Connecting Montpelier and nearby communities since 1993 | DECEMBER 13, 2012–JANUARY 9, 2013


The Cost of Montpelier Education


A quest for the best local gifts

HOLL AR SAYS The mayor talks budget, part two
Students at Main Street Middle School.

PAYING FOR MONTPELIER Do we borrow or do we cut?

Superintendent Brian Ricca and School Board Chair Susan Aldrich Discuss the School Budget

SWEET STORIES Burr Morse’s new book of Vermont tales


PRSRT STD CAR-RT SORT U.S. Postage PAID Montpelier, VT Permit NO. 123

n Friday, December 7, Nat Frothingham and Richard Sheir of The Bridge sat down with Montpelier school superintendent Brian G. Ricca and Montpelier school board chair Susan Aldrich for a wide-ranging discussion of school issues with sharp attention to a new school budget that is being put together right now by the superintendent’s office in concert with the Montpelier school board. That budget, along with one or possibly two school-related bond proposals, will come before Montpelier voters at city meeting on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.
Richard: Do you have an estimate for this coming year’s new budget? Brian: If we ran the budget as is, just rolling FY13 over to FY14, we would be more than $500,000 past the two-vote provision. Our increase in health care is estimated at more than 14 percent this year. Instructional assistants have been moved into the same category for contributions to health care as the teachers, to 85 percent/15 percent. Special education is up 7 percent across the state. We negotiated three-year contracts with both teachers and IAs with an increase of 4.33 percent in salaries.

That allows the state to come up with what’s called an equalized pupil: because we’re a state-funded system, we have to judge everybody equally. The average daily attendance is a two-year weighted average. They look at the prior two years, so if 40 new kids came into the district this year, that would not be reflected in our equalized pupils because it’s a two-year average of your ADM, which is collected October 1.
Richard: If you look at the state’s minimum capacities for schools, right now Union is at 96 percent of minimum; the high school is 75 percent of minimum; Main Street Middle School is 45 percent of minimum. The minimum is the standard the state maintains for the smallest population. If you were constructing a new building, this minimum is what the state would fund. If you were to keep the sixth grade at Union, you would be at 2002 levels. You would be beyond the minimum. If you were to take grades 7 and 8 and move them into the current configuration of [Montpelier] high school, you would be at about minimum. We do have an extra elementary school kindergarten, but we have smaller classes in the elementary school than we had in the past.

coming out of existing budgets so that it will be held revenue neutral but there will be an annual capital component? Or do you see this as an additional capital tax?
Brian: What I’ve tasked [director of facilities for the district] Thom Wood to do is to put more money into the capital improvement lines for each of the three buildings. I asked him to hold his costs as low as he could. We said we’d pay the city a flat rate for district heat, regardless of our consumption. Thom has also looked at the Honeywell [energy conservation] contract and found some ways to save there. Six years ago we signed on with Honeywell to see cost efficiency savings throughout the district with our three buildings based on our energy consumption, specifically our heat. They set certain benchmarks that they assured us we would meet in terms of efficiencies: if we did not meet those benchmarks, they would cut us a check for the difference. Every year that we have had this contract, the Honeywell folks have cut us a check. So we’re looking into efficiencies there. Leadership at the district level means two things. You have to address the current situation. But you have to look to the future so that you don’t repeat history. Going forward, we are going to be able to address the capital spending issues in each of the buildings, and beyond that. Thom has constructed a 10-year plan to get into a regular rotation of upkeep and maintenance that hasn’t existed yet in the district. Hopefully, based on the plans that we’re making, this will be the last bond. We’ve got the column one items—things we must do so that education can continue as normal in our buildings next year. The heat see SCHOOL BUDGET, page 4

The Bridge P.O. Box 1143 Montpelier, VT 05601

Richard: The district is virtually unBrian: There’s no extra space at the elchanged this year from past years in terms of ementary school. If we put the sixth grade equalized student enrollments. there, that would raise class sizes substantially. If we hire a fifth second-grade teacher, Nat: What does that mean to the layper- which the board has asked us to do, we would son? have to take a music classroom away. Brian: You multiply your high school Richard: When I was at the school board students by 1.13, your K–8 students by 1.0 meeting the other night, you were discussand your pre-K students by 0.46. There’s also ing the need for putting more money into weighting for poverty, weighting for ELL. permanent capital spending. Do you see this

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D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 3

See you in 2013! This issue is our final issue of the year. Our next two issues will be published on Thursday, January 10, and Thursday, January 24. We will return to our normal first and third Thursday schedule in February.

Petitions to Run for City Council Due by February 4



Nature Watch
—Nona Estrin, with thanks to Brett Engstrom for keeping Nature Watch going while I was away


ord floats about of conversations exploring running for City Council seats in Montpelier’s districts two and three. As yet, there’s no word from Anne Watson and Angela Timpone whether they’ll seek a second term. City Clerk John Odum advises that according to Montpelier’s charter, petitions to run are due “no earlier than 40 days before, and no later than 30 days before city meeting,” which converts to no earlier than Thursday January 24, and no later than Monday February 4. (This differs from state statute, which says “no later than 5 p.m. on the sixth Monday preceding the day of the election.”) Odum anticipates that his office will be open until 5 on Monday, February 4 (as 30 days before city meeting falls on the weekend).

ack after weeks away, and off to the woods today, trying to pick up the threads. What is going on? All so quiet. So dormant. Not a weed or tree seed this year to hint at a next season of growth and new life. And where are the juncos and northern tree sparrows that always spend the winter in our yard? I throw millet and cracked corn out under the rosebush where they would congregate. But days go by, and the corn molders on the ground. A few chickadees fly over to investigate. So, into the woods where ferns and mosses now rule. How green they are. And again, it’s so quiet. On the limey outcroppings just west of the Winooski River valley, mossy cedar and hemlock give way to an occasional balsam fir. It’s a pretty time in these woods, I think to myself, as I scramble back up a small cleft in the rock. On the way back home, the air feels so soft and damp, and as I come into the yard, I hear the sweet call of a northern tree sparrow.


Stores on the Move and Starting Up

he CVS drug chain has been in touch with the town of Berlin to study the feasibility of opening a store at the former Friendly’s restaurant location in Berlin on the Barre-Montpelier Road. Further up the B-M Road, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store will be moving into the shopping center that Big Lots anchors. The Berlin Mall is soliciting interest in Jo-Ann’s soon-to-be-vacant large space at the mall. In that same Big Lots shopping center, the Panera Bread restaurant chain has permits to build a new building.

A New Year’s resolution you can keep:


Give Nature Legal Personhood

We have lots of great discounts, packages and special issues in store for the new year. For more information, contact our sales representatives: Carolyn, 223-5112, ext. 11, or, or Gabriela, 223-5112, ext. 12, or

Vermont movement to give nature legal footing similar to corporations (oh, and people) is developing. Residents in Norwich, Strafford and Thetford are gathering signatures to offer articles at their town meetings that propose recognition of “Vermont Rights of Nature,” similar to laws in Ecuador and Bolivia that give nature legal standing. For more information:


Union Institute & University Leaving Montpelier

nion Institute & University will close its Montpelier facilities in June, keeping its facilities in Brattleboro. According to Vermont Digger, “About 15 positions in Montpelier will be affected when the program closes next year. Most of these jobs will be moved to Brattleboro or Cincinnati. Three program adviser positions will not be filled. There will be no faculty reductions; instructors will continue to offer online courses and will participate in the Brattleboro weekend option.”

Subscribe to The Bridge!
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Buy a Book for Kellogg-Hubbard Through Bear Pond

ellogg-Hubbard Library has partnered with Bear Pond Books, establishing a list for the library on Bear Pond Book’s “Wish List” web page, which enables folks to buy books the library would like to have. It’s a way to provide books for Kellogg-Hubbard, buying them through Bear Pond Books. Check or for the library’s wish list, comprised now of numerous poetry books the library would like to have for National Poetry month and Poem City.


College Board Recognizes Excellence of Local High Schools

hree local high schools—U-32, Harwood Union and Stowe—have been recognized by the college board “for simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement (AP) course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.” The college board maintains that an increase in both participation and scores “indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work.”


Deadline for State of the Union Essay Contest, January 8

P.O. Box 1143, Montpelier, VT 05601 Phone: 802-223-5112 | Fax: 802-223-7852; Published every first and third Thursday
Editor & Publisher: Nat Frothingham General Manager: Bob Nuner Production Manager: Kate Mueller, pro tem Sales Representatives: Gabriela Balboa, Carolyn Grodinsky, Rick McMahan Graphic Design & Layout: Dana Dwinell-Yardley Calendar Editor: Dana Dwinell-Yardley Bookkeeper: Kathryn Leith Distribution: Kevin Fair, Diana Koliander-Hart, Daniel Renfro Website & Social Media Manager: Dana Dwinell-Yardley Advertising: For information about advertising deadlines and rates, contact: 223-5112, ext. 11, or Editorial: Contact Bob, 223-5112, ext. 14, or Location: The Bridge office is located at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, on the lower level of Schulmaier Hall. Subscriptions: You can receive The Bridge by mail for $50 a year. Make out your check to The Bridge, and mail to The Bridge, PO Box 1143, Montpelier VT 05601.
Copyright 2012 by The Montpelier Bridge

eadline for student entries into Senator Sanders’s state of the union essay contest is January 8, 2013. The contest invites essays 250 to 500 words long on student perceptions of the state of the union. Winning and finalist essays will be published in the Congressional Record and on the senator’s website, and the senator may visit the winning students’ schools. Essay authors may also be invited to participate in roundtables with Sanders. Details: sanders.


Daughter of Former Resident Receives Rhodes Scholarship

achel M. Woodlee, a senior at Wofford College, South Carolina, with family ties to Montpelier, has been selected as one of 32 Americans in the 2013 Rhodes Scholarship competition, winning full financial support for three years of study at Oxford University, Britain. Beginning this fall, Woodlee will pursue a master’s of philosophy in modern Chinese studies. The Wofford senior majors in business economics and Chinese language and culture and is fluent in Mandarin. Woodlee’s Montpelier ties include her grandmother, mother and uncle. Her mother, Joan Zorzi Woodlee, graduated from Montpelier High School in 1978 and UVM in 1982. Rhodes scholarships honor the bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes (1853–1902), a South African businessman and diamond-mining magnate. Rhodes scholars are chosen for academic achievement, good character, commitment to others and the common good and potential to offer leadership. —first two items by Richard Sheir; all others by Bob Nuner

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SCHOOL BUDGET, from page 1

Sue: We don’t know yet. We don’t want to lose music. Or ultimate Frisbee. Nat: I actually think the Main Street Middle School building, both for historic reasons and because of its location, is a valuable building. But let’s say that the district sold that building, maybe to the state. After the sale, wouldn’t there be a one-year bonanza? When I hear the enrollment figures, the equalized pupil figures, the minimum levels of student occupancy and all that, it seems that Main Street Middle School could be taken out of the mix and a plan could be adopted where grades 6, 7 and 8 go to the high school building. What prevents us from taking that step, a step that would yield an immediate financial gain with the sale proceeds from the Main Street building and, over time, a gain in cut expenses? Sue: I would say a big reason it hasn’t happened yet is that a majority of the community has said they want a separate middle school for middle school kids. Brian: Educationally, we offer something that doesn’t get offered in most other places, and that is a building specifically for middle school students. They take a team approach; there’s coteaching. You could re-create that. We could hypothetically put on a dedicated wing at the high school and literally just move the program over there. For the sake of the argument, let’s say it was cost neutral. We would get from the city all the money from the sale of the building. If you could convince me that educationally nothing would change, my question would then be to the community: “Is that what you want?” Richard: Is the regionalization of services

plant at Union Elementary School needs to be changed dramatically to hook up to district heat. Another item is roofs. We’re also looking at items that are a little less dire: bathroom renovations; upkeep of windows at Union to make sure that our new heating system is as energy efficient as possible. Potential upgrades to the auditorium. So we’ve got other items we’re going to ask the voters for. I look at the bonds as leveling the playing field. At least at this level, which is right now at $120,000, we’re going to start looking at capital improvements on an annual basis. Maybe at some time in the not-too-distant future—I’m guessing three to five years—I’m going to come to the board and say, “Thank you, $40,000 per building was great. I’d like to increase that”—because we need to do this for maintenance and upkeep of carpets, windows, doors, that type of thing.
Richard: Will that money come out of the regular annual municipal budget, or is it an add-on? Brian: Right now, it’s almost revenue neutral, if you just take facilities by itself. Thom’s budget is up just 1.01 percent. Richard: How do you explain the budget to the average person, who doesn’t have a kid in the schools, that we were spending $14.022 million in 2007, and now, it’s going to be above $16.13 million for the same number of kids? Sue: I think you explain it in terms of loss:

what it means to our current students to take away programs that we’ve always provided. What I hear from the majority of voters in this town is that they would be enraged to think that we were going to lose those programs. And enrollment is slowly coming back.
Brian: We’ve exceeded our birthrate calculations every year, which means right now we’re bottom heavy. We have a fifth kindergarten right now, and those students will eventually attend high school, which will help us in terms of state calculations and equalized pupils—if we continue to exceed that birthrate. If you want to address best practices in education, you’re going to have to continue to fund it at a decent level. If you don’t have the highest paid teachers in Washington County, which we don’t, and you want to attract people to stay here for a substantial amount of time, not make the jump to Chittenden County, then you’re going to have to put up a little bit more. I fully understand that the tax rate in Montpelier is the highest in the state. I fully understand that, per capita, you’re paying more than anybody else in the state—but for city and schools combined. Montpelier public school spending is still holding toward the middle; we’re not identified as a high-spending district. And I will tell you for the record, the administrative team and I will not present a budget that triggers the two-vote provision. Richard: Let me ask about efficiencies and economies. Have you guys considered cutting existing spending? Are all existing programs continuing?

dead as hell?

Brian: Bill Kimball [U-32 district superintendent] and I are looking for low-hanging fruit for FY14, like professional development around the common core or potentially purchasing co-ops. We are committed to our district but also to our students collectively. So what we’re looking at is: It’s time for the common core; we all have these challenges in terms of efficiencies. What can we do together? Richard: Which brings me to special needs. The special needs tuition jumped from $217,000 to $438,000. Do you see that trend continuing? Brian: We have established ourselves as a district that does very well with a most vulnerable population. I can’t ever anticipate what it’s going to be because I don’t know the needs of children coming in. Richard: We don’t have an auto shop at the high school; we have one in the region. Has there been any discussion at the superintendent level about regionalizing special needs services? We have teachers that are specialized with the cerebral palsy kids, and we could pick up these kids all the way from Danville through to Richmond. And then send autistic kids to a teacher skilled in that. Has there ever been a rethinking fundamentally about the way we approach this? Perhaps it would be cost neutral. Perhaps it would cost more—or less. I know we wouldn’t pay the full freight. Brian: It’s Act 156, I think, that requires supervisory unions to centralize their spe-

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cial education services. We haven’t had this fundamental rethinking because, as a single district, our services are already centralized, unlike, for example, Washington Central. They have five elementary schools and the middle high school. They have different contracts for their IAs at each of those schools. They have to centralize those because they would still fall under support services. We’re exempt from that conversation. Our goal, eventually, would be to ask any of our area neighbors to come up with a system such as you describe.
Nat: What about that 4 percent raise? How do you defend that? What does an entry-level teacher get paid? What’s your top wage? Brian: We consider ourselves one of the

D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 5
increases. And believe me, it was hard fought because we want to keep it competitive so we can attract good teachers and keep them. 268. Master’s plus 30 with 16 years or more experience: $66,633. Last year’s entry level was $36,537; master’s plus 30 with 16 or more years of experience was $65,903. We’re above the median now. We’re more towards the top of Washington County. You do your research, and you’ll see that our average salary was below even the state median salary. In this district, 74 cents of every dollar spent is salary and benefits. So we can shave and whittle, if it’s worth the exercise. But it’s almost not worth the exercise. These are real human beings who look at their salary and try to figure out how they’re going to pay the bills and pay back their loans. When we look at more than a half million dollars over the two-vote provision, that’s more than a half million dollars of real people with beating hearts who are vulnerable to reductions.
Sue: And who do fantastic jobs, and parents and kids come out and say, “Please don’t cut this teacher. This person changed my life.” I’ve heard several teachers saying they’re already looking for jobs, out of fear that it might be them whose jobs are cut. Brian: Bachelor’s degree, step one: $37,

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better districts in this area, but the reality is that some teachers look at Montpelier as a stepping-stone because Washington County pays less than Chittenden. We want to retain people in this district and not let them say, “Oh, I’ll put in a couple of years in Montpelier, and when I know I can get 10, 15 or 20 percent more for doing the same thing with the same level of education, I’ll move on.”
Sue: So that’s the reasoning behind the pay

A List of Outside Agency Requests

Who Wants Money?


here are two pools of money: one for the arts and one for general agency support. The pot is $100,000. Eleven have filed for the arts for $18,692. Twenty-seven have come in for $108,575. The next meeting for the committee, which will determine allocations, is Friday, January 4, 2013, at 6 p.m. Arts Fund Avi Waring: $3,066 Capital City Band: $1,000 Capital City Concerts: $1,000 Hanna Satterlee: $1,400 Kids’ Fest: $1,000 Linda Hogan: $1,000 Montpelier Alive: $2,071 Montpelier Chamber Orchestra: $2,500 Montpelier Gospel Choir: $1,400 Vermont Opera Theater: $1,000 Willow Wonder: $3,255 General Pool American Red Cross: $2,000 Central Vermont Adult Basic Ed: $6,000 Central Vermont Community Action Council: $2,000 Central Vermont Community Land Trust: $5,000 Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice: $18,000

Circle Industries: $3,075 Council On Aging: $5,000 Everybody Wins: $1,500 Family Center: $3,500 Friends of Winooski River: $500 Good Beginnings of Central Vermont: $400 Green Mountain Youth Symphony: $1,500 Home Share: $1,000 Just Business Home Delivery Services: $5,000 Kellogg Hubbard Library: $2,000 Lost Nation Theater: $5,000 Montpelier Veterans Council: $1,500 North Branch Nature Center: $2,500 OUR House of Central Vermont: $200 People’s Health and Wellness Clinic: $1,250 Prevent Child Abuse Vermont: $1,200 RSVP: $3,000 Teen Center: $15,000 TW Wood Gallery: $10,000 Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired: $500 Vermont Center for Independent Living: $5,000 Washington County Diversion Program: $1,950 Youth Services Bureau: $5,000 —information courtesy Sandy Gallup; compiled by Richard Sheir

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PAG E 6 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


Part Two of an Interview with Montpelier Mayor John Hollar

Following the Money


n our last issue, we presented the first part (of two) of a conversation with Mayor John Hollar, Nat Frothingham and Richard Sheir about issues of Montpelier city financing and operation. Here is the second and final part of that discussion.
Nat: Let’s keep talking about ways to cut municipal spending by reorganizing the way we deliver services. John: I think the best option is to create a regional public safety authority, and the work on that is pretty far along. I was very encouraged by the work of the committee comprised of representatives of Berlin, Barre Town, Montpelier and Barre City. We have a proposal to create a public safety authority that would cover the police, fire and ambulance services for each of those four communities. Over time, that would save us a substantial amount of money. The best option for us [is] to engage in the kind of fundamental restructuring you refer to. Otherwise, between the Matrix Report and the Budget Committee Report, there’s not a lot there. People talk about the potential for volunteer firefighters or combining fire and police in our community. I don’t see those as big, viable alternatives. Richard: When we go through the Budget Committee Report, there are some real serious issues like the IT [information technology] cost. Is the council going to give the budget committee people time to present themselves and to have the city departments present and have the IT structure, the fee structure for recreation, assuming you take over recreation, and the senior center discussed? In other cities, the fee structure generates 75 percent and the subsidy is 25 percent.

