Middlebury students, Vermont locals and out-of-state runners all convened in Wright Park at the start — and finish — line of the 20th annual TAM Trek this past Sunday, Sept. 17.
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The town of Middlebury received six inches of rain in a two-and-a-half hour period on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 3, an occurrence which Emmalee Cherington, the Town of Middlebury’s director of public works planning, referred to as a “1000-year event.”
A new bike pump track is in the works to be sited at the Middlebury Recreation Park, located off Route 7 just south of the Middlebury town center.
The Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN) opened its very own Food Hub on Exchange Street in Middlebury on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
New Addison County residents Danielle Pattavina and Erika Dunyak recently opened an all-natural wine store in downtown Middlebury.
The Marquis Theater and Cafe in Middlebury exudes a small-town theater feel and has brought locals, college students and visiting tourists a wide array of movies, delicious food and a unique and pleasant atmosphere over the years.
Vermont locals currently face a number of problems, from inconveniences to inequitable and unethical abuses. Inaccessible and sparse public transportation leaves many residents stranded and forced to rely on more expensive options to get from point A to point B. Anaerobic digesters, like the one currently on Goodrich Family Farm, continues production amidst a long history of allegations of wage withholding and unethical behaviors against workers. Further human rights abuses remain rigid and severe for migrant workers on dairy farms. Devastating tropical storms such as Irene, which hit Vermont in 2011, have uprooted hundreds of households and have heavily impacted individuals and communities. These problems will only continue to worsen should no actions be taken and no support be given to policies that address these ongoing and severe crises.
In early April, the Ethan Allen Institute (EAI), a conservative think tank in Vermont, alleged that ten Middlebury graduates voted in the state in the 2020 election though they were no longer eligible to vote in Vermont. The students had not been removed from the voter rolls upon graduating, and the EAI argued this proved that state voter rolls are not up to date. The Vermont Secretary of State and Middlebury Town Clerk say that these claims are unfounded.
When Middlebury alumni Becky Castle ’91 and her husband Bob Clark ’89 came back to Vermont in 2011, they knew they wanted to start out working in agriculture. And, as ice cream fanatics, Clark and Castle knew they wanted to create their own unique ice cream business that would incorporate the berries grown on their farm. So in 2013, the couple began working towards their ice cream brand: Sisters of Anarchy.
Middlebury’s new mask policy, which eliminates the mask mandate in all indoor spaces except classrooms and a few other designated areas, went into effect on Friday, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. The policy states that masks are optional, which means that those who wish to continue wearing masks may do so.
On Friday, March 11, Sparrow Art Supply opened its doors for local Middlebury artists, students and other community members eager to explore the addition of a new shop on Main Street. The store is located at 52 Main Street, a few doors down from Buy Again Alley on the corner adjacent to the bridge over Otter Creek.
After a year-long hiatus due to Covid-19, ski racers, students and spectators once again took to the slopes at the Middlebury Carnival. The races were one event in the larger 99th Annual Winter Carnival, which consisted of on-campus events such as a bonfire, fireworks, trivia and several activities like mini golf and laser tag. Olivia Dixon ’24, looks back on her Winter Carnival weekend fondly, “It was really fun so I feel like now I’m looking forward to doing it again … It was lowkey and fun and very memorable”. While she did not attend the ski races, she notes how she heard fantastic reviews of the experience. “Just one big party and wearing fun bright clothes”, she describes.
The beloved ’90s sitcom “Friends” came to the stage at Middlebury this winter. On Jan. 21, Middlebury theatre students put on a reimagined portrayal of the beloved show, performing two 20-minute episodes: “The One Where No One’s Ready” and “The One With the Pandemic.” The latter was an original episode written by Kayla Schwartz ’23.5.
Though it may seem to shoppers that the holiday commercial season is just now coming into full force, many businesses in Middlebury have been preparing for this shopping rush for weeks or even months. After a challenging year for local businesses, Middlebury streets are now filled with eager shoppers looking for presents and baked goods to entertain family and friends.
The annual apple-picking season — one that ran particularly long this fall — is winding down at apple orchards across Vermont. This year’s season saw near-perfect weather conditions, with mid-October and early November still seeing warm enough temperatures for fruits to thrive, as well as a significant number of apple-pickers — enough for an extended season.
Last Thursday, Nov. 4, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, in collaboration with the Regional Planning Commission, held a public meeting to discuss truck traffic in the town of Vergennes and the surrounding area. All participants in the meeting received a handout detailing the Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) Study that aims to address the truck traffic problem and explore alternative transportation and planning options.
“Petite Maman,” the latest movie in the Hirschfield International Film Series, uses a minimalist approach to tell a poignant story of family and friendship bound through loss and love. The film opens in a nursing home, with the camera following closely behind a child as she says goodbye to each resident of the building. The viewer follows her until she finally enters an empty room and approaches a young woman, her mother, taking down the family’s personal effects from the room. The girl then sits on the empty hospital bed, unable to say goodbye to this last person.
