can’t do it, he’s Peter,” Bankowski said. “And then I thought I really like that about him. He is in your space as Peter, he’s also the governorelect, and I have realized myself that those aren’t contradictory. And that’s the whole issue of the phone and everything. He just is Peter. He doesn’t want to give that (his identity) up, and hopefully — and again in Vermont because government is so accessible and the governor is so accessible — unlike many of his colleagues, he won’t have to give that up.” Shumlin doesn’t vacillate between moods, and he brings a steady equanimity to the potential frustrations of the job, she said. For example, his return trip from a recent National Governors Association meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo., looked like it would be delayed. Bankowski said he wasn’t dismayed by the schedule change, and that’s typical of his generally positive, calm attitude. “This is what I’m enjoying about his presence,” Bankowski said. “It’s just a great trait. I think he has confidence and optimism, and that’s exactly where we want him to start.” Building Shumlin’s team is her first priority. Bankowski said the objective is to find good people to fill “slots, not silos.” Shumlin has said he wants creative thinkers who can work across departments. “The governor is really entrepreneurial, and that’s the approach he brings,” Bankowski said. “He wants people to push through walls.” Bankowski said a number of the applicants are well known

to the transition team. “I have somewhat observed that if there are three different people recommending the same person, and they’re not people who talk to each other regularly, that person gets on my list,” Bankowski said. “And that’s been happening. Lawrence Miller (the new secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development) – in our first conversation — said I couldn’t possibly. His second response was, ‘well, maybe.’” Appointees often take a pay cut, Bankowski said. Douglas administration officials who are hoping to stay on are submitting resumes for review, she said, and they have been asked what they hope to accomplish under the new administration. “I’m very grateful about people’s openness, given that there can be no illusions about the challenges that we’ll face, and they know that,” Bankowski said. “Hopefully, the enthusiasm people feel going in is going to translate to people and organizations. These have been tough times for them, and I’m hoping that it is a fresh start.” Priority No. 2 is translating campaign promises regarding broadband, health care, corrections reform and energy into policies. “It’s our job to get those things teed up and ready, which is what we are doing,” Bankowski said. Douglas administration officials “have gone out of their way” to be helpful, she said. “Everyone has been more than helpful, and I don’t know what we’d do without their support because we have virtually no resources,” Bankowski said. She is especially delighted with the office arrangements — typically transition teams are squeezed into whatever space is available, and in this instance the Shumlin team has the run of a whole house. “I have been so grateful for the way this was set up for us. It’s just the best about government especially in Vermont it doesn’t matter what party or differences (there might be), there’s just such a commitment to getting it done right. The people who are leaving state services are very invested in doing well for Vermonters, and they know doing well for us is doing well for Vermonters.”

Bill Rose/Special to The Commons

Reed Webster of Bellows Falls and his granddaughter, Savannah Rose of West Dummerston, ride the Green Mountain Flyer’s Santa Express train between Bellows Falls and Chester. Savannah is the daughter of Amber and Bill Rose.

n Railroad she said. “That would certainly be a shame.” Murphy does not see the DBF lease with Green Mountain Railroad changing before it expires in the spring. “We have contracts with Amtrak and Destination Bellows Falls,” Murphy said, so the depot building will still be in use. Fox noted the Waypoint Center had been designed and built with intermodal transportation in mind. “Long buses can pull up [and discharge their passengers] with ease in the parking lot,” Fox said. Shelter and facilities are available. He noted that rail passengers could potentially embark and disembark there as well. Fox remarked that should the Depot fall out of use by both the railroad and the intermodal center, “there are many uses it could

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be put to that would celebrate its cultural heritage.” However, Fox noted, “it would have to be a function that makes sense economically.”