John: Well, we are doing that. First, we’ve heard from the committee members themselves. Now, we’re in the process of hearing from each of the city agencies. Those agencies are discussing their responses to the budget committee—their plans for next year and some of the challenges they’re facing. We’ve heard from planning and public works. At our next meeting, we’ll hear from fire. [Because police were exempted], we will appoint a group from the police department and citizens that served on the budget committee [to review the police]. My expectation is that the city manager will incorporate those recommendations into the budget process. Nat: I’m very committed to the library, but at the time the addition was built, I don’t think there was a robust discussion of what it would cost to fund it. The City Council appears to be a soft touch for outside agencies like the library, the senior center, the justice center. These are good things, but why should the city be carrying all the rocks? I don’t believe the surrounding communities bonded for the addition.

John: That’s an important question. We’re addressing that on three fronts. First, the library is a treasure. We need to first make sure that we support the institutions that Montpelier residents value. The overwhelming message I get as mayor—and I think this is important to underscore—is that people love living here. So we’re not looking for dramatic changes in the way our city operates. We need to change some of the ways that it’s financed and the amount that we spend on it to deal with our tax problems. Richard: Let’s talk about the community That said, we do have some significant board that’s dealing with the outer agencies, financial challenges. And here are the three the arts funds and things like that. I saw their ways we’re approaching [them]. The first is form, which was really well done by the way.

to create an overall framework for our budget that limits our growth to the rate of inflation. So within that, we’re going to have to manage our spending, and that will include examining all of the components—the library, police, fire, public works and so on. And then within that, we have to redirect some of that money to infrastructure. The second is the policy we’ve created to fund nonprofits. I think we need to eliminate the practice where we have 42 ballot items with different funding requests. The voters don’t have that ability to evaluate those in a voting booth. We need a more rational process. So we’ve done this; we’ve created this community board. The library will be outside of that [process], because the amount of it would overwhelm the process. The library funding was $300,000 or $400,000. Last year, the total sum of all the others was $100,000. But my third point relates to the library. The new policy says that to the extent that we’re providing a regional service, outside communities have to contribute a proportional amount for their residents. And that will apply to the library and the senior center. That’s incorporated now, and the library does have a formula that they use. We do receive contributions from each of the communities who benefit and use the library. So all the agencies that provide these services to residents outside Montpelier will be required to come in and tell us how they’re meeting this policy. I am not, at this point, ready to second-guess the formula that the library has. What the fair share [of outside communities] is, I don’t know; we’ll see.

Are we finally going to use that form to contract with agencies? It does give units of service that are proposed; how many Montpelier people [an agency] estimates will get those services. Are we finally not going to give away money like a blank check and instead say this is a contractual arrangement?
John: The checks now have strings. Any organization that receives money is going to have to account for how the money is spent. We’re very fortunate to have the kind of talent that we do serving on this committee: These are people who have been working in the nonprofit world and the administration of grants for a long time. Nat: Maybe it’s time for the state of Vermont to take another look at its presence in the city. Maybe it’s time to look at some of the buildings that have escaped the tax rolls. I don’t have a list of those buildings, but it occurs to me that some are nonprofits, some are educational and some are churches. I don’t know what kind of a burden we’re carrying as a city for buildings that are either lightly taxed or not taxed at all. Is there a mechanism that could be employed to get some of that freight weighted and accounted for? I’ve got one more [suggestion]. Not everyone who lives in town feels ardently about it, but there are a number of people who identify with Montpelier in a very enthusiastic way. I think if the city was to establish an innovation fund or a community fund, people would leave a bequest to the city or some part of their estate to the city. It would have to be well managed; the goals would have to be clear. But I think that over time, people would just say, “Yeah, I’ve lived in the city all my life. I think it’s a fabulous place. I want to stick $10,000 in.” Are those ideas being explored?


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the first course in a series of Short Courses for Self-Care

Day-long workshop on techniques for creating dry-laid walls with emphasis on stone native to Vermont.
Upcoming workshop dates: JANUARY 19 FEBRUARY 9 MARCH 9 MARCH 23 All workshops Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

February 16 & 17 and March 2 & 3, 9am–5pm
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John: They really haven’t. I think the notion of private bequests to the community is something that has fallen to the wayside over the years. We have, of course, a great legacy in Montpelier thanks to Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Hubbard, more than 100 years ago. We think differently about government than our residents did 200 years ago. It’s obviously much less common for individuals to leave a large bequest to a governmental entity in part because those entities are so much larger now and they receive so much funding through taxes. I think people feel like they’ve given through their tax bills. But you raise a good idea—perhaps specific kinds of projects, where individuals could contribute and leave a long-term mark. Perhaps it’s something we should consider. To your other point, we do receive about $1 million a year from the state of Vermont through PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes]. The funding that we receive is much closer to the fair market value of the buildings than it has been in the past: it’s about 80 percent. I think it would be difficult for us to ratchet that number up higher. We’re never going to receive 100 percent. And to be honest, those buildings don’t place the kind of demand on our community that other taxable entities do. They have their own security. Their employees largely come from outside Montpelier, and they leave. And we benefit from having the state here. In terms of taxing nonprofits, that’s a decision that would have to be made by the state. The legislature does periodically consider that. I don’t see a lot of options available to us in terms of new revenue, or how we collect revenue. I think we’re going to have to look at the spending side. One other thing I’ve mentioned that exacerbates the challenge we face is that Montpelier has one of the highest ratios of residential properties to the overall grand list in the state, which is one of the reasons our tax bills are the highest in the state. Nat: Clearly we don’t have much of a manufacturing base. We have a tiny little footprint downtown. But there appear to be development opportunities that have been neglected, not pursued vigorously over 30 to 40 years—second- and third-floor spaces, virtually unused for 30 or 40 years. We could have a more vigorous downtown economy. We could exploit the space we have in a much more creative way. We could put some money into the city and have a much more robust business center and a housing sector that is more robust. John: I do think that we have a robust downtown. We have a very vibrant community. So I think we could do better on the margins, but I don’t see us having a fundamental problem with how our economy is structured in our downtown. We have virtually no vacancies downtown. The City Council is not going to drive development. It can’t invest money to spur private growth. What we can do is set the conditions that encourage private investors to spend their money in Montpelier, investing in new businesses, new infrastructure. And I think that’s what we are doing in the City Council. We have said that we support housing development. We support economic growth. We’re putting our money into infrastructure, which is important. We’re looking at our tax rate and trying to deal with that issue. So we are targeting those areas that matter to change the climate to make Montpelier more attractive. We are the envy of communities in Vermont and nationally. When people come to Montpelier, they see the kind of place that they didn’t realize existed anymore. I think we’re very successful. But we can do better. It’s by enticing developers to see that this is a community where they can make money. And I think we’re doing that. Nat: Is there anything we can learn from Barre? Some folks from Barre came in and talked to me, and I was impressed by how they pulled together the Barre Area Development Corporation, their Barre Partnership, their business community, the mayor, the city manager. This hasn’t happened all at once, but it appears that the flowers are blooming all at once. I don’t see that combination of energies in town here in Montpelier. John: Well, first let me say that what Barre has done downtown is really impressive—the fact that they have pulled together and have a focus. But you have to agree Montpelier and Barre are starting from very different places. Montpelier residents aren’t looking for dramatic changes in their downtown. We have a highly functioning, successful downtown with a very low vacancy rate. Barre does not compare in terms of their vacancy rate, the vibrancy of their downtown, the diversity. It’s just not a fair comparison. I think that if we faced the kinds of challenges that Barre has faced in the past, you’d see the kind of unified approach in trying to address those. I don’t see that existing here. To use your metaphor, I think our flower is in bloom. Sure, there is more that we can do.

D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 7
One thing I’d really love to see us do—and between the city and the schools. this is really on the margins—is create more outdoor seating space. Richard: What percent of the $2.2 million that’s coming due now, that we’re falling Richard: But what about the Zorzi prop- off payments now? Some of that $2.2 million erty [Sabin’s pasture]? We don’t have that bond issue will just be absorbed by bond many new homes coming up in our city. We payments that we’re making presently that haven’t had that many year after year. And just disappear—because they’ve been paid that is a project that kind of faded from view. off—in the next several years. What is the status of the Zorzi property right now? John: Virtually all of it. I don’t think we’ll see an increase in our overall indebtedness. John: There is a plan in place that was Over the next several years, we’re looking for developed by a broad group of stakeholders a decline in our overall bond indebtedness. that, I believe, provides a roadmap for any developer who wants to purchase that propNat: I sometimes think that we ought erty and develop housing. And I think that to take a look at the way that the city is a developer would likely find support in the governed. As I see it, we have a system with community and from the City Council for a strong city manager. But it’s not clear to a plan that satisfies the framework that was me that the council has the same sustained agreed to by that diverse stakeholder group. clout that an elected body with leadership The property’s there, and it’s prime for devel- responsibilities needs to have. I see a power opment. But nothing’s going on yet. base accumulating in city hall through the city manager, the department heads and the Richard: The debt. I sat at the last school control of information. I don’t think it’s deboard meeting. I sat through a discussion ceitful; I just think it’s an accumulation of of their bonding, and they’re talking about information, tradition and power that puts splitting their bonding into two. The fur- the council in a less effective position to offer nace, the heating system for Union, is a leadership. must. And we’re going to break that off on its Some years back, former councilor Grayck own. And then we’re going to have a second suggested that we take a look at governance. bond for those [other improvements] that we He suggested that the city manager and adwould like. I know that Bill [Fraser] has been ministration ought to serve an invigorated discussing bonding, and there’s disagreement and strengthened mayor and council. So from VAM [Vibrant and Affordable Mont- you’d have a mayor who was elected and who pelier] and the budget committee and from had a full-time responsibility, charge and pay VAM last year on the city’s capacity to bond. and would go in and do things and offer leadAre there must-haves in the city’s bonding ership. And the city administration would be proposal? there to see that the city services are delivered effectively. John: Yes, so we have a revised capital plan that some members of the council John: You’d have to have a different have, as well as some members of the com- mayor. I don’t want to be a full-time mayor. munity, about our bonding capacity. The And I feel that I have the opportunity and plan that we’re now looking at would raise platform to make the kinds of changes that I some $2.2 million over the next several years think we need in Montpelier. I think our systhrough bonding. And that bonding would tem works. I would challenge that premise. be used solely for sidewalks, bridges, retain- Clearly, we have a very strong city manager, ing walls—not streets. So I think you are based on his talent and his tenure here. But going to find a consensus that will form I don’t think it’s undue. He is responsive to around a capital plan that doesn’t bond for the City Council, and I think you’re going roads and that has much lower borrowing to see that through our budget process. I than has been discussed. think we benefit from our current structure. I do think that we need to work closely I think our community is too small to have with the schools to assure that we’re work- an elected, strong mayor. If you had a mayor ing with them in terms of the timing of who was elected who was not able to manage the bonds and that we have a plan in place the city in an effective way, the risk to the in dealing with the long-term infrastructure community could be very significant. Right needs for both the school and the city that now, we have a balanced system that, overall, doesn’t place an undue burden on the taxpay- works. ers. That long-term plan does not yet exist

Local Religious Holiday Services
The Wise Still Seek Him
Christmas Mass Schedule
St. Augustine Church 16 Barre Street Montpelier 223-5285 St. Monica Church 79 Summer Street Barre 479-3253

Winter Holiday Services
Unitarian Church of Montpelier
130 Main Street • 223-7861 • Rev. Mara Dowdall, Minister • Catherine Orr, Director of Music Sally Armstrong, Director of Religious Education

Winter Solstice Service, Friday, December 21
return of light amid darkness, with word and song.

6:30 pm . . . A worship service to honor the longest night of the year and the

December 24: 4pm and 7pm December 25: 10am

December 24: 4pm, 6:30pm and 12 Midnight December 25: 8am and 10am December 25: 9 am

Christmas Eve Services, Monday, December 24
6:30 pm Traditional Candlelight Service
all are welcome.

4:30 pm Early Service . . . Especially for families with young children, but

North American Martyrs, Marshfield

PAG E 8 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


Shop Montpelier
Thai Yoga Bodywork & Private Yoga Sessions
with Lori Flower, RYT
Holiday Special: only $45 for one hour (valid until 1/13/13)
www.sattvayoga 802.324.1737

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We made it! Our first year.
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D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 9

Shopping in Montpelier for the Unique and Affordable
by Joyce Kahn


sking me if I like to shop is like asking the pope if he’s Catholic. And so with joy in my heart and a little cash in my pocket, I began my foray into a sampling of Montpelier’s shops with one question to pose to shopkeepers, eager to promote their wares for the holiday season: What items would you suggest are unique and affordable? Within Montpelier’s small downtown, you can find something to please the most discriminating shopper on your list. I selected a dozen stores to visit, but be advised: This is by no means an exhaustive list either of shops or of gift possibilities but rather a sampling of the vast variety of products, with a diversity of appeal, obtainable in town. I found goods from the practical to the esoteric—the gifts shop owners want you to know about. For the artist or would-be artist on your list, gifts from The Drawing Board are a good choice. Liz Walsh showed me one of her favorites, the Make Your Own Music Box Kit, which works like a player piano. On the art-supply side of things, children might like a blank sketchbook with a Noah’s ark or a barnyard cover scene to color as well. A possible gift for a child 4 and up is a DecorateYour-Own Rubber Duck. For adults, you can find a treasure trove of new, compact, resource manuals on almost every topic, in-

cluding painting in most media, bookbinding, and cartooning. And if holiday stress is bothering you or a loved one, The Book of Zentangle, which explains how to make Zentangles, a form of artistic meditation, may interest you. This method of producing nonrepresentational art one stroke at a time was developed by a calligrapher and her Buddhist monk husband and is a good pick for artists and nonartists alike. The Uncommon Market is a good stop if you want to prepare a fabulous holiday meal, grab something for takeout or find gifts for the foodies on your list. Sharon Allen and staff can provide you with pheasants, quails, standing rib roast, sides of fish and their own rolled and stuffed ham. They carry salmon and oysters for fish lovers. As we get closer to Christmas, those wanting to grab prepared foods can reach in the cooler for scrumptious vegetarian lasagna, shrimp cocktail, artichoke-Gouda dip, quiche and peanut noodles. The market will also make up gift baskets to meet your price level or sell you a gift card. They also have a unique wine selection and make a policy of not duplicating what others are selling. But if food is not your thing, cast your eyes to the heavens (or ceiling in this case) to find a Jim Thompson hand-painted animal kite, which Thompson can make to order. Yvonne Baab of Global Gifts carries unique home décor and gift items with a

local and international flair. She is the sole local distributor of artist Sarah Munro’s silkscapes—small, richly colored silk paintings, often hung in windows. Montpelier artist Anna Bell’s framed prints, reminiscent of Chagall, are on the shelves, as are Burlington artist John Brickels’s whimsical clay robot sculptures. You can support fair trade products by purchasing ornaments from Thailand and wool hats, gloves and mittens from Nepal. If it’s silver jewelry you’re looking for, Global Gifts has a large selection. But if you are choosing gifts for the spiritually inclined, you will find tarot cards, quartz hearts, gemstones, hand-carved stone Zen gardens, incense and burners and small meditation singing bowls with their mellifluous sound. Botanica’s flowers and greenery provide a sensory feast for the eyes. Co-owners Sonja Grahn and Sarah McAllister showed me that besides a bountifully supplied flower cooler, they have centerpieces, local wreaths, handmade door swags and miniature tabletop boxwood trees. People also like Norfolk pine plants, good for apartments, nursing homes or assisted-living facilities because they are small, can be decorated and are not a fire hazard. They also have many locally grown


plants, including poinsettias, cyclamen and Christmas cactus, all now in bloom. If you want a later bloom, you can purchase a paperwhite garden. Other unique items include velvet cardinal ornaments, greeting cards from France and local lilies in unusual colors grown right here in Post Mills, Vermont. The Book Garden is a small, quirky, interesting store. Its owner, Rick Powell, boasts a large, up-to-date variety of graphic novels for both children and adults, including the latest trend, memoirs. He also carries books on self-sufficiency and sustainable living, including gardening, fermentation and his best-selling book on tiny homes. For the comic book collector, Powell has comics from the ’70s and ’80s. And he carries the latest young adult fiction and nonfiction, including fantasy. New to the store are action figures that relate to books, such as The Hobbit, figures for all the Marvel comics, as well as for the popular TV show and line of comics, Walking Dead. All the art on the walls was done by Powell, a professional illustrator, and his selection of art books reflects this interest. You can also find many games for the family and young
see SHOPPING, page 10

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15 Barre Street Montpelier, VT Since 1982

Vermont Fresh, Italian Inspired
We use local eggs, beef and vegetables in our menu.