With a year and a half of instruction amid an ever-changing environment under their belt, the Addison Central School district is back to in-person classes for pre-K through twelfth grade. But according to Laurie Ballantine, administrative assistant at Cornwall Elementary School in Cornwall, Vt., policies remain strict throughout the district in order to best “stop the spread.” Students are required to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, out at recess or sitting six feet apart outside of the classroom. In addition to this mask policy, there are policies limiting visitors in Addison Central schools. “In normal times, you’d have … parents coming in the building to drop off lunches or pick students up,” said Justin Campbell, principal at Middlebury Union High School (MUHS). However, with Covid-19 regulations in place, the building is closed to outside visitors aside from essential workers such as electricians. The school also has contact tracing protocols in place so that, should an outbreak occur, they will hopefully be able to minimize its severity. “Students sign in and out of classrooms, and we know where students are sitting in the lunchroom, for example,” Campbell said. These policies remain similar to those of the previous year. This could largely be attributed to the fact that vaccines are not yet available to most elementary school students. Nevertheless, there are considerable changes that have taken place in the 2021-22 school year. In the previous school year, Addison County schools relied on cohorted instruction to limit the spread of Covid-19. “The grades 7-12 were subdivided into two cohorts that met in-person two times a week and were remote three times a week,” Ballantine said. The youngest pre-K students were similarly divided into cohort groups but met in person four times a week. Finally, grades K-6 were in person five times a week, but significant measures were put in place to minimize disease spread. “[Students] were not allowed to remove masks unless they were eating. [Masks] were required to remain on even at recess,” Ballantine said. Policies regarding school events are still subject to change, and the schools plan to hold events for the student body when they can, even though the format of these events might look quite different from previous years. At MUHS, Campbell noted that the school holds indoor dances in normal years. This year, during homecoming weekend, there was an outdoor bonfire instead of a dance. There is also an air of uncertainty regarding athletic events as winter approaches. This fall season, MUHS athletic teams were required to play their games outdoors, although the fall sports, who already play outside, were unaffected. As winter approaches, the schools will have to deal with the logistics of hosting indoor sports. Some considerations include whether the school should allow fans to attend games or institute mask policies at matches. Campbell noted that, while school-wide events are happening this semester, most will have to be conducted outside. At Cornwall Elementary and other schools throughout the district, Ballantine noted that they plan to organize school-wide events this year but are following state guidelines for extracurricular activities. While vaccinations are not available to a significant portion of the student body in the Addison Central School District, schools are working toward implementing strategies to increase vaccinations for those eligible and develop knowledge of who is vaccinated. MUHS has organized and continues to run vaccination clinics for both the student population and local community. Campbell notes that the Vermont Agency of Education and Health Department has outlined a “self-attestation policy” in which the schools can gather input from students and their parents or guardians on their vaccination status. ”We’re getting a better sense of who among our student population is vaccinated,” Campbell said. At the superintendent level, there is an evaluation in progress of faculty and staff vaccination status. While there is currently no vaccination requirement for staff, Campbell suspects one might be implemented in the near future. Ballantine hopes that there might be a return to normal in the future but said that, for the time being, measures must be taken to keep students safe. “We are following the guidelines from the CDC and the Educational Department for the State of Vermont,” Ballantine said. As for MUHS, there are ongoing meetings taking place to evaluate the impacts of the evolving pandemic. A district-wide group composed of administrators, nursing and support staff, teachers and union representatives come together monthly to look at data and state guidelines to respond effectively to changes. ”If conditions change one way or the other in some dramatic fashion, we’d have to respond,” Campbell said.
Three new businesses have arrived on Merchants Row in downtown Middlebury, including the Little Seed Coffee, new locations for Berkshire Hathaway Realty - Vermont Realty Group and the food spot Juice Amour, which was previously located in East Middlebury. Merchants Row’s central location provides its shops with heavy foot traffic, which has become even more important for local businesses during the ongoing economic downturn. Shops on Merchants Row are also frequented by college students, since the street is within walking distance of campus, making the location a significant draw for new establishments. Little Seed Coffee occupies 24 Merchants Row, and its owners Anthony and Maggie Gerakos are avid coffee roasters who lived in Brooklyn just last year. The couple began roasting coffee beans a few years ago on a small sample roaster, a move which set plans in motion to launch a coffee shop. Maggie Gerakos indicated that the pandemic sped up the timeline of opening Little Seed Coffee but ultimately expressed that it has paid off. “We really loved the community of Middlebury and how supportive everyone has been here,” she said. While Little Seed Coffee does not officially open until Oct. 2, it is already buzzing with pre-opening activity. As the Gerakoses prepare each day by hiring new employees, working with contractors, amassing a variety of coffee beans and creating merchandise, they make an effort to embrace the locals who walk by. “We’ve had people in the neighborhood sort of wandering around . . . we’d be around to answer them as best as possible about what we’re planning to do,” Anthony Gerakos said. “We’re hoping [Little Seed] will be a really nice spot for the community of Middlebury,” Maggie Gerakos said. The location has two floors, and the Gerakos plan to use each space differently. The couple intends to fill the upstairs space with music, and customers will be able to chat and purchase coffee there. The downstairs will have room for two