A victim of success

Murphy said Vermont Rail Systems made the choice to focus on moving freight on the Bellows Falls to Rutland line because “it comes down to not enough room on the rails for two trains at a time.” “We’ve gotten so busy with our freight-related traffic that we need the extra scheduling freedom to accommodate increased Vermont Rail System freight traffic,” she said. “With the schedules for passenger train employees mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration, it’s difficult to find people who can work the necessary schedules to accommodate passenger

rail traffic.” Besides scheduling, Murphy said there there aren’t enough sidings — or pull-off spots for passing trains — to accommodate the scenic trains as well as the freight traffic, and that it would be too expensive to build them. In a previous interview, Murphy said that Vermont Rail Systems’ main focus is freight hauling, which provides the railroad’s major source of revenue. Green Mountain Railroad cut back service for the Green Mountain Flyer to Fridays only this year, and relocated the passenger service offices to White River Junction. While the Green Mountain Flyer is being discontinued, Vermont Rail Systems still offers scenic train service in White River Junction and occasional special trains in Burlington.

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Elizabeth Bankowski stands behind Governor-elect Peter Shumlin. Bankowski is co-chair of Shumlin’s transition team.

All Souls Church hosts holiday bazaar

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T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Brattleboro filmmaker produces documentary on the history of newspapering in Vermont By Anne Galloway Special to The Commons

In chronicling headline-making the old-fashioned way — in print — Vermont Public Television tells the story of the newspaper industry through interviews, archival images and re-enactments in a new documentary that debuts on Dec. 1. Headline Vermont chronicles the art of newspapering from the frontier era to the present and features interviews with historians and journalists, including Nick Monsarrat, who started his 40-year career in Vermont journalism at the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and the Rutland Herald. Recent changes in the world of newspapering, including the impact of Internet publishing on print, are also addressed in Headline Vermont, which

highlights the continued success of community weeklies across the state, despite a marked decline in the news coverage provided by the state’s largest daily newspapers. Jeff Potter, editor of The Commons in Brattleboro, a weekly newspaper founded in 2004, is featured in the film. “Vermont is unique in its sense of community,” Potter says in the film. “It’s a very intimate state, and that gives us the opportunity for very intimate news.” Headline Vermont also features historian Howard Coffin, who earned his writing chops as a reporter for the Herald as well. Coffin explains the state’s passion for newspapers this way: “There seems to be something in Vermonters’ blood … maybe a little printer’s ink.” That printer’s ink began to

run from the time colonialists began to inhabit the Green Mountains. Perhaps the most famous newspaperman from Vermont, Matthew Lyon, made his mark when he criticized the administration of John Adams in 1798. Under the Alien and Sedition Act, Lyon was imprisoned for seditious libel. He was elected to Congress from jail, and, after four months of incarceration, he emerged as a champion of the First Amendment. (Another editor from the colonial period, Anthony Haswell, who printed the Vermont Gazette, the state’s first weekly newspaper, also went to jail for publishing an article in support of Lyon.) The producer of Headline Vermont, Daniel J. Lyons, of Brattleboro, said in a press release: “It may surprise viewers to find that the idea of

newspapers as pillars of democracy is fairly recent. Early papers often sprang up to advocate for causes, not to report objectively. They were packed margin to margin with advertisements, fiction and poetry. They included spicy stories of the rough-and-tumble young state that would never make it into today’s papers.” Much of that “spicy” history is recounted by Monsarrat, who had a front-row seat for much of Vermont’s recent history. He covered Barre and Montpelier city governments for the Times Argus from 19691970, then served as a reporter for the Vermont Press Bureau for both the 1971 and 1972 legislative sessions and 1972 elections. He was the editorial page editor of the Times Argus until 1985 when he became managing editor of the Herald. In

1988, he embarked on a 20-year teaching career as an adjunct professor of journalism at St. Michael’s College. Monsarrat was the editorial page editor of the Burlington Free Press from 1995 to 1996.

a runaway slave, “a role I was born for.”) Lyons has worked with a list of nationally recognized clients, including National Geographic, PBS, Discovery Channel, TLC, the History Channel, Showtime,the Windham County Sundance Channel, and PBS, connections where he worked on the netA freelance television pro- work’s Scientific American ducer, director of photogra- Frontiers and Nova series. phy and cinematographer, Lyons lives with his family in With additional reporting by Brattleboro, and several of Commons staff. Headline Vermont his professional colleagues premieres at 8 p.m., Wednesday, and friends — like Frederic Dec. 1, and will be rebroadcast Noyes, access coordinator at 8:30 p.m., Dec. 3 and 6 p.m., at Brattleboro Community Dec. 5. The project was funded Television, Tim Wessel of by Vermont Public Television, the Vermont Digital Productions Vermont Humanities Council and and Wessel’s son, Cal Glover- the Windham Foundation. Wessel — make cameo appearances in the production’s historic re-enactments. (Wessel said he appears in the film as