The holidays are fully upon us and soon, so will the New Year, a good time for us to take stock of where we’re headed. We have thought long and hard this year about what to do for New Year’s Eve—will it be First Night as usual, or something completely different? Early this summer, we chose to discontinue the First Night model and steer towards a festival that was more community-inclusive, economically available and supportive of our downtown businesses and organizational partners. This development has resulted in a new festival called MontPolar Frostival, debuting the first weekend of February, kicking off Lost Nation theater’s WinterFest 2013. In short, we chose something different. What can you expect from Montpelier Alive for New Year’s Eve celebrations? We are working with All Together Now Puppet Troupe for a family puppet show, and the disco ball will once again adorn City Hall during the evening. We are committed to promoting events that others are organizing for the 31st, such as Central Vermont Runners’ New Year’s Eve 5k race and Baroque and Blue, a flute/piano concert at Bethany Church. Other highlights include shows by Dave Keller at The Black Door and Concrete Rivals at Charlie-O’s. The full schedule will be on our website: It will continually be updated as plans develop. Throughout this process, we have been working with our partners to identify events for both New Year’s Eve and the MontPolar Frostival and have received a lot of support for the shift, both for easing their schedules and in providing opportunities to introduce new activities to the Montpelier community. So to be clear, there are no First Night buttons to purchase and no First Night as it has been presented. We’re planning a smaller, more intimate New Year’s Eve so that we may produce a new February event: MontPolar Frostival. It’s a lot of change for one winter. But 2013 is going to roll out full of excellent reasons to come downtown: Summit School’s Winter Festival, Ice on Fire, MontPolar Frostival, Lost Nation Theater’s WinterFest, Green Mountain Film Festival, and PoemCity 2013 are all scheduled from January through April. Thank you for all of your support of downtown Montpelier, and especially of all the organizations that continue to offer cultural programming for the community. We look forward to our work in 2013 and we welcome your participation. See you downtown! Best,

Phayvanh Luekhamhan Executive Director

Check our website for information on New Year’s Eve:

PAG E 10 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013

SHOPPING, from page 9

Shop Montpelier

Hundreds of games to choose from. . .
Mon–Fri 10–8; Sat 10–6; Sun. 10–5 24 State St. Montpelier • 223-4272

people, including Magic and Dungeons and Dragons. If kitchen goods are what you’re after, head to Capital Kitchen, where Erica Humphries showed me many new and unusual products—practical, colorful, and sustainable. The Blossom Trivet shapes itself by breaking apart to make a long string, attaches to the bottom of a hot bowl you want to carry, or just rests on the countertop. The Sodastream Machine allows you to make your own seltzer while being eco-friendly. According to Humphries, “If you drink a lot of seltzer, it’s a game changer! No more recycled bottles, and no more buying the bottled stuff.” In summer, you can make fizzy lemonade or your own favorite flavored drinks by adding fruit juice. And if you are tired of watery, leaky freezer packs, you might want a PackIt personal cooler, a lunchbox and cold-pack combination. Those baking for the holidays will appreciate the large assortment of cookie cutters: snowflakes, stars of David, dinosaurs, doves, dragonflies, dogs and your favorite barnyard animals. I was curious what unique musical item I would find at Guitar Sam, where Jay Ekis insisted a ukulele is that item. A ukulele is a four-string Hawaiian instrument, inexpensive because of its small size. It is not a miniguitar, and the chords are formed differently from guitars. Ekis apprised me that Montpelier has a good ukulele community: 40 people attended a recent workshop. He noted that the instrument is pretty easy to play, sounds beautiful and is for little hands, too. Although the store specializes in guitars, they stock djembes, which are little African drums, as well as acoustic guitars and the didgeridoo, an instrument from Australia resembling a hollowed-out staff and producing an interesting hypnotic sound. Inexpensive stocking stuffers include penny whistles, recorders, harmonicas and plastic egglike little maracas. But perhaps the most intriguing of

all is the nose flute, which you put up to your nose and blow out while using your mouth to change the pitch. The Cheshire Cat is a feast for the eyes: Where besides this shop can you find owner-designer Lucy Ferrada’s holiday line of clothing, inspired by Willy Wonka, as well as such colorful, whimsical, local and international crafts and folk art? Ferrada remarked, “If it fits in this wonderland, then it gets to live here.” She advises customers to look up, where I saw charming mobiles adorned with sculptures of people carrying out activities in their native country. Clever clocks designed by Michelle Allen, such as a mermaid wearing a seashell bra with a pendulum seahorse and a cow with a pendulum tongue, adorn the wall. Ferrada just started carrying Tracy Pesche’s Tra art—three-dimensional, colorful, whimsical, wood-and-metal wall art with suns, hearts and faces. She also carries hand knits by local artist Pam Barnes as well as Vermont-made stained-glass angels. A large assortment of Goody slippers adorned with ribbons, bows and roses will make any woman feel like a princess and her feet very happy. These are great for travel or as an indoor shoe. The store is also a gallery for national artist Brian Andreus’s wall sculptures, prints, books and calendars. Ferrada noted, “His is very child-at-heart artwork, and his simply illustrated books are one-page little pieces of truth.” Listening to Cool Jewels’s Willis Backus was as entertaining as it was informative. For the unique, Backus thinks he has the best selection of meteorites in downtown Montpelier. He buys what he loves, and he clearly loves these beautiful gray, metallic, magnetized rocks fallen from space and collected in Australia. Kids also love them. He also has a new shipment of affordable, colorful, patterned glass balls and witches’ balls. Backus instructed: “They’re very functional. The witches get mesmerized by the filaments inside when they’re casting their spells, so they don’t come in your house to bewitch

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you.” Beaded necklaces from Bali and new merchandise from China are supplied by Backus’s son. You will be equally mesmerized by an abundance of wonderful rocks, including pyrite or fool’s gold, beloved by young boys. If you’re looking forward to summer and a new physical activity, you can find gold pans for local panning in Minister and Hancock brooks in Worcester, where you might find enough gold to make your own jewelry. And if you’re looking for an activity to do with a child, or start a child on a new hobby, head over to the store’s bin of 400,000 beads, where kids can search through this trove of beads and find a satisfying treasure for as little as 15 cents. Aubuchon Hardware could be your one-stop shop. According to Gary Law, their biggest sellers historically have been sensible gifts, such as fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, flashlights and lanterns using lamp oil for emergencies. He noted that the best gift is not something you necessarily want but something you need: “If there’s somebody you’re concerned about, if you buy it, the person will use it.” They also stock pokers and shovels for the stove or fireplace, as well as chimney brushes. Popular appliances have been toaster ovens, waffle irons and coffee grinders. For those optimists who believe snow is imminent, you can find a plethora of snow fun items, from small snow seats to inflatable 50-inch snow tubes and six-foot toboggans. And for the nostalgic, you can even find an old-fashioned wood sled. For those with a more romantic, less practical bent, Aubuchon’s carries a wide assortment of wind chimes, lovely to look at and pleasant to hear. And there is no limit to their sundry stocking stuffers, from pocket knives and Jumbo thermometers to small and adjustable Bungee cords. Capitol Stationers is the stationery store equivalent to the hardware store, where there is possibly something for everyone. Co-owner Eric Bigglestone says they sell a lot of unique gifts, including many stocking stuffers. Bigglestone noted, “The community really supports locally made things,” so during the last five years the store has tried to promote and specialize in more Vermontmade products, such as notecards from Vermont Life, Eat More Kale T-shirts, Danforth pewter items and Lake Champlain chocolates. While known for their cards, they also carry unique items, such as decorative and whimsical steel angels for the holiday season. For candle lovers, you will find a bevy of colored and scented candles and accessories. Yankee ingenuity is reflected in the Redneck line of wine glasses, drinking jars with straws and soap dispensers, all adaptations of Ball canning jars. While you may expect to find markers, journals, writing pads and datebooks, you may not know about their picture frames, always marked down 50 percent. Bigglestone also noted that, while pens have changed dramatically over the years, they still stock basic fountain pens, as well as calligraphy and ergonomic pens. But if you are searching for a truly unique yet local gift, you may like the beautifully crafted ballpoint pen made from the last remaining elm tree from the State House lawn. Cindra Conison, owner of The Quirky Pet, has many unusual items for both pets and their masters. She is proud of the fact that all her products are made in the United States. One such item is her handmade beeswax candles in the shape of dogs and cats. In the bakery case, you can find gourmet dog treats, locally made cookies that are as nutritious as they are fun to view. She also carries colorful, soft, round, fabric cat and dog beds. And Cindra puts together delightful gift baskets filled with hand-thrown pottery from Stowe and treats for the dog and human. Or you may prefer a basket in the shape of our state, filled with dog and cat products made in Vermont. She also carries catnip blankets of colorful cotton fabrics made in a Montpelier cottage industry. Insert the catnip in the blanket, let your cat roll in it and you will have one blissed-out cat. But I advise caution on purchasing her catnip bubbles! Other unique items are small stone Buddha animals with little sayings on the back, such as “May your life be filled with prosperity.” Best of all, you can shop while listening to the pleasant sounds of six colorful parakeets in their permanent store home. My shopping excursion better acquainted me with many of our capital city’s gracious shop owners and the unique items they carry. There is no need to venture beyond Montpelier’s downtown to find unique, interesting and affordable gift items for the holidays.

D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 11

Shop Montpelier

Thanks for a wonderful year in 2012!
Wishing you joyful holidays.

The Knitting Studio

Local Products, Incredible Service, Unlimited Inspiration Visit us at 112 Main Street, Montpelier | 802.229.2444

Last-Minute Gift Ideas
(even though there's still 2 weeks 'til Christmas!) Vermont Calendars, Ornaments, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Picture Frames, Address Books, Puzzles, Fun Salt & Pepper Shakers, Eat More Kale Gear, Journals, Writing Instruments, Maps, Cookie Boxes . . . and a whole lot more!

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We make your colors right!
What’s in a color name?
If it looks like a rose and it smells like a rose, it must be a rose, right? Well, not always. Just because the color chip says “rose,” it could look different to your eye. We use words to describe colors, but each of us have our own preconceived idea of what a particular color should look like. There are many paint lines and each paint line may have anywhere from 500 to 3,000 colors. Marketing departments are given the responsibility of coming up with names for each of these colors. Sometimes they will use themes, such as flowers, flavors, or foods, to romanticize that color. A good example of this: Ben Moore has a color named “wildflowers #325,” which is a light yellow color. There is another Ben Moore color named “wild flower #2090-40,” which is a rose color. This is not a very accurate system, because colors and their names are entirely subjective. Seeing is believing: Go by what you see, not by the color name. At True Colors, we can help you find the rose you’re looking for. True Colors is Montpelier’s only independent, locally owned paint dealer. We have been making your colors right since 1989!

Fun-Raisin’ Wednesdays are back!
Every Wednesday, 6–8 pm.
10% of sales from 5 p.m. to close will be donated to a rotating environmental nonprofit.
City Center building, 89 Main Street, Montpelier Hours: 8 am–9 pm, seven days a week 262-CAKE |

True Colors

223-1616 141 River Street, Montpelier, VT

PAG E 12 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


Shop Montpelier

Beautiful jewelry
for Holiday or Everyday
27 State Street, Montpelier

Mon–Fri 10–7, Sat 10–5, Sun 11–5 Find us on Facebook!


D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 13

Finance Through Efficiency or Borrowing?
City Council and City Manager Present Opposing Strategies
dent for a town of under 8,000 depends on where you stand on long-term budgetary flexibility. The city manager has long advocated a very aggressive borrowing path for the city, like cities in other states. Some members of the City Council, citing the city’s declining population and the need for future budgetary flexibility, have been quite vocal in opposition. The report of the Citizen Budget Review Committee states council concerns this way: “Tom Golonka expressed reservations about adding additional long term debt, noting that the first $800,000 of revenues collected by the city currently goes to annual debt service and that number stands to rise as the City adds more debt. Tom was concerned that raising the annual debt service would increase the pressure on already tight municipal budgets and leave the municipal budget of Montpelier with increasingly limited options.” The city manager’s frame of reference is the debt assumed by towns our size in other states. The Citizen Budget Review Committee set off to study how Montpelier’s longterm borrowing stands up to that of other Vermont cities roughly our size. They used five measures to develop a sense of where the city stands in terms of its long-term fiscal stability (see sidebar). The budget study committee concluded that the city’s long-term debt ranks high among its Vermont peers. They also recognize, as does the City Council and the city manager, that the city of Montpelier has significant unmet needs, such as the city’s roads. To quote the “Report of the Montpelier City Council’s Citizen Budget Review Committee”: “This state of affairs occurred because of a combination, as Bill Fraser suggested in our interview, of years of deferred maintenance and a number of emergencies (which occurred mostly because of extreme weather or catastrophic failures and in areas for which the Department of Public Works is responsible). The result has been that funds have been taken disproportionately from Department of Public Works budgeted projects, thereby exacerbating the situation by further delaying scheduled maintenance and repairs.” The budget committee recommended that the city’s capital plan become a priority, and when emergencies arise, breaking from past practice, other departments other than public works be considered as a source of emergency funds. Where the budget committee veers most directly from current city management practice is how it proposes financing future capital improvements. The committee recommends greater efficiencies to make the city’s operating budget go further, and it advocates significant restructuring as a means of paying for road repairs. In its advocacy of not using the general fund for repayment, the budget committee sides with council members, who advocate restraint, instead of the city manager, whose financing mechanism would boost future budgets with interest and principal payments. Again, to quote the budget committee report: “We recommend that the council look for savings in the current budget to offset the cost of new bonds that would otherwise raise the annual debt service, taxes and the overall budget. Any monies saved could be re-directed to our most urgent needs like fixing our neglected infrastructure and reducing the amount of borrowing the city ultimately has to do. Additionally, we recommend not taking money from normal maintenance or repair of roads to fund any new projects or to pay for emergencies because over the long run it costs more to do so.” Both the city manager and the budget committee accept the premise that Montpelier has significant and substantial capital needs that should be addressed. Their difference is in how they will be paid for.

by Richard Sheir


he city of Montpelier has three major cost centers. Its operating budget, which funds daily city services, is paid for by property taxes. Property taxes also pay back capital borrowing to fund building and street improvements. Our water and sewer borrowing, about $17 million, and operation is paid for by fees for water and sewer use. Bob Giroux of the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank, the organization that sells Montpelier’s municipal bonds, states that the additional millions recently devoted to the wood-chip project would push our capital borrowing to the higher end for a Vermont city of our size and age, but it would not be out of the ordinary for smaller cities in other states. Technically, the city could borrow up to 10 times the total of the grand list, which no Vermont city has ever done. The city’s long-term indebtedness has a direct effect on property taxes. As of September 21, 2012, Montpelier’s total citywide debt was $24,732,377, or $3,148 for every resident (based on the 2010 population 7,855). The first $800,000 collected by the city in annual property taxes goes to annual debt service. Whether this level of capital debt is pru-

The Five Measures
Total Long-Term Debt per Capita (latest bond issued) Montpelier $2,940 (2009) Middlebury $2,598 (2011) Barre City $1,903 (2011) Brattleboro $1,814 (2010) State average $753.19 Winooski $340 (2011) St. Johnsbury $302 (2011) St. Albans $292 (2010) Total Long-Term Debt as a Percentage of Total Revenue Brattleboro 611.20% Middlebury 389.18% Montpelier 254.74% Barre City 182.39% State average 110.66% St. Albans 53.60% Winooski 53.20% St. Johnsbury 52.92% Total Long-Term Debt as a Percentage of AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) Middlebury 19.19% Barre City 18.42% Montpelier 15.60% Brattleboro 12.60% State average 8.71% Winooski 3.66% St. Johnsbury 2.41% St. Albans 2.10% Annual Long-Term Debt Service as a Percentage of Total Revenue Brattleboro 28.90% Barre City 23.72% State average 13.47% Montpelier 10.52% Middlebury 7.50% St. Albans 6.50% Winooski 5.44% St. Johnsbury 2.03% Annual General Government Debt Service FY 2013 per Capita (based on 2010 population and responses to five-town survey) Montpelier $107.07 Middlebury $87.10 Brattleboro $62.50 St. Albans $49.94 Winooski $32.73

District Heating Project Moves Forward
by Steven M. Cliche


he November 28 meeting saw the unanimous approval by the City Council to move forward on building the entire district heating project. The decision, which passed 4–1, was applauded by many of those in attendance and assures that Montpelier will pump heat from the recently purchased wood-chip-fired boilers to the downtown business district and municipal buildings. While several businesses have already signed on to receive heat from the project, the decision to extend the pipeline will mean that others, including private building owners, will have the opportunity to connect. The proposed plan will run pipes down State Street, then left onto Elm Street, before finally going back into downtown by crossing the river at Langdon Street. The $20-million project was nearly scrapped in August because of council members’ concerns that the lack of secured agreements from business owners to tie in would leave the city without a revenue source to run the plant. However, the project was revived, after a public outcry and a redrafting of the

proposal, which included an agreement from Montpelier to build the plant in phases. The latest decision nullifies that proposal, however. As it stands, the project has received an $8-million federal stimulus grant and another $7 million in funds from the state. The council voted to accept the low bid of $3.5 million from Kingsbury Construction of Waitsfield to build the new plant, which will replace the existing one, located behind the Department of Motor Vehicles on State Street. It is yet to be seen if Union Elementary School, one of the city’s biggest proposed heating customers, will be able to plug in. The current estimated cost for the school district to convert the steam-heated building to hot-water heat stands at over $700,000, with another $4.5 million outlined for building upgrades and repairs. City Manager Bill Fraser has warned that the project could face funding difficulties if the school ultimately pulls out due to inability to obtain these upgrades. The project is expected to be completed, with all systems up and running, by October 2013.