long communal tables and is meant to be a quiet space where students and working professionals can gather. The couple hopes to do community outreach through their “You Sip, We Give” program. This program will involve donating 5% of the shop’s quarterly proceeds to small nonprofits based in the communities that their beans originate from. Since Little Seed Coffee plans to change the coffee beans it offers every few months, the Gerakos plan to give back to multiple communities. “That way, we can support not only the [coffee] farmers but their communities at large,” Maggie Gerakos said. At 32 Merchants Row, Brokers Neil and Sue Mackey partnered with several real estate agents to open a branch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Vermont Realty Group in mid-July. Berkshire Hathaway - Vermont Realty Group has gone through several changes throughout its almost fifty-year history in Vermont. Started in 1972 by Jack Russell in his home in Georgia, Vermont, the group was originally called Jack Associates and was part of the Century 21 franchise. In March 2020, the group changed its name to Vermont Realty Group and switched to partner with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Having been with the Century 21 franchise since the inception of [Jack Associates], it was somewhat of a difficult decision,” said Neil Mackey. “I think [the Russells] have been very pleased with the change.” Mackey himself started his own real estate company in Middlebury in 1986, which was later acquired by Jack Associates in the early 2000s. Over the course of the pandemic, real estate has been subject to plenty of changes and adjustments. Due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, some out-of-state buyers have been unable to look at properties in person, instead relying on associates at Berkshire Hathaway to do video tours of properties. These changes have also led to many out of staters buying property in Middlebury and the greater state of Vermont. “We’re seeing a tremendous influx of out-of-state people coming in and buying property in Vermont right now,” Mackey said. Although Juice Amour currently has a store in Middlebury on Route 7, owner Sheri Bedard is moving her Middlebury store to a more downtown location at 16 Merchants Row. Bedard opened the business with her father, Jack Bedard. Juice Amour serves juices, smoothies and vegan food, which, according to the Addison Independent, aligns with Bedard’s values, as she is a vegan. According to Juice Amour’s website, “creating nutritious, delicious, beautiful and accessible food to our community is at the core of everything we do.” The business buys their produce from organic farmers in Vermont, and juices are served and delivered in glass jars that can be reused when brought back into the shop. Juice Amour also uses “100% compostable single use items'' to eliminate waste and plastic usage, according to its website. Bedard hopes to open Juice Amour’s new location on Merchants Row on Oct. 1, the Addison County Independent reported. The three businesses join six others that are set to open their doors in Middlebury within the next year, including an ice cream parlor, a climbing gym and an art supply store.
In between semesters, many students chose to spend their summers on campus, providing the perfect chance to enjoy Middlebury without having to endure the harsh weather and harsher workload. After being online during the summer of 2020, many of the Middlebury Language Schools were back in person this year, making campus all the more vibrant with multilingual students. Many students also chose to work on campus, helping to keep the campus up and running over the summer, whether it was at the gym, the library or the dining hall. Reika Herman ’24 attended the French language school for the majority of the summer. Herman spent her time diligently studying French, taking up to four classes each weekday. In addition to studying, she was a participant in the French School Choir. “Weekends were mostly spent in town with other French students or going to the French school dances at Wilson Hall,” Herman said. She was one of more than a hundred Language School students to call the Middlebury campus home for the summer. In addition, some students stayed on campus due to travel restrictions or logistical difficulties that barred them from international travel. One such student was Angela Izi ’24. Izi worked five times a week in Proctor Dining Hall, serving language school students from late June, when the program started, until it ended August 13. “I had a great time just meeting the nice people that were there and being able to help the language students that were on campus,” she said. For Izi, summer at Middlebury meant time to explore and become more familiar with a place that she had not fully gotten to know. “I didn’t have any host family. Because of Covid, we never really got to do that for international students,” Izi said. She used her time on campus this summer to become more acclimated to the college. Izi also had free time to explore the town of Middlebury and the surrounding area, something she was not able to do this past year because she studied remotely in the fall and was too busy in the spring. “I managed to find a circle of friends that I hung out with the whole summer, and we did a lot of exploring around Midd,” she said. The group spent their time biking to the East Middlebury Gorge and down Weybridge Street. Izi was also able to explore Burlington for the first time. Other students used time over the summer to gain experience working and volunteering. Abed Abbas ’24 stayed on campus over the summer due to the present economic and political circumstances back home in Lebanon. “I wanted to make use of the summer to grow and get some experience,” he said. Abbas worked as a student intern in the Disability Resource Center and as a lab assistant in the stock room of Bicentennial Hall. In addition to working forty hours a week, Abbas volunteered to work in Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Clarissa Parker’s lab for ten hours a week, helping with research on the effects of withdrawal on mice. Abbas experienced an ever-changing social scene that was unlike the past school year. “It was kind of boring at the beginning, as not everyone was here yet,” he said. But once the language school students arrived on campus in mid-June, the campus was much more vibrant. “It was much easier to focus on the close relationships and friendships after the work is done, which was totally different than last semester,” he said. For some students who spent their summer at Middlebury, it was time to explore the area and focus on gaining non-academic experiences, while others devoted themselves to language learning or work while getting to know Vermont and the campus better.