Pick me! Pick me! Bellows Falls novelist writes a different take on the college admissions process By Nell Curley The Commons

BELLOWS FALLS—Julian F. Thompson, author of 18 young adult novels, including The Grounding of Group 6, and the newly self-published author of Getting In, says he is one of a small number of adults who actually likes and gets along with teenagers. As such a person, he enjoys writing about and for them. He founded and ran an alternative high school for seven years, during which he learned more about the demographic he would later write for. “I started life as a teacher and

after teaching here and there, I joined with a group of kids to start an alternative high school, which I directed for seven years with great enjoyment. With one of the teachers from that school, I left teaching, and she became my wife. All during my teaching career, I had written short stories and even a couple of novels that never saw the light of day, but were very useful in helping me to understand what I didn’t know about writing,” Thompson said. From his experience working with adolescents, Thompson was inspired to write what he thought would be a book that might be published. “I decided I would write about

something I knew a lot about – teenage kids. I sent a friend from college who was an agent manuscripts of two novels. He said, ‘You’ve written a young adult novel.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ and he told me. One of those books was The Grounding of Group 6, which became a YA classic. Lately, the YA market is full of books about vampires and zombies; mine tend to be more about regular kids.” Thompson was inspired to write his latest book, Getting In, about how one ingenious applicant induced a letter of acceptance from America’s most selective university, partly by his experience as the director of an

alternative high school. “One of the chores I put on myself was advising kids about college admissions, which colleges might be a good fit for them. When the school had to make up transcripts for kids, I decided to do something very different. I consulted a friend who was then Dean of Admissions at Yale about how they would handle our transcript, which didn’t look like any other. He said, ‘It’s going to stop the process in its tracks; we’re going to have to seriously look at what you send us. I think you’re on to something.’ I wrote to 43 other colleges telling them what we planned to do, and only one wrote back to say

they didn’t like the idea.” Getting In centers around Tapioca Strangeways, a girl from Rising Gorge, Vermont who wants to be accepted by the very selective Riddle University. She writes to the admissions director

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about doing her admissions essay in 10 chapters, each “designed to appeal to an admissions officer at a highly selective university.” Dean Dorman, who reads her letter, is impressed and gives Tapioca permission to send in her unique long essay. Between its chapters, the book contains the correspondence between Dean Dorman and Tapioca. He becomes interested in her as more than just an admissions prospect. Thompson describes the book as a “spoof and comic relief.” He understands the stress and anxiety that goes into the admissions process. “Some kids send out five, six, or 10 applications. It can get pretty hairy,” he says. Getting In is Thompson’s first foray into the complex world of self-publishing, which he describes as being “much more challenging” than regular publication. “The thing is, once you get your foot in the door with regular publishing, you just send your agent the manuscript and he or she sends it to a publisher who likes your stuff. Then the author gets a call saying ‘You have an offer.’ And that’s it. With selfpublishing, there are all sorts of steps that involve a great deal of computer work. Thousands of books are being written that are never seen by publishers. Selfpublishing does cost money; we took the cheapest route we could find,” Thompson said. He’s not shy about including strong messages in his books, and that’s earned him some criticism from adults who feel that parents are portrayed unfairly in his stories. “There are lots of things I feel really strongly about,” he said, “ranging from safe sex to kids being misunderstood by their parents. Group 6 has a very big message: Some parents really misunderstand their kids. The book is about six kids whose parents have said ‘I could kill that kid!’ Though it’s basically black humor, it points to the fact that for various reasons, sometimes parents don’t like the boys and girls they end up with. There are a lot of good parents in my books, but I don’t hesitate to point out that some can be pretty dreadful. In my books, I try to tell the truth about many of the things teenagers have to face and deal with.” Thompson is now at work on a sequel to Getting In. “I’m working on a book called Getting Out, about Tapioca’s senior year at Riddle interviewing for jobs,” he said. In the meantime, Getting In can be purchased on Amazon. com for $14.95.