Duplex at 17 Sibley Avenue, Montpelier, Vermont
For sale by owner during the month of December
Both sides have three bedrooms and a full bath (with tub and shower) upstairs; living room, dining room, and a large kitchen downstairs. One side just completely renovated with all new appliances, new tub, new toilet, new floors, in the kitchen and bathroom, etc. (see pictures). Hardwood floors throughout most of the unit. The renovated side will be empty until January 1, in case buyer wants to owner occupy. Seperate furnaces, utilites, even seperate meters. New foundation and new windows. $219,000. Call 723-4976, 229-0670 or 917-4282 or email

Conscientious contracting Int./ext. makeovers & paint Healthy whole-home solutions Deep energy retrofits Kitchens, baths, additions Doors, windows, roofs

ph: 229-8646

David Diamantis

fax: 454-8646

Certified Green Professional EMP/RRP • EcoStar Roof Applicator

PAG E 14 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


Central Vermont Food News

Tiny Bites


aple Corner now has its own watering hole. The Whammy Bar, located in the Maple Corner Store on the County Road, opened in October and has quickly established itself as a venue for local folks to enjoy live music, the big game on the big TV and weekly entertainment like trivia night (Tuesdays) and open mic (Wednesdays). Owners Artie and Nancy Toulis serve beer, wine and spirits; munchies, like chips and freshly made guacamole; hearty soups made daily, like corn-bacon chowder; and entrees, like spaghetti and homemade sauce or roast beef and cheese crostini with horseradish sauce. Open Tuesday through Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m. No website, but find them on Facebook or call 229-4329.


inish your holiday shopping at the Capital City Indoor Farmers’ Market, this Saturday, December 15, at the Vermont College of Fine Arts gym, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find handcrafted gifts, farm-fresh food for holiday meals and much more. Live music and prepared foods make the market a destination for more than just shopping: chat with your neighbors and experience the four-season agricultural bounty of Vermont. The indoor market occurs twice monthly through April; January markets will be held on January 5 and 19. (


the recently relocated bar and added a shiny new espresso machine, too. Owner Crystal Maderia reports that breakfast and brunch hours have been expanded to include Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, in addition to the weekends. Weekday brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; panini and soup is offered from 2 to 5 p.m.; and dinner service begins at 5. Stop in for the $8 early bird breakfast special, Wednesday through Saturday, 8 to 10 a.m., or a cappuccino or dandelion latté to go. ( he Vermont legislature reconvenes on January 9, and the fight over the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will likely be a big one, as GMO-labeling advocates believe that Vermont will be the next battleground state. To learn more about GMOs, visit the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website at nd Bohemian is back! After a short hiatus, Robert Hunt and Annie Bakst have reopened the tiny East Calais bakery for their delectable Sunday morning pastry and coffee offerings. During the hiatus, the pair negotiated parking arrangements with their neighbors, so patrons are asked to carefully follow the parking signs. Hunt roasts the coffee himself, then brews espresso drinks in an Italian Faema-brand espresso machine that he’s “tuned up like a Maserati,” so for that kind of coffee alongside a buttery hand-rolled croissant, what’s a little caution with the parking? (

ismet, the local-and-organic-themed eatery on State Street, has expanded seating at


cal College (VTC) is sponsoring a conference series focused on agriculture, education, innovation and the future of the regional economy. The third conference in the series, Connecting Education with Employers, will be copresented with the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Farm to Plate Network on January 15 at VTC’s Randolph campus. Registration fee is $25; visit for details. —compiled by Sylvia Fagin; follow her on Twitter: @sylviafagin

he Institute for Applied Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Techni-

Take a pleasant two-mile ride up Hollister Hill Road in Marshfield and choose one of our super-delicious smoked hams. The pork is raised right here at our farm and custom smoked for us in Troy, VT. Sorry, we are sold out of our maple syrup, but we have lots of

and of course our wonderful

HOLLISTER HILL FARM 2193 Hollister Hill Rd. Marshfield, VT • 454-7725 Open daily 9 am–5 pm


D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 15

Upcoming Events
Fifth Annual Holiday Sale. Thrift store open downstairs for additional shopping. 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church, 137 Main Street, Montpelier. 229-9155. Sale continues Saturday, December 15. Voices of Montpelier: Oral History Project Interviews. Seniors share life memories and stories with local teen interviewers. 3:30–6 p.m. Montpelier Senior Activity Center, 58 Barre Street, Montpelier. Sign up for a half-hour interview: 2232518. More appointments Wednesday, December 19. 22nd Annual Montpelier Cheap Art Christmas Sale. Affordable art by more than 15 local artists. 4–7 p.m. Christ Church, 64 State Street, Montpelier. Barbara, 223-0352 or Sale continues Saturday, December 15. Basking in the Hidden Light of Chanukah: A Weekend with Chaya and Moshe Dovid Poretsky. Shabbat service and meal with teachings, songs and stories from two teachers of Jewish mysticism. Service 5 p.m., meal and teachings 6:30–9 p.m. Service at Beth Jacob Synagogue, 10 Harrison Avenue, Montpelier; meal and teachings at Yearning for Learning Center (call for location). $75 weekend, $20 single session, services free. Tobie, 223-0583 or Staying Aware of Your Fascial Web in the Winter Months. With Irvin Eisenberg, structural integrator. Learn about fascia and how it can improve your body awareness, prevent injury and cultivate joy. Hands-on activities. 5:30–7 p.m. Hunger Mountain Coop community room, Montpelier. $10 co-op member-owners, $12 nonmembers. Register at 223-8000, ext. 202, or Drinking Chocolate Together. Chocolatey drinks on the house at Nutty Steph’s. 5:30 p.m. Route 2, Middlesex. 229-2090 or Event repeats Friday, December 21. Monteverdi Music School Student Recital. 6–7 p.m. Unitarian Church, 130 Main Street, Montpelier. Free; donations welcome. 229-9000. Special Show with Dave Keller. The local blues and soul musician plays a selection of new originals to celebrate his upcoming trip to Memphis. 7 p.m. Buch Spieler, 27 Langdon Street, Montpelier. Open Mic Comedy Night: Stroke Your Joke V. See live stand-up as comics try seven minutes of new material in front of an audience. Sign up at 7:30 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Espresso Bueno, 136 North Main Street, Barre. Free; donations welcome. Bob, 793-3884. Intermedia Performance by Double Vision: Luna Eclose. Dance performance. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Haybarn Theatre, Goddard College, Plainfield. $10. 598-4819.


52nd Plainfield Christmas Bird Count. Scour the greater Montpelier area, leaving no chickadee uncounted, in an attempt to census birds in central Vermont. Potluck at end of count to share results. Beginners welcome. 7:15 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Free. Call to sign up for a team or a territory: 229-6206.

Holiday Open House: Bird Is the Word. Free refreshments and seasonal activities, including tours of the critter room, crafts for kids and special bird-related activities to celebrate the annual bird count. 9 a.m.–noon. North Branch Nature Center, 713 Elm Street, Montpelier. Free. 229-6206. Calais Holiday Market. Celebrate the season with food, gifts, art and crafts from area artisans. 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Maple Corner Community Center. Basking in the Hidden Light of Chanukah: A Weekend with Chaya and Moshe Dovid Poretsky. Shabbat service, followed by sessions on Accessing the Hidden Light and Spiritual Shopping and Gift Giving from two teachers of Jewish mysticism. Service 10 a.m., meal and Hidden Light 1–3 p.m., Shopping and Gift Giving 7:30–9 p.m. Service at Beth Jacob Synagogue, 10 Harrison Avenue, Montpelier; sessions at Yearning for Learning Center (call for location). $75 weekend, $20 single session, services free. Tobie, 223-0583 or Williamstown Book Talk and Signing. With author Doreen Chambers. 10 a.m.–noon. Ainsworth Public Library, Main Street, Williamstown. 433-5887, or Fifth Annual Holiday Sale. See Friday, December 14, for description and information. Indoor Farmers’ Market. Buy local foods and products for the holidays from more than 31 vendors. Live music by Jairo Sequeira. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Gym, Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier. Carolyn, 223-2958 or manager@montpelierfarmersmarket. com. Event happens every first and third Saturday through April (except February 9 and 16). Marshfield School of Weaving’s Holiday Studio Sale. Handmade, useful objects made by local artists, including baskets, pottery, glass, blacksmithing and textiles. 10 a.m.–3 p.m. 589 Eaton Cemetery Road, Marshfield. 426-3733 or marshfield 22nd Annual Montpelier Cheap Art Christmas Sale. See Friday, December 14, for description and information; note change in time. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Christ Church, 64 State Street, Montpelier. Barbara, 223-0352 or Second Annual Holiday Toy Drop and Swap. Local mamas and papas drop and swap gently used but no longer beloved toys and books for all ages. Bring toys when you arrive; no broken toys, please. 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Hayes Room, Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. Keri, 661-8259. Recycled Arts and Crafts. Ellen Bloom gives instruction on making gifts out of household product leftovers. Kids welcome with adult. Bring safety scissors if you have them. 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Tulsi Tea Room, 34 Elm Street, Montpelier. Free. 223-0043. GRACE Holiday Open House and Sale. Check out the work of the Grass Roots Art and Community Effort, view exhibits and browse a one-day art sale. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Old Firehouse, Hardwick. 472-6857, or Modular Origami Workshop. Local artist Elaine Martin leads kids age 9 and older in creating crafty paper structures. 1–4 p.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library children’s department, Montpelier. Free. Linda, 223-4665. Christmas Floral Decoration. A workshop with Yana Poulson. Learn how to make simple table decorations, a Christmas candle wreath and candle holder decorations, and share creative ideas about holiday gift wrapping. 3–5 p.m. Montpelier Senior Activity Center, 58 Barre Street, Montpelier. $10; materials and tools list available at MSAC. 223-2518.


Local musician Dave Keller, who will be celebrating his upcoming trip to Memphis with a special concert on Friday, December 14.

The Green Mountain Nutcracker. Moving Light Dance Company’s perennial holiday favorite puts a close-to-home spin on the classic ballet. 6 p.m. Barre Opera House. $12–$24. Tickets at 476-8188 or Show repeats Sunday, December 16. Shape-Note Sing. Ian Smiley leads tunes from The Sacred Harp. All welcome; no experience necessary. 6:30–8 p.m. Tulsi Tea Room, 34 Elm Street, Montpelier. By donation. Ian, 882-8274 or Event happens every first and third Saturday. Montpelier Infoship Grand Opening Party! Check out a new, nonprofit, collectively run space for organizing, socializing and working together. The Infoship will host a radical library, workshops and special events. Food, drinks, music and more. 7 p.m. 89 Barre Street (above the Freeride bike shop), Montpelier. Contra Dance. All dances taught; no partner necessary. All ages welcome. Bring shoes not worn outdoors. 8–11 p.m. Capital City Grange, 6612 Route 12 (Northfield Street), Berlin. $8. 7446163 or Event happens every first, third and fifth Saturday.

see UPCOMING EVENTS, page 15 POSITIVE PIE 2 22 State Street, Montpelier. 229-0453 or Saturday, December 15 MadMan3 (electro-reggae), 10:30 p.m., 21+, $5 Saturday, December 22 Funkwagon (gospel-infused funk), 10:30 p.m., 21+, $5 SKINNY PANCAKE 89 Main Street, Montpelier. 262-2253 or Every Wednesday Jay Ekis (country/blues) Every Sunday Old-time sessions with Katie Trautz and friends, 4–6 p.m. (intermediate to advanced players welcome to sit in) Sunday, December 23 Ben Cosgrove (pop piano) Sunday, December 30 Dan and Rachel (indie folk) Sunday, January 6 Caitlin Canty (folk) THE WHAMMY BAR Maple Corner Café, 31 West County Road, Calais. 229-4329. Every Tuesday Trivia night, 6:30 p.m. Every Wednesday Open mic, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 20 Christmas carol sing-along with June Morse

Live Music
BAGITOS 28 Main Street, Montpelier. 229-9212 or bagitos. com. Every Wednesday Blues jam with the Usual Suspects and friends, 6–8 p.m. Every Saturday Irish/Celtic session, 2–5 p.m. Friday, December 14 Bad Mr. Frosty presents Girls Gone Folking Wild, 6 p.m.–close Saturday, December 15 Miriam Bernardo 8 p.m.–close Sunday, December 16 Will Eberle (jazz piano), 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Thursday, December 20 Eric Friedman, 6–8 p.m. Friday, December 21 The Light and the Laugh with Tim Fitzgerald, 6 p.m.–close Saturday, December 22 David Kraus and John LaRouche, 6 p.m.–close Sunday, December 23 Jazz brunch with Jason Mallery, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Thursday, December 27 Isaiah Mayhew, 6–8 p.m. Friday, December 28 A Fraction of the Whole with Bob Kinzel, 6–8 p.m.

Saturday, December 29 The Well Trained Monkeys, 6 p.m.–close Sunday, December 30 Will Eberle (jazz piano), 11 a.m.–1 p.m. BIG PICTURE THEATER 48 Carroll Road (just off Route 100), Waitsfield. 496-8994 or bigpicture Wednesday, December 19 Valley Night with the Karen Krajcic Trio (folk/ Americana) Wednesday, December 26 Valley Night with the Midnight Riders (blues/ country/rock) Wednesday, January 2 Valley Night with the Gulch (alt/country/rock) THE BLACK DOOR 44 Main Street, Montpelier. All shows start at 9:30 p.m. with $5 cover unless otherwise noted. 225-6479 or Friday, December 14 Izzy and the Catastrophics (rockabilly), Saturday, December 15 Swift Technique (hip-hop/funk) Saturday, December 29 Evan Crandell and the 2 Hot 2 Handle (funk/ soul) Monday, December 31 New Year’s Eve with the Dave Keller Band (blues/soul), $8 CHARLIE O’S 70 Main Street, Montpelier. 223-6820. Every Tuesday Karaoke

Friday, December 14 Murder Weapon, the Outsiders (psychobilly) Thursday, December 20 DJ Crucible (metal) Friday, December 21 Starline Rhythm Boys (rockabilly) Saturday, December 22 Marc Piansky and the Bored of Health (rock) Thursday, December 27 Bingo night (benefits the Vermont Foodbank) Friday, December 28 Abby Jenne and the Enablers (rock) Monday, December 31 Concrete Rivals New Year’s Eve Beach Party Blast (surf rock) FRESH TRACKS FARM 4373 Route 12, Berlin. 223-1151 or Friday, December 21 Dan Liptak Trio, 6–9 p.m. NUTTY STEPH’S CHOCOLATERIE Route 2, Middlesex. All shows 7–10 p.m. unless otherwise noted. 229-2090 or Thursday, December 20 Kevin Bacon Thursday; also, world premier of the Central Vermont Schnitzelbank Society, 6 p.m.–midnight Thursday, December 27 Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve Ball, dress like a woman and avoid $5 cover, 6 p.m.–midnight

PAG E 16 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013




The Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio hosts a dance salon on Sunday, December 16.

Do-It-Yourself Gifts. With Dana Woodruff. Learn how to make affordable, handmade herbal gifts. Everyone will bring home lip balm and bath salts, along with recipes for simple, thoughtful gifts for the holidays and beyond. Kids accompanied by a grownup welcome. 6–7:30 p.m. Hunger Mountain Coop community room, Montpelier. $10 co-op member-owners, $12 nonmembers, or two Onion River Exchange hours; kids half price,. Register at 223-8000, ext. 202, or Plainfield Book Club. Discuss The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way, by Bill Bryson. 6:30 p.m. Cutler Memorial Library, Route 2, Plainfield. Free. 454-8504 or Event happens every third Monday.


UPCOMING EVENTS, from page 15



Walk with the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club. A moderate, 6.3-mile, early winter road walk in picture-perfect Peacham. Bring lunch. Meet at Montpelier High School. Contact leaders Reidun and Andrew Nuquist, 223-3550, for meeting time. Basking in the Hidden Light of Chanukah: A Weekend with Chaya and Moshe Dovid Poretsky. Session on Anger as a Spiritual Tool Through Writing and Art with two teachers of Jewish mysticism. 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Yearning for Learning Center (call for location). $75 weekend, $20 single session. Tobie, 223-0583 or The Green Mountain Nutcracker. See Saturday, December 15, for description; note change in time. 2 p.m. Barre Opera House. $12–$24. Tickets at 476-8188 or Tara Mandala Dance Circle. Dance in praise of the divine feminine. 3–5 p.m. Plainfield Community Center (above the co-op). By donation. Dance Salon with Double Vision, Ellen Smith Ahern and Lida Winfield. An evening salon of dance and performance. Informal Q&A with the artists follows. 7 p.m. Contemporary Dance and Fitness, 18 Langdon Street (third floor), Montpelier. $10 suggested donation. 229-4676. Chandler Film Society. Watch Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. 7 p.m. Chandler’s Upper Gallery, 71–73 Main Street, Randolph. $9. 431-0204 or

Mindful Business Success Circle Networking Group. For service professionals and small-business owners working to make a difference in their communities and the world. Thirty minutes of optional sitting meditation, followed by an hour of networking and connection with peers. 10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Shambhala Center, 64 Main Street (third floor), Montpelier. Free. RSVP at 225-5960. Event happens every third Wednesday. Voices of Montpelier: Oral History Project Interviews. See Friday, December 14, for description and information. Natural Brilliance: A Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strengths and Letting Them Shine. Irini Rockwell talks about her new book describing a Buddhist typology system that can enhance your self-awareness, improve relationships and boost your effectiveness at work. 5 p.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. 223-3338 or Enjoy the Wonders of Fungi. With Eric Swanson of Vermush. See Swanson’s recent pictures and projects and learn how to culture and grow mycelium into fungi. Everyone will bring home their own oyster mushroom spawn. 5–7 p.m. Hunger Mountain Coop community room, Montpelier. $10 co-op member/owners, $12 nonmembers. Register at 223-8000, ext. 202, or Home Sharing Info Meeting. Find out what home sharing is all about. Refreshments served. 5:30–6 p.m. Home Share Now, 115 Main Street, Barre. RSVP at 479-8544 to ensure ample refreshments. Event happens every third Wednesday. Yerba Maté Class. Constancia Gomez shows tea lovers how to prepare the native South American herb, a natural stimulant, appetite suppressor and body cleanser. 6:30 p.m. Tulsi Tea Room, 34 Elm Street, Montpelier. $5 in advance, $8 walk-in. 223-0043.

Pizza for the Vermont Foodbank. Grab a slice, feed the hungry: all of today’s proceeds at Montpelier Village Pizza will be donated to the Vermont Foodbank. 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Montpelier Village Pizza, 89 Main Street, Montpelier. Meeting on Disability Issues. Share stories and concerns. 1–3 p.m. Vermont Center for Independent Living, 11 East State Street, Montpelier. 639-1522 or 229-0501 (both are also V/TTY numbers). Event happens every third Thursday. Third Thursday Travel Talks. 6:30 p.m. Cutler Memorial Library, Route 2, Plainfield. Free. 454-8504 or Event happens every third Thursday. Songwriters’ Meeting. Meeting of the Northern VT/NH chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Bring copies of your work. 6:45 p.m. Catamount Arts, St. Johnsbury. John, 633-2204. Event happens every third Thursday. Ecumenical Group. Songs of praise, Bible teaching, fellowship. 7–9 p.m. Jabbok Center for Christian Living, 8 Daniel Drive, Barre. Free. 479-0302. Event happens every first and third Thursday.


Drinking Chocolate Together. See Friday, December 14, for description and information. Solstice Kava Night. Winter solstice divination celebration with tonic libations, indulgent confections and herbal salutations —with an apocalyptic twist. This could be your last drink! 6 p.m. Tulsi Tea Room, 34 Elm Street, Montpelier. Free entry; drinks and treats for sale. 223-0043. Winter Solstice Celebration. Orchard Valley Waldorf School students present dance, song, drama, poetry, music, comedy and a few surprises. Bring your singing voice. 6 p.m. Montpelier High School auditorium, 5 High School Drive, Montpelier. Free. A Christmas Carol. The Chalice Players’ annual recital of Charles Dickens’ beloved short-story-turned-play. 7 p.m. Barre Universalist Church, 19 Church Street. By donation. 479-0114.


Free Family Movie: Miracle on 34th Street. Watch a treasured holiday classic on the big screen and experience the magic all over again. 10 a.m. Savoy Theater, 26 Main Street. Montpelier. Free. 223-9604 or Mad River Valley Winter Farmers’ Market. Vendors from the valley and the broader Montpelier area sell meats, cheeses, baked and canned goods, vegetables, maple products, herbs, fiber

by Ever Moving . . . Ever Changing, digital art photos by Linda Hogan (left, an image from the show). 18 Langdon Street (third floor), Montpelier. Mirror through January 1, Moving January 2–February 25. 229-4676 or GODDARD ART GALLERY An Unfamiliar Picnic, work by sculptors Kat Clear and Torin Porter merging fantasy and reality in unlikely combinations. 54 Main Street, Montpelier. Through December. 322-1685 or GOVERNOR’S GALLERY We Are Vermont Strong, visual art by Vermont artists, teachers and community groups in response to Tropical Storm Irene. 109 State Street (fifth floor), Montpelier. Photo ID required for admission. Thrdough December 28. 828-0749. GRACE GALLERY Gayleen Aiken: A Grand View, a selection of the artist’s work exploring Vermont’s changing seasons. 59 Mill Street, Hardwick. Through December 31. 472-6857 or 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; extended holiday hours at CENTRAL VERMONT MEDICAL CENTER Paris/Provence, still life and landscape paintings by Susan Abbott. Lobby, 130 Fisher Road, Berlin. Through January 18. CHANDLER GALLERY Holiday bazaar of local artisan gifts. 71–73 Main Street, Randolph. Through December 21. Closing reception Friday, December 21, 5–7 p.m. Hours: Thursday–Friday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 431-0204 or CITY CENTER Art Resource Association group show. 89 Main Street, Montpelier. Through December. CONTEMPORARY DANCE & FITNESS STUDIO Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, mirrors in one-of-akind ceramic frames by Ellen Urman, followed GREEN BEAN ART GALLERY Transcend, mixed media by Athena Tasiopoulos. Capitol Grounds, 27 State Street, Montpelier. Through December. JAQUITH PUBLIC LIBRARY Work by Viiu Niiler. 122 School Street, Marshfield. Through December 22. 426-3581 or KELLOGG-HUBBARD LIBRARY The Mary Azarian Family Exhibit, works by Ethan Azarian, Melissa Knight, Jesse Azarian, Tim Azarian, Wilaiwan Phonjan and Mary Azarian in various media. 135 Main Street, Montpelier. Through December. 223-3338. MONTPELIER SENIOR ACTIVITY CENTER Homeshare Now, photo portraits by John Lazenby exploring home sharing. 58 Barre Street, Montpelier. Through December 16. RIVER ARTS CENTER Figuring It Out, group show by the open studio

figure drawing group. 74 Pleasant Street, Morrisville. Through January 7. 888-1261 or riverartsvt. org. SHIFTING GEARS ART GALLERY Photography, sumie brushwork and collages by Sandra Heller Bissex. Auto Craftsmen, 326 State Street (Route 2), Montpelier. Through December. 229-0086 or STUDIO PLACE ARTS Celebrate, one-of-a-kind, local art gifts, including pottery, scarves, paintings, paper journals, hobby horses, ornaments, cards, jewelry and more. 201 North Main Street, Barre. Through December 28. Expanded gallery hours: call 4797069 or visit for details. SULLIVAN MUSEUM Tol’ ko Po Russky, Pozhaluista (“Russian Only, Please”), chronicling the history of the Russian school at Norwich University, 1968–2000; and 1861–1862: Toward a Higher Moral Purpose, exploring the experiences of Norwich University alumni (Union and Confederate) during the Civil War. Norwich University, Northfield. Russian exhibit through January; Civil War exhibit through April. 485-2183 or norwich .edu/museum. VERMONT HERITAGE GALLERIES Icons, Oddities & Wonders, stories from the Vermont Historical Society collections; and The Emergence of the Granite City: Barre 1890 to 1940. 60 Washington Street, Barre. Through December. Free admission. 479-8500. VERMONT HISTORY MUSEUM Freedom & Unity: One Ideal, Many Stories, experience a full-sized Abenaki wigwam, a recreation of the Catamount Tavern, a railroad station complete with working telegraph, a World War II living room and more. 109 State Street, Montpelier. $5 adults, $12 families. 828-2291.


Art & Exhibits
ALDRICH PUBLIC LIBRARY Autumn in Vermont, group show by the Paletteers art club. Milne Community Room, Aldrich Public Library, Barre. Through December 14. BIGTOWN GALLERY Holiday show of small works by BigTown Gallery artists. Above, Lizard Gourd, by Daniel Ladd, dried gourd, 7.5" x 5". 99 North Main Street, Rochester. Through January 13. 767-9670, or BLINKING LIGHT GALLERY Photographs by Theodore “Teo” Kaye, featuring highlights from his travel and work in Central Asia. 16 Main Street, Plainfield. Through January 27. Hours: Thursdays, 2–6 p.m.; Friday–Sunday,



D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 17

and other products. Live music. 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Big Picture Theater & Cafe. Event happens every last Saturday through April. Winter Solstice Storytelling. Astrologer MaryAnna Abuzahra gives a multilevel interpretation of this darkest day of the year at a time of astrological significance. For children of all ages. 6:30 p.m. Tulsi Tea Room, 34 Elm Street, Montpelier. $5–$10 suggested donation. Preregistration encouraged; 223-0043. A Child Is Born: Christmas Music by Michael Praetorius. The 60 voices of Montpelier’s Onion River Chorus, directed by Larry Gordon, are joined by an ensemble of brass and winds led by Steven Light. 7:30 p.m. Stowe Community Church, 137 Main Street. $12 adults, $8 students. 476-4300. Concert repeats Sunday, December 23.



Free Family Movie: A Christmas Carol. Watch a treasured holiday classic on the big screen and experience the magic all over again. 10 a.m. Savoy Theater, 26 Main Street. Montpelier. Free. 223-9604 or A Child Is Born: Christmas Music by Michael Praetorius. See Saturday, December 22, for description; note change in time and venue. Reception follows.3 p.m. Christ Church, 64 State Street, Montpelier. $12 adults, $8 students. 476-4300. Stories for a Winter’s Eve. Original Vermont stories and music with Patti Casey, Pete Sutherland and friends. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Old Meeting House, 1620 Center Road, East Montpelier. $15 adult, $10 children under 12, $50 for four tickets. Tickets available at and at the door as supplies last. 229-9593.

Green Mountain Dog Club Monthly Meeting. Learn about the club and events. All dog lovers welcome. 7:30 p.m. Commodore’s Inn, Stowe. 479-9843 or Event happens every fourth Thursday.

Moving Light Dance Company performs The Nutcracker, Saturday, December 15, and Sunday, December 16.

Hike with the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club. Moderate, 3-mile stroll around Kettle Pond in Groton State Forest. Little elevation gain/loss; boulders and stumps to walk around. Dress for weather, including appropriate footwear. Contact leader Steve Lightholder, 479-2304 or steve., for meeting time and place. Contra Dance. See Saturday, December 15, for description and information.

the NECI scholarship fund. 6:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner. 118 Main Street, Montpelier. $100 with wine pairings, $80 without; includes tax and gratuity. Limited seating: reservations required: 2233188 or Baroque and Blue. See Sunday, December 30, for description; note change in venue. 7 p.m. Bethany Church, 115 Main Street, Montpelier. Suggested donation $10 adults, $5 students and seniors.

termediate to advanced dancers. Learn phrase work and techniques for ensemble work, and be led through improvisation. 4–5:30 p.m. Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio, 18 Langdon Street (third floor), Montpelier. $15 or four punches on a CDFS card. 229-4676 or




Concert and Montpelier Church Tour. Visit Saint Augustine, First Church of Christ Scientist and Montpelier Baptist churches and view their holiday decorations, then return to Bethany for refreshments and a concert by Arthur Zorn, Diane Huling and other local favorites, featuring Vivaldi’s Gloria. Noon–2:30 p.m. tour, 2:30–3 p.m. refreshments, 3 p.m. concert. Bethany Church, 115 Main Street, Montpelier. Concert by donation. Arthur, 223-2424, ext. 224, or Baroque and Blue. Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer and pianist Claire Black join forces for an exhilarating and fun-filled concert of bluesy, jazzy works and baroque pieces. 7 p.m. Stowe Community Church, 137 Main Street. Suggested donation $10 adults, $5 students and seniors. Concert repeats Monday, December 31.

Snowshoe with the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club. Moderate, 4.8-mile round -rip ascent of White Rocks from the Middlesex trailhead. Contact leader Charlene Bohl, 229-9908 or charlenebohl@comcast.netl for meeting time and place.

Coffeehouse. Enjoy live music and share your own. Fellowship, potluck snacks and beverages. 7–9 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church, 137 Main Street, Montpelier (park and enter at rear). Free. Dick, 244-5191, 472-8297 or Event happens every first Friday.




New Year’s Eve in Montpelier. Live musical performances and special dinner menus throughout downtown Montpelier, plus the annual disco ball atop City Hall. Downtown Montpelier, various locations. Free for most events; varies by venue. 223-9604 or New Year’s Eve Dinner at NECI on Main. Champagne reception, multicourse dinner and handcrafted desserts to benefit

Vermont, the U.S. and the World: How Our Health Ties Together. Dr. Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, examines how global health priorities are set and government investment in global health. 7 p.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. 223-3338. Part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays series. Extempo: Live Original Storytelling. Tell a 5- to 7.5-minute, first-person, true story from your own life. Sign up in advance and come with your story already practiced to deliver smoothly without notes. No theme. 8 p.m. Nutty Steph’s, 961C US Route 2, Middlesex. Free to participants; $5 otherwise. 229-2090 or


Montpelier Movement Collective Workshop: Technique, Improvisation and Composition. For in-

Indoor Farmers’ Market. See Saturday, December 15, for description and information. Sit-n-Knit Winter Crafternoon. Kids bring current projects or brainstorms for new ones and sip hot drinks with fellow stitchers. First-time knitters and crocheters welcome. For ages 5 and up; ages 9 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. 1–3 p.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library children’s department, Montpelier. Free. Linda, 223-4665. Occupy Central Vermont: General Assembly. 3–5 p.m. Guerilla garden park, next to Charlie O’s, Main Street, Montpelier. Heather, Event happens every first Saturday. Monteverdi Young Singers Chorus Winter Concert. 4 p.m. Bethany Church, Montpelier. Free; donations welcome. 229-9000. Shape-Note Sing. See Saturday, December 15, for description and information. Contra Dance. See Saturday, December 15, for description and information. see UPCOMING EVENTS, page 18 Christmas Day Service. Tuesday, December 25; community meal 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. UNITARIAN CHURCH OF MONTPELIER 130 Main Street, Montpelier. 223-7861 or Winter Solstice Service. Honor the longest night of the year and the return of light with word and song. Friday, December 21, 6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Services. Early service is especially for families with young children, but all are welcome. Monday, December 24, early service 4:30 p.m., traditional candlelight service 6:30 p.m. WATERBURY CENTER COMMUNITY CHURCH 3583 Waterbury Stowe Road. 244-6286. Silent Commmunion. Monday, December 24, come any time between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Holiday Services
BARRE UNIVERSALIST CHURCH 19 Church Street, Barre. 479-0114. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Music, performances by the choir, carol singing with the congregation and telling of the nativity story. Monday, December 24, 7 p.m. BETH JACOB SYNAGOGUE 10 Harrison Avenue, Montpelier. 229-9429 or Chanukah Shabbaton Services. Special Shabbat services with Chaya and Moshe Dovid Poretsky, visting teachers of Jewish mysticism. Meals follow services. Friday, December 14, 5 p.m., Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m.

FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST 145 State Street, Montpelier. 223-2477. Christmas Service. Featuring the Christmas story. All welcome. Sunday school and nursery care concurrent with service. Sunday, December 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m. OLD MEETING HOUSE 1620 Center Road, East Montpelier. 229-9593 or Blue Christmas Service. Thursday, December 20, 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Services. Monday, December 24, family service 5 p.m., candlelight service 7:30 p.m. NORTH AMERICAN MARTYRS Marshfield. Christmas Mass. Tuesday, December 25, 9 a.m.

ST. AUGUSTINE CHURCH 16 Barre Street, Montpelier. 223-5285. Christmas Mass. Monday, December 24, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Tuesday, December 25: 10 a.m. ST. MONICA CHURCH 79 Summer Street, Barre. 479-3253. Christmas Mass. Monday, December 24, 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and midnight; Tuesday, December 25, 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 137 Main Street, Montpelier. 229-9158 or The Longest Night. A service of remembrance, healing and hope for all who are struggling with grief or worry this season. Wednesday, December 19, 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Service. Celebrate with hymns, children’s time, a Christmas message and candlelight. All welcome. Monday, December 24, 7 p.m.

PAG E 18 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


UPCOMING EVENTS, from page 17




Frozen Onion Winter Bike Race #1. Cold-weather riders race through Hubbard Park to benefit Mountain Moxie’s scholarship program. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., race starts at 11 a.m. Hubbard Park, Montpelier. $20 preregistered, $25 day of race. Matt, 229-9409 or Family Circus Sunday. A monthly gathering of folks interested in unicycle riding, juggling and slack-lining. For all ages; beginners invited. Equipment provided; bring your bike helmet. 4:30–6 p.m. Montpelier Recreation Gym, 55 Barre Street. $2 individual, $5 family. 223-3456. Event happens every first Sunday.

Classic Book Club. 6 p.m. Cutler Memorial Library, Route 2, Plainfield. Free. Daniel, 793-0418. Event happens every first Monday. Karen Engelmann Book Reading and Signing. Goddard alumna Engelmann reads from her new novel, The Stockholm Octavo. Part of the MFAW visiting writers series. 7–8:30 p.m. Haybarn Theatre, Goddard College, Plainfield. Free.

Montpelier celebrates New Year’s Eve with downtown events and a disco ball on City Hall, Monday, December 31.


Submit Your Event!
Send listings to The deadline for our next issue, January 10, is Friday, January 4. 50 words or less, please. Listings may be edited for length, clarity or style. Events happening in Montpelier have priority, then events in surrounding communities. High-resolution photos also welcome for possible use. Have a class series you’d like to advertise? Get it in the classified section: call Carolyn or Gabriela at 2235112, ext. 11 or 12.

Medicare and You. New to Medicare? Have questions? We have answers. 3–4:30 p.m. Central Vermont Council on Aging, 59 North Main Street, Suite 200, Barre. Free. Register at 479-0531. Event happens every second and fourth Tuesday. Women’s Circle. Women and mothers discuss all things related to the childbearing years. Women only, please; children are welcome. Hosted by midwives Chelsea Hastings and Hannah Allen. 6–8 p.m. Emerge Midwifery and Family Health, 174 River Street, Montpelier. Event happens every first Tuesday. Nikky Finney Book Reading and Signing. Finney, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry, reads from her work. Part of the MFAW visiting writers series. 7–8:30 p.m. Haybarn Theatre, Goddard College, Plainfield. Free.


Community Cinema: The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights. The film follows the journey of this black civil rights leader from segregated Kentucky to head of the National Urban League. 60 minutes; panel discussion follows. 7 p.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. 223-3338. Sponsored by Vermont Public Television.

Weekly Events
Open Shop Nights. Have a bike to donate or need help with a bike repair? Visit the volunteer-run community bike shop. Mondays and Wednesdays, 5–7 p.m.; Tuesdays, 6–8 p.m. Freeride Montpelier, 89 Barre Street, Montpelier. By donation. 552-3521 or


Sundays: Last Sundays only, Bethany Church, 115 Main Street (hosted by Beth Jacob Synagogue), 4:30–5:30 p.m. Noon Cafe. Soup, fresh bread, good company and lively conversation. Wednesdays, noon. Old Meeting House, East Montpelier. By donation. German Brunch: A Community Meal. All-you-can-eat buffet of fresh fruit, bread, salmon and local meats and cheeses. Mimosas and other drinks available for purchase. Sundays, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Nutty Steph’s, Route 2, Middlesex. $10 adult, $5 children 12 and under. nuttystephs .com.

9:30 a.m. Children’s room, Bear Pond Books, 77 Main Street, Montpelier. 229-0774. Story Time at Onion River Kids. Outdoor adventure tales and childhood classics. Sundays, 10:30 a.m. 7 Langdon Street, Montpelier. 223-6025.


Ongoing Reading Group. Improve your reading and share some good books. Books chosen by group. Thursdays, 9–10 a.m. Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Montpelier Learning Center, 100 State Street. 223-3403.


Apollo Duplicate Bridge Club. All welcome. Partners sometimes available. Fridays, 6:45 p.m. Bethany Church, Montpelier. 485-8990 or 223-3922.

English Conversation Practice Group. For students learning English for the first time. Tuesdays, 4–5 p.m. Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Montpelier Learning Center, 100 State Street. Sarah, 223-3403. Lunch in a Foreign Language. Bring lunch and practice your language skills with neighbors. Noon–1 p.m. Mondays, Hebrew. Tuesdays, Italian. Wednesdays, Spanish. Thursdays, French. Fridays, German. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. 223-3338.


Beaders Group. All levels of beading experience welcome. Free instruction available. Come with a project for creativity and community. Saturdays, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. The Bead Hive, Plainfield. 454-1615.