T h e C ommons


• Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Jazz Center to host annual big band gala, dance party

Music • Sweetback Sisters at Hooker-Dunham: Twilight

Music presents The Sweetback Sisters Country Christmas SingAlong at Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery on Friday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Led by Zara Bode and Emily Miller, New York’s premier alternative country swing band performs a wide range of holiday music, from well-loved Christmas carols to classic winter-themed songs to lesserknown country Christmas gems. All the songs are presented with the Sweetback Sisters’ signature mix of harmony singing, rollicking telecaster and twin fiddling along with a healthy dose of holiday cheer. Words are provided so that everyone can sing along with Zara, Emily, Stefan Amidon (drums), Jesse Milnes (fiddle, guitar), Ross “Rolling Thunder” Bellenoit (guitar, lap steel) and Peter Bitenc (acoustic bass). The Sweetback Sisters’ highenergy stage show reveals the players’ deep roots in traditional American music while at the same time betraying their youth. The band’s line-up includes some of the rising young talent in today’s old-time and traditional country music scenes: Stefan Amidon of Brattleboro’s Amidon Family and Assembly; two-time West Virginia state fiddle champion Jesse Milnes; Ross Bellenoit, who recently finished a tour with Amos Lee opening for Bob Dylan; and Peter Bitenc, of Heather & The Barbarians and several other cutting edge bands. The band was chosen as one of six finalists to play on A Prairie Home Companion as part of the program’s 2007 People in Their Twenties talent contest, and more recently, began a partnership with independent record label Signature Sounds. Their latest CD Chicken Ain’t Chicken mixes country classics with a handful of new songs, all topped with a healthy dash of winking irreverence and freewheeling enthusiasm. Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery is located at 139 Main St. in downtown Brattleboro. Tickets for the show are $16 general admission/ $14 students and seniors. For ticket reservations and information, call 802-2549276. For more information, visit www.thesweetbacksisters. com and www.hookerdunham. org. • Nordic Har moni joins Christmas in Weston celebration: As part of the Christmas in

Weston ( festivities, the community is invited to Weston’s Old Parish Church to hear a performance of seasonal music by Nordic Harmoni on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 1:30 p.m. Nordic Harmoni is a Scandinavian-American chorus of more than 20 voices, whose Sankta Lucia Pageants and other local performances have been extremely popular ever since the group’s formation in 2001. The program will include seasonal Christmas songs, a brief Sankta Lucia Pageant, as well as a community sing-a-long of traditional Christmas carols. Nordic Harmoni members belong to the American Union of Swedish Singers and are directed by Ken Olsson. The Lucia Pageant, a Nordic festival, commemorates the martyrdom of an early Italian Christian, who is represented in the pageant by a young woman dressed in white wearing a crown of burning candles. Saturday’s Lucia will be Stephanie Arndt. In Sweden, the celebration of the Lucia Pageant is considered to be the true beginning of the Christmas season. There is no specified cost to attend and participate; any free-will offerings will graciously be accepted.

• Cohen, Merfeld at Marlboro College: The

Marlboro College Music for A Sunday Afternoon series presents a performance by cellist Paul Cohen and pianist Robert Merfeld at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 in Ragle Hall. The first half of the program will consist of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G Major, a premier of David Walther’s composition, Crumb Cakes , for solo electric cello, and Robert Schumann’s solo piano piece, Waldszenen. After the intermission, past members of the Apple Hill Chamber players, Betty Hauck on viola and Moby Pearson on violin will join Cohen and Merfeld for a reading of the Piano Quartet in A Major by Johannes Brahms. Music for a Sunday Afternoon concerts are free and open to the public. All performances during the 2010-11 season are dedicated to Luis Batlle, who is retiring from the Marlboro College music faculty after 30 years. Batlle

Jim Giddings




Visual arts

Petria Mitchell

• “5 Artists, 3 Days” exhibit: Artists Petria Mitchell, Mallory Lake, Jim Giddings, Carolyn Dinicola Fawley and Bobbi Angell will hold a joint show, “5 Artists, 3 Days,” at the Gallery at Headroom Stages, 17 Elliot St., Brattleboro, on Dec. 10-12. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Dec. 10, from 5:30-7:30. The studio will be open on Saturdan and Sunday, Dec. 11-12, from noon-5 p.m., both days. For more information, call 802-257-4021.

has handpicked many of his favorite performers for the season. A complete schedule can be found at batlle. In the event of inclement weather, call 802-451-7151 for cancellation information. • Westmoreland Town Band in Westminster: On Sunday,

Dec. 5, the Westmoreland (N.H.) Town Band will give its annual Christmas concert at the Westminster Congregational Church on Route 5 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. There is no admission charge, but free will donations will be accepted. • Holiday concert at Main Steeet Arts: Main Street Arts

will offer Songs for a Winter’s Eve, its annual musical gift to the community, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11, at 7 p.m. at the Saxtons River community arts center. The adult chorus will offer songs of the season, including Christmas Time is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas and Andy Beck’s version of In the Bleak Midwinter. An enthusiastic 30-member children’s chorus will add its own magical touch to the program. The evening will include a community sing and will conclude with the traditional Celtic blessing sung to a special light display. Elizabeth GiguereKimball is director of the adult chorus, and the children’s chorus is directed by Valerie Kosednar. There is no admission charge for the concert, but donations for Main Street Arts are welcome. Those attending are encouraged to bring a donation of non-perishable food for Our Place Drop-in Center in Bellows Falls. The Jelly Bean Tree crafts cooperative located in the MSA building will be open from 6 to 7 p.m. prior to the concert for holiday shopping. Further information is available by contacting MSA at (802) 869-2960, e-mailing msa@sover. net or accessing the center’s Web site at • Pianist Jacqueline Schwab plays in Bellows Falls: Celebrate the holidays in

traditional style and improvised with extraordinary skill and nuance. Jacqueline Schwab, pianist, will take up the keys of the Steinway, nine foot grand concert piano in a holiday concert at the Immanuel Episcopal Church, 20 Church St., at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11. She will perform her own arrangements of vintage American carols, as well as American “heart songs” and dance tunes from Mark Twain’s era, plus some contemporary Scottish and English tunes. Chosen by the renowned Ken Burns for numerous public television documentaries due to the emotional expression in her playing, Schwab has performed on the soundtracks for the Grammy award-winning The Civil War, the Emmy award-winning Baseball and Mark Twain, among others. Admission is $17 for adults ($13 for seniors and children under 12) in advance and $20 ($15) at the door. Tickets are available at Village Square Booksellers (Bellows Falls), Toadstool Bookshop (Keene, N.H.), Brattleboro Books, Misty Valley Books (Chester), and at or available at the door. For more information, call 802-463-3100.


• Live at the Met presents

Don Carlo : The Metropolitan

Opera’s first new production of Verdi’s Don Carlo since 1979 will continue The Met: Live in HD series, transmitting the live performance on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 12:30 p.m. and an Encore presentation Sunday, Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. This production of Verdi’s monumental work — a dark and intense epic in which love, war, politics, and religion combine in Spain at the height of the Inquisition— stars Roberto Alagna, Marina Poplavskaya, Simon Keenlyside, and Ferruccio Furlanetto. It is directed by Nicholas Hytner, the artistic director of London’s National Theatre. Don Carlo will be conducted by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who led last season’s Live in HD transmission of Carmen. Met star soprano Deborah Voigt, currently in rehearsals for the title role of La Fanciulla Del West, is the HD host for Don Carlo. Gary Halvorson directs the transmission and Jay David Saks is music producer.

qualities throughout this course, each speaking to a different aspect of Billie’s persona as a vocalist and a musician. Tickets are (a suggested) $5 at available at the door. For any questions regarding this concert or other OMC events or courses, visit www.openmusiccollective. org or call 802-275-5054. OMC is located in the Cotton Mill in Brattleboro in Studio A335.