Free HIV Testing. Vermont CARES offers fast oral testing. Thursdays, 2–5 p.m. 58 East State Street, suite 3 (entrance at the back), Montpelier.



Ecstatic Dance. Freestyle boogie with DJ using Gabrielle Roth’s meditative dance form, 5Rhythms. Wednesdays, 7–9 p.m. First and third Wednesdays: Worcester Town Hall, corner of Elmore Road and Calais Road; second and fourth Wednesdays: Plainfield Community Center (above the co-op). $10. Fearn, 505-8011 or


Free Community Meals in Montpelier. All welcome. Mondays: Unitarian Church, 130 Main Street, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesdays: Bethany Church, 115 Main Street, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Wednesdays: Christ Church, 64 State Street, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Thursdays: Trinity Church, 137 Main Street, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Fridays: St. Augustine Church, 18 Barre Street, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

★ indicates new or revised listing

The Basement Teen Center. Cable TV, PlayStation 3, pool table, free eats and fun events for teenagers. Monday–Thursday, 3–6 p.m.; Friday, 3–11 p.m. Basement Teen Center, 39 Main Street, Montpelier. 229-9151. Story Time at the Waterbury Public Library. Mondays, age 18–36 months. Wednesdays, age 0–18 months. Fridays, age 3–6 years. 10 a.m. Waterbury Public Library. Free. 244-7036. Story Time at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Tuesdays and Fridays, 10:30 a.m. Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier. Free. 2234665. Events for Teens at the Aldrich Library. No-obligations teen book club on Mondays; game night on Wednesdays. 5 p.m. Aldrich Public Library, Barre. 476-7550. Youth Group. Games, movies, snacks and music. Mondays, 7–9 p.m. Church of the Crucified One, Route 100, Moretown. 496-4516. Story Time and Playgroup. For children age 0–6. Story, followed by art, nature and cooking projects, as well as creative play. Dress for the weather. Wednesdays, 10–11:30 a.m. Jaquith Public Library, 122 School Street, Marshfield. 4263581 or Cub Capers Story Time and Songs. For children age 3–5 and their families. Tuesdays,

Sing with the Barre Tones. Women’s a cappella chorus. Mondays, 6:30 p.m. Alumni Hall (second floor), near Barre Auditorium. 223-2039 or Friday Night Community Drum Circle. Open drumming hosted by the Unitarian Universalists of Barre. Everyone welcome. Fridays, 7–9 p.m. Parish house, Barre Universalist Church, Main and Church Streets, Barre. Follow your ears, or follow the signs. Accessible venue possible with advance notice: 503-724-7301.

11 a.m.–1 p.m.; Tuesdays, 5–8 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 5–7:15 p.m. Testimony meeting: Wednesdays, 7:30–8:30 p.m., nursery available. Worship service: Sundays, 10:30–11:30 a.m., Sunday school and nursery available. 145 State Street, Montpelier. 223-2477. Deepening Our Jewish Roots. Fun, engaging text study and discussion on Jewish spirituality. Sundays, 4:45–6:15 p.m. Yearning for Learning Center, Montpelier. Rabbi Tobie Weisman, 223-0583 or Christian Meditation Group. People of all faiths welcome. Mondays, noon–1 p.m. Christ Church, Montpelier. Regis, 223-6043. Shambhala Buddhist Meditation. Instruction available. All welcome. Sundays, 10 a.m.–noon, and Wednesdays, 6–7 p.m. Program and discussion follow Wednesday meditation. Shambhala Center, 64 Main Street, Montpelier. Free. 223-5137. Zen Meditation. Wednesdays, 6:30–7:30 p.m. 174 River Street, Montpelier. Call Tom for orientation, 229-0164. With Zen Affiliate of Vermont.



Mama’s Circle. Meet and connect with others experiencing the joys and challenges of new motherhood. For infants up to 1 year old and their mothers (toddler siblings welcome). Snacks, drinks and parent education materials provided. Thursdays, 10 a.m.–noon, through April 19. Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, 174 River Street, Montpelier.

Roller Derby Open Recruitment and Recreational Practice. Central Vermont’s Wrecking Doll Society invites quad skaters age 18 and up to try out the action. No experience necessary. Equipment provided: first come, first served. Saturdays, 5–6:30 p.m. Montpelier Recreation Center, Barre Street. First skate free. ★ Coed Adult Floor Hockey League. Adult women and men welcome. Equipment provided. Sundays, 3–5 p.m., January 20–April 21. Montpelier Recreation Center, Barre Street. $52 for 13 weeks or $5 per week. bmfloorhockey@gmail. com or



Dollar Days. Bring in odd and sundry items for reuse, upcycling and recycling, including toothbrushes, bottle caps, cassette tapes, books, textiles, batteries and more. Mondays and Fridays, 12:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Additional Recyclables Collection Center, 3 Williams Lane, Barre. $1 per car load. Complete list of accepted items at 229-9383, ext. 106, or .


Christian Science. God’s love meeting human needs. Reading room: Tuesday–Saturday,

★ Yoga with Lydia . Build strength and flexibility as you learn safe alignment in a nourishing, supportive and inspiring environment. Drop-ins welcome. Special yoga and meditation retreat December 29. Mondays, 5:30 p.m., River House Yoga, Plainfield ($5–$20 sliding scale). Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m., Green Mountain Girls Farm, Northfield ($15). Tuesdays, noon; Thursdays, 6 p.m.; Fridays, noon, Yoga Mountain Center, Montpelier. Rates and directions at 229-6300 or Community Yoga. All levels welcome to this community-focused practice. Fridays, 5:30–6:30 p.m. Yoga Mountain Center, 7 Main Street (second floor), Montpelier. $5–$20 sliding scale. 223-5302 or


D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 19

Class listings and classifieds are 50 words for $25; discounts available. To place an ad, call 223-5112 for Carolyn, ext. 11, or Gabriela, ext. 12

HWA YU TAI CHI Winter-spring semester starts January 7 and runs 15 weeks for $150. Payment plans available. New and continuing students welcome: Mondays, 5 p.m., at 64 Main Street, third floor, in Montpelier. Instructor Ellie Hayes has been teaching

Hwa Yu Tai Chi since 1974. Preregister by January 6: 456-1983.


nursery care concurrent with service. 145 State Street, Montpelier. 223-2477.

DRIVERS: CDL-B Great pay, home time. No forced dispatch! New singles from Plattsburgh, New York. Passport or enhanced license required. 888-567-4861.

HOLISTIC PRACTITIONER OFFICES Three offices for rent at 252 Main Street (Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism), Montpelier. $300–$400/month depending on size. All utilities (except phone) included. Shared reception area, wireless Internet, private phone line if desired. Lease to start February 1. Contact or 224-7100. vtherb


HOUSE PAINTER Since 1986. Small interior jobs ideal. Neat, prompt, friendly. Local references. Pitz Quattrone, 229-4952. SNOW REMOVAL Small driveways, walkways, roofs, decks. Careful, responsible, insured. Andy Plante, 223-5409. STUFF TO SELL? Wish you could have a yard sale, but it’s getting too cold to hold one outside? Call us at T&T Repeats Thrift Store. We just may be able to help you out. 224-1360.

FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST December 23, 10:30–11:30 a.m. The Christian Science church service will feature the Christmas story. All are welcome. Sunday school and



T&T REPEATS Bikes, name-brand clothes, small household furniture and more. At least two free parking spaces for T&T customers. 116 Main Street, Montpelier, or call 224-1360. TRINITY COMMUNITY THRIFT STORE Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church, 137 Main Street (use rear entrance), Montpelier. Donations accepted during normal business hours. 229-9155 or

Membership and Outreach Manager
Vermont Land Trust
Come work at the Vermont Land Trust (VLT), a nationally recognized organization that protects Vermont’s farms and forests. This full-time position will develop and manage VLT’s marketing and events strategy; initiate and implement programs to expand our membership and connect with current members; engage with the public to promote our work; and create promotional materials. We would like to hear from professionals with a bachelor’s degree and 3–5 years of relevant experience; strong skills in marketing, writing, analysis, public speaking, problem-solving and managing multiple priorities; and a deep appreciation for VLT’s work. To learn more, visit VLT is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Capital Dry Cleaners
Vermont’s Greener Dry Cleaner
Free pick-up and delivery. Same-day service available.

9 Main Street, Montpelier • 229-0747 Hours: Mon–Fri 7am–6pm; Sat 9am–1pm

This holiday season,


PAG E 20 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


A Message from City Hall
This page was paid for by the City of Montpelier.

The Annual Budget Proposal
$223,000, two cents on the tax rate represents $44.60 on the tax bill. Infrastructure Two bonds are proposed. One bond is in the general fund for $710,000 to be used for sidewalks, retaining walls and storm drains and culverts. The second bond is in the sewer fund for $670,000 to repair a failing sewer line on River Street. Infrastructure bonds are planned to be part of a series, with subsequent bonds of $710,000 in FY17 and $705,000 in FY20. The capital/equipment plan anticipates additional increases of $166,300 in each of the next four budget years—FY15 through FY18—in order to bring funding levels to the projected steady state of maintenance and improvements. Personnel Total number of full-time equivalent employees (including the senior center) is 107.56. This is a net decrease of 4.22 (3.8 percent) from the FY13 budget. We eliminated a fulltime firefighter/EMT, a full-time police officer, a full-time public works street employee, a full-time administrative position and a half-time GIS position and reduced a full-time zoning administrator position to half time. We have added a 0.4 clerical assistant at the senior center and a 0.25 caretaker in the parks. A 0.875 position in CJC was expanded to 1.0. Cost-of-living allowances and step increases are built into all employee wage and salary accounts consistent with collective bargaining agreements and personnel policies. For this budget, that represents a 2.25 percent adjustment for fire union employees, 2 percent for police union employees and 2.2 percent (or CPI) for public works union employees. A 2 percent adjustment for nonunion employees is also included. The budget retains funding for the assistant city manager position. This position will have three primary areas of responsibility directly related to council goals and priorities: (1) communications, research and policy analysis; (2) project management and overall management assistance and oversight of the district heat system; and (3) community services and economic development, including supervision of the planning and community development department, the senior center, the justice center and the parks department, while coordinating with the recreation department and cemetery commission. Other Funds The budget does not assume any changes in water or sewer rates nor sewer or CSO benefit charges. Tax funding for the senior center is increased by $49,103 (42 percent), reflecting the realities of operating new programs in a newly renovated facility. The parking fund is balanced contingent upon parking fee increases. Without some fee increases, the fund is out of balance by $50,000. Parking fees have not been adjusted since 2004. The district heat fund budget is included for the first time. Community Services The housing trust fund is funded at $41,000, the same as FY13. The Montpelier community and arts fund is funded at $118,175, which is the same amount of funding for outside agencies and the arts fund in FY13. Community enhancements, including Montpelier Alive and various festivals, lighting and events, are funded at $29,500, the same as FY13. The budget does not include $40,000 funding for the GMTA circulator bus route. Service Impacts Police: One fewer police officer will result in a lot less foot and bike patrol in the downtown. Some call responses will take longer, and some may be processed differently. When officers are out due to injury, illness, vacancy or leave, there will be a reduced pool of available people to fill in. Fire: The fire department has had stable staffing levels for many years, so the loss of one firefighter/EMT will change their operating and scheduling systems. They will have more occasions during the week when they are running with smaller numbers. Fire Administration: Ambulance billing will be contracted out. Duties such as payroll and accounts payable will be shifted to existing department firefighting staff and the finance department. Phones will be automated, and there will be no walk-in greeter during the week if the duty crew is on a call. Planning and Zoning: The reduction to a half-time zoning administrator means that applicants may have to wait longer to process zoning permits. The loss of the half-time GIS mapping and E-911 addressing position will require that those functions be handled by the planning assistant. Website technical work will be transferred to the technology division. Public Works: The department has already struggled with meeting current assignments; given the increase in capital funding they will be expected to work on even more projects. We may be providing funding for some significant improvements without keeping up with funding to maintain them. Other: In addition to reductions in service, both city staff and Matrix had identified previously existing capacity shortcomings in the areas of human resources management, facilities management and communications. Only communications is addressed differently in this budget Conclusion Given systematic increases, such as wages and benefit costs, operating costs and other factors, the challenge of meeting this budget’s financial targets resulted in the need to reduce about $450,000 or 4 percent from the FY13 base budget. This resulted in decisions that will change the way some services are delivered. It is my professional opinion, though, that this budget directly reflects the goals, funding priorities and financial limits articulated by the City Council. • The tax rate is within CPI. • Funding for infrastructure is increased. • Use of fund balance was eliminated. • Proposed bonds are within debt policy limits over the long term. • The capacity to advance projects, including bike projects, economic/housing development, consolidation of community services and communications, are all addressed. • Impact to services is perceptible but not debilitating. • All community funding remains at FY13 levels. I appreciate the hard work of our management team and all city employees. We all stand ready to serve the community to the best of our abilities within the resources available. I am concerned that the FY15 budget challenge will be even more difficult. This budget was a team effort from start to finish. The department heads worked diligently to meet our budget goals. I would like to particularly recognize the efforts of Finance Director Sandy Gallup. I look forward to the council’s discussions on all of these budget issues and hope that the public will participate fully as well. In addition to this week, the City Council will be discussing this budget on December 19 and January 2 (tentative), with official public hearings on January 9 and 24. All meetings are at city hall, begin at 6:30 p.m. and are open and accessible to the public. Meetings are also broadcast live on local cable TV and streamed live on the city’s website. Thank you for reading this article and for your interest in Montpelier city government. Please feel free to contact me at 223-9502 or with any questions, comments or concerns.

by William Fraser, city manager


he official city budget process kicks off this week. I am presenting the city manager’s recommended budget to the City Council. Between now and January 24, the council will review that proposal and prepare its own recommendation for voter consideration. All budget documents are available on the city’s website. The following guidelines were used in preparing this budget proposal: • The budget must reflect the City Council’s adopted goals and priorities and enable those goals to be advanced. • The overall budget and property tax increase must be consistent with the cost of living (CPI), which was 2.2 percent as of October 31. • The budget must incorporate increased funding for infrastructure and capital needs based on the steady-state plan developed by the Capital Improvements Committee. • The budget must deliver responsible levels of service to the residents of Montpelier. • The budget should continue FY13 funding levels for the community fund and community enhancements. • The budget should minimize impact on existing employees to the extent possible. Resources utilized in budget deliberations were the council’s goals document, budget survey and workshop discussion; the council’s policies on debt service and fund balance; the city’s master plan; the 2009 citizen survey; the 2011 Matrix report; the 2012 Citizen Budget Review Committee report and recommendations from the city’s staff at all levels. Budget Numbers FY14 general fund budget totals $11,071,806, which is an increase of $295,753 (2.7 percent) from the comparable FY13 spending plan. When the recreation budget and ballot items are included, the overall increase is 2.2 percent. FY14 general fund nontax revenues total $3,861,288, which is an increase of $129,453 (3.5 percent) from FY13 nontax revenues. Grand list value is virtually flat (0.03 percent estimated increase). With the current grand list, $83,150 represents one cent on the tax rate. Property Tax Impact Property tax revenues of $7,210,518 are required for the city portion of the budget. This is an increase of $166,300 or 2.4 percent over FY13. All of this increase is for the capital plan and is the precise amount recommended by the Capital Plan Committee. A two-cent increase in the property tax rate is required. The capital/equipment plan is increased by two cents, while the remainder of the budget requires no tax increase. For the average residential property valued at


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The Montpelier School Page
This page was paid for by the Montpelier Public Schools and compiled by Richard Sheir.

The Current State of the Montpelier City School District
The Montpelier City Schools: The Proposed Operating Budget
he drafting of a school budget in Vermont in any year is fraught with uncertainty because of the number of factors that are completely out of the control of local school boards and superintendents. Many of the most important decisions on core funding lie in state hands and are made in January right before the measure has to be set in stone in order to be voted on in early March. Vermont school superintendents draft budgets based on educated guesses and hone the budgets when final numbers arrive in January. With the state needing to close an estimated $50-million budget shortfall, the coming year’s education allocation to school districts is anything but certain. It is known that the district will have to work within a framework of budgetary restraint. In an effort to rein in local education taxes, the legislature established a system of two votes. If a school budget surpasses a certain percent, the remaining portion is subject to a contentious second vote. The first draft of a proposed Montpelier school budget passed that threshold by a significant amount. In a speech to Montpelier school staff, Superintendent Brian Ricca put the current budget preparations this way: Simply put: we need to do as much as we currently do with less than we currently have. At this time, when we carry FY13’s budget over to FY14, we are more than $500,000 over the two-vote provision. The two-vote provision is a mechanism the state legislature put into place to ensure that local municipalities were able to see very clearly the budgets coming from local school boards. Given our current economic reality, the administrative team and I will not present a budget that would trigger a two-vote provision to the school board. What that means in plain English is that we need to reduce more than $500,000 from next year’s budget. Even if we do reduce that amount of money and get below the two-vote provision, we are still projecting an increase of over 4 percent; in excess of $600,000. To put that in perspective, last year’s budget reflected a 2.74 percent increase from the previous year. I have asked every department to bring forth ideas for potential efficiencies—no one is exempt from this task. From central office to support services, from teachers to technologies, from food services to facilities—we are all in this together. No one group will be asked to shoulder this burden alone. In terms of a time line, our budget needs to be approved by the school board no later than January 16, 2013, as it will be presented to Montpelier City Council on January 17, 2013. We have four scheduled board meetings between now and then. We are open to and happy to listen to feedback, suggestions and ideas.