Books • Lisa McCormick releases 3-Chord Christmas songbook, DVD: Singer/songwriter

Lisa McCormick celebrates the release of her first songbook and DVD with a book-signing and singalong bash at The Book Cellar, 120 Main St., Brattleboro on Friday, Dec. 3, from 5-7 p.m. The Easiest Holiday Songs Ever for Guitar: 12 Holiday Classics You Can Play with Just 3 Easy Chords features

simple guitar arrangements using just the chords G, C, and D. A Brattleboro resident and one of the lead instructors at online guitar lesson giant GuitarTricks. com, McCormick specializes in teaching guitar to beginners and intermediates. McCormick • Open Music Collective will offer free mini-lessons at salutes Billie Holiday: On the book-signing event, teachDec. 12th at 5 p.m., the Open ing songs from the holiday Music Collective will be hosting songbook. A Tribute to Lady Day. This con• Archer Mayor at The Book cert will feature five vocalists Cellar: The Book Cellar welwho participated in OMC’s vo- comes the return of Archer cal class dedicated to the music Mayor on Saturday, Dec. 4, of Billie Holiday. from 2-3:30 p.m. Mayor is the Sarah Ellis, Anushka Peres, author of the highly acclaimed, Patti Smith, Molly Steinmark, Vermont-based mystery series and Anne Thomas will sing se- featuring detective Joe Gunther. lections from Billie Holiday’s Mayor will be in the store chatrepertoire with musicians Jamie ting with folks and signing copMacDonald (bass), Kate Parsons ies of his new novel, Red Herring. (piano), and special guests Copies of Mayor’s most recent Ben Carr (drums), and Mike paperback release, The Price of Wakefield (saxophone). Malice, as well as the rest of his Billie Holiday is known as one catalog will also be available for of jazz’s finest female vocalists. purchase. Her use of phrasing, musicality, In Red Herring, VBI (Vermont and emotional vulnerability are Bureau of Investigation) head Joe high standards most singers as- Gunther and his team are called pire to reach. These five vocal- in to investigate a series of vioists have worked hard on these lent deaths that appear unrelated

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BRATTLEBORO—The Vermont Jazz Center will be swinging into the holiday season again with the fabulous sounds of the big band era presented by their own 17-piece big band accompanied by special guest vocalists on Friday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Jazz Center on 72 Cotton Mill Hill. The big band concert has become an annual tradition for the VJC and is truly an expression of community. It includes some neighbors you might not have known were excellent musicians like trombonist Bob Thies from Hotel Pharmacy, BUHS Music Director Steve Rice on drums and younger performers Arthur Davis on trumpet (from BUHS) and Anna Johnson on trombone (from Keene State). Other Big Band members include some of the areas finest jazz musicians including featured soloists Charlie Schneeweis on trumpet and Scott Mullett on saxophone and this year The Big Band will be catering especially to dancers as they interpret arrangements made famous by some of the swing era’s most famous bandleaders. A sampling of the program includes Take the A Train written by Billy Strayhorn for the Duke Ellington Band, Count Basie’s All of Me, Lionel Hampton’s Flying Home, Benny Goodman’s Jersey Bounce, Thelonious Monk’s Little Rootie Tootie and of course, a selection of Mambos for Latin dance fans. Our special guest vocalist this year is Boston’s own Amanda Carr, who Nat until telltale clues reveal a linkage between them and that all of the deaths are, in fact, murders. Faced with more questions than answers, the VBI must plumb the depths of every suspect’s past, every victim’s most intimate details, and examine each piece of evidence down to the smallest detail — an examination which includes a trip to the Brookhaven

Hentoff, in The Wall Street Journal calls “a true jazz singer in a time of wannabes.” She’s the daughter of a big band vocalist (Nancy Carr) and a big band trumpeter (Nick Capezuto, most known for Herb Pomeroy Band). She began her singing career at a very young age, singing and playing keyboards in rock and pop bands. She initially rejected her calling, but in recent years she has acquiesced to her natural tendencies and focused on creating fresh interpretations of the Great American Songbook. Carr will sing a selection of big band arrangements of familiar tunes like Over the Rainbow, Blue Moon and Almost Like Being in Love. She will be joined by resident vocalist and VJC Board member, Mark Anagnostopoulus, a local favorite whose enjoyment of jazz is contagious. He will offer his upbeat interpretation of All Right, Okay (you win, I’m in love with you). There will also be tasty desserts, beer, wine and soft drinks available to make your evening especially sweet. You can even reserve seating at a table so you will have a place to rest your wine glass when you are not on the dance floor. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $28 to reserve a table (limited seating, so reserve early). Tickets are available on line at or at In The Moment Record Shop at 143 Main St. Call for reservations or information at 802 254-9088. This concert venue is handicapped accessible.