Proposed Budget Schedule
December 1, 2012: DOE reports first draft of equalized pupils; recommended base education payment announced; recommended base tax rate announced December 5, 2012: School board and City Council to meet for preliminary budget review December 15, 2012: Equalized pupils frozen; receive estimated special ed revenues from state December 19, 2012: Finalize and present initial FY14 budget December 30, 2012: Receive notification of the common level of appraisal January 2, 2013: Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust announces actual health insurance increase January 2, 2013: Board and community review of budget January 16, 2013: Board and community review of budget; board adopts FY14 operating budget January 17, 2013: School department budget presented to City Council at council meeting March 5, 2013: Town meeting


The Montpelier City Schools: A Plan for Repair and Maintenance

he city school budget has, for years, been very heavy on the operational side, with far less attention paid to maintenance and capital repair. The reality is that the district’s three school buildings are now older buildings, with Union Elementary and Main Street Middle School being quite old. Core maintenance is required for these buildings to adequately serve not only the present generation of students but future generations as well. Yearly attention to small problems of upkeep is a sound investment because it keeps them from becoming costly problems in the future. The school board recognizes this. Even as the board struggles to shape a sustainable operating budget that avoids the two-vote threshold, there is serious discussion of how to set aside a larger annual capital budget for repair and upkeep of our three older schools. This is not an easy challenge, as it requires long-term planning as well as achieving greater efficiencies from the current system to help defray costs. Phase One Projects The school board is considering issuing long-term bonds to finance needed school repairs; many of which are pressing. The Phase One Projects total $1,760,000. Union Elementary School: $1,177,000 New flat membrane roof: $275,000 New air handlers for auditorium and gym; new hot-water distribution heating system hooked to the city’s proposed wood-chip generating capacity: $902,000 Main Street Middle School: $237,600 Upper roof replacement: $73,975 Flat EPDM membrane: $82,500 Upper roof entablature flashing: $73,975 Lower roof entablature flashing: $11,000 Provide new fall protection and handrail for north stair: $22,000 Montpelier High School: $286,000 Repair parking lot: $90,200

Drainage, storm water basin; improve landscape, lighting, handicapped parking and access: $90,200 Roof replacement of the gym: $71,500 Improve domestic hot-water system: $16,500 Replace air-conditioning compressor and heat exchanger: $44,000 Repave entry drive: $63,800 Phase Two Projects Proposed Phase Two Projects currently come in at $2,604,000 Union Elementary School: $929,000 Main Street Middle School: $474,000 Montpelier High School: $965,000 Phase Three Projects Proposed Phase Three Projects currently come in at $863,500 Union Elementary School: $490,000 Main Street Middle School: $0 Montpelier High School: $295,000

Kudos to the Following
Emily Campbell represented the MHS community (and the United States) at the International Competition for Earth Sciences in Argentina. Julia Gilbert, Devon Tomasi, Ari Markowitz, and Rachel Ebersole have been awarded Letters of Commendation on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. At the Vermont cross-country championships at Thetford Academy, Daniel Grosvenor took home the Division II individual title, while the boys’ team finished in fifth place. On the girls side, Laura Mears won the Division II individual title, while the girls’ team as a whole finished as well in fifth. Adam Isaacs-Falbel and Leah Ray SaganDworsky of Main Street Middle School were selected to serve as legislative pages in the first session beginning in January 2013. Kerrin McCadden lives her love of poetry in her teaching and writing. As a recipient of a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she has earned national recognition for her commitment to her passion. Colleen Purcell of Montpelier High School was selected as a UVM Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Anne Watson and Dave Bennett have run an exemplary ultimate program. Every graduating senior from last year’s ultimate program is playing college ultimate on the highest level in their freshman year. This includes G. Danger Sheir, playing for the 20th-ranked UVM team, and Josh Crane, who made the number-one-rated team in the country at the University of Colorado. No sport in school history has placed more students on varsity in their freshmen year. Seventy-five students representing over a dozen athletic teams and school organizations led the charge in this year’s phone-a-thon, resulting in one of the largest donation drives in recent years. Over $7,500 was raised.


A Few Notes About Athletics at Montpelier High School

he Montpelier High School football team will be transitioning from the varsity level to the junior varsity level next fall. This move was made because of decreasing numbers and a hope that having this year at a level that is more in line with the team’s experience will be beneficial in the long run. Optimally, having this extra year of seasoning and practice would allow the program to be more competitive and someday emerge at the varsity level again. The athletic department of Montpelier High School has developed a policy of “no child left behind” for students who wish to participate in sports with insufficient student demand to field a team. This is achieved through co-op and member-to-member arrangements. The current programs are: Softball girls to Northfield Hockey boys to Northfield Hockey girls co-op with U-32 Indoor track going to Northfield’s club program One wrestler to Spaulding

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Design & Build Custom Energy-Efficient Homes Additions • Timber Frames Weatherization • Remodeling Kitchens • Bathrooms • Flooring Tiling • Cabinetry • Fine Woodwork

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Tech Check
Night Vision Goggles for Kids!
The Internet and Politics in 2012 It wasn’t long ago that elections were decided by decades-old technologies: newspaper, television and radio were the major outlets for those campaigning. Like most industries, the Internet has ushered in new methods for spreading information and awareness. This past election is no exception. The presidential campaigns spent large sums of money. This election season, though, there were a large amount of Internet-centric and technology-related efforts. You could even watch the presidential debates broadcast on YouTube. While the numbers are not clear, we know that millions of people watched the debates online. Candidates and campaigns have taken notice of these numbers, too. The Romney campaign was caught in an embarrassing situation when someone discovered they were (likely) buying Twitter followers. And whether the Romney campaign was responsible or not, there was a virus going around forcing people’s Facebook accounts to “like” Mitt Romney’s Facebook page. The Obama campaign wasn’t free of social media critique, however. Some argued that the president’s camp was sending out too many e-mails, tweets and the like. I find it interesting, and a bit satisfying, that brilliant marketers with near-unlimited resources have problems finding the right social media balance. It shows how new this segment is. While we still don’t have Internet voting, that may change by 2016. Estonia, a small country in eastern Europe, became the world’s first nation to allow Internet back in 2005. They have seen success through several elections, and many are now looking to them as a model for Internet voting in other parts of the world. No matter your political views, or if you even voted, you can’t argue the increased reach that technology has given political campaigns of all sizes. We’ll certainly see further advancements and increases in future elections. That will leave the question: Does it make a difference? For more information, go to en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Electronic_voting_in_Estonia

by Jeremy Lesniak


ight vision technology is certainly nothing new, but for most of us, it has always seemed to be the stuff of movies or the realm of those that belong to antigovernment militias. I’ve been interested in night vision technology for a while, but the cost has always been prohibitive A couple of years ago, I saw the price coming down on low-quality devices marketed for children. These units were problematic and had few positive things to say about them. This holiday season is quite different. For anyone who has used night vision goggles, you know that you can’t see in complete and utter darkness. These devices don’t actually allow vision without light: they gather small amounts of ambient light and then amplify them, allowing you to see better than without the device. This is an old technology and was used on the oceans during World War II and heavily used during the Vietnam War. These days, night vision goggles are available at a variety of prices—from under $50 to $5,000, or more. The technology and quality vary greatly with price, as one might imagine. Surprisingly, the inexpensive units work well for children. Reviews across the web show that, while most adults find them to be flimsy and of poor quality, kids are thrilled with them—and aren’t kids’ opinions the ones that matter? If you’re struggling to find a gift for a child on your list, night vision goggles will probably be a hit. I’d suggest ages 8 to 12 for these items, though there are surely exceptions to that age range. I can’t think of a child I know that wouldn’t be thrilled to receive these as a gift. Just be sure to get a turn at some point! For more information, go to en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Night_vision.

Jeremy Lesniak founded Vermont Computing ( in 2001, after graduating from Clark University, and opened a store on Merchants Row, in Randolph, in May of 2003. He also serves as managing editor for He resides in Plainfield.

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Men & Women 18+ Mondays, Jan. 7 through Feb. 18 (no game Jan. 21), 7–9 p.m. Union School Gym $15 for session $3 walk-in

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April 6–14, 2013, 8am–5pm daily


Taught by Peter Muckerman, WEMT. This 76-hour course offers nationally recognized Wilderness First Responder and adult CPR certificates. At Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, 252 Main Street, Montpelier.

$865 tuition, includes texts and instruction materials. There is a $250 deposit required to hold your space—only 21 slots, register now! To register contact or 224-7100. For details, visit

Tell them you saw it in The Bridge!


D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 2 5

Growing Your Business
Seven Reasons to Consider Leadership Development for Your Company
by Lindel James


t is expensive to bring in outside consultants or initiate a leadership development program. This can be back breaking for small or midsize businesses. The question to ask is whether the results of instituting such a program is worth the expense. The short answer is yes! The advantages of leadership development will eventually outweigh any potential disadvantages. Here are a few reasons why you should be setting up such a program to help your business grow: 1. Improves Employee Morale. One obvious result of having a leadership development program is improving the happiness or mood of your employees. Good leadership inspires employee contentment because employees trust that their employer will do the right thing for them. A bad leader or manager can be a disaster for a company. Employees need to believe that their superiors are looking out for their well-being and that they are competent. Bad or incompetent leaders lower confidence, ultimately wrecking the relationship between employees and management. 2. Lowers Employee Turnover. One of the advantages of having high employee morale is that happy employees are less likely to leave. This prevents the loss of skilled and trained workers and enables your company to work at a consistently high level of performance. Training employees and getting them up to par is expensive and time consuming; it pays to keep good, well-trained, veteran workers. 3. Improves Worker Performance. Happy employees work better. This is a fact. But having contented workers is not enough: Good leaders inspire their team members to work better and at a higher level, which ultimately benefits the company. With an inspirational person leading, employees will complain less and will be more eager to do what needs to be

done and to accomplish the goals of the organization—even if they are asked to do tasks beyond their job description or pay level. 4. Keeps the Company on Track. Good leaders understand the pulse of the company; they can foresee issues before they affect the company. By heading off any problems before they begin, good leaders can keep the company focused on work and not be blindsided by petty issues or surprises. They are also better able to plan for the future and provide the company with a clear set of goals. 5. Cultivates New Innovations. Effective leaders recognize that they cannot see and do everything; they cultivate a work culture that develops talent by encouraging team members to do their part. An open environment that encourages feedback and independent thinking will foster innovations and allow prospective leaders to shine. This will help your business in the long run. 6. Costs Less Than You Think. Finally, leadership development is not as expensive as you think it is. Good books can give you the basics that you need to develop your own leadership skills. The other half of the knowhow is the willingness to do it—and that costs almost next to nothing. Leadership development is a necessary expense for future organizational success, and you will be providing your company a great service to get on that the bandwagon as soon as possible. Lindel James is a business and leadership development strategist and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and Trainer. She specializes in helping executives, business owners and entrepreneurs assess their leadership and marketing skills and competencies to improve employee morale and company profits. James lives in Montpelier and can be reached at

Chevy Volt
the all-new

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Have a Barre Merry Holiday!



D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 27

Sugar Words: Musings from an Old Vermonter
by Cassandra Hemenway Brush

New Book from Burr Morse
a born-and-bred Vermonter, Morse clearly accepts change and progress (else he probably wouldn’t be counting those 60,000 visitors every year) and brings a keen eye to the nuances and differences between how things were done yesteryear and how they’re done now. Morse clearly loves the old ways and describes them in stunning detail. But what makes this book interesting are the moments when he considers that which is new or different to his former perspective; when he describes a world not merely populated with those with whom he grew up but coexisting with those who have followed since. In “Crunch Time Crunch,” a story in Sugar Words, Morse aptly describes that time of year—sugaring time—when the snow thaws and melts and creates a layer of crust on top: “When we walk home at night the crunch we make speaks with a language only a sugarmaker can understand, the language of freezing and thawing.” On snowshoes, wearing quilted Dickies, Morse heads out to tap his several thousand maples and catches sight of the Nordic skiers in their bright, streamlined clothing, enjoying his trails. He writes, “I mused about our difference in attire and purpose but also considered our similarities: We all thoroughly loved what we were doing and moved at a fast pace, as though we had a deadline. The skiers had waited painfully long for snow this year and needed to maximize their time before winter’s mood changed. It was sort of a Nordic crunch time.” In other stories, Morse describes his encounter tackling an alpaca and his surprise at its much more placid temperament, compared to beef cows, with which he is more familiar. And he observes the switch many dairy farmers have made from dry hay bales to the thousand-pound fermented “filet mignon” fodder in the round bales wrapped in white plastic.


urr Morse’s latest self-published book, Sugar Words: Musings from an Old Vermonter, is a collection of stories stemming from his 60-plus years as a seventh-generation Vermont farmer. It’s rife with Morse’s unique fireside-chat storytelling style, combined with his keen eye for detail and history and his willingness to thoughtfully adopt changes, even in a culture that too often reveres the good old days. Sugar Words follows up Morse’s first book, Golden Times: More Tales Through the Sugarhouse Window, and delivers yet more of his family history and slices of life from back in the day. Morse and his wife, Betsy, presently own and operate Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in East Montpelier, where he has worked full-time since graduating in 1971 from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of science degree in plant and soil science. Along with the two books Morse has managed to write while running a business fulltime, he has overseen the growth of Morse Farm from a diversified vegetable/beef cow/maple farm to an internationally known tourist destination and crosscountry ski center, visited by 450 tour buses and 60,000 people yearly (according to the Morse Farm website). That success speaks to Morse’s obvious business sense and his willingness to put in the necessary face time, while embracing the modern world of social media and cell phones. Doubtless, his collections of old-timey stories that categorically divide the world into two groups—flatlanders and real Vermonters—help market the business. More so, though, Morse chronicles a way of life long gone in Vermont, and his down-to-earth, conversational style brings his vignettes to life, recalling history in the form of stories. For a guy so very married to his identity as


Burr Morse. File photo by Susan Atwood-Stone. Morse also doesn’t mind getting silly, as evidenced in the story “Beans, Beans, Beans.” He shares the intimate details of his first crush—and its crushing end, as he suffered the pronounced aftereffects of his mother’s baked beans. He follows up that particular gem with a fascinating tidbit of New England bean-related history from Maine: “Back when the log drives were going on, cooking crews traveled down river, 24 hours ahead of the log drivers. Once camped, they would prepare batches of beans in ceramic crocks, dig holes in the ground and line them with fieldstones. Then they would build up hardwood fires, lower the bean pots into the holes, shovel red-hot coals around them and cover them up with earth. By the time the log crew arrived the next day, the beans would be ready to dig up and serve.” This dish is prepared in exactly the same manner every year at Morse Farm. Morse might help uncover the beans, but to this day—based on his childhood trauma—he won’t eat them. By the way, if you haven’t caught it yet, Morse is a Seventh-Generation Vermonter (capital letters intended). In case mentioning this a second time in this review seems a bit much, rest assured, it’s just a fraction of the mentions you’ll find in Sugar Words. While the book is full of lovely treasures and sweet stories, the constant, repetitive references to his “real Vermonter” pedigree grows a bit wearisome by about page 12. And the underscoring of the pedigree by making mention of the various and sundry flatlanders who cross his path only serves to aggravate the weariness. However, if one can overlook the one-liner inherent in this message, there is real heart, a gift for language and some fascinating insights into the world of sugaring—and life—in this little volume.

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D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 29

Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State
by Robert Nuner

Learning to Live Sustainably
economic or environmental—that are a consequence of ours and others’ actions. Tom Slayton’s foreword sets the stage, reminding readers of the early contributions of industrialist Joseph Battell and environmental stalwarts like Woodstock natives Frederick Billings and George Perkins Marsh. Later, the book explores the forces that turned Williston into what we see today, despite enormous expenditures of energy and time to prevent that occurrence. Bill McKibben’s afterword addresses the consequences of our culture’s carbon addiction and of inaction and Vermont’s place in demonstrating what’s required to achieve a sustainable life in the future. The book is salted with thumbnail profiles of individuals whose environmental passions remind us that we are sustained by the world, not placed here to use it up. Slayton quotes Battell, “People go to Europe and pay $10,000 for a painting and hang it up in their home where none but their friends can see it; I buy a mountain for that money and it is hung up where everyone can see and enjoy it.” A thematic lens that reappears throughout the book is the idea that society must move from an extractive culture that acts as if resources are infinite to one that acknowledges that the planet and its resources are finite—a quite different mind-set from which to make social, cultural and governmental decisions, conscious or unconscious. Greening Vermont argues that, at our peril, we fail to effectively translate our plans into actions or strictures. Our hallmark environmental legislation efforts, it says, are long on carrots but short on sticks. We’ve been unable, as a society, to effectively and directly label things or actions environmentally unacceptable, having, instead, to use roundabout ways to protect the environment. From the book’s introduction, we learn that “[f]arms and forests are becoming fragmented, falling to scattered, incoherent development in which big-picture limits—the constraints that nature imposes on culture— can find little or no way to be represented. How, and to what degree, have Vermonters acknowledged the existence of environmental limits? How has Vermont’s environmental movement helped to prevent or forestall the


n time for the holidays, Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State, a heavily illustrated, information-packed, photo-laden paperback, offers tools for folks seeking to understand how this little part of the world functions—or does not function. Greening Vermont, published by the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Thistle Hill Publications and designed by The Laughing Bear Associates, looks at Vermont’s environmental successes and failures. It’s selective, as any story must be, as authors Elizabeth Courtney and Eric Zencey acknowledge in their introduction. Environmental stories by their nature employ many strands, pulling in multiple disciplines under the ecology umbrella. Among Greening Vermont’s themes are the numerous acts, private and public, that have made a difference in Vermont’s relationship to its environment. Another theme is an exploration of what we use for energy (fossil fuels and other energy sources) and how availability of that energy and Vermont’s landscape characteristics shape our environment, physically and culturally. The book examines the limits—physical, legislative and cultural—of our interaction with the environment. Noting that a sustainable state is one that only uses “current solar income,” Greening Vermont cautions that the transition to systems that don’t borrow energy from the past “won’t be easy. And with that change will come others, some of them impossible to predict.” It warns that “we will achieve sustainability either through conscious decision or . . . sustainability will be thrust upon us by system breakdown, incremental collapse, and frantic patching.” The book explores Vermont’s smallness and its preinterstate highway history as a backwater. It reminds readers how fortunate we are, highlighting lands given us by successful industrial magnates and protective laws and regulations passed by committed, passionate environmentalists. At the same time, it dissects how we get along with one another (or don’t): the collision of individual rights and the rights of the commons; the right to make a living and the right of the citizenry to protect itself from the harms—


degradation of the state’s natural and social landscape? How have that movement and its challenges evolved?” The authors more than once offer the state as an example for others to study, because of our small size and because we were late to the fossil-fuel party that radically changed the world. In addition to numerous profiles of individuals active in the trenches, the book elucidates why extractive lifestyles are unsustainable in the long term: “Humans will never invent their way around the laws of thermodynamics, the laws that forbid perpetual motion. Energy cannot be created out of nothing (the first law) and it cannot be recycled (the second) . . . we have to live within the energy budget that’s available to us on the planet . . . The matter and energy available to us are finite, and human ingenuity is limited by physical law . . . Available energy is a limiting factor for the human economy, as it is for ecosystems. (The human economy is also limited by the finitude of ‘sink’ services, the ability of the planet to absorb our effluents.)” In one of the sidebars, the book

quotes a former Exxon Norway executive, Oystein Dahle: “Socialism collapsed because it did not let prices tell the economic truth. Capitalism will collapse if it does not let prices tell the ecological truth.” Greening Vermont notes that the struggles are far from over. In one thumbnail, it quotes Bob Klein of The Nature Conservancy and Alec Webb, president of Shelburne Farms: “Conservation work needs to be sustained over time-generations, in fact. Vermont is our hope for the future,’ says Bob. ‘You can’t think of it as a sprint,’ Alec says. ‘And it’s not a marathon, either; it’s a relay race.’ The movement needs the continual entry of fresh energy, fresh legs, if it’s to conserve the natural and social capital on which our state depends.” Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State, 176 pages, by Elizabeth Courtney and Eric Zencey. Published by Vermont Natural Resources Council and Thistle Hill Publications, 2012.

PAG E 3 0 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013



A Bridge Lapse in Reporting To the Editor: I was glad to see The Bridge give attention to the school board meeting of November 14, in the story “Parents Petition School Board to Dismiss Teacher” (November 29 issue). In general, the story accurately portrayed the complaints of the parents and the very serious issues that led to their unusually direct and public request to have Christy Bush, a fourth/fifth-grade teacher at Union Elementary, removed from the classroom. Unfortunately, the story errs in stating that the teacher’s name was “withheld from the proceedings.” The school board, presumably as part of its policy of not discussing personnel matters in public, indeed avoided mentioning the teacher’s name—as they always avoid naming any teacher in anything less than a flattering light. When I spoke, however, I made an explicit point of naming Christy Bush as the teacher in question and as the source of my complaint. Two of the board members immediately objected, saying, “We can’t use names,” and asked me not to “personalize” the issue. I objected, pointing out that our complaints and concerns were not about “a classroom” but about a particular person—one who has been the subject of grievous parental concern and complaint for several years now, but who still teaches. And whatever the board’s constraints, it’s clearly my constitutional right to use her name. It was a tense and significant moment, and The Bridge erred in not reporting either the name or the minicontroversy over its utterance. The board’s reluctance to have the teacher named speaks to the central issue being raised at the meeting, which is accountability. The parents who spoke, having worked for over a year now to press Ms. Bush to either improve or be removed, took their complaints public precisely because they feel that neither the board nor Ms. Bush are holding themselves accountable for the severe and well-known problems that are sharply compromising the education of the students in her classroom. In withholding her name from the story, The Bridge withheld from its readers the very sort of information it should be reporting. —David Dobbs, Montpelier Honor the Wishes of the Electorate To the Editor: The front page story of the November 29 issue of The Bridge was an interview of Mayor John Hollar, headlined “Mayor John Hollar Talks About City Spending.” The first question posed to the mayor was: “Elections have consequences. You live in District 2. District 2 was perhaps the clearest choice in a decade in the way it was articulated. Was it a mandate? And, if so, what did that mandated election say to you?” Hollar answered, in part, that the council “now feels that it has the support of the community to change slightly the direction of our spending priorities.” Subsequently, during the interview, he explained that a majority of the council supported a plan that would level-fund most city agencies (departments?) for the next five to seven years, thus “bending the curve” of municipal budgets. Level-funding of most city departments for the next five to seven years is not a “slight change” in the direction of our spending priorities. It would constitute a major shift, with severely adverse consequences for the scope and quality of municipal services. There is no mandate for that action. Here’s my answer to the mandate question: District 2 represents one-third of Montpelier’s population. That 2012 council election was about many things. When the city’s entire electorate spoke on the same day, two out of three voters approved the municipal budget and every one of the other 32 money articles, many by the same margin and despite an effort by some to foster a tax revolt. Those votes were about investing in our community. That’s the mandate delivered by the voters in 2012. The mayor maintains that the city budget has increased annually at a rate of 5 percent over the past five years. In fact, the budgets approved by the council have increased by less than half that rate over the past 10 years, significantly less than the rate of inflation. By approving money articles, in addition to the municipal budget presented by council, the voters have chosen to increase overall spending to the rate that the mayor cites. In so doing, the voters are expressing their values about the kind of community in which they want to live. To ignore this expression is to disrespect the electorate. Here’s the thing. It is the responsibility of the council and the mayor to represent our community values, not to change them. Some of these representatives ran unopposed; others had competition. I honor their service to the community, irrespective, but they do the community a disservice to the extent that they seek to impose their values on us on matters of import. They lack a mandate to reduce city services. Their mandate is to ensure best practices and deliver quality services efficiently. The Montpelier electorate has spoken on this issue consistently over the last decade. Attention must be paid. —David R. Abbott, Montpelier

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of Ember Photography will present two multimedia shows titled Off Piste in the Alps, celebrating their adventures in Europe’s High Alps: Friday, December 28, at the Sugarbush Gatehouse Lodge and Saturday, January 5, at Mad River Ski Area (a benefit for the Green Mountain Club). Boths shows are at 7 p.m. Photo by Brian Mohr/Ember Photo.

One Government for Them, One for Us


ncreasingly, I am seeing the distressing pattern of one government for the “biggies”—as in the powerful utility companies, the big banks that are “too large to fail” and the bloated needs of America’s military-industrial complex—and another for the rest of us. This may seem like ancient history, but back in late 2002 and early 2003, in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, many thousands of people here in the United States and all across the world filled the streets in worried protests against preparations for that war. The mantra then was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and though such weapons were never found, the “shock and awe” U.S. and coalition invasion followed. Many of our sons and daughters lost their lives. Many others were wounded—some in body, others in mind and spirit. Many thousands of Iraqis, military and civilian alike, lost their lives or were wounded, and thousands of civilians were driven from their homes to become displaced persons. The human cost of war is what’s most terrible. But the monetary price tag was also huge, and it was financed with borrowed money. The familiar pattern of war—lives lost, bodies and minds injured and displaced people, all paid for with borrowed money—followed in Afghanistan. Last year in April, in the days leading up to adjournment of the Vermont legislature, there was a push by some legislators to direct the public service board to repay the $21 million that ratepayers had loaned years back to Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS) during a hard financial time. But that promise to repay in cash was “finessed” under the merger agreement approved by the public service board. Instead of a direct cash payment, the merged utility was allowed to create an efficiency fund instead. Net result: No direct cash payments to ratepayers for the money they had loaned to CVPS. In the news of a day or two ago, I read, more with anger than disbelief, about HBSC, a very large British-based bank that has laundered millions and millions of rogue government and drug cartel money through the worldwide banking system. According to an online source HSBC was “[f]ounded as Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865 . . . HSBC has grown into one of the world’s largest banks serving 60 million customers through some 6,900 offices in 84 countries and territories.” The U.S. government investigation turned up what should have been judged as criminal offenses with prosecutions and punishment. Instead, HSBC was fined $1.9 billion—not an incidental amount and there were no criminal prosecutions. Why? This bank is too large either to fail or to prosecute for wrong-doing. Now, the U.S. Air Force wants to deploy its new and nuclear-capable F-35 first-strike bomber in Burlington. And the price tag to American taxpayers is reported by the New York Times as $396 billion. That’s just the beginning. The U.S. Air Force has acknowledged that at least 1,366 Vermont homes were in a zone that would become “unsuitable for residential use.” As this paper goes to press, concerned Burlington-area citizens are seeking a face-to-face meeting with Senator Patrick J. Leahy. Things appear to be getting away from us. We can debate the finer points of a local city or school budget. But can we get a grip on the large expenditures that are driving the state, the nation, indeed the world, off what’s been called “a fiscal cliff”?

Quizzical Expressions
In which we investigate the origins of curious phrases and idioms in the English language. Phrase: “Get down to brass tacks.” Meaning: Engage with the basic facts or realities. Be precise. Orign: First appeared as an idiom in the Texas newspaper, The Tri-weekly Telegraph, in January 1983. Shopkeepers used brass tacks to measure the length of a piece of cloth. They had two brass tacks nailed on top of the shop counter. The distance between the two tacks was precisely one yard. So when a customer wanted to know how long a piece of cloth was, the shopkeeper “got down to brass tacks.” Source: Bill Reinecke of Middlesex contributes Quizzical Expressions for The Bridge.

Half Empty or Half Full?


ord received today from our bookkeeper, Kathryn Leith, is that $7,638 has now been received from readers and friends of The Bridge who have contributed to our current campaign to benefit the paper. Is the glass half empty or half full? This year, our goal for the annual campaign is $15,000, and we are more than halfway there. In this or any other year, what it costs on a very basic, pared-down budget to publish The Bridge is more money than our advertising sales produce. At a time of immense changes in the news gathering industry, we have persevered, and the help of our readers and friends has been generous and indispensable. Just about 19 years ago, a small group of Montpelier residents put out the first issue of The Bridge. Now, we are entering our 20th year of publication. Free, independent and local—we honor that standard. There is an envelope in this paper addressed to The Bridge. May I once again ask you to respond. If you can’t find that envelope in the paper, please send us a contribution with a check made payable to “The Bridge” to: The Bridge, P.O. Box 1143, Montpelier, VT 05601. Or visit our office in the lower level of Schulmaier Hall on the Vermont College of Fine Arts campus. If you need directions, please phone us at 223-5112. We continue to be grateful for your consideration of this request for help and your timely support.

Read something you want to respond to? We welcome your letters and opinion pieces. Letters must be 300 words or fewer; opinions, 600 words or fewer. Send your piece to Deadline for the January 10 issue is Monday, January 7, at 5 p.m.


D E C E M B E R 13, 2 012 – J A N UA RY 9, 2 013 • PAG E 31

Serious Budget Challenges Face the City
by Thierry Guerlain


ith the city and City Council now developing the 2013/2014 municipal budget, which voters will approve or reject in March, this is a good time to present some of the underlying budget challenges, especially as they relate to city infrastructure. Many would agree that, when it comes to streets and sidewalks, our habitual underfunding of maintenance and repairs is painfully evident and not a pretty sight. It’s difficult to drive or bike on many of our streets. Emergency vehicles have to travel at reduced speeds on bumpy roads and crumbling pavement. Vehicles suffer accelerated wear, and rough streets are difficult to plow, resulting in the use of excessive salt, as an alternative to plowing. Sidewalks are rough, uneven and often dangerous. Property values throughout the city are reduced. The Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) Committee, which defines where to spend the capital improvements portion of our municipal budget, met three times this fall. With excellent support from the city, the committee developed the full and true steady-state cost to maintain all city infrastructure and assets. The steady-state cost is what it costs to properly maintain all city infrastructure, such that each part lasts its full useful life cycle. It is a given that infrastructure, if not properly maintained, will not last its full life cycle, resulting in premature and excessive replacement or rehabilitation costs. The re-


sulting figure was a bit of a shock: We are underfunding steady-state maintenance of our infrastructure by about $900,000 per year. Streets that don’t receive annual maintenance deteriorate quickly, especially in Vermont’s harsh environment and with the use of salt for snow and ice removal. Proper annual care of street surfaces include microsealing, crack sealing, pothole filling and mill and fill—where an inch or two of asphalt is ground away and the street then repaved with a skim coat of fresh asphalt. Proper care also includes edge and berm maintenance for good drainage, cleaning of storm drains, culvert replacement and more. Sidewalks need similar upkeep and systematic replacement, as does all city infrastructure and equipment. It’s important to remember that city infrastructure includes much more than just streets and sidewalks. Also included are bridges, traffic signals and signage, retaining walls, recreation and bike paths, drains and culverts, buildings and grounds, parking lots, flood mitigation, downtown enhancements, cemeteries, parks and all city equipment, including trucks, plows, graders and backhoes at the Department of Public Works and fire and police vehicles. We own a lot of assets, and they all need to be systematically maintained and upgraded. When calculating total steady-state cost, the CIP committee insisted the figure also include the rehabilitation and reconstruction (R&R) of two miles of city streets per year. Here’s how that figure was derived: A well-

constructed street receiving proper annual care is assumed to have a useful life cycle of 22 years. Montpelier has 56 miles of streets: twelve miles are state highways; 44 miles are city streets. The state is responsible for R&R of their highways; the city for its 44 miles of streets. Forty-four divided by 22 equals two miles. R&R of two miles of streets per year results in all 44 miles being rebuilt at least once every 22 years. Some have suggested bonding (borrowing) to repair and refurbish streets and sidewalks. Bonding makes sense for one-time, extraordinary projects with a 30- to 50-year life cycle. But to borrow money for known, predictable, annual maintenance and rehabilitation is poor fiscal policy and not sustainable. Further, bonding is “easy” in the moment but leads to the insidious growth of our annual debt service cost, which continually erodes our pay-as-you-go capacity. Bonding may be good for lenders, but when used to pay for what should be annual maintenance, it’s a false economy. Streets and sidewalks are continuously ageing and deteriorating and so should be systematically rebuilt and refurbished, on an annual, pay-as-you-go basis. Please note that the needs of the city’s water plant/distribution system and wastewater/sewage disposal systems are not included in any of the above. Water and sewer are managed in accounts separate from the city’s general operating budget (which encompasses all Montpelier property owners), as water and wastewater each has its own set of customers. Though tracked in separate funds, water and wastewater are still general obligations of the city, and each has significant needs and debt that, again, are not included in the discussion presented above.

Also not included in the above is other city debt, such as debt taken on years ago to cover a gap in the city’s pension obligations. The city now has on the books an interest-only bond on which we will eventually—starting in 2017—start to also pay the principal. So, we need to be cautious about taking on more debt, give the 2017 impending jump. Then there is school debt, recreation department debt, city-backed debt associated with the senior center and library and more. The takeaway here is the need to keep an eye on all debt, when considering yet more debt—as opposed to pay-as-you-go spending that does not accrue future obligations. As we work through the budget process, we must make important choices with longterm ramifications. How much do we want versus how much can we afford? Can we afford the cost of our complex municipal government and extensive services as a small community of 7,800 residents? Will portions of city government and services have to be reduced to bolster underfunded services? Or should taxes simply go up, year after year? Is it wise to further raise our municipal tax rate, given that Montpelierites already pay the highest municipal tax bills in the state? And will ever-increasing municipal tax bills result in Montpelier being affordable to only the wealthy and the subsidized, with the middle class squeezed out? I’m certain that all city councilors and officials welcome your input and thoughts, as we develop the municipal budget for 2013/2014. Thierry Guerlain is the Montpelier city councilor from District 2.

Gala Concert to Celebrate Michael Arnowitt’s Birthday
by Nat Frothingham


ontpelier’s Michael Arnowitt, who has just turned the page on the first 50 years of his life, is assembling a full-orchestra birthday celebration concert to be performed Sunday afternoon, January 6, 2 p.m., at Montpelier High School’s Smilie Auditorium. Over the years, Arnowitt has taken on and achieved larger-than-life projects. He organized a benefit concert after the devastating 1992 Montpelier flood and again in 1999, as the Balkan Wars raged on. In 2000, as the world entered a new millennium, Arnowitt worked with a host of people to stage a fourday music festival celebrating 1,000 years of music, beginning with the 1100s and proceeding to the present, with 24 separate events. The 50th birthday gala concert continues the large dreams tradition. “I love the three-dimensional sound of orchestral music,” said Arnowitt about the full, rich sound that will fill Smilie Auditorium on January 6. Arnowitt has performed with an orches-

tra, but typically it’s a piano concerto. “I come in and get to play for 20 minutes or so,” he said. The January 6 concert will be different. Arnowitt will be playing throughout the concert, including favorite pieces that he has never performed before. Those favorite pieces include the entire Brahms second concerto, which Arnowitt describes as “one of the very best ever written, with its uplifting French horn opening, the exceptionally beautiful cello melody of the slow movement, and a joyous finale.” Six months ago, when the 50th birthday concert was an embryonic idea, Arnowitt imagined he would need to raise some $18,000 to pay the musicians and put on the event. Inevitably, that $18,000 has now become $19,000. “So far, we have raised $14,5000 of the $19,000 we need. We’d love it if you can help us reach our fundraising goal,” he said. Collaborating with Arnowitt on the January 6 concert is conductor Scott Speck, who has conducted orchestras at such venues as the Kennedy Center, London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Paris

Michael Arnowitt. Photo by Jim Lowe; courtesy Michael Arnowitt. Opera. About half the players will come from Vermont, the other half from beyond. These musicians have performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and also with such orchestras as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and other well-known ensembles. In a reply to a phone message, conductor Scott Speck wrote back immediately to describe Michael Arnowitt’s already tremendous personal achievements: “When I first met Michael in college, he already had the reputation of a brilliant pianist, and once I got to know him, we became great friends. Though our lives have taken us on very different paths, we’ve kept up our friendship and collaboration over the years. Michael is so much more than a world-class pianist. He’s a thoughtful writer, a fascinating composer, a dedicated community member, a great humanitarian and a supremely sensitive human being. Though I still marvel at the way the years have passed, I am thrilled to participate in the celebration of 50 years of a wonderful life.” Tickets for the Michael Arnowitt 50th Birthday Concert are available in Montpelier at Bagitos and Buch Spieler Music, also at Next Chapter Bookstore in Barre and online at

‘Stories for a Winter’s Eve’ at Old Meeting House, December 23


n what organizers hope will become a new holiday tradition in this part of Vermont, storytellers Mark Nash and Kathryn Blume will team up with musicians Pete Sutherland and Patti Casey (left) for two shows of “Stories for a Winter’s Eve” on Sunday afternoon and evening, at 3 and 7 p.m., at the Old Meeting House in East Montpelier. By scheduling the show for the day preceding Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day, organizers hope to tap into and express the open-hearted feelings of the season. Patti Casey described the Vermont storytelling as “stories of warmth and acts of kindness.” And of the music, she said, “I will be playing guitar, singing, maybe playing a bit of flute. Pete Sutherland will be playing fiddle, mandolin and singing.” Often in even the busiest of lives, there’s a moment or two before the holiday begins. Casey described that moment in this way, “You’ve done your shopping. You’re done with the tree. You can relax and listen with friends and family to these wonderful stories and take in the music.” Talking about the Old Meeting House, Casey said: “It’s a church. It’s a spectacular venue. A Christmas tree will be lit. We are hoping it will be an ‘ah’ moment.” —Nat Frothingham

PAG E 32 • D E C E M B E R 13, 2012– J A N UA RY 9, 2 013


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