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T h e C ommons

Gallery Walk set for Dec. 3 BRATTLEBORO—The first Friday of the month has come around again, so Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk celebration of the arts will liven up the downtown and a few satellite locations within a short drive of Main Street. There are 47 listed venues, some with meet-the-artist receptions or live music to enhance the experience for art lovers. New or rejoining venues in the lineup this month include Brattleboro Historical Society at the Beal House, 974 Western Ave., West Brattleboro; Trinity Lutheran Church, 161 Western Ave., hosting a show of artwork and culinary delights by several members of the congregation; Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main St., hosting a Holiday Book Sale during the Walk and on Saturday; Marilyn Buhlmann’s Gallery 215 in the Latchis complex on Flat St.; Maple Leaf Music, 23 Elliot St., hosting an exhibit of paintings by owner

Kate Spencer; Inferno, the former Weathervane Music Hall at 19 Elliot St.; the Book Cellar, 120 Main St., hosting a holiday guitar book-signing and singand play-along with singer-songwriter Lisa McCormick; The River Garden, 157 Main St., where the Asian Cultural Center is presenting some martial arts and calligraphy demonstrations, as well as a video installation; and Biologic Integrated Healthcare, 205 Main St., where photographs by Nathaniel W. Casey are on exhibit. Official Gallery Walk hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., though most venues are open earlier and several remain open later into the evening. Patrons are encouraged to begin their artistic explorations a little early and stop on the way into town from West Brattleboro at American Traders, 257 Marlboro Rd. (Rte. 9); the Tasha Tudor Exhibit and the Historical Society at the Jeremiah Beal House, 974

Western Ave., open till 7; C.X. Silver Gallery, 814 Western Ave., and Trinity Lutheran Church, 161 Western Ave. Or catch an early bite and enjoy the exhibit at Danielle’s Sandwich Shop (formerly d’Angelo’s), 648 Putney Rd, just north of town. The 32-page December edition of the Gallery Walk guide and magazine contains complete descriptive listings and a map. This issue’s cover story is about Brian D. Cohen, featured artist at the Catherine Dianich Gallery; he is showing watercolors rather than his renowned prints (though there’s a holiday sale of prints on hand). Another article offers information about an upcoming show and sale by five prominent area artists in a newly repurposed gallery space downtown. Gallery ads and samples of the art among the listings pages help patrons choose a route for their walking tour. Online explorers may also visit for

• Wednesday, December 1, 2010

VSO to perform in Grafton

current listings, full-color photos of work featured in this month’s exhibits, and an archive of articles published since April 2003. The printed guide is available at each participating location, the Interstate 91 Welcome Center, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, and area lodging establishments, among other outlets convenient for visitors and residents alike. Since stopping at every venue in a single evening is virtually impossible, art lovers are encouraged to choose exhibits of particular interest on Gallery Walk night and then return for a personal tour of other shows later in the month. More details and a map are found online at www. and in this month’s issue of the Gallery Walk guide and magazine.

GRAFTON—The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and Robert De Cormier and the vocal group Counterpoint will present music of the season Saturday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m., at the historic White Church. The musicians will present carols and Renaissance pieces, as well as The Nutcracker Suite, The Christmas Story, and more. The Brass Quintet will perform The Cordoban Puppet, a new composition by 18-yearold composer Joshua Clinger of Newport. Clinger, a recent graduate of North County Union High School, is a music education major at Johnson State College. In writing the piece, Clinger envisioned a “Latin-feeling composition”

with a hip-hop beat, incorporating melodies with characteristics of that of Jewish folk songs from Spain. This will be the last year that Counterpoint is led by De Cormier, its founding director, before Nathaniel Lew assumes the role. The VSO will also sell its CD, Christmas in Vermont, with organist David Neiweem, which presents a blend of rarely heard gems and seasonal favorites. It’s available at concerts and through the VSO office for $15 (plus $3, handling and shipping). For tickets or additional information, call 800VSO-9293, ext. 10, or visit

Glenwood Collision 39 Frost Street, Brattleboro, Vermont

Messiah Sing to benefit the homeless 802-257-1215 BRATTLEBORO—Friends of Music at Guilford presents its 40th annual Community Messiah Sing on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 1 p.m. The event takes place at Centre Congregational Church at 193 Main St., which has cosponsored the event since 1980. This seasonal program provides an opportunity for everyone to join in singing the Christmas choruses and a few choruses from later sections of Handel’s Messiah. Friends of Music provides vocal soloists for the arias, a trumpeter, an organist, and a conductor. The Sing has always been free of charge to participating singers and other fans of the music who come only to listen, with donations encouraged to help cover the event’s expenses. Since 2007, however, all door donations have been divided equally between the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center and Morningside Shelter, two local agencies serving the homeless. Again this season, the Drop In Center will park its van at the church from about noon to 4 p.m. on the day of the Sing, to receive donations of food and new, unwrapped toys; winter outerwear, longjohns, and warm socks; blankets, towels, and sleeping bags; as well as cash from the general public shopping during Brattleboro’s Holly Days

weekend. Soloists include two veterans and two newcomers to the event: Evelyn McLean, alto, sang the soprano arias at our first Sing in 1971 and for the next 19 seasons, then joined the roster as alto soloist in 1995-97 and again in 2007. She also stepped into the role unexpectedly in 2003, when a snowstorm prevented the advertised soloist from getting to Brattleboro. Her 26th appearance this season is a Sing record that has little chance of being surpassed. Larrimore Crockett, bass, debuted at this event in 1982 and performed for six of the next eight years, then three times more recently. New to the Sing are Amy Green, soprano, featured in Friends of Music’s “Telephone Operas” program in 2009 and many other regional music theater productions, and John Coons, a tenor from Portland, Maine, and Boston who recently earned his Master’s in Voice Performance from the University of Southern Maine and has performed a wide variety of operatic roles for many New England-based companies. Returning as participants for another year are trumpet soloist Charlie Schneeweis, skilled in many musical genres, and organist William McKim, playing for a 26th season with the Sing. Conductor Anthony Speranza

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is leading the event for a 14th season, having served in an unbroken string of years from 1989 through 2001. Singers can bring their own score or borrow one at the door; a few copies are also for sale at the event, and a supply is available for purchase in advance at Maple Leaf Music, 23 Elliot St., Brattleboro. Bottled water is also available at the door; no food or drink other than water is allowed in the sanctuary. For further information, contact the Friends of Music office at 802-254-3600, or visit online at Friends of Music’s annual Christmas at Christ Church program, entitled “Warm Holiday Wishes,” follows on Friday and Saturday, December 10 and 11, at the historic church on Route 5 in Guilford. This musical journey through warmer climes moves west from Cuba and Costa Rica to the Philippines and Hawaii, on to Australia, New Zealand and Papua; Don McLean reads Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, and a few carols are shared with the audience. These concerts are also offered free of charge, with door donations benefitting equally Friends of Music and the Christ Church Restoration Fund.

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make your holiday special We have gifts galore like fun brush art ornaments, hand crafted soaps, beautiful palm and soy candles, new bath salts, body lotions, and much more. Saturday, December 4, 11-2pm meet Gerry McCarthy of Leyden House Essential Oils who will help you make a body oil for your skin type.Vermont Bee Balm, Rising Rhythms, and Vermont Country Soap will also be with us. Monday, December 6 is our wine tasting, chocolate truffles, & Dr. Hauschka facial event. Two seatings 6:30 and 7:30pm.

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The Commons/issue of Wednesday, Dec. 1  

Award-winning nonprofit community newspaper for Windham County, Vermont.

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